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HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE FOR A MEDICAL JOURNAL?

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HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE FOR A MEDICAL JOURNAL?

Research is essential for the growth and development in any field, more so in medical science. Medical research must be published so that the information is available to healthcare professionals, to make informed treatment decisions.

Most people feel that science is difficult to understand and read, and it is inherent to the subject itself as it includes complex scientific concepts, data analysis and interpretation. But, improving the quality of writing actually simplifies science so that it can be easy to understand and comprehend. Medical writing is an important aspect of clinical research. Scientific articles contribute towards the translation of research into clinical practice in a manner that the end reader perceives exactly what the author wants to convey. Some research has been done to understand how readers read the articles in general, and based on those research principles have been developed which can help authors in writing the articles. Though it is not particularly for medical writing, some principles may benefit the authors.

An author developing an article must follow few characteristics: original, honest, innovative, organized, careful, clear, modest, fair-minded, frank, persistent, rigorous, and realistic. These characteristics help the author to come up with an article, which clearly represents the research conducted and conveys the results in an accurate and easy to understand manner.

In a scenario, where there is skepticism over clinical research, journals today are very careful and conduct a thorough review of the manuscripts being submitted for publication. The submitted manuscripts are initially reviewed by the journal editor to check if the article meets the scope of the journal and also for the relevance, writing, language and whether the article follows the journal guidelines provided in the ‘guide to authors’ section to ensure the manuscripts follows the journal style and provide all information as per journal requirements. The manuscript then undergoes peer-review from established key opinion leaders (KoLs) in that field. Hence, writing of a manuscript has to be of the utmost quality to be accepted by a good medical journal.

Conforming to the guideline for authors, which is part of the quality assurance cycle, greatly speeds up the decision-making process. This helps to guide the authors to develop a stronger, better organized, structured manuscript that can be more easily read and better understood. The editor usually looks for brevity, clarity and validity during the review process. Good and bad papers generally identify themselves. One of the major developments in manuscript writing has been the ‘IMRAD’ structure which is followed by most journals. IMRAD structure has the following four sections: 1) Introduction (why did we start?), 2) Methods (what did we do?), 3) Results (what did we find?), and 4) Discussion (what does it all mean?). The manuscripts include Title, Abstract, Keywords, Acknowledgements and References, (TAKAR). Conflicts of interest and funding details also need to be mentioned so that authors are transparent.

To be a good writer, one must have read several good papers. There is no easy way to become a good writer, and experience and perseverance is the only way to understand the mechanics of good writing. Each sentence has to convey one idea and sentences should be developed keeping focus on brevity, clarity and simplicity. Pretentious writing, jargon, wordiness and repetition must be avoided. Drafts can be developed where efforts must be made to simplify, shorten the text, omitting what is not required and to summarize all points together.

Shokeir AA, an editor appropriately writes that “The act of writing, like surgical techniques, must be learned the hard way, by practice and perseverance. Anyone can start writing but only a good writer can finish the task.”

 

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