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Tips on Writing a Scientific Article

Fred Holt
 


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Writing a scientific article is never easy - even for the most experienced. It is time-consuming and, almost without exception, hard work. Nevertheless, it should be an enjoyable challenge. Only when published can one's thoughts and ideas, findings, conclusions and suggestions reach other surgeons and clinical scientists. Any article - no matter how ‘low key’ at the time of its publication - becomes part of the ‘body of scientific knowledge', forever available to others to read, reread, refine, accept or reject.

This year the Egyptian Group for Science and Surgical Research will publish four articles in The Egyptian Journal of Surgery covering the essential points on how to write a scientific paper. We hope these articles will facilitate and ease the task of writing your research results and help in its acceptance for publication.

It would seem logical to start with the introduction because it forces you to put into words why the study was carried out and why you believe your findings are worth reporting. For some, it may be the hardest place to start and many would advise to start by committing the factual information (methods and results) to the paper first.

The first sentence is always the hardest: start with the aspect with which you are most comfortable. Remember, this is the first draft of your article; to attempt to achieve perfection at this stage is impossible and time should not be wasted at this initial stage on details of style, refinement of sentences, or choice of words.

The general purpose of each of the sections of an article can be summarized as follows:

THE ACTUAL PAPER

Title page

The title page should state the title of the paper, authors and their various institutions and lastly the name and address of the corresponding author who will be responsible for all future correspondence related to the paper.

A title should convey information on the research question, area of research, and the research method. Try to be brief, maximum information in fewer words, do not exceed 12-15 words. Avoid excessive adjectives and noun strings.

List all authors (Initials of first names followed by family name). Start with authors who had more of a practical role followed by authors who had a more advisory role.

It is good policy to include in the authorship any individual who has contributed to the concept and design of the study, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafting the article or revising it critically.

The abstract

Abstracts are summaries of the chief points of a study and should state why the study was done, what was done, what was found, and what was concluded. Every effort should be done to produce a good quality abstract as it is the ‘shop window’ through which you wish to sell your research to your fellow readers or as a ‘carrot’ which you hope will attract the readers to read the rest of your paper.

Recently, there has a trend towards a more structured abstract with several subheadings summarizing the whole paper in no more than 200 words. The commonly used sections are background, methods, results, and conclusions. However, it is important to follow the journal guidelines on these issues.

Introduction

The main job of the introduction is to tell the readers why you have undertaken the study. It should explain briefly the unsolved aspect of the subject of your investigation and should clearly highlight what you propose to do about it. Ideally, the opening of the introduction should be intelligible and interesting even to someone outside the field. It is unnecessary to present a chronological sequence of much of the previous work on the subject in question. You only need to mention those directly related to the problem your paper is addressing. It is good policy to write one sentence describing the study design.

This could be written at the end of the introduction. Do not mention any of your results or conclusions in your introduction. Frequently the introduction is too long; many authors confuse the role of the introduction with that of the discussion section.

Keep it short as readers can easily get bored and may never make it through to you important results.

Methods

The methods section should describe, in logical sequence, how your study was designed and carried out and how you analyzed your data. Your description must be complete, even to the extent of being pedantic and boring. Sufficient detail must be provided so that others may replicate your investigation. A diagram or flow chart explaining the steps of the study will always be reader friendly. Writing this section in detail before embarking on the actual study guarantees its sound execution.

Fred Holt, M. A. (English) from University of New Jersey, specialized in teaching content writing, business, and technical communication. He is skilled in MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style. His work included writing, editing and proofreading Seo writing and Write Articles . He has also written many other documents, including resumes, application letters, bibliographies and also buy articles service.

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