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Medical Proofreading Tips

Medical Proofreading: What Does it Mean to Proofread your Own Paper?

A scientist is confident of his research paper while submitting it to the journal. He knows he has worked hard, conducted an excellent study which would bring about a turnover in his field. He expects the peer reviewers to understand the importance of his work and accept it for publication.

But, unfortunately, his paper gets rejected. And the reason is poorly written research paper.

Sounds like you?

Probably, every scientist has gone through this. And that’s when he realizes the importance of proofreading and editing his paper before submission.

But, why this realization comes late? Why can’t you proofread and edit your paper beforehand to make sure it’s error-free?

That’s because you don’t know how to proofread your own paper.

Let’s first understand…..

What it means to proofread your own paper?

Proofreading your own paper is not a can of worms. It is the process of correcting your own paper after writing the first draft. You may require multiple drafts until you reach the final manuscript.

If you submit a proofread and refined paper, it:

1) Eases the reviewer’s/editor’s job

2) Allows the reviewers/editors to better assess the paper’s validity

3) Increases your chances of publication

How to Proofread your Paper?

Once you complete your manuscript, do not hurry to submit it. Though it was hard writing it, continue working on it till you reach the final manuscript.

Follow these steps to proofread your manuscript and submit it in the best shape possible.

1) Print your paper

Always proofread the hard copy of your manuscript. This makes it easy to see any differences in the written document and what you typed on the computer.

2) Take a break

Do not proofread immediately after writing. Take a break of a day or at least few hours. This helps to view the document with fresh eyes and mistakes are unlikely to be ignored.

Moreover, don’t revise the entire paper in one sitting. Do it in bits. Take about a week to complete the process of medical proofreading.

3) Read your paper out loud

When you read your paper out loud, you can detect sentences and sections that sound weird or make little sense. Mark such errors with a pen, edit them, and re-read.

4) Imagine yourself as the reviewer

To proofread, you need to disengage yourself as the author. Pretend you’re the reviewer who has never read your paper before. With this critical state of mind, you can find every flaw possible that can lead to the paper’s rejection.

5) Be brutal

Keep your ego aside and become your paper’s worst enemy. Use your red pen and try these:

  • Don’t use adverbs and adjectives as far as possible. Mark out every adverb and adjective on the hard copy of the manuscript. Add them back only if necessary.
  • Reduce each sentence to its essential parts i.e. the subject, verb, and object. Try to keep the sentences as simple as possible.
  • Write short paragraphs.  Follow the rule: one sentence, one idea. If you have over five sentences in a paragraph, see if you can shorten it.
  • Avoid too many dependent clauses.  “Before I conducted the trial, I checked all the equipment and then immediately tabulated the results,” can be written as “I checked all the equipment and tabulated the results before the trial”
  • Be the authority. Don’t offer an opinion.  Don’t use “we believe”, “it appears”, or “seems to be” in your sentences. Stand for what you write in your research paper.

6) Read your paper from back to front

This slows down your brain and you’ll be amazed at how many mistakes you can find now.

7) Don’t rely on spell check

Spell check is a useful tool to find most spelling mistakes. However, it won’t find inappropriate words like “He accepts the peer reviewers to understand the importance of his work and expect it for publication.” So do not rely completely on Spell check.

The initial writing of the research paper is easy. But, the real work lies in improving it to communicate what you want. This is only possible through medical proofreading and editing. So, submit your manuscript only when you are convinced with your self-proofread and edited document.

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