Indispensable Steps to a First-class Manuscript

2 min read
First Published: 
Aug 2021

Key Learnings contained in this article:

Manuscripts are an essential part of research and medicine. Working with the right medical communications partner can help you publish a pristine manuscript and reach just the right audience. The process can be a bit daunting, but experts at med comms agencies can help you get your data organized, written up, and ready for publication. While the structure and order will be defined by your journal selection, there is still plenty of room to tell your story, that’s where a great med comms partner comes in.

Analyze and organize your data

The first and most essential step is to work with statistical experts to help you analyze the data from your trial. This is the beginning of your story, and it’s important to take a step back to see if any holes need filling in. Are there further analyses that could add more info? Perhaps you have too much data for a succinct manuscript; consider placing some in supplementary materials so your readers aren’t overloaded.

Outlines are essential

Once your analysis is done, you may be ready to jump right in and start writing. But skipping an outline can lead to trouble and delays down the line. Creating a detailed outline is a chance to make sure your message is clear and start building a logical framework. This step is crucial to ensure all of the data is being included and interpreted correctly. It also gives authors a chance to review without having to worry about flow or specific journal requirements.

Reference managers for better organization

It’s not uncommon for a scientific manuscript to include 50+ references, that’s quite a lot to keep track of by hand. Most, if not all, manuscripts will go through multiple rounds of review with internal and external authors, resulting in restructuring and changes to the narrative. Many companies also need to send manuscripts through medical/legal review as well, necessitating the use of marked-up PDFs. If authors or reviewers make changes, it can be hard to keep track of which reference number goes where. A reference manager automatically updates in-line citation numbers and generates a reference list ensuring no changes are lost.

Order matters

Scientific manuscripts follow the same routine of introduction, methods, results, and discussion, but that does not mean the writing process should follow the same structure. It’s often best to start with the methods and results section as these will dictate the rest of the manuscript. Starting with the introduction or discussion could lead to major re-writes.

Check, then double-check journal requirements

The process of choosing the right journal for a manuscript is an important step and one that should be considered carefully as it can lead to acceptance or rejection. Often, the process of writing a manuscript is started well before journal selection is finalized. It’s vital to go back and restructure the manuscript based on the journal’s published requirements. These can often be found under headers or buttons such as “Publish with us” or “Submit a Manuscript.” Look for the “For Authors” section to find formatting guidelines and information on how to submit a final manuscript.

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Dorothy Keine
Dorothy Keine is an experienced medical and scientific writer with experience at med comms agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medical start-ups, and academic research. She loves to explore the fields of science and medicine.
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