How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper, 2nd ed.  by Björn Gustavii link


Copyright Gustavii 2003, 2008


About the Author

BJÖRN GUSTAVII became an editor of Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica for 8 years and has been teaching courses in scientific writing for doctoral (Ph.D.) students in medicine for 25 years.  His book is intended for use of all the writers in biological and medical disciplines.

Things to Remember for the Scientific Language:
1. Do not include observations that depart from the main theme,p5
2. Seventeen words are enough,p6
3. Replace he/she by “they” or “their” , p7
4. In methods and results sections the passive voice is generally more effective, p8
5. Present tense is used for established knowledge (incl. your own published findings), p9
    e.g. introduction
6. Past tense is used for the results that you are currently reporting, p9
    e.g. abstract
7. Misused of words prevalence and incidence, p11
     refers to the total number of cases of a disease or condition existing at a specifictime.
    refers to the number of new cases that develop over a specific time.
8. Avoid the use of “respectively”, p11
9. The construction and/or has no place in scientific writing, p11
10. One hedge is always enough, p12

  • Hedging is a way of saying “maybe” more than once.

  • Seven hedges - seems, not inconceivable, suggest, may, indicate, possible, probably

11. Use specific terminology, p13
All infants birth–23 months
All children 0–18 years
All adults 19+ years
Newborn birth–1 month
Infant 2–23 months
Preschool child 2–5 years
Child 6–12 years
Adolescent 13–18 years
Adult 19–44 years
Middle aged 45–64 years
Middle aged + aged 45+ years
Aged 65+ years
80 and over 80+ years

  • Persons below adult age may be referred to as boys and girls.

  • Foradults, men and women are the correct terms.

12. Avoid synonyms to achieve elegant variation,p14
13. Avoid “remote verb” construction, p14

When Drafting the Manuscript
1. Jot down ideas as they occur to you, p15
2. Professional writers know from experience that they can work creatively for only a few
    hours per day, p16
Abstract&Introduction - single session each.
Results and discussion - split into smaller parts, each to be written in one session.
3. Stop when one part is finished, p17
4. You do not need to write everyday, p17
5. Begin with the easiest section (offers a psychological advance), p17

When Preparing a Graph

1. The apropriate ratio of the relationship between the axes is 1:1, p22
2. Place the label parallel to the axis, p22
3. The graph is intended to show trend, not exact figures, p23
4. A column chart may be preferable when there is no carry-over effect from one time period
    to the next, p24
5. Two or three categories in each group should be the maximum in the grouped column
    chart, p25
6. The main role for column charts is to display categorical data, p26
7. Time series are usually better shown by line graphs, p26 be continued