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manuscript_algo_bambed

manuscript_algo_bambed - Q 2009 by The International Union...

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Article Algorithm for Writing a Scientific Manuscript Received for publication, July 2, 2009, and in revised form, August 13, 2009 Timothy R. O’Connor‡ and Gerald P. Holmquist‡ From the Biology Division, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, California 91010 We present an algorithm for the construction of a strong initial draft. It is designed to overcome writer’s block and to assist scientists who are not native English speakers. The writing starts with making fig- ures and tables. These suggest several terse summary statements, the few major conclusions or obser- vations the author will present to the scientific community. After identification of the audience, the spe- cific community addressed, materials and methods are written to explain how the tables and figures were generated. Results are initially restricted to describing the logical data relations in each table and figure. The discussion then converts each data relationship into mechanistic cause-and-effect interpreta- tions suitable for the abstract. A brief epilogue deals with the submission and the fate of the final manu- script once submitted. Although other models for the initial draft exist, this model has worked for us and new researchers in our laboratories and addresses problems we encountered while editing manuscripts. Keywords : Manuscript preparation, Writing, Non-native English writers. Writing a scientific manuscript is a challenging endeavor, especially for young scientists whose experi- ence may be limited to writing brief laboratory reports for courses. Much time is devoted to collecting scientific data during baccalaureate and doctoral training, but now preparation of scientific manuscripts receives more em- phasis, and eventually, online writing instruction can potentially yield significant benefits [1]. However, online writing training is not yet available at most institutions, and often, students are still required to learn scientific writing by themselves. Many examples of methods to attack writing a scientific manuscript exist in the litera- ture, most of which address scientific writing for medical journals (e.g., Refs. 2–4). Two older publications by Ken- neth L. Knight and Christopher D. Ingersoll [5, 6] are cer- tainly useful, but they are directed principally toward ath- letic training and do not outline a simple step-by-step method to pursue scientific writing for novices. In our experience, there are few simple descriptions of how to write a scientific manuscript that can be easily followed to lead beginning scientists to formulate a com- plete first draft of a manuscript that allows for subse- quent polishing and perhaps further experiments. Based on our personal experiences while writing for biochemical and molecular biology focused journals, while assisting the writing of researchers in our laboratories, and while helping nonnative English language scientists, we have used the algorithm described herein to prepare manu- scripts. Each step should permit the writer to proceed in
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