Writing good scientific papers



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2. Technicalities

  • 2. Technicalities
  • Typesetting
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
    • Microsoft Word - versatile commercial document composing tool. Nevertheless it does have 1 very important inherent drawback: equations quality.
    • OpenOffice.org - ...
  • WYSIWYM (What You See Is What You Mean)

Reference management software

  • Reference management software
  • Reference management software, citation management software or personal bibliographic management software is software for authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations (references). Once a citation has been recorded, it can be used time and again in generating bibliographies, such as lists of references in articles.
  • These software packages normally consist of a database in which full bibliographic references can be entered, plus a system for generating selective lists or articles in the different formats required by publishers and learned journals. Modern reference management packages can usually be integrated with word processors so that a reference list in the appropriate format is produced automatically as an article is written, reducing the risk that a cited source is not included in the reference list.
  • Examples: Endnote, BibTeX ;
  • Internet source for literature: ISI/Web of Science

Graphics software

  • Graphics software
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_writing
  • Computer algebra systems
  • Numerical software
  • Plotting programs (graphing programs)
  • Statistical software

Practice of writing research papers

  • Practice of writing research papers
  • http://www.dentistry.leeds.ac.uk/elective/WRITE%20UP.htm

Writing a research paper

  • Writing a research paper
  • General points:
  • Give yourself enough time to work. Remember that writing is a process. A good paper doesn't come out perfect first time for anyone. Even the best scientists have to struggle to organize their papers and everyone, including you, needs to go through several revisions before they reach the final product!
  • The quality of the writing reflects the quality of the research! Use clear, direct prose. Make every word count. Don't use extra words, or excessively long words when shorter ones will do. Write as you would speak.
  • Find a good (?) paper from a respected journal and use it as a model for your own writing.

Start with an outline of the paper sketching out what's going to go in the introduction etc. Use subtopics and subject sentences to build your outline.

  • Start with an outline of the paper sketching out what's going to go in the introduction etc. Use subtopics and subject sentences to build your outline.
  • Then write a rough draft that includes the main ideas and fleshes out your topic sentences into paragraphs in rough form (don't worry about details like exact references, full sentences etc at this point).
  • Use the active voice when possible. There is a trend in scientific publishing toward writing "I measured 50ml..." rather than "50ml was measured". The active voice is usually less wordy and more interesting to read.

Once you have finished with your rough draft, take a break before rereading your paper. Then start to fiddle with the details (cleaning up the prose etc)..

  • Once you have finished with your rough draft, take a break before rereading your paper. Then start to fiddle with the details (cleaning up the prose etc)..
  • Let a friend or colleague read your draft. Listen to what they say.
  • Write your second draft.
  • Spell check and check the grammar carefully. Make sure the ideas are outlined clearly and flow logically within the text.
  • Publish! (better: submit!)

Check before submission that you:

  • Check before submission that you:
  • Numbered the text pages consecutively, beginning with the first or title page.
  • Numbered your tables (typed separately from the text, not more than one on a page) consecutively in the order in which you want them to appear.
  • Read the title and headings of each table objectively to determine whether the table can be understood without reference to the text
  • Searched the text for references to tables to make certain that each table is referred to and that each of the references is to the appropriate table.

Indicated by a marginal note a place for each table.

  • Indicated by a marginal note a place for each table.
  • Examined your text, tables and legends to make certain that each reference cited is accurately represented in the reference list.
  • Examined your reference list to make certain that each work listed there is accurately referred to in the text, tables or legends.
  • Examined each item in the bibliography section for accuracy of dates, wording, spelling and other details.
  • Prepared adequate legends for all illustrations (double-spaced on a separate page)

Made certain that illustrations are numbered consecutively in the order in which you want them to appear in your article, that each of them is referred to at least once in the text, and that each reference is to the appropriate illustration.

  • Made certain that illustrations are numbered consecutively in the order in which you want them to appear in your article, that each of them is referred to at least once in the text, and that each reference is to the appropriate illustration.
  • Indicated by a marginal note a place for the figure.
  • Reconsidered the appropriateness of your title and abstract and your index terms (if any).
  • Reviewed the special requirements of the journal to which you are submitting your manuscript and made certain that you have met them.
  • Carefully read your final typescript at least twice, the second time preferably on a different day.


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