- Focus on the “take-home” message
What is the core message of your paper?
What is the most important thing you want readers to remember after reading your paper?
Can you describe the core message of your paper to a colleague in one minute?
Can you condense the paper into 3 to 5 highlights?
Can you summarize the paper in one sentence?
Can you express the core message in graphical form?
- Use clear, concise writing
Keep sentences short and simple.
Make one point per sentence.
Avoid unnecessary repetition.
Use the active voice rather than the passive voice.
“The expression of X was determined …” = Passive voice ✘
“We determined the expression of X …” = Active voice ✓
Keep the subject and verb of the sentence close together.
“Glucose [subject], which is made during photosynthesis from … , is [verb] a simple sugar.” ✘
“Glucose [subject] is [verb] a simple sugar that is made during photosynthesis from … ” ✓
Avoid noun strings.
“XX hospital established a medical services efficiency evaluation index system.” ✘
“XX hospital established an index system that evaluated the efficiency of their medical services.” ✓
- Tell a story
Tell the story of your paper
Why did you decide to do the experiment? → How did you do it? → What did you find? → What do your findings mean?
Use signposts to help the reader navigate through the story.
“In experiment 1, we showed that XXX. To elucidate the mechanism for this, we then … “
Do not leave the reader wondering how you arrived at a hypothesis/conclusion.
Example: Sodium suppresses podocyte apoptosis; therefore, since X and sodium have similar chemical structures, the purpose of this study was to investigate the anti-apoptotic activity of X in podocytes.
Revision: Sodium suppresses podocyte apoptosis. X has a similar chemical structure to sodium. Therefore, we hypothesised that X would also suppress apoptosis in podocytes. The revised text gives a logical step-by-step account of how the authors arrived at the hypothesis.