[Note: Recently a helpful article titled “Preparation of Manuscripts for Publication: Improving Your Chances for Success” appeared in the journal Clinical Chemistry. A link to this article now appears in the AuthorAID Resource Library. In the guest post below, one of the authors of this article, Thomas Annesley, presents some tips. Thanks, Tom! –Barbara]
There is an old saying “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is true not only for job interviews and first dates but for a manuscript as well. So make every section of a manuscript count the first time.
- The initial and sometimes only chance to bring attention to your work.
- Contains the words busy readers see first and use to create a first impression.
- Should include terms you want indexing services and readers to associate with your work.
- Succinctly presents the rationale for the study, a clear description of methods used, data that support the main message, and conclusions about the value and impact of the study.
- Exceeding the word limit irritates editors.
- Brief background establishing the context of the subject matter.
- Description of the rationale for the study (for example, knowledge gap, unmet need, points of controversy).
- Summarizes the study goals or hypothesis tested.
Methods, Results, Discussion
- Methods in the Methods section only, not repeated in Results.
- Results in the Results section only, not repeated in Discussion.
Figures and Tables
- Avoid complex figures and tables with too much data or too many panels.
- Use font size that is large enough and symbols that are easy to distinguish.
- Test figure readability by reducing to 50 mm by 50 mm size.
- Test table readability by reducing to size of one printed page.
Responding to Reviewer Comments
- Reviewers are volunteers who do their best. Remember that when responding.
- Although it is frustrating to read criticisms, most suggested changes actually improve the manuscript.