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Creating tables in scientific papers: row and column titles, units, error values and sample sizes

 
This is the second post in our series about creating and editing scientific tables. In the first post, we saw how basic table formatting and effective table titles could be used to improve an example of a poorly constructed table.

This post will deal with table row and column titles, units, error values and sample sizes.  Let’s continue with the example table that we began to improve in the first post.

  

Fig. 1: Improved table after placing values...

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Creating tables in scientific papers: basic formatting and titles

 

Tables are a very important part of scientific papers. A good table should present the data simply, clearly and neatly, and allow the reader to understand the results without having to look at other sections of the paper. A bad table can be very confusing, and may reduce the chances of your paper being accepted.

In this post, we will look at the basic rules for creating effective scientific tables.

Let’s begin with an example of a bad table, highlighting some...

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How to avoid “claims of first discovery” but still tell readers your research is novel

 

Every researcher wants to tell the world they are the first to find out something new

Unfortunately, many journals’ instructions to authors specifically ask that you avoid using phrases like “we provide the first evidence”, “this is the first discovery” or “we are the first group to prove that…”.  These phrases are often referred to as “claims of novelty or priority”, “statements of novelty or priority”...

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One simple way make your scientific writing more professional

 

There is one phrase that you should leave out of your manuscripts:

 The results showed that……

 

This phrase repeatedly comes up in the papers we edit and our editors always delete it or change it.  I’ll explain why we suggest you should avoid using these words in this blog post, and we provide some useful alternatives to help you improve your scientific writing.

 

"The results showed” is often unnecessary

It is usually obvious you...

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New tool makes it easy to find appropriate keywords for your manuscript

 

Selecting keywords for a scientific paper is often difficult, and it’s important to get the keywords right so readers can find your work. Your keywords must come from the list of approved keywords (MeSH library) maintained by the Medical Subject Headings section of the U.S. National Library of Science. You cannot make up your own keywords.

MeSH have launched a simple tool to help pick appropriate keywords. You can simply paste your abstract or other text into the webpage, and the...

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Why are double negatives so confusing in scientific writing?

 

Recently, I was editing a manuscript and found a sentence that reminded me of the importance of avoiding “double negatives” in scientific writing.

The patient had no abnormal blood glucose or insulin levels.

 

What are double negatives?

Double negative phrases are often used in informal spoken English, for example:  "I didn’t do no cooking", "he never ate no food" and "they don’t know nothing".

In mathematics, two negatives always make...

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How to avoid 12 common scientific writing errors that annoy journal reviewers

 

In this post, I’m going to provide a quick overview of the most common basic errors our editors see in scientific manuscripts.

 

1. Check for spelling mistakes

This is obvious, yet it is surprising how many spelling mistakes our editors see in manuscripts. Firstly, use the spell check feature, making sure it is applied to all of the text in the file. Secondly, choose the correct language (e.g., US/American English or UK/British English) for your target journal or thesis...

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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.