Annelee Boyle, MD
Intern, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Fellow, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, MedStar Washington Hospital Center
For the past two weeks, I have offered advice to young authors hoping to publish in Obstetrics & Gynecology
(the Green Journal). These blog posts covered the initial submission
and the revision process
. (Happily, the government shutdown has ended, the National Zoo is open, and the Panda Cam is back on, so I will avoid further panda references.)
This week, I asked the editors and editorial staff of the Green Journal for their advice to young authors. The first piece of advice comes from Editor-in-Chief Nancy Chescheir: “Have something to say. Write because you have information to share.” She also recommends setting up a schedule for writing, something echoed by Rebecca Benner, Director and Managing Editor: “Don't try to finish a manuscript in one day. Approach the manuscript one step at a time—and take your time!”
More specific writing advice was offered by William Hurd, Associate Editor for Gynecology, who recommends starting by outlining the paper and beginning each paragraph with a topic sentence. Thomas Riggs, Associate Editor for Statistics, reminds us that “every paragraph should have a message, and each sentence should contribute to that message in a logical, coherent fashion.”
While editing the paper, Dwight Rouse, Associate Editor for Obstetrics, says, “Re-work every sentence until you can't stand it anymore, and then re-work them some more.” Rebecca and Dr. Riggs suggest leaving the paper for a few days so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Many people wanted to remind young authors to ask for help from co-authors.
While proofreading the paper, Rebecca recommends reading it out loud. She also advises checking the abstract against the manuscript to make sure there are no inconsistencies, and checking the figures, tables, videos, and any supplemental digital content to make sure they are consistent with your manuscript's data and message.
Also important is the advice of Editorial Assistant Randi Zung: “Collect Author Agreement forms
early. Check them to make sure they have a signature AND disclosure.”
The editors and editorial staff have lots of suggestions for resources, but number one on everyone’s list was the journal’s Instructions for Authors
. Manuscript Editor Denise Shields says, “Read what the journal requires for publication, and don't be afraid to call to ask for more information.” Denise and Dr. Hurd both recommend using a paper already published in the Green Journal as a template. As for textbooks, both Dr. Riggs and Editorial Assistant Raquel Christie like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style
, while Dr. Hurd is a fan of Mimi Zeiger's Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers
The editors and editorial staff want to publish the best papers possible, and that means having great papers submitted. Take their advice and remember: they are here to help you!