Medical science consists to a largedegree of discussion and exchange of experience and observations. These may occur via direct dialog among scientists, presentationsat conferences, and by means of scientificmanuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. Only50% of abstracts presented at scientificmeetings are published in peer-reviewed journals.
This is surprising, given that publication of manuscripts is used as a measureof academic success by investigators, their colleagues, their department chair, and thosewho fund their studies. This manuscript isintended to provide step by step instruction onhow to write a scientific manuscript. The purpose is to provide a cure for “writer's block,” and thus enhance a successful scientificcareer.
The audience for this manuscript is the junior academician who needs guidance on howto write a manuscript. There are many ways of tackling manuscripts, and this approach ismerely one straightforward method. Althoughthe envisioned manuscript is the researchreport, these same principles apply,
, to review articles, brief reports,editorials, and case reports.
Step 1: Read the Guide for Authors
Most journals have a Guide for Authorsthat is printed at least once yearly and isavailable online.
Anesthesia & Analgesia
offersan unusually comprehensive Guide for Authors,which appears yearly as a Special Article
aswell as being available online.
Prior to preparing your manuscript, download andcarefully read the Guide for Authors of the journal where you intend to submit your manuscript. There will be detailed informationabout the interest and scope of the journal,specific information about manuscript types,and detailed instructions on formatting your manuscript. Editors and reviewers notice whenauthors have not even bothered to read theGuide for Authors or flagrantly disregard
http://www.aaeditor.org/GuideForAuthors.pdf, last accessedAugust 4, 2009
instructions on manuscript preparation, style,and formatting.
Anesthesia & Analgesia
alsorecommends that authors read “The Elementsof Style” by W. Strunk and E.B. White.
This isa modest and inexpensive text that can be readin a few hours. It describes a very clear andsuccinct writing style that is appropriate for scientific publications.
Step 2: Write the Materials and Methods
The Materials and Methods section isthe most critical part of the manuscript. Itshould describe what,
, you did in thestudy. Typically there is a handy document thatalready describes the materials and methods:the study protocol. Therefore, an easy andlogical place to start is to cut and paste thestudy protocol into your Materials and Methodssection.The Materials and Methods sectionshould typically consist of fewer than 1,000words. A simple laboratory study might beshorter than this, while a protocol thatintroduces new methodology may require avery extensive explanation. The materials andmethods should describe the study in sufficientdetail so that a skilled investigator in the fieldcould replicate the study. If the study uses previously published methodology, appropriatereference should be supplied. Often the materialand methods will use methodology that has been previously used by the laboratory, for example a particular assay or experimentalmodel. In this case, it is acceptable to adaptverbatim previously published material
by the same author.
If your study involves human subjects,always start with a statement about InstitutionalReview Board approval and informed consent.If your study involves animal subjects, alwaysstart with a statement about approval from theappropriate review board. Following these,describe your study population in explicit
2Of course, it is never acceptable to copy text by another author without appropriate reference and the use of quotation marks if the text is copied verbatim.