Meet our editors and proofreaders: Sarah

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Sarah

dr Sarah

Sarah, PhD in history University of St Andrews

As a part of “Meet our editors and proofreaders” series, we interview some of the native speakers who edit and proofread your texts. Today we publish an interview with Sarah, PhD in History, from the University of St Andrews. She discusses her work and provides helpful advice about how to improve your academic writing.

Research interests

eCORRECTOR: What are you researching?
Sarah: I’m researching medieval English law. My main focus is on how cases were argued in court and how legal experts gained their knowledge.

eCORRECTOR: What inspires you about research?
Sarah: I really enjoy getting to read through manuscripts from 800 years ago to try to find out what people were thinking! It makes the Middle Ages seem so much more real.

eCORRECTOR: What is the major scientific challenge, in your field, for this decade?
Sarah: The major challenge to medieval legal history today is that we need to reassess the sources. Most of our scholarship is based on work done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which focused on institutionalised law and neglected large bodies of local, customary law.

eCORRECTOR: Have you read a breakthrough paper recently?
Sarah: I recently discovered that people in the twelfth century sometimes tried to use their last wills to distribute land (which you can’t legally do in the Middle Ages). This shows that people were willing to experiment with the laws that were available to see what they could get away with.

Golden tips about writing papers

eCORRECTOR: What is your golden piece of advice when writing a paper?
Sarah: Write an outline before your start ? the more detailed, the better! Then you can just fill in the blanks with your research.

eCORRECTOR: What is the most common mistake you notice when you edit/proof papers?
Sarah: Grammatically, the construction “allows to” appears very frequently. In English grammar, words like ?allow? and ?let? have to have a direct object before the infinitive, such as ?this case allows me to examine?? as opposed to ?this case allows to examine??. You can also get around this by saying, ?this case allows for the examination of??, which is just a slightly different construction that lets you avoid the first person. Ridiculous, I know! 

eCORRECTOR: Do you have a presentation/stylistic tip?
Sarah: Use the same font throughout the entire paper, 12 point for the main text and 10 point for the footnotes. It seems like a small thing, but it makes a very big difference to how professional your paper looks.

eCORRECTOR: What example phrase should you use when writing a paper?
Sarah: I’m quite fond of the phrase “X is crucial for our understanding of Y because…” . It makes the point very strongly!

About tools and motivation

eCORRECTOR: How do you get motivated to start writing a paper?
Sarah: I start by organising all my evidence. Once I’ve done that, I can see what kind of an outline I need to write and might even have half of the paper written already!
When I’m having a hard time getting started, I set a timer for 15 minutes. Then, I write as much as I can in that time (even if it’s nonsense) and see what I have. The time limit makes me feel like I am writing for a deadline and doesn’t let me procrastinate.

eCORRECTOR: Can you recommend any app/tool for improving scientific writing?
Sarah: I highly recommend using Zotero or another citation software (Endnote, Mendeley) to do your references. This will ensure that you use the same format throughout and takes care of all the repeat references by automatically using “ibid.” and short-form citations.
Grammarly is also helpful, but the professional version can do more harm than good for non-English speakers, as it does not always understand what you are trying to say and will suggest things that are incorrect.

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Anthony

dr Anthony

Anthony, PhD in Urban Studies,
The University of Sheffield

Meet our editors and proofreaders: Anthony

As a part of “Meet our editors and proofreaders” series, we interview some of the native speakers who edit and proofread your texts. We started with Anthony, PhD in Urban Studies, from the University of Sheffield. He discusses his work and provides helpful advice about how to improve your academic writing.

Research interests

What are you researching?
My research has focused on the politics and management of urban infrastructures ? how cities manage their energy and water networks, how their telecommunications infrastructures are managed, and how transport operates. In an age of tight public finances, ageing infrastructures, growing climate concerns and debates over privatisation and nationalisation, how these infrastructures are managed is a vital public concern.

What inspires you about research?
The ability to learn something new and ?create? knowledge. Many academics have the stereotype of wanting to change the world (and that was what also inspired me to get into research), but the ability to delve deep into a subject and to fully understand the mechanics at work in a particular area is truly inspirational.

What is the major scientific challenge, in your field, for this decade?
Giving cities (and nations) the ability to fund and operate their existing infrastructures in a climate-friendly and cost-effective way in an age of dwindling natural resources and tight finances, while being able to provide fair and equitable access to all members of society.

Have you read a breakthrough paper recently?
Not really a recent paper (as it was published in 2001) but ?Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition? was a book I?d recommend to anyone involved in infrastructure research.

What made it great?
Occasionally you find a book or a paper that manages to tackle all the complexities and interactions that are already swirling around in your mind, and simplify them to such an extent that you can just sit there and think, ?of course, that?s exactly what happens?.

Golden tips about writing papers

How do you get motivated to start writing a paper?
I always find it easier to start writing a new piece of work than to finish an existing piece. New papers are exciting and fun, and you have a world of possibilities as to where your argument will take you. The problem for me is how to get over the boredom and annoyance that follows that initial excitement, when writing begins to feel more like actual work. My advice is to just keep writing. It doesn?t matter what, just keep at it. Put the words on the page as you think of them and just see what comes out. Stephen King famously writes around 2,000 words every single day ? some are good, some are not so good. But keep practicing!

What is your golden piece of advice when writing a paper?
Signpost your argument. I can?t overstate how important this is for the reader. ?In this paper I will? I start by examining? before moving onto? This will allow?? A reader is unlikely to read your paper more than once (and even if someone does download your paper, it is likely they will skim through to the most important parts ? academics are busy people!). Being able to see where your argument is going and being able to pre-empt what comes next gives the reader some impetus to keep reading.

What is the most common mistake you notice when you edit/proof papers?
Ignoring the question ?so what?? Why should I read your paper? What is the end goal? You might have invented the most efficient solar panel that has ever existed, but if you do not explicitly state this in the introduction and conclusion, then I will be reading nothing more than equations and difficult technical language that I may not understand, and your paper will be lost amongst the hundreds of thousands of other papers that are published each year.

Do you have a presentation/stylistic tip?
Try not to write overly long sentences. If you cannot avoid this, then sprinkle a few very short sentences into the text. Like this. A reader needs to able to ?breathe? when they are reading your paper, even if it is only in their heads. With sentences that get far too long and far too convoluted and fail to include any forms of punctuation that can help to break up the text to give the reader time to pause they can forget the point you are trying to make before they even get to the end of the sentence. So, break it up. Regularly.

Can you recommend any app/tool for improving scientific writing?
Referencing software (EndNote, Mendeley) can be useful to help reduce the annoyances that come from fixing your references, but bear in mind they are not always accurate.

Academic writing with Springer

Academic writing with Springer

At the end of July, we completed the #scientificwritingtips monthly project on Facebook where we shared some helpful advice on writing research papers. The two that received the most likes were: advice #19: Never use the passive where you can use the active; followed by tip #15: Never use a long word where a short one will do.

How to submit a paper ? short videos

How to submit a paper ? short videos

eCORRECTOR is a scientific proofreading and editing service founded in 2013. To date, we have helped thousands of scientists publish their results in renowned international peer-reviewed journals. We aim to help non-native speakers of English improve the language of their manuscripts in the hope that the results will be expressed in the strongest possible way. eCORRECTOR has a large network of native English PhD proofreaders and editors, many of whom are actively publishing scientists.

In line with our goal of helping scientists publish their work, we have prepared a series of short videos, each lasting between 10 and 20 minutes, covering all major themes of the journal submission and publication processes. Each video focusses on a different but essential theme and has been prepared by Dr Mark J. Hunt, our Head of Quality Control and founder member of eCORRECTOR. Mark has over 30 international peer-reviewed publications and serves as a reviewer for a number of international peer-reviewed journals.

paper

Our previous video can be found here and is entitled ?What happens when I submit my paper?. This video was a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you submit your work for publication, how editors and reviewers evaluate your work, and the types of final decisions authors may receive from the journal.

 

We have just uploaded our second video! It can be found here and is entitled ?How to submit a paper?. This includes a real-life example of a paper submission process. In the video, Dr Hunt shows to the viewer all the key stages of the submission procedure on a live journal submission panel. Although submission procedures at each journal are slightly different, the overall principles are the same. This particular video is aimed at PhD students or young postdocs who may never have seen how a paper is submitted or how this is done.

This video (?How to submit a paper?) lasts 13 minutes and covers 4 main aspects:

Author instructions ? specifications authors need to follow for their target journal;
Basic manuscript information ? abstract, main title, running title, word counts;
Cover letter ? an example of a typical cover letter;
Merged PDF ? an example of a merged PDF, which is what the reviewers receive.

This will be followed by further videos in the series. The topics covered in the future will include ?How to start writing your first paper?, ?How to respond to reviewers? comments?, and ?7 easy steps to improve your scientific writing?. Together, these videos will cover all the key aspects of the publication process, from submission to eventual acceptance.

If you would like to leave any feedback, or if there is a particular topic you would like covered, please contact us at info@ecorrector.com and let us know.

Summary of the Medical Science Pulse Conference in Opole

Summary of the Medical Science Pulse Conference in Opole

Last month we had the honour of being a guest and participant of the 6th International Conference Medical Science Pulse in Opole. We are grateful for the invitation and possibility of being a part of this splendid event alongside other prominent scientists from Europe and the United States. During the conference, we were able to hear a number of fascinating speeches and join diverse workshops. Our Head of Proofreading, dr hab. Mark Hunt, delivered a lecture entitled ?Ways to improve your scientific writing.? As an experienced scientist with a record of publications in prestigious journals as well as a reviewer, he could present the step-by-step approach to preparing a good publication. Lecture participants could also learn about things that could be changed in the manner of writing and the course of the entire creative process that would help achieve the best result. The goal is, naturally, a smooth review process ? for this reason, the second speech of our Founder regarded preparing persuasive replies to review remarks (?How to write a convincing response to reviewers letter??).

The same area is touched upon in our article published in the current issue of Medical Science Pulse (?How to write an effective response letter to reviewers?? M.J. Hunt, M. Ochmańska, J. Cilulko-Dołęga).

The conference was also a place for discussions and establishing new contacts. This year, we could participate in a celebratory dinner with fine cuisine, great music and the opportunity to show off our dancing skills in the garden of the Radiowa restaurant. An additional attraction on the second day of the conference was a walk around the Opole zoo and Bolko island.

We are proud to announce that as a result of the hard work of the editorial team and maintaining a high level (both content-related and language-based) of publications the Medical Science Pulse quarterly has been granted 20 points on the list of journals of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. It is worth pointing out that it is the only scientific journal devoted to medicine and health sciences in the Opolskie Voivodeship that made that list.

The fascinating programme, numerous attractions and the dynamic development of Medical Science Pulse makes us proud of being able to attend this great conference and contributing to the abovementioned improvements. We are eager to see what the organisers are preparing for next year! 

All-Poland Scientific Conference of Student Scientific Circles of Psychiatry as well as Children and Youth Psychiatry “On the Other Side of the Mirror”

All-Poland Scientific Conference of Student Scientific Circles of Psychiatry as well as Children and Youth Psychiatry “On the Other Side of the Mirror”

On Saturday, April 13, eCORRECTOR participated in the third edition of the All-Poland Scientific Conference of Student Scientific Circles of Psychiatry as well as Children and Youth Psychiatry ?On the Other Side of the Mirror? as one of the sponsors. The first edition took place in 2016 and we have been supporting the event since 2017. The main organisers are the Student Scientific Circle for Psychiatry active at the Department and Clinic of Psychiatry of the Medical University of Warsaw and the Student Scientific Circle for Children and Youth Psychiatry active at the Clinic of Developmental Psychiatry of the Medical University of Warsaw. This year, eCORRECTOR gave away notepads and pens to conference participants ? we hope they will prove useful during the lectures and workshops.

The organisers wish to create a space for cooperation and integration among future doctors of medicine who wish to specialise in psychiatry and psychologists. It is also a great opportunity for students and PhD candidates to expand their knowledge regarding psychiatry and child psychiatry as well as present the results of their research.

The third edition of the ?On the Other Side of the Mirror? conference was located in the Independent Public Children Clinic in Warsaw, with the lectures preceded by workshops.

eCORRECTOR?s Head of Proofreading, dr hab. Mark Hunt conducted a workshop entitled ?Essentials of Good Medical Writing for Research Papers?, and discussed the most important features of a good academic publication in medical sciences. The workshop was conducted in English and the participants were able to find answers to burning questions regarding academic writing.

Writing scientific papers is an inseparable element of a scientific career path; therefore, it may be assumed that it is among crucial skills of an academic. Sometimes research may take years as some endeavours are labour-intensive, costly and complex. All of that effort seems to be in vain if it is not crowned by a perfect publication on an international forum ? sharing the discoveries with the world and providing new reliable information is the mission of each researcher.  A good publication has to be a clear and comprehensible message so everyone reading it may replicate the methodology as well as understand the thesis, results and conclusions. The title and abstract have to be perfect, tables and figures legible and well though-out. The work has to point out what has already been discovered in the area and support those claims with relevant sources. The presented claims and conclusions should also be juxtaposed with the disclosed accomplishments of other scholars.

During the workshops included in the ?On the Other Side of the Mirror? conference schedule, dr hab. Mark Hunt talked about ways to write a good medical paper. Our Head of Proofreading provided some tips on working on individual sections of the publication, organising subsections as well as an informed and transparent discussion. He also pointed out the most common errors in preparing a publication, along with advice on how to avoid them. Additionally, workshop participants learned about common language errors in scientific publications of persons who are not native speakers of English. Some useful software tools that students may use while preparing their first academic papers were mentioned at the end.

We believe that the workshop was full of useful information that will surely upgrade the writing of all scientists present there, not only the youngest ones. We are delighted to have been invited and to have been able to attend the meeting.

eCORRECTOR in 2018 ? a retrospect

eCORRECTOR in 2018 ? a retrospect

The beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to take a look at the passing 2018. We would also like to use this opportunity to wish our customers and native speakers all the best in 2019 – may it be a year of success and reaching for the stars.

A lot has changes at eCORRECTOR in 2018 ? top quality is still our paramount objective and we aim at it tirelessly. Introducing new paths in our functioning aims at providing tailor-made native speaker proofreading and translation services. Some have already been applied and it is our hope that they have a direct positive impact on the quality of our translation and proofreading services. Below you can find some highlights of 2018 at our company.

Projects – more and larger

Each year, we manage to successfully complete more and more native speaker proofreading and translation projects. There were about 5 000 of those in 2018 ? that’s 50% more than last year! Autumn was the busiest season for our native speakers, though some projects lasted throughout the entire year. We also carry out more and more projects using CAT tools, which allows us to complete larger projects within a shorter deadline. Returning customers prove that the quality of our scientific proofreading is very high.

Unique undertakings

This year was also a time of new tasks. We assisted our partners in preparing English-Arabic and English-Icelandic dictionaties. Our native speakers took part in an interesting project concerning emojis. We also took up a challenge of recording voice messages for one of our customers. Finally, namy fascinating discoveries got published thanks to our specialist proofreading service.

Conitnuations and novelties

We have prepared various entires in the Scientist’s Library, expanding the already rich offer of materials for academics willing to publish in English. We are also continuously working on the academic writing guidebooks. There was also a series of free online consultations with a native speaker, where you could ask questions about the English language.

New partners

We have established numerous business contacts with companies from the USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, the Czech Republic or Lithuania. We have also entered into a partnership deal with Smartcat. Together, we launched a campaign to increase the awareness of CAT tools amongst translators by hosting our first webinar. eCORRECTOR cooperates with a lot of universities and research facilities. Our new partners this year are, among others, the Museum of Koszalin, University of Casimir the Great, journals such as Human Movement, Meteorology Hydrology and Water Management ? Research and Operational Applicationand the Scientific Journals of the Maritime University in Szczecin.

Meeting partners, customers and translators

We participated in scientific conferences and industry events, where we could ponder upon translation itself and the education of translation specialists in Poland and worldwide. We started at the 5th International Conference Medical Science Pulse ?Interdisciplinary Science & Research? and the Warsaw edition of LocWorld, where we discussed the art of writing scientific texts. Another step was the Smartcat Partner Day in Warsaw ? our speech regarded the opportunities this CAT tool opens up for LSPs. Next, we attended the Konferencja Tłumaczy, where we talked about CAT education of Polish translators. During the Dimensions of Business Language and Culture DOBLAC  2018 event, we could present the technological means of providing top quality services. Incidentally, we also went to Zurich Zand the Russian Techtextil Week!

We are very eager to welcome the challenges of 2019. It is our hope that we will be able to assist you in reaching for the established goal by providing top quality native speaker services. 

O eCORRECTOR:
Cel działalności: dostarczenie tekstu, który będzie odpowiednio odczytany przez czytelników obcojęzycznych ? pozbawiony wpadek kulturowych czy nienaturalnych wyrażeń.

Wśród naszych klientów znajdują się osoby prywatne, instytucje kulturalne i państwowe, uniwersytety oraz ludzie nauki. Grono naszych zadowolonych klientów powiększa się bardzo szybko, co jest kolejnym dowodem naszego profesjonalizmu i rzetelności. Stale współpracujemy z kilkuset native speakerami języków docelowych, dokładnie weryfikując jakość ich pracy

Language barrier should not stop your academic career

Language barrier should not stop your academic career

Some say that science is the universal language of the world. While it holds true for calculations, formulas and equations, other areas need natural languages. It is true that English has become the lingua franca of the scientific community. The expansion is so great that we sometimes forget that famous scientists were not actually native speakers of English. Quite a lot of people can quote Albert Einstein?s words and probably everyone can recognise him in pictures ? but who can remember he was actually German-born?

A vast majority of publications is written in this language for a simple reason ? academic usually hold at least a communicative command of English. It makes it possible for them to exchange ideas, learn about new discoveries and work in international research teams. Therefore, publishing papers in English seems like a natural choice. Problems arise when the article is to be reviewed by a native speaker of English with a degree in a related field. This person will not only point out language mishaps but also bumps in the flow of the paper. What is the solution? Services of another native speaker of English with at least a Ph.D. in a related field.

eCORRECTOR is able to help you in this area. We work with native speakers of various target languages who are experiences academics themselves. They know the struggle you?re facing while preparing a manuscript. It is our pleasure to help you break the limits of languages and contribute to the global pool of academic knowledge.

About eCORRECTOR:

Mission statement: to ensure textually clear, grammatically correct and properly localised proofreading and translations by native speakers of the target language.

eCORRECTOR has an excellent track record of providing proofreading and translations to individual academics, institutes and businesses. We are building a solid reputation and have a large number of customers who reuse our services as well as recommended it to others.

Your 2018 scientific resolution

Your 2018 scientific resolution

As 2018 approached, many of us made a resolution ? to stop smoking, eat more healthy, read one book a week?How about your academic career? Have you made a commitment to improve your writing skills this year? We have delved into the depths of out Scientist?s Library to recommend our favourites ? and the choice was not that easy!

One of the ways you can fulfil this promise ? whether you?ve made it earlier or are considering it just now ? is to familiarise yourself with a publication that discusses all tricks of this trade.  To learn the basics, we recommend our first scientific writing guide devoted to this issue. You can find its online edition right here: https://ecorrector.com/advice-writing-better-scientific-articles/. We also published several other guides that are devoted to the specificity of academic writing in particular areas.

If you would like to learn more, our Scientist?s Library has many published resources to offer. For those of you that want to solifidy your knowledge, we recommend The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. Those of you that need only a few tips to become masters of academic writing may highly enjoy Writing and Publishing a Scientific Research Paper. Other publications addressing the issue of academic writing may be found here: https://ecorrector.com/published-books/.

Some of us prefer a more direct contact with a subject-matter specialist ? here?s where webinars come in handy! Our Scientist?s Library also features a number of short movies and recordings that prove that scientific writing is a skill you can master. We all can enjoy The University of British Columbia Science Writing, while those more thorough can find Publishing Your Research 101 highly interesting.

We sincerely hope that you will find some useful materials in our Scientist?s Library to complete your resolution. The entire eCORRECTOR team wishes you all the best in the upcoming 12 months! If you have any questions, you can contact us via email (info@ecorrector.com) or via the expert chat.

About eCORRECTOR:

Mission statement: to ensure textually clear, grammatically correct and properly localised proofreading and translations by native speakers of the target language.

 eCORRECTOR has an excellent track record of providing proofreading and translations to individual academics, institutes and businesses. We are building a solid reputation and have a large number of customers who reuse our services as well as recommended it to others.

Article Writing Guide for Molecular Biology

Article Writing Guide for Molecular Biology

This guide is designed for authors intending to submit their work for publication in international peer-reviewed journals. This edition of the guide focuses on molecular biology and provides useful information that will assist authors as they prepare their manuscripts for submission. This guide provides an overview of the main sections of a standard manuscript (abstract, introduction, methods, results, figures and discussion). Advice on how each section should be arranged, as well as certain things to avoid, can be found in the guide.

TITLE

  • The article title should be self-explanatory.
  • The title should make the work clear without having to read the paper itself.
  • The title should be a firm, declarative statement. Avoid using phrases such as “Studies of?” or “Investigation of?”
  • An example of a good title is as follows: “The Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of Populations of the Bacterium, Escherichia coli”.

The title reports what the author has done by addressing three things:

  1. The environmental factors that were manipulated (light, temperature).
  2. The parameter that was measured (growth).
  3. The specific organism that was studied (Escherichia coli).
  • If the title had been only “Effects of Light and Temperature on Escherichia coli“, the reader would have to guess which parameters were measured. (Were the effects on reproduction, survival, dry weight or something else?)
  • If the title had been “Effect of Environmental Factors on Growth of Escherichia coli “, the reader would not know which environmental factors were manipulated.
  • If the title had been “Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of an Organism”, then the reader would not know which organism was studied.

ABSTRACT

  • In general, abstract addresses the following questions.
    • What is the importance of the manuscript? (potential connection to human interest, disease, process discovery, long-standing questions, etc.)
    • What is the question being posed in the article?
      • This will be related to the introduction. Make sure to clearly state the purpose in the first or second sentence.
    • What were approaches taken to answer the question?
      • This will be further expanded in the methods section. Name or briefly describe the key methodology without going into excessive detail.
    • What are the results?
      • Report the results related to the question that was asked.
    • Why do the results matter? (connection to the big picture)

An abstract should not contain:

  • Lengthy background information
  • References to other literature
  • Abbreviations or terms that would be confusing to the reader
  • Any form of illustrations, figures, tables, or references to them
  • Since the abstract can have a word limit, it is important for it to be succinct while providing the most information possible. Below is an example of how to keep the information direct and easy to understand.
    • Problem example: Taken together, these results represent the first demonstration of silencing of a metabolic gene central to pathogenesis by aberrant DNA methylation, offering a possible explanation for the less malignant phenotype of XX cells relative to YY-dependent cells.
    • Improved example: Our results demonstrate silencing of a metabolic gene central to pathogenesis by aberrant DNA methylation, offering a possible explanation for the less malignant growth phenotype of XX cells relative to YY-dependent cells.
    • Best example: Here we provide the first direct link between metabolic gene silencing by aberrant DNA methylation and pathogenesis. Importantly, these findings offer a possible molecular explanation for the less malignant phenotype of XX cells relative to YY-dependent cells.
  • Since the abstract is a precise summary of the manuscript, it should be written last.

INTRODUCTION

The manuscript introduction serves several functions.

  1. To establish the context of the work. It is important to discuss relevant primary research literature, including proper citations, and summarizing the current understanding of the investigated problem.
  2. States the purpose in the form of a hypothesis.
  3. Explains the rationale, approach, and possible outcomes that the study provides.

The information contained in the introduction should flow in a logical manner that is easy for the reader to process. An example structure is as follows.

  1. Begin the introduction by clearly identifying the subject area of interest.
    • Use key words from the title in the first few sentences of the introduction to focus the topic. This allows for focus on the manuscript subject without becoming too general.
    • For example, in an animal behavior paper, the words behavior and hormone would appear in the first few sentences of the introduction.
  2. Provide a brief review of relevant, published literature.
    • Give a general review of the primary research literature with citations. However, do not include lengthy background explanations.
    • Begin with a general idea then narrow the focus to the specific topic. For example, use the literature to start broadly (hormonal modulation of behaviors) to the specific topic of interest (effect of studied reproductive hormone on mating behavior in mice).
    • Cite articles specific to the study and not general background references.
  3. Clearly state the hypothesis/purpose of the manuscript.
  4. Give a clear rationale for your approach to the problem presented.
    • For example, state briefly how you approached the problem. This typically follows the hypothesis statement.  The rationale for the study can address why you chose this type of experimental design, the scientific merits of your particular model system, and the advantages of using your system to explore the issue.

Do not include specific techniques in the introduction as they will be discussed in the materials and methods section.

MATERIALS & METHODS

This section serves as a guideline to experimental design and execution. It should be written in such a way that other researchers can repeat your experiments with little difficulty.

The materials and methods section follows a general structure and organization.

  1. It discusses the organism(s) studied (human, animal, etc.) and their pre-experiment handling and care.
  2. It gives experimental/sample design. For example, list how the experiment was structured.  Give controls, treatment conditions, the measured variable, the number of samples collected, replicates, etc.
  3. List the protocol used for data collection and explain how the experimental procedures were carried out.
  4. Report how the data were analyzed. This can be qualitative analyses, statistical procedures, or whatever is applicable for the experiments performed.

It is common for the materials and methods section to be too wordy. It is important to avoid repeatedly using a single sentence to describe a single action.  There are simple ways to make your method descriptions more concise but still easily understandable.

  • Problem example: The petri dish was placed on the turntable. The lid was then raised slightly. An inoculating loop was used to transfer culture to the agar surface. The turntable was rotated 90 degrees by hand. The loop was moved lightly back and forth over the agar to spread the culture. The bacteria were then incubated at 37o C for 24 hr.
  • Improved Example: Each plate was placed on a turntable and streaked at opposing angles with fresh overnight coli culture using an inoculating loop. The bacteria were then incubated at 37o C for 24 hr.
  • Best example: Each plate was streaked with fresh overnight coli culture and incubated at 37o C for 24 hr.
  • Include the company information (company, location) for uncommon, purchased reagents.

RESULTS

  • The body of the results section is a text-based presentation of the key findings which includes references to each of the figures and/or tables.
  • It is easiest to write the results based off of figures and/or tables. The structure of the text should follow the sequence of the figures and/or tables.
  • Present the experimental results in a sequence that will logically support the hypothesis.
  • The results are essential for the discussion, so only present the data. It will be further expanded in the discussion section.
  • The key results that are presented depend on the questions that were asked. They may include obvious trends, critical differences, similarities, correlations, etc.

Easy ways to keep the results understandable and simple for the reader:

  • Do not reiterate the exact values from a figure or table. Only convey the key result or trend.
  • Do not report raw data values when they can be generalized in the text.

It?s important to include negative results even if they don?t support your hypothesis.

FIGURES & TABLES

  • As a general rule, figures are used for comparison of experimental results while tables give actual experimental results.
  • Figures and tables should be self-explanatory and able to be understood without reference to the text.
  • Figures and table should be sequentially numbered.
  • Figures and tables are assigned numbers separately and in the sequence they are referred to in the text.

Each figure or table must include a brief description of the results being presented in a legend.

  • Figure legends are positioned below the figure.
  • Table legends are positioned above the table.

Appearance is critical.

  • Avoid crowded plots and use well-selected graph scales.
  • Use an appropriate axis label size for easy readability.
  • Include clear symbols and data sets that are easy to distinguish.
  • Do not add extensive, cumbersome tables as they can be included in the supplementary material.

DISCUSSION

  • The point of the discussion is to interpret your results in light of what was already known about the investigation subject and to explain how your results give a new understanding of the problem.
  • The discussion will connect to the introduction through the hypothesis but will not repeat the introduction. Instead, it tells how your particular study has moved the field forward from what was known in the introduction.

There are fundamental questions that can be addressed in the discussion.

  1. Do your results provide answers to your hypothesis? How do you interpret those findings?
  2. Do your findings agree with the published literature? If not, do they suggest an alternative explanation?
  3. Given your findings, what is the new understanding of your investigated hypothesis presented in the introduction?
  4. If warranted, what are the next experiments in your study, e.g., what experiments would you perform next?
  • Do not introduce new results in the discussion section. However, you can introduce a schematic diagram showing how your findings contribute to the current knowledge.  For example, if you were studying a membrane-bound transporter, and you discovered new information about its mechanism, you might present a diagram showing how your findings help to explain the transporter?s mechanism.
  • Don?t oversell the future. Try not to over-interpret your findings or the implications of the study.  This makes it easier for reviewers to find fault with your manuscript.

GENERAL

  • Make sure to know and understand the Instructions to Authors for the your journal of interest. They often give word/page limits, figure guidelines, and reference styles.  It is crucial to adhere to their guidelines.
  • Have several people (both in your field and out) read over the manuscript. Make sure it is readily understandable to a broader audience.