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What do you need to know to publish your scientific research

A short guide on writing scientific articles

Giuseppe Grosso

on 25 March 2013

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Transcript of What do you need to know to publish your scientific research

What do you need to know to publish your research Bibliometrics Bibliometrics Bibliometrics is a set of methods to quantitatively analyze scientific and technological literature. Data from citation indexes can be analyzed to determine the popularity and impact of specific articles, authors, and publications. Impact Factor Journal ranking The impact factor (IF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. Journal IF = total citations received / total articles Journal rankings are intended to reflect the place of a journal within its field, the relative difficulty of being published in that journal, and the prestige associated with it. Nutrition Cardiovascular Surgery The h-index is an index that attempts to measure both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist. H-index A scientist has index h if h of his/her N papers have at least h citations each, and the other (N − h) papers have no more than h citations each. Types of articles Short communication Study protocol Review article Letter to editor Research article Complete descriptions of current original research findings. - Original results
- About 3000 words
- Structured
- About 30 references Study protocol articles can be for proposed or ongoing prospective clinical research, and should provide a detailed account of the hypothesis, rationale and methodology of the study. A short communication report urgent or preliminary results from a small investigation, collateral results, or a pioneer study because of the high interest and originality. - Original results
- About 2000 words
- Structured (less than a research article)
- Reference limit Letters commenting on previously published papers. - Substantive ideas
and commentary
- Unstructured
- About 1000 words
- References limit Review articles are an attempt to summarize
the current state of understanding on a topic. Literature review Systematic review Literature reviews provide a summary
of what the authors believe are the best and
most relevant prior publications. - No original results
- Up to 3000 words
- Free structure
- Up to 50 references Systematic reviews determine an objective
list of criteria, and find all previously
published original experimental papers that meet the criteria in order to be compared. - Original results
- Word limits
- Structured
- Up to 30 references Structured abstract: IMRAC Introduction M Methods Results R C I Title Running title Keywords Title,
running title,
keywords Journal indexing PubMed is a free database accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references, abstracts, and open access articles on life sciences and biomedical topics The title of your manuscript is usually the first introduction readers have to your published work. - Specific -
if relevant, mention:
. type of research
(i.e., systematic review or double-blind randomized trial)
. location
(i.e., specific country, multicentre study, number of countries involved)
. the study period
(i.e., 20 years follow-up)
. the international scientific name of the studied organism or project
(i.e., EPIC study, SUN cohort study) - Concise -
. words count
. avoid unnecessary descriptions
(i.e., Does Vaccinating Children and Adolescents with Inactivated Influenza Virus Inhibit the Spread of Influenza in Unimmunized Residents of Rural Communities?)
. convey main finding
(i.e., Child Influenza Vaccination Inhibits Infection Rates in Rural Communities: A Randomized Trial) The title or short title of a volume printed at the top of left-hand text pages or sometimes of all text pages Summarize the topic described in the title in a single sentence. Example:

Title: Nutrition knowledge and other determinants of food intake and lifestyle habits in children living in a rural area of Sicily, southern Italy

Running Title: Nutrition knowledge, food intake and lifestyle habits in Sicilian children Keywords are needed to make the manuscript easily accessible by search engines and scientific databases (i.e., Pubmed). The easier is the article to be found, the easier the readers can have access to it. Example:

Title: Nutrition knowledge and other determinants of food intake and lifestyle habits in children living in a rural area of Sicily, southern Italy

Poor keywords: nutrition, lifestyle, children

Better keywords: nutrition knowledge, lifestyle habits, children behaviors, eating behaviors, rural area Abstract The abstract is:
- a summary of the content of the manuscript- a time-saving shortcut for busy researchers- a guide to the most important results

Many readers will only read the Abstract of your manuscript. Therefore, it has to be able to stand alone. IMRAD is the acronym for Introduction, Methods, Results and Conclusions A 1) what was the background?
2) Why was the study undertaken?
3) What was the research question/the tested hypothesis?
4) what was the aim of the study? 1) Which kind, When, where, and how was the study done?
2) who was included in the study?
3) What materials were used? Example:
Despite there are numerous epidemiological studies conducted in European countries assessing that the adoption of a Mediterranean diet protect against clustered risk factors, studies evaluating such benefits specifically in Mediterranean islands are scarce. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the association between the adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk factors in a population of Sicily, southern Italy. Example:
A cross-sectional study including 3,090 free-living subjects was conducted in Sicily, southern Italy. Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern was assessed using MedDietScore. Linear and logistic regression models were performed to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and respective confidence intervals (CIs). 1) what did the study find?
2) include most important numbers otherwise included in the tables (and not included in the main text) Example:
After adjusting for confounding factors such as age and gender, participants in the highest tertile of adherence with the MedDietScore were less likely to be obese (OR 0.35, 95% CI: 0.24-0.51), hypertensive (OR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.55-0.97), and diabetic (OR 0.43, 95% CI: 0.24-0.77). Linear inverse relation between the MedDietScore and BMI (r2 = 0.34, P<0.001), waist circumference (r2 = 0.17, P<0.001), and waist-to-hip ratio (r2 = 0.06, P<0.001). Cardiovascular risk factors resulted also related to smoking status and physical activity levels. Conclusions 1) Was the tested hypothesis true? Example:
Despite the prevalence rates of nutrition-related diseases are dramatically high in Sicily, greater adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern is still associated with a better health status. TIP! Journals often set a maximum word count limit of 250/300, thus prepare your Abstract taking into account this number of words! TIP! Increasing the number of your readers mean increasing the opportunity of being cited, thus provide not less than 5 keywords for your manuscript! Abstract Targeting the journal Choosing a journal that matches your study is important in order to increase the possibility that your manuscript will be accepted. What to take into account? - The topic
Is the topic of your manuscript (i.e., applied science, clinical, basic research, etc.) generally published in the journal you chose?

- Quality
Compare your article with previous published papers: are they published in the same journal or journals of the same ranking? are methods, sample size, and limitations similar?

- Audience
Is your study of interest only for researcher in your field or for general audience?

- Type of article
Do the journal you chose publish all type of articles? (i.e., many journals publish only invited review articles by the editors, or accept only systematic reviews.

- Text restrictions
Do your paper meet journal guidelines in terms of number of words and references?

- Other factors: speed, funds, open access
Do you need your article to be published quickly? Do you have funds to pay the publication fees? Do you prefer your article is open access? Formatting the manuscript All manuscripts must be formatted according to your target
journal’s requirements. Journal's editor DO NOT even accept for
revision manuscripts which not meet journal requirements. Before submit your manuscript, be sure to review all guidelines for authors and
ensure to read the following checklist:

- do your manuscript obey all word and character limits (i.e., title,
running title, abstract, manuscript text)?

- is the structure of the manuscript formatted as the journal require
(i.e, section "methods" rather than "materials and methods", section
"conclusions" separated by "discussion")?

- is the language of the manuscript as required (i.e., US rather than
UK English)?

- did you include all requested contact information (i.e., complete affiliations
for all authors, complete address for corresponding author)?

-did you inserted figures in the correct location (in text, end of manuscript,
separate files) and use the correct file format for your images (.jpg, .png, .pdf, .ppt)? TIP! Every journal have a website that provides aim and scope of the journal and instructions or guidelines for authors: visit and read carefully them before
choosing the journal! TIP! Select few target journals and read the formatting requirements BEFORE writing your draft! IMRaD refers to the standard structure of the body of scientific manuscripts (after the Title and Abstract):


Materials and Methods


Discussion and Conclusions Structured article:
IMRaD Introduction Attention! Introduction Methods Results Discussion The sections of the journal manuscript are published in the order: BUT...the best order for planning the sections of a manuscript is: Methods Results Introduction Discussion ...and before to start, read a HUGE amount of reference papers!! Background Introduce the topic Main previous findings Introduce your study Describe the aims Give few statements to introduce the background of your research (i.e., the epidemiology of the disease(s) investigated) citing reviews where readers can find all information about the topic Example 1:
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer (excluding skin cancer) and the second most common cause of cancer death in the US [1,2]. Increased life expectancy has led to elevating the mean age of the patients at the time of diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequent treatment [3,4].

Example 2:
Obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension are cardiometabolic risk factors which contribute to the global burden of cardiovascular diseases (1). During last decades, overweight population has rapidly increased in European countries ranging between 8% and 40% in men and between 5% and 53% in women (2). According to the International Obesity Task Force, Greece, Spain, and Italy showed the highest prevalence for both overweight and obesity (3), whereas more recent reports documented a higher rate of obese subjects in Italy, Spain, Poland, and Czech Republic compared with northern European countries (4). The number of diabetic people increased from 153 million in 1980, to 347 million in 2008, with a rise in highest income regions such as Italy, UK, Germany, and France (5). Hypertension affects about 40% adult population in Italy and other countries (6, 7) and there is a significant association between elevated blood pressure and high BMI, waist circumference, and fasting blood glucose (1). Use a connecting statement or start with the specific topic of your research Example 1:
Since surgical techniques and multimodality treatments have improved over the years, improvements regarding postoperative complications after colostomy have been achieved [5-12].

Example 2:
Despite the findings of the numerous epidemiologic studies in European countries in which adoption of a Mediterranean dietary pattern protected against clustered risk factors (8, 9), studies evaluating such benefits specifically in southern Italy are scarce (10). Cite updated studies strongly related to your research question Example 1:
Minimally invasive surgery has demonstrated better postoperative recovery also elderly subjects, but no significant improvements have been reached in survival for these patients. Indeed, postoperative survival in the geriatric population is lower in the first year equaling that of the younger population at 5 years [13]. This group of patients presents higher rate of comorbidities that may affect their postoperative course.

Example 2:
Previous studies conducted in Italy reported a medium to high adherence to the Mediterranean diet, although people living in central and southern Italy showed the highest adherence to the diet in both sexes. The beneficial role of this dietary patterns has been demonstrated both in studies of primary and secondary prevention, improving glycemic control, ameliorating systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and protecting from fatal coronary heart disease events.
Use a connecting statement motivating why the topic was studied Example 1:
Actually, the indication for surgery in elderly subjects is not depending on patients’ age but by the identification and correction of known preoperative risk factors that may determine a higher rate of complications or mortality.

Example 2:
In Sicily, the biggest island of the Mediterranean basin, no specific dietary data in association with the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors were published. Write a clear and exact statement of your study aims Example 1:
The aim of this study was to assess whether elderly patients significantly differ in complications and outcomes compared with younger.

Example 2:
Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the association between the adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern and cardiovascular risk factors in the general population living in Sicily. How? You may also explain (very briefly!) how you conducted the study. Example 1:
We examined the potential different distribution of preoperative (i.e. comorbidities), operative (i.e. surgical techniques), and post operative variables to bring the proven benefits in postoperative recovery, and analyzed the factors that may influence these results.

Example 2:
We observed whether a linear correlation between the adherence to the Mediterranean diet anthropometric and metabolic parameters as well as if higher adherence may decrease the odds of being obese, hypertensive, or diabetic. Materials and Methods Describe in detail how the study was carried out Use subheadings to separate different methodologies Describe what you did in the past tense Describe new methods in enough detail that another researcher can reproduce your experiment Describe established methods briefly, and simply cite a reference where readers can find more detail - study sample
- study period
- study area
- criteria
- number and type of data
- number and type of measurements
- equipments, tools
- ethical consideration
- statistical tests and software used Example:
From May 2009 to December 2010, 3,190 inhabitants living in Sicily, southern Italy, were randomly selected from the lists of 14 general practitioners (GPs) to enrolll in the study. [...]

Data collection [CLEAR SUBHEADING]
Participants were interviewed by trained personnel (a GP and a public health specialist) according to the standard questionnaire. The questionnaire included questions about demographics, dietary and lifestyle habits of the participants. Demographic information included [...]

Mediterranean diet adherence [CLEAR SUBHEADING]
The adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated by the using of the MedDietScore by Panajotakos et al. (13) [ESTABLISHED METHOD]

Statistical analysis [CLEAR SUBHEADING]
Categorical variables were presented as frequencies and percentages and Chi-square test was used to test for dependencies between groups. Continuous variables were presented as means and standard deviations (SD) and Student t-test for independent samples was used to evaluate [...]
SPSS 17 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) software was used for all the statistical calculations. Checklist Results Describe in detail all relevant findings of the study Use subheadings to separate different results Describe what you did in the past tense Mention ALL table and figures in the text and refer to them in the present tense DO NOT duplicate results among text, tables, and figures, only report in the text the most important data point Descriptive Focus on the main outcomes Infer on the main results Present results in a logical order Diplay in one or more tables the
demographic/clinical characteristics of your population (alone or by the variable of interest) and report in the text only the main data (i.e., sample size, mean age, gender ratio) and significant results Example:
A total of 446 patients were enrolled and analyzed in this study. Of these patients operated during the study period, 211 were equal or younger than 65 years and 235 were elderly with a mean age in the two groups of 54.6±6.6 and 76.5±6.7, respectively. No significant differences were found in the majority of the demographic parameters between the two patients groups although elderly patients were more likely to be female (P = 0.015), with high ASA score (P = 0.003) and with higher rates of minor comorbidities (P = 0.002) (Table xx). List the main findings of your study, display them through tables and figures if big amount of data, report the results of statistically significant analyses in the text by providing only p-values rather all data Example:
Intraoperative complications did not differs between young and old patients whereas some differences have been found in postoperative and late complications related with surgery (Table xx). Among the major differences, elderly patients suffered more by ileus (P = 0.024), peritonitis or septic shock (P = 0.017), pelvic abscess (P = 0.028), wound infection (P = 0.031), and incisional/port herniation (P = 0.012) compared with younger patients. Moreover, systemic complication were even more frequent than surgery-related. Indeed, elderly patients suffering by cardiovascular, renal, and respiratory complication (4.7 to 10.6%) were at least twice than younger patients (Table xx). Provide risk analysis and all advanced statistical tests needed to demonstrate your thesis Example:
The multivariate analysis assessing the odds of having a systemic complication revealed that older age (Odd Ratio [OR] 2.75, 95% Confidential Interval [CI]: 1.67-4.52) and open surgery (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.01-2.62) are significantly and independently associated with having a complication (Table xx). Regarding local complications, elderly patients had 3.18 odds (95% CI: 1.71- 5.89) of having local complication compared with younger patients. Discussion Interpretation of results:
- report results in order of most to least important
- compare your results with those from other studies, if they confirm previous findings or if they are inconsistent
- give a reason of difference (or consistence) with previous findings, explain the biological plausibility, the mechanisms, and experimental or epidemiological previously published data that might justify your results Main findings Compare results Comment inconsistent findings Explain your findings Report strength and limitations of your study State your main conclusions,
what implications your study will have, and if further research is needed Why was the study undertaken? What did you do?
What was the aim? Example:
Despite numerous studies assessed an association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with reduced prevalence and incidence of clustered cardiovascular risk factors (8, 9), studies conducted on the Italian population are scarce (14-19). Example:
We studied population-based data from 3,090 subjects living in Sicily and evaluated the association between the MD adherence and several CVD risk factors. Example:
We found that greater adherence to the MD was associated with a lower likelihood of being obese [...]. Some studies documented that this dietary pattern did not lead to weight gain when compared isocalorically with low-fat diets (11). On the contrary, diets high in MUFA such as the MD compared to diets high in carbohydrate decrease resistance to the peripheral action of insulin and thus prevalence of obesity (28). Example:
After adjusting for confounding factors such as age and gender, participants in the highest tertile of adherence with the MedDietScore were less likely to be obese, hypertensive, and diabetic. Example:
We found an association between a higher adherence to the MD and lower likelihood of being hypertensive. On the other hand, we failed in assessing a linear correlation between adherence to the MD and blood pressure in healthy subjects. It can be speculated that diet alone is not primarily responsible of physiological blood pressure and further variables such as age, physical activity, and smoking habits, as well as familiarity and genetic predisposition might play a stronger role in its variability. Example:
We also found that greater adherence to the MD was associated with a lower likelihood of having diabetes, even after correction for potential confunders. The biological plausibility explaining the causality of such findings has been supported by several studies demonstrating a protective role of the MD acting on decreased insulin resistance (22, 23), glycemic indices (24, 25), lower plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers and markers of endothelial dysfunction (26), and higher levels of adiponectin (27). Example:
The present study has some straights. First, data specifically collected to assess the health status and food consumption in Sicily are lacking and [...]
This study has certain limitations which should be taken into account when interpreting the results. First, given the cross-sectional design of the study, conclusions cannot be attributed to plausible causes. Moreover [...] Example:
To sum up, we provided new and important information about health status and food consumption in Sicily and we reached the conclusion that despite the prevalence rates of nutrition-related diseases are dramatically high in Sicily, greater adherence to this dietary pattern is still associated with a better health status. Acknowledgments Mention all people who contributed substantially to the study but cannot be regarded as co-authors

This section should also be used to provide information about funding by providing list of name(s) of author(s) which received funding, name(s) of the funding organization(s), and grant numbers and titles. Examples:

G. Grosso was supported by the International Ph.D. Program in Neuropharmacology, University of Catania Medical School, Catania, Italy. The contributors had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

The authors thanks the lead field investigators of the study, namely [...]

The authors are grateful to NAME to have provided a critical revision of the manuscript. References References provide
a context for your work References are not randomly included in the scientific articles Background Connect researchers Audience Justify claims - what influenced your research?
- what is already known?
- who previously came out with the idea?
Refer review articles in your introduction

Mention if you previously published studies on the same topic

Credit the authour(s) who already
studied the idea or theory - who performed similar research?
- who agree with your results?
- who disagree? Cite studies which may justify your results

Cite conflicting works to rise a controversy regarding the topic of your research

Credit the author(s) which recently published
on your topic In a scientific article, every statement
of fact or description of previous findings requires a supporting reference References provide readers to show that other researchers are performing work similar to your own.

An hot topic have current references and will help journal editors see that there is a potential audience for your manuscript. TIP! Using a reference manager tool will help you to easily format, add, and remove references in your manuscript! Cover letter A persuasive cover letter will better focus the interest of the journal editor for your manuscript - present the paper and the author(s)
- give a brief description of the study
- emphasize the strength of your study
- describe which implications your study will have and on who
- declare absence of conflict of interests Example:
Dear Editor,
please find enclosed the full-text manuscript entitled [TITLE] by [AUTHORS].

The aim of this study was to [...]

At our knowledge, this is the first study on this topic performed on [...]

The content of the manuscript is original and it has not been published or accepted for publication, either in whole or in part, in any form. No part of the manuscript is currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. All authors have been personally and actively involved in substantive work leading to the report and will hold themselves jointly and individually responsible for its content and all relevant ethical safeguards have been met in relation to patient or subject protection.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Best regards,
References used:

the Springer Journal Author Academy
http://www.springer.com/authors/journal+authors/journal+authors+academy?SGWID=0-1726414-0-0-0 the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) author guidelines
Contact information:

Giuseppe Grosso, MD
Department of Drug Science Section of Biochemestry
University of Catania, Catania, Italy

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