Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Useful tips from Science Authors' workshop in Bangkok (part 1)

Last week, I attended a scientific authors' workshop, organized by Elsevier (Far East), the Science Society of Thailand, and ASAIHL , organized at the Faculty of Science, Mahidol University. Over 250 participants attended the one day workshop.

Here are useful information I got from the workshop, which should be useful to blog readers and serving as my reminder as well. Thank for my friend who did not attend but gave me a nudge to write up this blog.

Prof. Jisnuson Svasti, the current president of the Science Society of Thailand and editor of ScienceAsia journal gave the first lecture on "Translating Research Output into a Good Manuscript". His talk provided a very useful basic on scientific authorship, sort of like "Scientific Paper Writing 101". For young reseachers / novice authors, I think it 's worthwhile to try to get his original PDF and take a look.

He stressed the importance of scientific writing which allows for progression of the world 's scientific and technological advances. Publishing in scientific journals provides a way to archive and peer-review the results. He also went on to describe the details on how to write each section of a research paper. Here are some of his key points that I think important.

- Title of the paper must be short, 8-12 words, without wasted words, should be specific
- Abstract should be able to stand alone. It should cover objectives of the study, description of samples and methodology, any statistics, results, conclusion
- Introduction section explains the reasons for the present study, literature review, remaining unknown, methods selected and reasons, and aims of the present study.
- Last paragraph of the introduction section is probably the most important and should explain why this paper is interesting. Some reviewers just read this paragraph first.
- Materials & Methods. Keep it short. Do not copy text from other people 's. Should be sufficient to allow repeated experiments by others.
- Results. Show only relevant results to the objectives. Present the results in logical order so that readers can follow. Avoid redundancy of data in table and figure. Point out the important points. Tell what the results show or imply.
- Ethical questions (such as use of animals or human subjects) must be addressed. Proper authorization by an Institution review board is needed prior to the conduct of experiments, not after. Many journals now need this evidence.
- Discussion. Generalization of the results, principles, relationships. It should show how this work agree with other works. Explain the significance of the work, main discovery. State any conclusion.

He also gave several Do's and Don'ts.
Some of his last remarks are :-
Before writing, make sure that the authors have something (worth publishing) to say.

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