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Súil Collins: Avoiding common pitfalls of manuscript and figure preparation

last modified Sep 21, 2017 01:13 PM

Avoiding common pitfalls of manuscript and figure preparation

Progress towards understanding the natural world is in some ways like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Individual pieces snap together, which then join to form larger and larger sections until a complete picture gradually emerges. Forcing a piece to fit where it does not belong can derail the entire puzzle. In the same way, scientific progress unfolds piece by piece, as scientists link small advances together into landmark discoveries. Therefore, writing up the results of a scientific study in an accurate and clear manner is essential for enabling other scientists to confirm and build upon the advance, together revealing the underlying puzzle. 

However, the ‘publish or perish’ mentality within the research community can lead to papers being submitted and even published when they are not technically sound or rigorously developed, potentially undermining the foundation upon which scientific progress is based. In our first ‘Words of Advice’ article, we provided tips for developing a research plan and writing a strong, compelling manuscript [1]. In this instalment, we investigate the flip side of the coin – the tempting shortcuts to producing a substandard manuscript that can lead to your work being rejected, dismissed or even retracted, and tarnish an otherwise promising research career.

Read the full article here.

By: Súil Collins, Rita Gemayel and Emily J. Chenette

Words of Advice - The FEBS Journal 284 (2017) 1262–1266


Súil is a 2013 cohort PhD student in the BBSRC DTP Programme. She is currently researching 'the identification and development of small molecule inhibitors of the aggregation of proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease' in the lab of Professor David Spring in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. As part of the BBSRC DTP Programme Súil completed rotation projects in Chemistry and in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology with Professor Clemens Kaminski. She wrote the above article as part of her internship at The FEBS Journal - read about her internship experience here.