Is your thesis or manuscript ready for the supervisors, examiners and reviewers? Find out now...

Five essential 'signposts' for a clear thesis chapter or journal manuscript

 

Why do I need to think about 'signposts' in my scientific writing?

When you work on a research project for some time, you become an expert. All of the little important details of your study and experiments become embedded in your brain. You probably even dream about those cells or patients!

However, when we start to write about our research, it can be easy to assume our readers - the thesis examiners or journal reviewers - know all of these...

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The simplest way to assess if your figures and tables are complete

It can be difficult to decide what to include in your figures and tables in your thesis or manuscript.

How can you make sure they are complete and informative?

My supervisor on my industry placement year taught me the one-page rule and I use it every day!

First, let's pretend you print out one of your figures or tables on one page.

Then, imagine you give the page to a good undergrad/MSc student working in the lab next door - someone who understands "science" but who doesn't know your...

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Quick guide to better tables in your science PhD thesis or journal manuscript

Tables are a crucial part of your manuscript and thesis as they hold so much information.

It's really important to take the time to format your tables correctly and make sure the data is complete and understandable. 

I like to think of the 'one-page rule' when considering if my table is complete. 

Ask yourself: If I printed out my table, along with the title and table footnotes, could a good undergrad/MSc student working in my lab understand what I did?  (without...

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Ultimate guide to planning well-organised manuscripts for life scientists: an English scientific editor's top tips

 
Planning is essential for well-organised manuscripts

It’s no secret that experienced authors  — whether they write technical documents, children’s books or romance novels — make solid plans and outlines before they write a single word.

In the same way, I recommend you should plan your whole manuscript as a simple list of bullet points before you start to actually write. That's because it is virtually impossible to write well if you haven’t...

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Using respectively correctly

 

Respectively is a very useful word in scientific writing; however, we often see this word used incorrectly.

Here are some sentences that use the word “respectively” in the wrong way.

Can you identify what’s wrong with each sentence?

 

1. The P53, Bcl2 and Bcl-x antibodies were purchased from Cell Signaling and Invitrogen, respectively.


2. The leaves and flowers and were used for RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescent staining, respectively.


3....

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Uniform guidelines for biomedical journals

 

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (IJCME) is a group of science editors from 12 different journals. They have defined a standard set of rules and guidelines for preparing documents for their journals.

These rules are called the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, and cover a number of areas, including the authorship of papers, conflicts of interest, editorial policy and the formatting of documents.

The IJCME website is a...

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Quick guide to scientific words that are easily missed during a spellcheck: free infographic

 

Using the spellcheck tool of your word processing software is a good way of making sure there are no mistakes in your scientific manuscript. 

However, the spellcheck will miss words that are spelled correctly if they are very similar to a word you actually intended to use.  For example, when I was a student I always typed preformed instead of performed – and it drove my PhD supervisor mad!

We often see these types of errors and have made a list of the most...

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160-words-for-your-materials-and-methods

We all know that feeling…writing a manuscript and using the same words over and over again. Sometimes it’s really difficult to think of alternatives, especially when you’re trying to describe complex scientific protocols in the materials and methods section.

We have put together a huge list of useful words for materials and methods sections. Originally we intended to list at least 100, but we just kept adding more and more, and we’re not finished yet! The list is...

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Use of apostrophes in scientific writing

 

Generally, apostrophes indicate either two words that have been shortened into one word (e.g. isn’t) or indicate the relationship between two words (e.g. the boy’s ball). 

Words containing apostrophes are very common in casual written English, like a book or a letter to your friend, but apostrophes are not normally used in scientific writing.

Here are some tips for using apostrophes correctly in scientific writing.

 

Avoid using apostrophes to shorten words
...

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Using adverbs such as “additionally” and “however” as the building blocks of good scientific writing

 

Most students and researchers find it easy to collect information from the literature for the introduction or discussion section of their manuscript.

However, linking different facts together to produce logical, clear text is often difficult, especially if you do not have English as first language.

In this post, we’ll show you how it’s easy to use adverbs as “building blocks” in your writing to link or move between different ideas.

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Simple, bite-sized tips from an English scientific editor, delivered as short videos you can watch in less time than it takes to drink a coffee.

We know the most common mistakes in scientific writing - and we want you to avoid these errors. 

These easy-to-understand videos will show you how to avoid basic mistakes and help you write manuscripts with more confidence.

You'll be able to apply this knowledge immediately, so you can spend more time actually doing research.