Favorite editing tips and resources

Over my career in scientific writing and editing, I’ve found many helpful lists, tips, and resources that I’ve gathered here for your reference.

At the 2014 AAAS meeting, Barbara Gastel presented “Editing Your Own Papers and Proposals: How to Wow Reviewers and Aid Readers.” See the handout [pdf] from this session that includes editing checklists.

Here’s an editing checklist [pdf] from Grammar Girl that comes in handy when writing or editing your own work.

Ten writing tips for ESL academic authors from Text and Academic Authors.

Rookie Mistakes That Even Veterans Make” [pdf] was presented by Bill Walsh of The Washington Post at the American Copy Editors Society meeting in 2014.

Last but not least, see what happens when medical writing and editing go wrong with the Dizzy Awards 2012.

Why hire a medical writer?

Professional medical communicators (writers, editors, or developers) are skilled at clearly communicating science. Since they are intimately familiar with style guides, reporting requirements, and proper English usage, professional writers can efficiently process your scientific data into a coherent document.

This still life depicts a white ceramic coffee cup in the background, which was placed next to a stack of books. The uppermost book in this stack was opened to the last page read, bookmarking the reader’s place in this text. In the foreground was a computer keyboard atop which a pair of reading glasses had been placed.
Image taken by Amanda Mills, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To someone outside the field of medical communications, the value of a medical writer is not always obvious. You might ask yourself “Why should I work with a medical writer when I can write up my data?”

A good medical writer will add these qualities to your project:

  1. Efficiency – The writer specializes in creating documents that are logically organized, readable, and scientifically thorough. A professional medical writer can complete the job in a shorter amount of time than someone who does not write for a living.
  2. Eye for detail – The writer will take care of endless details that most authors are unaware of but publishers and regulatory bodies take seriously.
  3. Adherence to guidelines and requirements – The writer will seamlessly implement any formatting or content requirements in your document, which will go a long way to facilitate the publication or approval process.

 

Want data to back up these claims?

A survey of journal editors showed that “poorly written, excessive jargon” topped the list of problems seen in manuscripts, with most editors reporting that it happens “frequently.” This was followed closely by “inadequate or inappropriate presentation” as the second most common problem.
From Byrne DW. Publishing Your Medical Research Papers. 1998.

A recent study showed that authors and editors are not adhering to reporting guidelines in manuscripts that present data from animal studies. “As many as 55% (95% CI 46.7%–62.3%) of studies, however, included analyses based on what we consider to be inappropriate statistical tests.”
From Baker D, et al. “Two Years Later: Journals Are Not Yet Enforcing the ARRIVE Guidelines on Reporting Standards for Pre-Clinical Animal Studies.PLoS Bio, 2014)

“When professional medical writers help authors prepare manuscripts, these manuscripts are less likely to be retracted for misconduct, are more compliant with best-practice reporting guidelines, and are accepted more quickly for publication.
From Wolley KL, et al. “Poor compliance with reporting research results.” Curr Med Res Opin, 2012.

 

Top 10 attributes of a good Medical Writer, courtesy of SIRO Clinpharm

“Publish that Paper” just released: Free e-course to improve your scientific publication record

Researcher performing work at a laptop computer.

Are you having a difficult time writing a scientific paper? Do you want to publish your manuscripts in more prestigious journals? You are not alone.

It is becoming harder to receive recognition for your manuscript (in the form of citations) when competing against the approximate 1.8 million articles published each year and growing at 3% per year. At some established journals, rejection rates are on the rise because of an increased number of submissions.

I’ve just released a free e-course, “Publish that Paper,” to help you polish your scientific manuscripts and boost your publication record.  You’ll learn tips and techniques that will help your papers get accepted quickly.  Editors will appreciate the improved results and colleagues will praise your clear data.

To become a world-class scientist today one must…be able to navigate the publishing process with skill and speed, as well as write with clarity, accuracy, and grace. Monica Bradford, Executive Editor, Science

Cartoon depicting peer review as a series of physical beatings.
Cartoon by Nick D Kim, scienceandink.com. Used by permission.

The content in these lessons is meant to be general enough to apply to manuscripts across all STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) fields.

Publish that Paper” is a 14-part e-course that I developed to help scientists clearly communicate their research. At the end of the lessons, you will have amassed a list of resources and guidelines that you can refer back to as often as needed.

Tell me what you need to learn about scientific publication. What is the biggest thing you’re struggling with today? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have questions about the e-course? Please email me and I will be happy to help out.