Write Science Blog / Oili Kiikkilä

I write this blog first once a week. In November and in December 2017, I publish a blog article on Fridays.

I start to write this blog with the aim to help students and beginners in scientific article writing. We are three of us helping you at the moment, but these blog articles are my personal opinions.

I strive to teach you writing, improve your article and help you to publish it in all the ways I know. All this is based on my experience in doing research, writing and trying to publish it myself, as well as writing and reading peer-reviews and editor comments. Finally, it is based on my one year experience in editing and helping researchers to develop their articles. Most of my clients have been PhD students struggling with the writing. The issues I write about here are such that I have noticed and commented them more than once.  You may recognize my comments on your text, but I never write so that the articles or authors could be recognized. I hope that sharing the problems could help future writers. 

I welcome all comments, questions, opinions and discussion about scientific writing. What would you like to ask? What is difficult in scientific writing? 
You comment will be displayed after I have read it. You can choose the comment to be published with or without your name.
Friday, December 8, 2017, 14:16 | No Comments »

I may well suggest cutting the text remarkably. I take one example from real life. I suggested cutting the presentation of certain methods from 420 words to 160 words and the respective presentation of the results from 825 to 615 words - and these texts were already English corrected by a qualified professional editor. This is an example of the case where a person who has been doing research herself would have been needed. A highly qualified English language expert just corrects all. However, I am sure that, at least in any journal of reasonable quality, the reviewer or the editor would have suggested cutting.

If any of the methods is already well known, shorten the detailed explanation and give a reference and possibly the idea the method is based on. One reference is enough. Journals usually recommend a brief presentation of the methods when it is possible. For instance, you do not need the medium recipe in grams in detail if it has been presented elsewhere. For a spectrophotometric method, you need only a wavelength and the standard chemical. A standard curve preparation is certainly not wanted to be published again. Many methods are so common that they do not need a long story.

The basic instruction to write the methods, which we all know, is that the readers should be able to repeat the study. However, this does not mean that you should write all in detail in your own article. In some cases, it is not so easy to decide the length. However, in many cases, there are no doubts about it.

You cannot raise the value of the research with unnecessary long texts in the Methods. In contrast, they give an impression about inexperienced authors, and the reviewer gets courage to be extremely critical against many other things as well. Therefore, the length of the Methods is worth of thinking carefully. You get to know the proper length by reading journal articles.

Friday, December 1, 2017, 17:41 | No Comments »

Our service is to help PhD students and beginners in writing in all the ways we know. Therefore, we want to say that our service is scientific writing help, instead of scientific editing or any kind of editing. English grammar check should not be our competitor, because most English editing services are, in practice, for the grammar check at the sentence level. The better and more expensive services promise to edit the text at the document level. Advanced editing at the document level can be done all at once, without any communication between the editor and the author. We aim to develop your manuscript together with you, and, at the same time, teach you scientific writing.

In general, the cheaper the service the more the correction is at the sentence level. Unfortunately, this is many times enough. I am saying unfortunately, because, in the long run, I believe that the better written articles will live longer; moreover, unfortunately, because you are not learning anything.

Everyone has a rapid acceptance for publication in mind. Although correct English grammar is many times enough, the good writing and logic give you better reviewer comments and make the acceptance easier. It is very much possible to get a poorly written article published (even with poor English), but I believe that a well-written article lives longer and will be more often read and cited.

We all want to minimize our efforts. However, in the long run, it is going to be easier if you have certain basic skills for scientific writing. These special scientific writing skills we want to teach you personally.

Friday, November 24, 2017, 12:11 | No Comments »

My comments are often difficult, and they always mean more work to you if you want to follow them.

The more you can modify the text yourself the better it will be, and the more you learn. The best will be if I comment several times, and you revise several times. I will give you general comments at least twice after the first comments, in practice, always more than twice.

I hope that many of my points are the ones that the future reviewers might raise. In any case, the criticism presented is the way you can develop and improve the article. If you want, I will be very critical and try to find the aspects that can be criticized.

After commenting, I start to edit the text at the article, paragraph and finally at the sentence level. I am a native Finnish speaker and my colleague Lu-Min is a native Chinese speaker. If you want a native English speaker grammar correction by my colleague Mark, you will get that as well.

If you are now stacked with the writing, maybe I could help you to go on, if I see your texts.

Thursday, November 16, 2017, 17:21 | No Comments »

My first comments to you

The best system has appeared to be that you send me your article. I read it quickly and give some major comments that come to my mind easily. Thereafter, you can decide if you continue with our service, and we can flexibly help you in the ways you like.

 The usual case is that I first read the article and give some major comments to improve the article. This is by no means the language at the sentence, paragraph or even article level. The first thing that I often see in the articles I get to edit is that the authors have not told their story in such a way that a reader can easily follow it. So, many times, my first comments are something like: Write about this and do not write about that here.

For a couple of first rounds, my service it is not editing at all. It is commenting the article at the research level. My help to you is to present criticism so that you notice certain things you have not written or presented so well. I criticize but I always also try to suggest practical advice on how you could improve the article. If I do not exactly know what to suggest, the discussions have always helped the author to go on and continue writing.

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