Sophien Kamoun’s presentation to the Norwich research Park PhD students. A step by step guide to writing scientific papers. April 1, 2020.
First posted on KamounLab tumblr blog
Click here for the slides. Here is also a link to the video of the talk.
This presentation is part of a workshop about writing scientific papers. It describes a 10 step guide for writing papers.
Below is a summary of the talk and the sources I drew from to prepare the slides for this talk. I’m grateful to all contributors for their help.
1. Don’t perish! I’ve been giving this talk and associated workshop for ~20 years. This is an updated version. It’s better organised into a step by step guide.
2. This workshop is not about writing, it’s about “putting together a paper”. Searching Google Videos for “open goal misses”.
3. Communication Publications are main medium through which we communicate our science Otherwise the impact will be quasi-nil.
4. Writing great papers is not about being a “good writer”.
5. Writing great papers is about…telling a good story.
6. An integrated research/publication plan is the secret to publishing lots of papers!
7. A 10-step guide for writing papers.
8. Create a folder and share it with your coauthors.
9. The storyline-the concept of the paper as a story.
10. Make the list of Figures and Tables. I thank my colleague Jonathan Jones for suggesting ASTs.
11. WARNING! Outlining your paper while doing research SHOULD NOT UNDER ANY MEANS imply that you become wedded to your storyline.
12. You can do it the boring way… Peter Medawar’s essay “Is the scientific paper a fraud?” was first read on BBC radio in 1964. Here is the transcript. I guess there was a time when scientists gave talks on the radio.
13. Another boring way to tell your story…is to frame the paper around generalities.
14. Start your story with a biological question or a problem or an unknown.
15–16. Storyline — an example. The example is from Dagdas et al. eLife 2016.
17. Structure of a storyline.
17a. Less is More. Here is the origin of the phrase.
17b. Robust research needs many lines of evidence. Nature, 2018.
18. Finalize the Figures-You MISSION is to generate publication quality Figures and Tables. More about Ethan Hunt here.
18b. Beyond Bar and Line Graphs. Here is the link to the excellent PLOS Biology paper.
19. Don’t start writing until…you have the FINAL Figures/Tables.
20–21. Results — an example. The example is from earlier drafts of Adachi et al. eLife 2019.
22. Structure of a Results section.
23. Report your results accurately…to follow up with conﬁdence. The example is from earlier drafts of Adachi et al. eLife 2019.
26–27. Discussion. Arguably, the most famous sentence in biology “It has not escaped our notice…“.
28. Title-your billboard.
30. Post your paper in a preprint server. More on preprints at ASPbio. Check their FAQ.
31. The rise of bioRxiv. This was from prepubmed monthly stats.
44. Just preprint it! Here is the tweet. With apologies to Nike.