Tips & Tricks
A Beginner’s Guide on How to Write Good Manuscripts
Drafting a manuscript could be a difficult task for beginners in the field of research. In this article, we will provide a few tips for how can you write a good manuscript being a research scholar.
A good study provides good results and rich text. Always remember, if your study is good then you won’t have to worry about the content of your manuscript. You may have even enough rich content that you have to break a manuscript into parts for later submission. Here are some tips for writing a good manuscript.
- First of all, draw a rough sketch of your study including all methods or experiments you have performed throughout your study.
- Include all the details of parameters you have set during your experiments.
- Prepare all the figures and tables you have decided to include in your manuscript.
2.1. Introduction section
- At first, write the introduction part of your manuscript.
- While you are writing the introduction, keep in mind the purpose of your study. Why this study was carried out? Why was it important? and What are the applications?
- If you are working on a hypothesis, don’t forget to clearly state that in the manuscript. Also, provide sufficient evidence to support your hypothesis.
2.2. Methods section
- After that, write the methods section.
- Try to divide your text into headings and sub-headings. It helps reviewers or readers to understand better.
- The headings you are going to use in the introduction or methods section must be clear and precise. They should clearly show the main purpose of your next paragraph that you are going to write under them.
- Under the methods section, only write about the details of your parameters that you applied during an experiment. DO NOT write the results. For example, if you have performed any bioinformatics experiment, then clearly mention the parameters that you used in the software. If default values were used, then mention them clearly.
2.3. Results section
- After finishing with methods, write the results section.
- In the results section, use the clear headings to display what you have finally got after the experiment. For example, if you performed docking of a receptor with a specific ligand, then write the results straight away such as “Compound binds efficiently with the target protein”. It shows the effectiveness of your study.
- Use subheadings if necessary under the results section as well.
- Always write to the point about whatever you have got as results.
- Summarize your study.
- Highlight the main findings.
- It would be better if you use numbering while writing the main findings of your study. It shows that your study is providing novel things.
- Write about the main purpose and applications of your study.
- Write about the future prospects of your study, How this study is going to help researchers in your field and others?
- What could be the possible outcomes of your study?
- In last write the abstract of your manuscript. After you have written the introduction, methods, results, and conclusion, you get a clear idea of what actually you did and what are the outcomes of your study.
- An abstract must be precise and clear. Some journals allow a word limit for abstract submission, so it is better to use precise, good, and clear words that highlight the efforts and significance of your study.
- If you have to cite a reference, then do it. Don’t think that references cannot be mentioned in the abstract.
- In an abstract, the first few sentences include the basics of your study. For example, what is your target and why?
- The next few lines include the methods describing how you performed this study.
- After that, write the main findings of your study.
- In the end, write the applications of your study.
- Write precise keywords associated with your study.
- Keywords help in finding a suitable reviewer for your manuscript and also help to reach the right audience.
- Always cite the correct source of information.
- If you are writing a review, try to cite all references.
- Always cite references using software such as Mendeley or Endnote. It will help you to manage them easily and automatically. You will not have to do it manually.
- Keep a particular format for your references. You may have to change the reference style during manuscript submission as per the requirements of a journal.
7. Figures & Tables
- Arrange your figures and tables carefully. It is better to keep them at the end of the manuscript and cite the figure number and table number inside the text where you want to keep them.
- Always generate high-quality images. Here is one article to help you generate high-quality images for docking analyses.
- If you are including a phenomenon or a process inside your manuscript, then export it into an image. Don’t include it as a text written in word.
- The most suitable format is .tiff for images. It is accepted by almost all journals.
- Choose a table design carefully. It should be appropriate according to your text.
- Tables must possess a uniform format throughout the manuscript.
- When you are done with writing, write the title of your manuscript.
- The title should be precise and informative.
- It should reflect your study and outcome.
- Try to avoid general titles such as Molecular studies, or Experimental analysis, etc.
- Try to keep your title short. It will help to understand your study better and gain more attention.
- After you prepare the first draft of your manuscript, always keep the track changes mode on.
- Don’t accept or reject any changes made by your guide or reviewer. It helps to revise the manuscript at both ends.
- Always make all suggested changes in track change mode until you reach at the final draft of your manuscript.
- You can include more figures or tables according to the text you are writing.
- Keep your sentences short.
- If you have mentioned a short form for any word in the introduction section, then Do NOT write the full form again in the manuscript.
- It is better to show your methods or results in the form of a flowchart.
- Try to shorten your text. You can use images or flowcharts to represent your text. It makes a manuscript interesting to read.
- Write a separate section for all the abbreviations used in the entire manuscript.
These are a few tips to make your manuscript interesting and worth reading. It takes several revisions to reach a final version of a manuscript. By that time, don’t get disheartened, revisions will only make your manuscript interesting and worth submitting in a good journal. If you want to publish a good study in a good journal, never hurry during the writing of your manuscript. Keenly analyze everything, add an experiment or two if needed, and then go for its submission. Good luck!
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Tips & Tricks
Survival guide: How to overcome lab politics and not become a lab rat
If you find yourself in a laboratory full of people with scientific temperament, it can be exciting, awesome and hilarious. You may experience a real life “big bang theory” episode and witness all characters around you.
However, for the uninitiated, a large number of labs are a flourishing ground of rivalry and war grounds reiterating the fact on its inhabitant that they live in a maze.
Lab politics can be nasty, and those who don’t want to get involved are almost certainly the easiest target.
Here are a few tips based on my experience in labs on how to survive lab politics and prevent yourself from getting into situations uncalled for.
- Communicate Backbiting and misinformation is the nuclear weapon of every mole. They pass on false information about you leading to complexities. It ranges from simple misinformation about you being absent or drunk during work hours when you are not, to some complicated statements attributed to you. You can deal with this situation through regular communication. with your peers. Every one of them. Especially if you sense that your guide is growing weary of you. communicate as clearly as possible and if you sense misinformation, make it a priority to point it out without targeting the person acting as a mole. This will be such a blow…..oops!
- Be Humble
Back in my graduation days, I was made a leader for a group project, I worked harder than everybody suddenly realizes that it was only me that was working for the whole duration. So I became proud which reflected in my behavior. Seeing this, two girls approached the guide with some story, which I am still unaware of. The guide, who happens to be a lady, immediately removed me from the project & my name from the manuscript after it completed. The results were published without my name, the first author being that girl who was not even fully aware of the topic. Moral? even if you are doing everything, be humble or you risk being a lab rat.
- Divert to productivity
When somebody else is the target, it is relatively easy for you to just ignore what is happening but remaining silent in such situations will lead to an exponential increase in it and you never know when the dial points at you. You may try shifting focus to an interesting observation, experiment, or paper. This way, you show them that what these guys are talking about is not worth the time.
- Don’t be evil If someone is doing something a certain way and you know they are wrong, just point it to them. Don’t go to your guide to complain. If you complain too much it is perceived as a negative trait. If you have problems try to resolve them on your own rather than asking someone to do them for you. If you can’t do it yourself, try to get help rather than ordering. Nobody owes you anything so be humble.
- Don’t over-promise
You may become a target without even saying a word! yes! it happens. The world is full of hatred for achievers. So if you have a lot in your kitty, don’t keep flaunting it. don’t promise that you will do this and that. Just keep doing things one by one. So they won’t even notice that you were running your own race and they were not even the participants.
6. Don’t get discouraged
If you are surrounded by ‘lab politicians’ and they criticize your work and working habits, then don’t get discouraged, because they would be trying to distract you from your work. In fact, it is a good sign, great success comes with criticism. Don’t believe what they say because ‘politicians’ never want anyone else’s account to be filled, just say thanks to them with a smile and keep going in your direction.
These are the tips that I have learned by working at labs in the University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Science Education & Research – Kolkata, Jamia Millia Islamia & Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Although I have tried to accommodate as much as I could, do you think I have missed something? would like to add something to the story? go ahead and comment below.
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