Writing a paper for publication

Writing papers with a view to publication, especially in refereed prestigious journals, is a skill that can be acquired by practising a set format.

Getting started is the first difficult hurdle. An original, interesting, credible and challenging paper will invariably be accepted for publication. It is important to follow the guidelines for authors found in the relevant journals.

Key guidelines or 'clichés' to follow include:

• Have crystal clear objectives.

• Small is beautiful (around 1500 words).

• Practice makes perfect.

• Prefer the familiar word to the unfamiliar.

• A picture is worth a thousand words.

• Statistics shouldn't lie.

• Take a test run: consider peer review.

• Keep it simple and comprehensible.

In his book How to write and publish papers in medical sciences Edward J. Huth 13 writes:

Before sitting down to write, or even plan a paper in detail, you need to answer five questions:

• Is the paper worth writing?

• What is the right format for the message?

• What is the audience for the message?

• What is the right journal for the paper?

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