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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 229-230

Scientific writing in health professionals

Vice-Chancellor , KLE University, Belagavi Vice-Chancellor , KLE University, Belagavi, Belgaum, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication5-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Vivek Saoji
KLE University, Belgaum, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2349-5006.214012

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How to cite this article:
Saoji V. Scientific writing in health professionals. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2017;10:229-30

How to cite this URL:
Saoji V. Scientific writing in health professionals. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Jun 4];10:229-30. Available from: http://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2017/10/3/229/214012

  Write Something Top

You should not underestimate the effect of your contribution however modest; it need only add some small observation about your world. By soliciting modest contributions from the many, we have produced a store of collective know-how with far greater power than any individual could have achieved…. And writing lets you step back and think through a problem.”

Atul Gawande

  Good Scientific Writing Is Hard Work Even for the Experienced Authors Top

I have not found……. writing one bit easier today than it was 30 yrs. ago. I still have to work at it very hard and make many revisions, with a rare exception – once a while something like an editorial or thought will come in my mind, and I will write it out and be satisfied with the first draft….

………I find it stimulating to write and genuinely like it but like any other person who does quite a bit of writing there are times I feel stuck, and I have to put something aside and let it mature before I get back to it.”

Writing will always be work if you wish to write well

Morton Grossman, Eminent Gastroenterologist

Words from a man who published 400 scientific papers, 134 editorials and other short papers, and 71 books or chapters in books.

The importance of scientific writing cannot be better emphasized than the comments made by these two renowned physicians, who have been prolific writers. However majority of the research and scientific writing remains as a challenge and elusive thing to do. It has been commonly said that “ publish or perish and now publish and prosper,” but this argument is flawed in a sense that the former is intimidating, meaning thereby without publication, there are no career progression options, and the later entices the faculties to publish for the sake of publication, thereby resulting in poor quality publications, predatory journals, ghost writing, and other ills that we are witnessing in recent times.

  Tangible Performance Indicator Top

Faculties across the specialties and particularly in health sciences have to perform many roles, that include teaching, training, and evaluation, providing clinical care, outreach activities, they also have to share administrative responsibilities, they are further expected to do research, scientific writing, generate grant for research, do consultancy, and so on. Unfortunately, there are few objective, fair, feasible, and reliable performance measures for the majority of these roles. On the contrary number of research projects, the number of publications, grants generated, consultancy, etc., remains the only tangible performance measures that are easily available. The regulatory bodies and other authorities, therefore, mandate on these for career progression of individual faculty as well as use them as a reliable indicator to judge the standard of the institute/organization or university.

The importance of research and scientific publication cannot be overemphasized neither can it be undermined because of the many roles which are equally important that the faculty has to perform. While it is important to promote research culture and encourage the faculty for scientific writing, it is equally important to develop tools to effectively measure the faculty performance in other roles. The faculty and institutes need, therefore, to be judged in a much broader and holistic manner.

  Spirit of Enquiry Top

From our childhood days, we are groomed to be obedient, follow our elders and gurus, and though asking questions is not forbidden, we are not encouraged to ask questions or challenge the status quo. In asking questions, there is a fear of being exposed and ridiculed. The same continues in the college and professional education. But for science to grow, to move the field forward, we have to ask the right questions, challenge the status quo, find and bridge the gaps in a methodical way, there has to be quest for knowledge, and this is truer in health sciences, for medicine is a very dynamic science. Moreover, the universities have a mandate to create knowledge, so there has to be paradigm shift; we have to inculcate the research culture in our institutes. The students should be encouraged to think independently; their curiosity has to be aroused and scientific temperament developed. For this to happen, the faculty has to be supportive; they have to move away from the traditional teacher–student relationship to that of a co-learners and be the role model.

  The Way Forward Top

As mentioned earlier, the need of the hour is to generate good research proposals that will yield high-quality publications in peer-reviewed, indexed journals with good impact factor. For this to happen, the faculty as well as students has to decide their career pathways early on; we have to ask ourselves a question, where do we see ourselves 5 years, may be 10 years down the line. We have to have a focus, decide a field, an area of interest, develop expertise, and be recognized as an expert in the field. There has to be intrinsic motivation. An urge to do more, walk that extra mile. Literature review is very critical, it not only tells us what has been already done and is known but also opens up new possibilities to explore the unknown, and any research question, therefore, has to be grounded in literature. A researcher has always to challenge himself/herself with So What? Question. Working in small bust of times is essential, we have far too many commitments, and finding time is always a challenge, but taking small baby steps is always helpful. There are of course other challenges particularly getting the necessary resources both financial and personnel. Here again, we live in contradictions; at one end, there is paucity of resources and at other end for the funding agencies, including the government look for the good projects worth funding. Identifying the thrust areas can help for generating funds. Fostering collaborations, working in teams, can be extremely rewarding. Review of the manuscript by a colleague is helpful in refinement and should be done before submission. Finding appropriate journal is equally important; in this context, it is important to define what is the message and who would be interested. A Who Cares? Question helps in identifying the audience and the journal. The author has to be particular about the language. Writing style, grammar, appropriate use of words, clarity accuracy, etc. must be looked carefully.

The important carry-home message that has to be understood and imbibed is first “Good writing is not easy as easy writing can make hard reading” and second “Writing is not a luxury, it is crucial for effective transmission of ideas and information” D. Rennie, Godlee, BMJ. The So What? And Who Cares? Test must be applied at all the stages of scientific writing that is from conceptualization of the study to submission of manuscript. And finally, scientific writing demands “Good Science and Good Writing.”


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