Every time you plan to publish a paper, you are expected to go through ‘instructions for authors’ or similar sections of corresponding journal containing general instructions. It should be ensured that the written manuscript is in compliance with the standards of the chosen journal. Authors generally rely on editors to help them craft their content. However, it is very important for authors to know about the key elements of writing a manuscript; I will concentrate on few of them.
- Clear and concise
Write simple and capture readers’ interest.
Science is usually difficult to read. The basic idea of scientific communication is not the meager presentation of information and idea, but somewhat its actual communication. In science, writing is the fundamental means of communicating research findings. Most important thing to keep in mind is that sentences should be complete, clear, and concise. They should be easily understood making sure that each paragraph has an understandable topic and the paragraph content supports the topic.
- Use active verbs
Be as specific as possible and use active verbs, unless you do not know the facts.
Use active verbs wherever possible. Overuse of passive verbs, including is, was, has, have, had is tedious to read and require more words than necessary to convey the same thing.
Some authors are consistent in maintaining inconsistency.
Most authors fail to maintain consistency while writing a manuscript including the use of words, which lack uniformity throughout the manuscript. For example, use of citations including figures and tables. Authors use it differently as “Figure 1”, “Fig. 1”, “fig 1” or in other style. However, these things are usually corrected by copyeditors but not maintaining consistency can create confusion among readers. For example, use of “woman”, “female” and sometimes “patient” or “people” for the same individual in an article. Readers may take these as three different subjects in a particular study.
- Reference citations
Name&year or Numbered or Alphanumeric?
Many journals prefer numbered citation style; however, Name&year and Alphanumeric style of citations are also on use.
Sometimes authors prepare manuscript using numbered citation and they find out that the selected journal accepts Name&year citation style. Changing the citation style from one form to the other is a hectic and boring task and thus they submit manuscripts as it is.
Many of the available reference manager software are free. Authors can easily add, delete, and update references. An option of References ribbon in MS-Word is available which can be used by authors. They can download and use other easy-to-use referencing tools available for writing scientific manuscripts.
- Using own abbreviations
Abbreviations should not be used in an abstract or in the title.
Abbreviations should generally be avoided; however, at many times authors use self-created, nonstandard abbreviations, which do not make any sense. It is advised to use only standard abbreviations. Authors should always write the expanded name for the first time they use it, regardless of how well known it is, e.g. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and use the abbreviated form at the subsequent instances. Standard abbreviations such as DNA, RBCs can be ignored.
Rewriting is the essence of writing well—where the game is won or lost.
Haven’t done the reading again? Read the article again after completion. Whatever you write, revise and edit again, especially if it is a scientific article. Every time you take over the draft, a new mistake you will find to correct.
–Amit Kumar Koushik