How does manuscript writing work?

  • For background, check out this Coursera course on scientific writing.
  • First, assemble your team. Utilize the CMHS Authorship Policy as a guide on: who to include, how to determine authorship order, and responsibilities.
    • To be listed as an author on a manuscript, one must:
      • Make substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work OR the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
      • Draft the work or revise it critically for important intellectual content; AND
      • Give final approval of the version to be published; AND
      • Agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work that ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
    • Those who meet fewer than all four of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but their contributions can be described in the Acknowledgements section. (Ex: data entry, general supervision of a research project, proofreading or editing, etc.)
    • Authorship order depends on the relative contribution of the individual authors. It depends on the specialty, but often the first named author will be the individual who contributed the most to the research project. The first named author typically drafts the manuscript. If you are the first author, you will be asked to submit a Checklist for Publication. The last named author will be a senior investigator who has expertise in the subject matter and who provided close project oversight (this person may be your faculty advisor).
    • The corresponding author takes primary responsibility for communication with the journal during the submission, peer review, and publication processes, and typically ensures that the journal’s administrative requirements (ex: providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, gathering conflict of interest forms and statements, etc.)
  • Next, choose the right journal to apply to (and a backup or two). Think through journals you and your colleagues read and reference.
    • Pro Tip: enter keywords that pertain to your study into PubMed and read through the names of journals in which similar work has been published. From there, read up on the journal’s description as well as any special calls for articles (making sure that they aren’t an invite-only journal). Skimming titles of recently published articles will also give you a sense of the journal’s focus, which may not be explicitly described.
  • Remember: exploitative, predatory journals are on the rise. If you are concerned about legitimacy, reach out to the CMHS Medical Librarian to review Cabell’s International Predatory Journals List (found here while you are on campus along with other helpful subscribed databases) or GME Research Staff for their input.
    • High level Red Flags include: a journal that you have not had contact with emailed you with a high and/ or unclear submission fee structure, quick turnarounds, submissions via email, and poor language skills. A few resources to help you spot the phonies:
      • Red Flags are described here while this checklist can help you discern if a journal might be predatory. Short on time? How about a video explainer in < 3 minutes (with pirates)? This infographic helps you to spot a fake, and examples of common predatory tricks can be found here.
      • Still not sure? Use this tool or this rubric to evaluate the publisher’s website or this checklist to evaluate a questionable email you received.
      • They say prevention is the best medicine- refer back to this webpage on how to protect yourself from predatory journals in the future.

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