Manuscript Writing – Top 5 Pearls to Getting Your Manuscript Accepted

Claire McDaniel, MD | Liana Tedesco, MD

July 21, 2021

You have done the data collection and analytics for your research project, now what? It is time to write the manuscript. If you are first author, this is your time to shine. Find our five pearls for manuscript writing below to maximize your potential and get published!

1Targeting the Right Journal

It can be tempting to try to send every paper to a top tier journal, but it is important to be honest about the focus and impact of your research. Is your paper a better fit in a subspecialty journal rather than JBJS or CORR? If you are not sure, a great option is to ask a colleague (preferably one who has been an author or reviewer for your field) to review your paper and suggest an appropriate journal target.

2Keeping Your Message Clear

Clarity in a single message will dramatically increase how effective and memorable your paper is.  This is especially true if the authors are coming from different academic backgrounds and may want different aspects of the paper emphasized. Choose one argument that is supported by your data, and make sure that it is apparent throughout your paper from the very beginning of the introduction to the end of the discussion; this is even important to emphasize in the title. It is even more helpful to discern for readers how the data in your paper affects clinical care. Do not “stretch” – no conclusion statements or “future potential benefits” should be made that are not supported by your results.

3Keeping the Flow Logical

Although this is a scientific paper, it’s equally as critical to remember that you are telling a story. Your writing can be persuasive in the context of the data presented, but it has to do so in a clear and logical way. Use the framework of “argument-data-explanation” to keep the paper’s message clear, but the flow logical. This is true not just with respect to the flow of hypothesis-results-discussion, but within the paragraphs of the discussion itself.  

4Formatting Specifically for the Journal

Once you have decided on the “right” journal and the clear message of your paper, it is time to think about formatting. Each journal has specific requirements for word count, author count, and formatting for citations, figures, and images. Be sure to carefully read the “instructions for authors” on the journal website to ensure your article meets all these requirements. If you do not follow these requirements, the editorial staff will return your paper before even sending it out for peer review.

5Editing, Editing, Editing!

Once you have completed your paper, it is crucial to take the time to reread your paper, ensuring it is clear and free of grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. It can be helpful to take a day away from the paper and return to edit it with fresh eyes. Have all authors read the final product, as it is easy to miss simple mistakes when you have been hyper-focused on something for a period. 

DISCLOSURES: Dr. McDaniel a close family member who works for Ferring Pharmaceuticals (makes Euflexxa). Dr. Tedesco This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2021 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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