27 Tips for Efficiently Writing Scientific Publications and Other Documents

By Katherine Molnar-Kimber posted 07-17-2018 16:25


I always obtain some new ideas and tips for boosting productivity at the AMWA annual conference and other AMWA meetings. This year I’m illustrating the most effective 27 tips and strategies for efficiently writing a scientific or clinical manuscript on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 am to 10 am at the AMWA annual conference in Washington, DC. Many of the tips are applicable to writing other types of documents. Here’s a brief teaser:

Efficiently writing any document, especially a scientific or clinical manuscript, reduces your stress and helps you provide the “on time, on target, and on budget” deliverable to your boss or clients.

To make the most of your time, the tips are grouped into 10 categories: goals, writing process, results & data presentation, methods and guidelines, introduction & references, discussion and references, reviews & revision(s), supportive office, wellness, and mindset.

They include 3 tips that begin your day with focused energy [a CEO paid more than $25,000 for these three tips because of how well it boosted productivity at his company.]

Guidelines help streamline the outline process for writing manuscripts. More than thirty guidelines for reporting Methods are compiled in the Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations series (www.MIBBI.org). Reporting guidelines for different types of clinical trials, ranging from case reports to systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials, are available at www.equator-network.org.

Most writers use Microsoft Word. To reduce the use of the mouse, many writers choose to use MSWord shortcuts. I’ll be providing a PDF with Microsoft Word shortcuts for PCs in three tables:

  • shortcuts for text or document modification,
  • shortcuts for math and editing symbols, and
  • shortcuts for Greek letters commonly used in molecular biology, immunology, and the biological sciences.
In many cases, clinical trials supply sufficient data for more than one clinical peer-reviewed manuscript, such as comparative analyses of the full group(s) versus comparative analyses of subgroups. Thus, it’s essential to determine the boundaries of the requested manuscript, preferably before writing: jot down the tips for obtaining clear goals for the writing project. 

We’ll also discuss tips for presenting the requested scientific story of the results throughout the manuscript. The scientific story begins with the background and rationale in the Introduction; provides sufficient details for reproducible Methods; and explains and illustrates the data in the Results for quick comprehension. All sections support the story thread so readers (and reviewers) agree with the data’s significance in the field and limitations in the Discussion. One of the tips shows how varying color in related graphic elements in diagrams can improve their flow; the tip is summarized at  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/varying-color-related-graphic-elements-improves-flow-katherine/The full open access article is published in a special issue on Scientific Communication (1).

Ever wonder how to choose which methods or experiments should be augmented by supplementary files or where to cite contradictory data? Need tips for version control? We’ll also touch on tips for facilitating Medical Legal Review and tips for helping the Quality Control or fact-finding group.

Most writers have run into the slow-to-respond reviewer; jot down a few tips for motivating reviewers and for making reviews and revisions more efficient (2). During and after this session, participants will be able to assess their work habits, add their own tips and ideas to the group discussion, and decide which tips may boost their productivity.

Looking forward to meeting and talking with you at the 2018 AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference in Washington, DC!


Katherine L. Molnar-Kimber, Ph.D.
Kimnar Group, LLC, KMK Consulting Services
PO Box 219, Worcester, PA 19490
Ph:  610-990-7713 ; Fax: 610-222-0731

Selected references

  1. Kimber, O., Cromley, J.C., and Molnar-Kimber, K.L.* (2018) Let your ideas flow: Using flow charts to convey methods and implications of the results in laboratory exercises, articles, posters, and slide presentations. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1477. http://www.asmscience.org/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1477  
  2. Molnar-Kimber, K.L. 12 Tips for Accomplishing the Review and Revision Process More Efficiently. Delawriter, Fall, 2017 issue.

Photo credit for lightbulb: This-is-me/shutterstock.com