How to Write a Scientific Paper by sdfwerte


									How to Write a Scientific Paper

          Ed Bullmore
You should already have started to write your
first/next paper, whether you know it or not!
• Ethics committee applications, job applications,
  grant applications, protocol presentations etc allow
  you to rehearse in writing:
   – context, background, literature review
   – emergent hypotheses
   – a sense of motivation for the study
   – major study design elements
               Introduction (1):
    Context, background, literature review
• Make a short, simple opening statement of the
  context in a few, accessible sentences - avoiding
  over-ambitious vagueness or immediately
  impenetrable jargon
      • “Hitherto, the nature of consciousness has proved elusive.”
      • “AR models of residual autocorrelation will fail for 1/f noise”
• Background, literature review
      • remember this is not a review - so be selective, play favourites
      • remember your paper will be peer-reviewed, by prior autors in
        the field, so don’t be too selective...
      • acknowledge history!
                     Introduction (2)

• Hypotheses
     • inevitable, refutable, empirically specific, statistically testable
     • written down a priori
• Motivation
     • why should you bother writing this paper and why should I
       bother reading it?
             Major study design elements
• Sample
      • size, with respect to power
      • composition, with respect to population and stratification
• Measurements
      • observational
      • experimental
• Statistical models and testing
      •   factorial structure
      •   test statistics or outcome measures
      •   distributions including priors
      •   hypothesis testing, type 1 and type 2 error control

• Use figures and tables with self-contained legends
  to convey your most important results “at a
• Let your readers see as much as possible of the
  data for themselves, without losing narrative
      • use descriptive statistics/graphics as well as hypothesis tests
      • oragnise presentation so that logically or substantively related
        results are juxtaposed

• It is OK to use a less constrained, more
  conversational style
• Start positive, headlining key results in context
      • return to hypotheses
      • be thoughtful about any differences between your work and the
        existing literature
• Do not simply rehearse results
      • interpretation, synthesis, predictive speculation
      • avoid blob-by-blob decompositions of complex function in
        fMRI papers
      • pay attention to unexpected/discrepant results
• Explicitly consider the limitations of your work
 Title, authors, abstract:
The really important stuff
               Title, authors, abstract:
              the really important stuff
• The title is the only part of your paper most people
  will read - make it clear, self-contained, descriptive
• The abstract is vitally important - without doubt the
  most important 200+ words in the paper
      • tailor it to target journal
      • report results
      • use key words for literature searching
• Authors - first, second, last and corresponding
      • seek guidance from your supervisor
      How to publish a scientific paper (1)

• Think about target journals early on
      •   high impact equals tight word count
      •   impact is not always a six letter word
      •   if you aim low you can’t subsequently move up the food chain
      •   if you aim high you may have to allow for turnaround time
          (rejection) or “second album syndrome” (success)
• Obey instructions to authors
      • use a bibliography manager
      • acknowledge grant support, conflict of interest
    How to publish a scientific paper (2)
• Dealing with reviews
      • anticipate revision: it is almost inevitable and generally
      • organise the final version of the paper and all ancillary data
        carefully before submission
      • try not to take criticism personallyor as a reflection of
        incompetence on the part of reviewers
          – their failure to understand is your lack of clarity
      • be respectful, exact and direct in responding to the editor
      • if the reviews are too negative to justify acceptance,
        incorporate any helpful comments and resubmit
      • whatever you do - do it sooner rather than later!
• Dealing with proofs
• Dealing with fame!

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