Medical research: 10 Tips to improve medicine manuscripts

by Elizabeth Oommen George
Medical research: 10 Tips to improve medicine manuscripts

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a renewed focus on pharma and medical research, with a surge in new ideas, discoveries, and breakthroughs. As such, it is essential for research authors to ensure they are following the highest standards of medical research and ethics, adhering to the right academic and medical writing conventions, and doing all the crucial checks before submission. However, the process of medical writing and getting your research published in leading international journals continues to be a challenge. This could be due to existing language barriers, unfamiliarity with medical writing styles, or poor knowledge of often stringent submission guidelines.

Moreover, rapid developments in the field of health and medicine makes it difficult for researchers to stay updated, let alone try to undertake new novel research. Things become even more challenging when researchers writing medical articles realize that they will be addressing a wide and varied audience, including physicians, healthcare professionals, consumers, drug regulators, government agencies, and the general public.  This means that medical research manuscripts need to be accurate and verified, reproducible, and easy to understand.

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In this article, we will provide some expert advice on how to write a medical research paper to help early career researchers and medical writers produce high-quality research papers.

Key tips for writing medical research papers

1. Create a concise, accurate title that grabs attention

The title of your research paper is the first thing people see in your research paper, so spend some time to perfect this. Make sure the title showcases the content of your medical research paper effectively and is engaging enough to convince people to read the full text. Use the right keywords in the title to make your medical writing more discoverable on search engines but take care not to exaggerate or understate your research findings. A good title accurately reflects the research content in a clear, informative, and captivating manner.

2. Set proper context for the study in the abstract

Apart from the research paper title, the abstract is what most people read to understand the content of your article. However, when writing an abstract for medical research papers, authors often jump into explaining the aims, methods, and results of a study without laying the foundation right. Without proper context, readers are unlikely to want to read the full paper so be sure to provide introductory information in a sentence or two. Remember that a good abstract should provide an overview of the entire research paper, including the background of the topics and why this is significant.

3. Ensure the medical research you present is accurate and verified.

Sometimes the pressure to publish or perish pushes researchers to take shortcuts and present their study without having taken the time to ensure that it can be substantiated and backed by clinical trials. This can not only lead to embarrassing retractions at a later stage but can also cause serious damage to your reputation as a researcher. Therefore, even if it takes time, always ensure that the findings of your research can be accurately substantiated.  

4. Highlight the novelty and rationale of the study in the introduction.

Establishing novelty is crucial in scientific publishing. The introduction of your medical research paper must reveal gaps in current literature and explain how your study adds to existing knowledge. You also need to position your research by explaining the rationale and aims of your research study and emphasizing its significance in the field of medical research. The introduction section aids reader comprehension of often technical medical writing, so it must showcase a study’s novelty effectively and clearly specify what the field of medicine will gain from the findings.

5. Ensure your methods are replicable and reproducible.

In medical research, it is essential to ensure the methods and experiments can be replicated to arrive at the same results. Be sure to be as specific and precise as possible in medical writing, mentioning the concentrations, amounts, temperatures, lab conditions, and equipment used in the methods section. Check to see if you have missed out on key information and look for possible misinterpretations of medical writing conventions. While you don’t need to detail well-known processes, it is recommended to add any and all information that could help others replicate your methods effectively, especially if you have done something differently.

6. Avoid repetition between your methods, results, and discussion sections.

Researchers tend to repeat information among sections of medical research manuscripts, but this is a waste considering the word limits. Keep the results section to showcase the findings and results of the study, but don’t restate how you achieved this. It is equally important to avoid adding any interpretations of the findings, which should be reserved for the discussions section. The discussion is important as it links the study results with existing knowledge and establishes the significance and implications of your results in the field of medical research. While you summarize the study results in the discussion section, do not repeat specifics.

7. Include the implications and limitations of the medical research study.

While it may seem counter-productive to list the limitations of a research study, this is critical in medical writing as it opens doors for future medical research. Usually restricted to 1-2 paragraphs after the conclusion, the limitations outline challenges in the study and suggest how future research can overcome these. Medical manuscripts should also end by highlighting the implications of research results and how this can be applied in real world scenarios. The implications should clearly demonstrate the study’s contribution to medicine, helping to position it with respect to existing literature in the field of medical research.

8. Present medical research in an easy-to-understand manner.

Medical article writing usually involves analysis of clinical research findings, but medical writing need not always be dry and boring. Use simple jargon-free language and use well-designed and correctly labelled tables, graphs, and visuals to illustrate your research findings effectively. Standardized checklists and flowcharts can simplify reporting technical medical research. Write in short sentences to convey information clearly and maintain a logical flow of ideas to make your medical writing both engaging and readable. This allows editors, reviewers, and readers to quickly assess and understand complex medical research data.

9. Use the right formats and citation styles in your medical research paper.

Formatting your medical writing correctly is crucial, so ensure you follow the guidelines for margins, font size, and spacing as specified by your journal. Use the right citation style in your medical research paper. Medical writing typically uses the American Medical Association (AMA) citation style but check with your journal to ensure you are following their specific citation guidelines.

10. Follow ethical guidelines in medical research papers.

Ensuring ethical and legal standards are met are crucial for reporting scientific and medical research. When working with human subjects, it is essential to ensure compassion, consent, and confidentiality. Be sure you have followed all the ethical guidelines and have all the approvals in place. Medical writers must also have a clear idea of what constitutes unethical behavior. Avoid plagiarism, fabrication or falsification of facts or data to achieve desired results, such serious ethical misconduct can lead to serious consequences and tarnish a researcher’s reputation.

In conclusion, the renewed focus on pharma and medical research after the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more critical for research authors to produce well-researched and written medicine papers. By following the tips outlined in this article, researchers can produce clear, concise, and scientifically rigorous medical writing, helping to advance the field of medical research further.

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