|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 63-64
How to enhance the skills of scientific writing
Barun Kumar Nayak
Department of Ophthalmology, Premchand Deepchand Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Web Publication||9-Jun-2016|
Barun Kumar Nayak
Department of Ophthalmology, Premchand Deepchand Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Nayak BK. How to enhance the skills of scientific writing. J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2016;4:63-4
Conducting a research followed by its publication in a scientific journal is back bone of evidence-based medicine.  There are various opportunities to conduct a research such as postgraduate students, clinicians involved in busy practice, working as researcher and involvement in clinical/drug trials. In any research, the research question is the central point and the researcher has the answer at the end. If the research question and its answer is significant which will help in the furthering of science, this research must be published. It is important to remember that the improper writing should not come in way leading to rejection of a good research. Selection of the journal for submission is also important and should be done on the basis of the journal preference, importance, and readership of the journal. The quality of a work and the quality of the journal should match. The purpose of this editorial is to provide some guidelines while writing a paper so that the paper is not rejected due to improper writing.
We have to package a message in any scientific paper in the form of a problem (background and research question), how to get the answer of this problem (the detailed research), the answer (the results and conclusion), and the significance of this finding (the discussion). We always want to read clear, substantive, and short papers hence, when you are writing a paper for others remember these three points. The paper has to be edited properly and the final submission should be after repeated revisions and drafts. Writing takes time and needs concentration. Writing the paper requires full involvement wherein multitasking cannot be done. Remember for scientific writing, one has to be a turtle and not a hare to do it properly. Once the paper has been written and finalized, it is a good idea to give it to a friend, may be from a different discipline, to read it critically. If he/she, belonging to a different discipline, has understood it correctly, consider your paper to be well written. You should also forget about this paper for a month and again read it afterward, you may find plenty of scope for improvement which you would have missed if you would not have given a gap of a month at least.
The paper has to be formatted properly and written clearly. Scientific paper is written in IMRaD format wherein "I" stands for Introduction, "M" stands for Materials and Methods, "R" stands for Results, and "D" stands for Discussion. The introduction should provide the background based on the available literature. It should also highlight the controversy or lacunae in the literature. Most of the sentences in introduction should be referenced. There is no place for bookish knowledge in this section. It should end with the aim of the study in the form of a research question.
Materials and Methods should describe the research plan. It should be in detail but compact. It should mention the sample size calculation details with inclusion and exclusion criteria. The randomization, as well as blinding methods, should be described. The outcome measures estimation should be precisely provided. The statistical analysis including the statistical tests performed should be mentioned. Finally, the Institutional Review Board Ethics Committee approval has to be obtained and mentioned.
Results section describes the actual finding with their statistical analysis. Results are described in a combination of text, tables, and graphs. There should not be any duplication in description. If certain data are given in either table or graph format, there is no need to repeat the entire facts in the form of text. Since the entire raw data cannot be reproduced, its summary in the form of rate, ratio, proportion, central tendency, spread, and confidence internal must be given based on the type of data gathered. Data should be described without any deviation or distortion.
Discussion is the most difficult section to write. It should begin with the aim of study followed by the main findings of the study. Subsequent paragraphs should be devoted to the discussion/comparison of this study data with the existing knowledge from the literature. If the data refute the existing knowledge, we must provide plausible explanation for the differing data. The penultimate paragraph must discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this study. The final paragraph should summarize the conclusion in a sentence or two. It cannot be generalized and should be only based on the data described in the results section. Furthermore, mention a sentence about the possible direction or further avenue of research opened up based on this study.
The other parts of the article are title, abstract, keywords, references, and acknowledgement. The title should be short, convey the gist, and include some important keywords. These qualities of a title will help other researcher while searching literature concentrating on the title. Abstract should contain all the essential segments of the main paper, but one has to be maintain the word count limit provided by the journal. The flow and sequence of abstract will be the same as the main text. Only the important aspects of the results should be mentioned due to the word count limit. The conclusion should be based on the data provided in the abstract only. References should be formatted as per the guidelines and policy of the journal. All those, who have helped but do not qualify to be included as an author, should be acknowledged.
Some general principles should be kept in mind while preparing the manuscript. First, the instructions to authors from the intended journal for submission must be read thoroughly and strictly adhered to. Always use simple language with short sentences having clear meaning. Do not use unfamiliar or uncommon words. If anyone has to reread a sentence or consult a dictionary to understand, the writing is improper and is not a scientific writing. There is no scope for grammatical errors. In discussion section, always create a flow. Write topic sentence in the beginning of each paragraph and elaborate this statement in that paragraph. Short and crisp papers are liked by all. Space is limited in a journal and is at a premium hence repetition should always be avoided.
I am sure this editorial will be quite handy and useful while writing your next manuscript. I also recommend you to attend one of the research methodology workshops conducted by this journal. Any further help in scientific writing can be obtained by reading a few simple books, , on this subject.
| References|| |
Nayak BK. Guidance for publication in peer reviewed journal. J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2015;3:69-70.
Peat J, Elliott E, Baur L, Keena V. Scientific Writing, Easy When You Know How. 2013;41:392-392.
Hall GM, editor. How to Write a Paper. Byword Viva Publishers Pvt. Ltd.