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Getting Your Work Published Some Basics of Writing Research Papers David J Pierson MD Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Harborview Medical Center Editor.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting Your Work Published Some Basics of Writing Research Papers David J Pierson MD Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Harborview Medical Center Editor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting Your Work Published Some Basics of Writing Research Papers David J Pierson MD Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Harborview Medical Center Editor Emeritus, Respiratory Care

2 Outline of Presentation The different sections of a research paper and how to approach them 10 reasons manuscripts are not accepted for publication—and what to do about it Overcoming writer’s block Helpful resources on writing scientific manuscripts

3 Before You Write Anything Discuss authorship with all relevant parties Select the target journal Study that journal’s manuscript preparation guide Plan to submit a paper that is shorter than the journal’s average

4 What a Scientific Paper Needs to Communicate Why did you start? What did you do? What did you find? What does it mean?

5 What a Scientific Paper Needs to Communicate Why did you start? (Introduction) What did you do? (Methods) What did you find? (Results) What does it mean? (Discussion)

6 The Title Accurate promise of the paper’s content Specific about scope of study Indicates study design States subject—not conclusion

7 The Title Avoids abbreviations and acronyms Simple, short, concise (10-12 words) Interesting, eye-catching, “reader-grabber” Easy to understand

8 The Abstract Not the same as presented abstract Strict adherence to journal’s instructions Complete agreement with rest of text Includes nothing not in body of paper Conclusions specific and conservative Last part of paper to be written

9 The Introduction Provides adequate background information Defines any new/unusual/vague terms Points out gap in current knowledge Clearly states purposes of study Should be short

10 Byrne DW: Publishing Your Medical Research Paper. Williams & Wilkins, 1998

11 The Methods Simplest section to write (could be written before the data collection) Must be complete and accurate Reader should be able to replicate study Statistics clearly identified and described No results in this section

12 Byrne DW: Publishing Your Medical Research Paper. Williams & Wilkins, 1998

13 The Results Start with the major positive findings [Address the stated hypothesis] Include a table describing the study population Present the results in a logical order Do not repeat in detail information that is given in the tables and figures

14 The Results Report the results in the target journal’s format Use subheadings Include only results—no methods, no discussion Do not use more than the journal’s average number of tables and figures

15 Presenting Statistical Information Report relative risk and 95% confidence intervals Use statistical terms correctly (eg, “significant”) Provide exact p values, not “NS”

16 Tables Simple, self-explanatory In journal’s format Not a repetition of text Double-spaced Units for every variable Exact p values Appropriate rounding Format consistent with other tables

17 Figures Use to illustrate the major points Label axes and other elements clearly Don’t just use figures from poster Use style parallel with others in field

18 Figures Thick lines; large text Information not included in text Units and symbols in journal’s style Be careful about using colors & shading Clear, detailed legend Should be self-explanatory

19 The Discussion  Start with your most important point  Present no new data in this section  Focus on the implications of your results  Stick to the subject; keep it focused

20 The Discussion  Compare your study with previous studies  Discuss its weaknesses and deficiencies  Discuss alternative explanations for the results  Write clearly and in plain English  Keep this section as short as possible

21 Byrne DW: Publishing Your Medical Research Paper. Williams & Wilkins, 1998

22 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication* 10) Picking the wrong journal *Pierson DJ, Respir Care 2004;49(10):1246-52

23 Choosing the Appropriate Journal and Article Category  Read the target journal  Become familiar with what it publishes –Subject matter –Format –Article length –Number of tables and figures –Comprehensiveness and detail

24 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 10) Picking the wrong journal 9) Submitting something that isn’t like what the journal publishes

25 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 10) Picking the wrong journal 9) Submitting something that isn’t like what the journal publishes 8) Not following instructions

26 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 7) Bad writing

27 Advice for Authors In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable philosophical and psychological observations beware of platitudinous ponderosities. Let your communications possess a clarified conciseness, a coefficient consistency and a concatenated cogency. Eschew conglomerations of flatulated garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and veracious vivacity without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid polysyllabic profundity, setatious vacuity, ventriloqual verbosity, and vain vapidity either obscurant or apparent. Shun double entendre, purient jococity, and pestiferous profanity.

28 Advice for Authors In other words, say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t use big words

29 Have something to say. Say it. Stop. The Secret to Good Medical Writing Lang TA. How to Write, Publish, and Present in the Health Sciences. A Guide for Clinicians and Laboratory Researchers. Philadelphia, ACP Press, 2010

30 Things to Avoid in Your Writing  Jargon  Clinical slang and cliches  The passive voice  Unconventional abbreviations  Pejoratives and unnecessary information about patients

31 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 7) Bad writing 6) Getting carried away in the discussion

32 Avoiding Problems with the Discussion  Don’t attempt to make more of your results than they deserve.  Frankly acknowledge the study’s limitations.  Avoid excess zeal (especially important when there are industry connections).  Let your results speak for themselves.

33 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 7) Bad writing 6) Getting carried away in the discussion 5) Suboptimal reporting of the results 4) Inadequate description of the methods

34 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 3) Poor study design

35 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 3) Poor study design 2) Not revising and resubmitting the paper

36 Proportion of Manuscripts Submited Rejected without external review The Fate of Submitted Manuscripts Peer review Rejected after 1 round of peer review Returned to author for revision Never resubmitted Rejected Published Peer review Time

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38 Siegelman SS. Assassins and Zealots: Variations in Peer Review. Radiology 1991; 178:637-642 Peer Reviewers: Assassins and Zealots

39 How to Respond to Peer Reviewers  Write a detailed cover letter to the editor with your revision.  Thank the reviewers, praise their insight, and don’t be nasty.  Deal point-by-point with every issue raised by the reviewers.  Don’t just respond with a point-by-point rebuttal.

40 The Top 10 Reasons Why Manuscripts Aren’t Accepted for Publication 3) Poor study design 2) Not revising and resubmitting the paper 1) Not writing the paper in the first place!

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43 Overcoming Writer’s Block Break the project down into steps. Don’t write anything yet. Make a 1-page outline. Do the tables and figures. Note down points to be made and put them in order. Write one section at a time.

44 Outline of Presentation The different sections of a research paper and how to approach them 10 reasons manuscripts are not accepted for publication—and what to do about it Overcoming writer’s block Helpful resources on writing scientific manuscripts

45 A Great Recent Resource For Both Beginning and Advanced Researchers and Writers Philadelphia, ACP Press, 2010, $59.95

46 Another Practical Resource For the Beginning Researcher/Writer 18 different topics Most not specific to respiratory care field Full text (PDF) of all available free at www.rcjournal.com www.rcjournal.com

47 Additional Resource: UW Course on Scientific Writing and Presenting EPI 534 / PHARM 536 “Principles of Publishing Clinical Evidence” Co-Directors: Carin M Olson MD (colson@u.washington.edu) and Eric S Johnson PhD (esj@u.washington.edu)colson@u.washington.eduesj@u.washington.edu 2 hours credit/no credit Offered spring 2011

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