Helpful Writing Tips for Authors Working in the Medical Sciences

The Challenges of Writing in the Medical Sciences
Writing in many fields within the medical sciences can appeal to and reach a very wide audience, from the highly educated specialist to the general public. When preparing a paper for publication in a scholarly medical journal, for instance, you can anticipate a well-educated group of readers who subscribe to the journal. The grand majority of these readers will possess considerable knowledge within the journal’s range of specialisation. A much smaller number will actually be specialists in the precise subject area of your research, and the peer reviewers chosen to assess your article will certainly be well informed in that area. Some readers will be engaged in advanced research, others will be studying or teaching at universities and still others will be practitioners in the health sciences. Finally, you may also reach a selection of lay readers who possess no formal or specialised knowledge in the medical sciences – patients, for example, who are coping with the disease or condition on which your research and writing focuses. By any assessment, this is an extremely various and therefore tough audience to please.
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When writing for such a wide audience, your language and content must be sophisticated and detailed enough to satisfy the experts, yet simple and to the point so that it effectively informs even the reader with very little knowledge in the area. In practical terms, this is simply a magnification of the problem faced by all scientific writers, and there will always be parts of a document in which one reader will want more information and analysis while another reader considers your treatment far too detailed and in depth. Finding a balance within whatever structural guidelines and length limits you need to observe is essential, and clarity will be absolutely central to success. An enormous amount of data can, for instance, be presented in highly accessible ways if visually effective tables and figures are used instead of lengthy descriptions, and even the most obscure terminology used by specialists can be understood by readers to whom it is unfamiliar if that terminology is carefully defined or explained when it is first used in a document.
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Although much of the writing done by healthcare practitioners is not intended for publication, it, too, presents significant challenges. Medical reports, charts and care plans, for instance, must be created, updated and completed every day, and such documents require writing that is clear, detailed, swift, precise, thorough and accurate. Information on treatment plans, direct observations of patients’ health and assessments of causal relationships as well as interactions among doctors, nurses, patients and their families might be included. Establishing a tone that is objective and professional as well as personal and caring is only one of the difficulties, and it is important to remember that healthcare practitioners must also be prepared to defend what they have written, so careful attention to each and every word and sentence you record to ensure that you have communicated exactly what you intended is essential to success.

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Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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