Writing a great article

Revising and redrafting

Completing a draft of an article is a milestone and you should feel a sense of accomplishment. There is, however, more to do.

The next step is an unlikely one: do nothing. Forget about your article for a few days so that, when you return, you can read it with fresh eyes. 

When you come back to it, print it off. Reading something repeatedly on screen can mask many errors, from spelling mistakes to words accidentally omitted to sentences which, on reflection, seem vague and rambling.

Focus on readability

As you revise, concentrate in particular on readability. Naturally, you want others to digest your article in its entirety so focus on passages where you find yourself having to read a sentence repeatedly to understand it or where it seems ambiguous or unclear. Be ruthless: if you find particular sections difficult to read, others definitely will.  

Be brave

This is also the moment to seek out a critical friend, a trusted colleague you can rely on to give an honest appraisal of your work. If you are shy about seeking the opinion of others, you may find this difficult. But getting feedback at this stage can significantly improve a final draft. It is also good preparation for the day your article is in the public domain and you may have to justify it in response to comments expressed, for example, through the journal’s letters pages. 

A final check

Repeat the cycle of revising, leaving alone, then printing off and rereading your article until you are ready to submit. But, before you do so, there are several things that warrant a final check:

  • Spelling, including names, places and medical terms.
  • References, and making sure that any references cut from the text during editing have also been removed from the reference list at the end.
  • Tables, graphs, figures, infographics
  • Statistical calculations.
  • Your contact details.

For more specific guidance, look at the section on author guidelines.

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