Advice to authors

Fast manuscript editing

How to obtain the greatest benefit from AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean

1. Which journal?

Your research is important, but who should know about it? Colleagues in your own country, in your region, or in the whole world? Where are your findings applicable? To local, national, regional, or international populations?

By choosing the most appropriate journal, you increase the chances that your research will be accepted, read, cited, appreciated and used by colleagues who need to know about it to improve health in their setting.

By choosing the journal before we begin to edit your manuscript, you can save time. Most journals have detailed, specific rules about aspects of format, and it is important to follow all these rules strictly. Good compliance with the journal’s Instructions to Authors or Guidelines for Manuscript preparation creates a favorable initial impression and shows the editor that you are professional and careful with the details.

2. How much editing?

Editing a manuscript that reports original research in the format Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, References, Tables and Figures can require 2 to 8 hours depending on the complexity of the science and the language. The aim of editing is to ensure that reviewers and editors will pay respectful attention to the scientific content, and not be confused by problems with the English or the organization of the text. So the language and writing should be clear, simple and accurate.

Here is a basic list of characteristics of a well-edited manuscript:

1. The title states the subjects or patients, the methods, and possibly the main result.

2. The Abstract reflects the contents.

3. The Introduction mentions the target population of readers and ends with a statement of the problem, question or hypothesis.

4. The Methods don’t keep secrets.

5. The Results focus on the question asked in the Introduction.

6. The Discussion focuses on the question asked in the Introduction and explains what your findings mean.

7. There are no discrepancies in the data and information between the abstract, the main text and the figures or tables.

8. The article satisfies your readers’ expectations. Study your target journal and edit your manuscript by adding, deleting or modifying things to adapt the article to the readers of your chosen journal.

You can save time by preparing a complete manuscript before we begin to edit, with all parts in place from the title page to the references, tables and figures. Also, time can be saved if we work with on screen with an electronic file. If we work with the manuscript on paper, please remember to print it with double spacing so that there is enough space to write corrections and notes.

If you have already submitted your manuscript and are ready to revise it in accordance with the comments from the peer reviewers, please bring their comments and the editor’s decision letter with you.

3. Will editing lead to acceptance? We hope so!

Perfection is impossible, but the aim is for the manuscript to make a perfectly good impression on the editor and peer reviewers. So even if the manuscript has been edited before you send it to the journal, it is a good idea to have it checked (proofread) a final time to catch small errors that can reduce the editor’s and reviewers’ respect for your manuscript. The title, abstract, beginning of the Introduction, and tables and figures are particularly important because these are the parts that readers look at first.

Many reviewers and editors ask the authors to “please have a native English speaker review the manuscript” even if we have already edited the paper. There is no research data to explain this behavior. I think it is simply a bad habit that reviewers use when they can’t find anything important to say, especially if their own first language is not English.

Even when the editor and reviewers are favorably impressed by the manuscript, they will usually ask for additional changes and corrections. They often suggest corrections to the English. Sometimes these corrections are helpful, but sometimes there are not. Sometimes they are even wrong and create an error in the text, or change the original meaning. Reviewers are experts in science, but they are not always experts in English.

4. Evaluation of the AuthorAID project

It is important to record the outcome of editing so we can evaluate the effectiveness of AuthorAID projects, so please remember two things:

1. Please thank the AuthorAID editor by name in the Acknowledgments so that there is a record of the editing work.

2. Please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. :

- if the manuscript was accepted or rejected,

- if the journal asked for additional changes, or

- if the journal said there were problems with the English.

Manuscripts ready to be edited as fast a possible

Here is a list of technical editing details that must be perfect in your manuscript before it is ready to edit:

1. General

Please never use automatic numbering of paragraphs, sections or points in a list. Please disable this option on your version of Word when you prepare a manuscript for a journal.

Please make sure that track changes is not used, because this often creates compatibility problems between different computers and versions of Windows or Word.

Please make sure the manuscript is complete and includes the 1) title page, 2) abstract, 3) key words, 4) the complete main text, 5) acknowledgements, 6) any other sections the journal requires, 7) references, 8) tables, 9) figure legends, and 10) figures. It is better if the figures (graphic files) are together in a separate file from the manuscript.

2. References in the correct format for the journal

In the text: (4) or [4] or superscript number (for example, 12).

Period or comma consistently before or after the reference. Example: ...as shown previously. (4) or as shown previously (4).

Correct spacing between the text and the reference. Example: ...as shown previously [4] is correct, but ...as shown previously[4] is usually not correct.

In the reference list, all references must be in the correct format. This is very easy to check in the journal’s instructions for authors Please pay attention to all the elements in each reference: capital or small letters, spaces, punctuation (. , ; :) and bold or italics.

Different journals can have slightly different rules, even if the journal’s Instructions or Guidelines say they use the Medline, PubMed or ICMJE formats (these are all the same format with different names).

In the text, if an author’s name is mentioned, the spelling must be correct and must be exactly the same as in the bibliographic reference in the Reference list.

If a publication cited in the text has more than one author, it must be mentioned as

A study by Memarpour and Shahidi (4) found that...   if there are 2 authors

A study by Memarpour et al. (4) found that...   if there are 3 authors or more.

Please note the correct way to write et al. The “al.” must always be followed by a period.

If only one earlier publication is cited in the text, it is not correct to say “Recent studies showed (4) that ...” The correct form is “A recent study showed (4) that...”

3. Title page names

Each author should be named with his or her complete given name first (not just the initials) followed by the surname. The journal will adapt this to their own particular style. The system of using the surname first followed by the initials of the given name is only for bibliographic references, not for identifying the authors at the beginning of the article.

4. Abstract

The abstract must be within the journal’s word limit. Please do not use any abbreviations in the abstract.

5. Key words

Each key word must be present in http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/MBrowser.html . This is very easy to check online. If the key word you want is not in the MeSH Browser, use the term that is most similar. Usually, journals want you to use key words that are not already contained in the title of the article.

6. Abbreviations

The first time the term appears in the main text, please use the full term followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. The second time it appears and all successive times in the main text, please always use the abbreviation. Please do not alternate between the abbreviation and the full term.

Please never use an abbreviation as the first word of a sentence.

Please do not use any abbreviations in the section headings, titles for the tables and figure legends.

7. Materials and manufacturers

You must give the exact, correct name of each product (name of the product and model or series number) and always write it the same way. This is very easy to check on the manufacturer’s website. Many products have similar names, and an error could have serious consequences for the patients.

The first time a product or apparatus is mentioned, you must provide the name of the manufacturer and the City, State (only for the USA) and Country. If you obtained the material from a regional or national office and not from the main international office of the company, it is better to give the city and country of the office where you bought the material. It is not necessary to mention “Inc” or “Ltd” or “Gmbh” or “Company” or “Co” in the name of the manufacturer.

If the same product is mentioned a second time or additional times in the manuscript, it is not necessary to provide the manufacturer’s location each time. Only the name of the product and the name of the manufacturer are enough.

The correct name of the material manufacturer must be checked on one of the manufacturer’s official websites. Do not copy this from other published articles, because other articles are full of mistakes. Please pay attention to capital and small letters, spaces and hyphens. These elements are important to identify exactly which product you are referring to

8. Tables and figures

Each table and each figure must be mentioned in the text, in numerical order.

Usually, the tables should be at the end of the manuscript, after the References.

Usually, the figures (graphic files) should be in separate files and not in the manuscript file, but the figure legends should be in the manuscript file after the tables.

9. Easy tables

Table / Insert / Table / Choose number of columns / Choose number of rows (it’s better to choose more than you think you need and then erase the extra rows and columns after the table is finished) / Autoadjust /Choose Autoadjust to content / Accept

Table autoformat: Always choose Basic 1 from the list of table formats, and in the lower part of this box, for Apply special formats to, deactivate (untick) the option “Last row”.

Then use Table / Merge cells to create a space for column headings that need to cover several columns. Highlight all the cells you want to combine in a given row (or column) and click Table / Merge cells, or use right-click / Merge cells

To add a new row, put the cursor on the outside of the last right-hand column (a small black rectangle should appear at the cursor) and hit Enter.