Help for trainees seeking to publish case reports

Getting your first paper published can be challenging. Although writing case reports has, to a certain extent, fallen out of favour, it remains a valuable way for trainees to gain medical writing experience. Going through the process of submitting a paper and responding to academic criticism is the best way to learn the steps involved in publishing peer-reviewed work. Publications also look impressive on your CV. However, writing your first paper, even a short case report, can be daunting.

A good case report carries a strong clinical or educational message that sticks in the reader's mind - it is not just about how rare you think the case is (and your "interesting" case is rarely that rare!). At their best, case reports provide insights into disease pathogenesis - a good example being recent "molecular case reports" of next-generation sequencing studies of single patients, which have even been published in high-impact journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine.

There are, of course, a number of good resources available on the internet to help you write a clinical case report, such as the Royal College of Physician's "How to write a clinical case report". Nevertheless, we frequently receive case reports for editing that contain problems that could, at worst, prevent publication - such as a lack of patient consent or a poor review of the literature.

We can help you write an impressive and clinically valuable case report.

Whatever stage you are at - but particularly if you are a trainee - we will work collaboratively with you to write a high-quality case report. We understand that journals prefer to publish reports that have a strong clinical message or educational component, and we will help you develop a narrative that will appeal to journals and make the writing more interesting for you. We will give guidance on how to highlight the diagnostic, ethical, or management components of the case. We will also advise on which diagnostic images to select to complement the text. We can also help you create professional, multi-part figures.

We have particular experience and success with submissions to BMJ Case Reports, the American Journal of Case Reports, the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, and the Journal of Medical Case Reports.

For further details of our services, see here.

QuickTip #1: converting files to TIFF

It can be extremely frustrating - not to mention time-consuming - formatting papers to meet journal requirements. That's why we provide free templates to help you make sense of the author instructions and speed up the submission process. Please let us know if you need a specific template creating for you.

Image processing and conversion can be equally frustrating, especially when you are doing it for the first time. We thought it might be useful to pass on some of the resources and techniques we use when preparing images for journals. Here, we deal with the commonest scenario we encounter when preparing images for biomedical journals - converting image files into high-resolution TIFFs (usually of minimum 300 dpi resolution).

The usual method involves two steps: converting the (non-TIFF) image into a PDF, then converting the PDF into a TIFF file. Check the journal's author instructions first though, since some journals accept PDF files.

Step 1: Convert to PDF

You can convert your file into a PDF by either "printing" as a PDF (select "print to PDF" in the "print" dialogue box) or by "saving as" a PDF (go to "File" >> "Save As, then in the pull down “Format” or “Save as type” menu select “PDF").

Step 2: Convert PDF into TIFF

If you use an Apple computer, there is a very easy way to do this:

1. Simply open up your PDF in Preview and select "Export…" from the file menu.
2. In the "Format" dropdown at the bottom of the dialogue box, select "TIFF".
3. Many journals (especially PLoS family) prefer you to use LZW compression, so select "LZW" from the "Compression" dropdown.
4. Set the resolution to 300 pixels/inch and "Save".

If you use standalone graphics editing software, such as the excellent open-source program GIMP, then:

1. Open the PDF in your graphics software (GIMP will allow you to set the resolution on import, so set it to 300 pixel/inch at this stage).
2. Crop and re-size the image if necessary.
3. Save the file using LZW compression: in GIMP, use “Export” and select TIFF as the format with LZW compression; in Photoshop, select “LZW compression” and “Discard Layers, and Save a Copy.”

If you are having problems or need advice, why not drop us a line. We are always happy to help.

Nextgenediting - website update

Last year we pointed our readers and customers to this Nature article from late 2010, which provides advice on careers in science editing and lists a set of standards one should look for when choosing an editing company:

1. Select a company that specialises in academic editing and has field-specific editors with graduate-level training.
2. Be suspicious of companies that post testimonials with no names or affiliations on their websites.
3. Be wary of English-language editing companies based in countries where English is not the native language.
4. Ask to submit a 500-word sample edit to see how the company performs.
5. Look for a company with a web-based submission system (where a user logs in, creates an account and uploads the paper). Such companies are likely to be established organisations with a high level of security.
6. Don't just choose on the basis of price. Consider quality, convenience and turnaround time.
7. Seek a company that offers services such as formatting, help with selecting a journal or translation from another language.
8. Look for a company with a clear privacy policy that requires its editors to sign confidentiality agreements.

As part of our commitment to providing high standards of security and privacy for our customers (see point 5 above), we have recently improved our website security by installing an SSL certificate to encrypt all data communications between you and our website. This means that you will now see https:// and the green padlock symbol when you browse We want you to know how seriously we take the issue of confidentiality when you entrust us with your data, and we hope that this gives you even more confidence in the quality of our services.

Please follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up to date with further developments and to receive special offers and discounts.

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Where can I find the latest cancer statistics?

We receive quite a few cancer research papers to edit, and it is not uncommon for authors to set the scene by presenting a few ‘critical’ cancer facts (such as incidence, prevalence, and mortality) in the opening lines of the introduction. There is nothing wrong with this (although we wouldn’t necessarily advise it if you are submitting to a highly specialised cancer journal), but it is important that the figures are correct. We often find that the ‘facts’ are, more often than not, wildly out of date, inaccurate, or incompletely referenced. Given the easy accessibility of online data, there really is no excuse for glaring inaccuracies and any sloppiness could irritate a reviewer.

That’s why we suggest that you visit GLOBOCAN, an online resource established and maintained by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the WHO). The GLOBOCAN project provides current estimates of the incidence, mortality, and prevalence of major cancer types for 184 countries. The data can be separated by sex, and 1-, 3-, and 5-year prevalence data are available for the adult population.

The database is particularly useful since it can be queried using online analysis tools, which allow you to produce graphs, tables, and maps to illustrate data. These tools are likely to be particularly useful for theses and dissertations, where there is often a need to provide more comprehensive background to the subject and provide basic data.

For instance, let’s say that you need to prepare a graph that compares age-standardised incidence and mortality rates of female cancers in ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ regions. Easy!


The graph clearly highlights those cancers that persist as first-world problems, such as breast cancer, and those cancers that more commonly affect women in the developing world (such as cervical cancer). This might provide an excellent starting point for a discussion about the epidemiology of these diseases.

GLOBOCAN can be referenced in your manuscript, and there is a useful glossary of terms, just in case you tend to get your ‘incidences’ and ‘prevalences’ mixed up. Of course, there are other excellent statistical resources available to cancer researchers, such as CRUK’s Cancer Stats resource in the UK or the NCI’s tools in the US. Please let us know if you know of any other resources that you find useful by commenting below!

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Our new resource to help you find funding

We just wanted to give you a sneak preview of a new resource we are putting together - again, at no cost - to help you find relevant funding opportunities. We are compiling an up-to-date and fully searchable database of available grant, fellowship, and other funding opportunities offered by a range of organisations. Each entry is annotated with the funder, type of funding, broad area of research, and application deadline, and we also provide links to the specific funding details. We have started with funders in the UK and Europe, mainly within the biomedical sciences, and we already have over 200 individual entries. We aim to expand the database to provide a complete, one-stop resource for scientists to find funding opportunities, and we will try to keep it carefully curated.

We think that this will be phenomenally useful, not only for keeping on top of deadlines, but also for exploring other funders or funding opportunities you may not even be aware of. This is just one more way in which we are trying to make life a little easier for scientists (check out our free templates for your manuscript preparation, too). Remember that we can provide professional help with your applications (and see our take on Horizon 2020), and since the next two months are packed with deadlines, we are offering a 10% discount on all grant and fellowship editing until the end of April - see our Facebook page and Twitter feed for details and to find a discount code.

Finally, if you know of any funding opportunities that we have yet to include, please let us know - we can provide an even better and more complete resource with your help.

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Free templates to help with your paper writing

Those of you who regularly follow us will know that we feel very strongly about reducing barriers to scientific publishing. Manuscript preparation (author) guidelines vary wildly between different journals, from the sublime (see Cancer Medicine’s guidelines here, which only demand ‘a clear, generic and readable layout’) to the ridiculous (PLOS One being a notable culprit). We had considered naming the best and shaming the worst but decided against it - there are many sensible reasons for prescriptive manuscript preparation, not least to raise scientific standards (such as with guideline-driven statistical or clinical trial reporting) and improve accountability and transparency (such as full reporting of conflicts of interest or ethical statements). Not all journals have the editorial budgets they would like, and it is perhaps inevitable that some of the editorial burden is passed on to authors. Some are unnecessarily onerous, but we’ll leave that for another day.

However, complex author instructions remain a barrier, particularly if English is not your first language. Even well-seasoned scientists will have their papers returned from editorial offices from time to time for technical reasons. We therefore thought that, instead of complaining, we could be more solution-focussed and do something positive. That is why we have started to prepare a collection of free MS Word templates to help authors prepare their manuscripts for their target journal. We know that Thomson Reuters provide similar templates on their Endnote website, but these are very basic and many have not been updated for several years.

Our templates are journal specific and aim to contain all the required manuscript information under the correct section headings. Any additional information, such as conflicts of interest statements, are pre-filled at the correct point in the document. We have included example references (formatted using Endnote) in each file and provided links to Endnote style files - and a reminder that the wonderful Mendeley is a great free alternative for citation management. Additional web links are embedded in the templates where we believe them to be useful. These templates are free to use and share, but not for commercial purposes please.

This is a start and not a finish and if there is a template you would like to see, please just contact us using the request form - we will try to get that made as quickly as possible and post it for all to share. If there are errors or omissions, please just let us know. If you have a template you would like to share, you can upload it and let us know using the same form.

We hope that you find these useful - please spread the word via the usual social media channels (Facebook and LinkedIn) if you do or click here to tweet - our hashtag for this is #simplifyscience

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Do you need help with Horizon 2020?

Yesterday saw the UK launch of Horizon 2020, the European Union’s largest ever Research and Innovation programme.

Nearly €80 billion has been earmarked for innovative science in Europe over the next seven years. Horizon 2020 is subdivided into three main ‘pillars’: 1) Excellence in Science, 2) Industrial Leadership, and 3) Social Challenges, each containing a number of subdivisions and calls. The programme offers several opportunities for individuals of any nationality who wish to undertake research in one of the 28 EU member states or associated countries. As with the outgoing FP7 programme, many of the calls are consortium-based applications that require at least three partners and benefit from an emphasis on commercial/industrial participation.

EU Research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has promised a streamlined process and that “loads of red tape” has been cut out. Those familiar with FP7 might be a little sceptical - the scale and complexity of these applications is daunting and Horizon 2020 is no different. Harmonising work packages written by different individuals and groups is not straightforward and communicating the overall vision can be a challenge, even when English is your first language. Specialist third-party input and critical appraisal of your application can really give you a competitive advantage.

Nextgenediting can help. We will make your application stand out against the competition. As well as making sure that the individual components of your Horizon 2020 application are perfectly edited, your specialist editor will also focus on integrating the work packages and make sure that together they achieve the desired impact - a major scoring criterion for framework programmes. We will provide individual feedback, comments, and suggestions for improvement. We will work collaboratively with you until the moment your application is submitted.

Given that we pride ourselves on scientific excellence - a core aim of Horizon 2020 - we are genuinely excited about helping individuals and teams achieve funding success.

If you are an individual looking for funding and want to work in the EU you might be interested in exploring the funding opportunities provided by the European Research Council (calls now open for starting, consolidator, and PoC grants) and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA). Our clinician scientist colleagues may be interested in the calls on Personalising Health and Care.

For more information or a quotation, please contact us or submit your application via our manuscript submission page.

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Editing by numbers

We’ve already written about why we think hiring the services of our editors represents excellent value for money, especially when you take your own (very valuable) time into account. Nevertheless, we know that taking the plunge and sending us your paper can be a bit of a leap into the unknown, especially for people who haven’t used this type of service before. Will they be any good? How long will they spend on my paper? Will I be pleased with the results? How can I trust them? There are some pointers here to help you come to a decision, courtesy of Nature, and you can read about what we’re doing to deliver the best possible service here.

However, we also thought it might be useful to share some of our own data with you, generated from real papers that our customers have sent to us. We decided to audit fifty manuscripts submitted to us for editing in early 2013 in order to paint a picture of what you can expect from us.

This is “Nextgenediting by numbers*”:

Total number of words: 195 684
Average number of corrections per manuscript: 1042
Average number of words written as comments by our editors: 428
Average number of formatting changes per manuscript: 102
Average time taken editing each line: 32 seconds
Highest impact factor journal: 25**
Average impact factor of intended journal: 3.2
Lowest impact factor journal: 1.3**
Number of authors failing to get published: 0***

* fifty consecutive manuscripts submitted to Nextgenediting for full editing.
** Verified published by Pubmed citation.
*** At time of writing, and according to available data and feedback from clients.

Thirty-two seconds spent editing each line of text (of approximately 10 words). Thirty-two seconds of expert scientist or clinician reading your carefully crafted words, and then sculpting them some more. That’s quite a long time. Take a look for yourself by playing this video:

Of course, these data are not without their limitations - variability between editors, variability in the quality of submitted work, and the limitations of the tracking data generated by MS Word, to name a few. The acid test is whether our customers are happy. So let’s give you one or two more numbers:

53% of those papers were from repeat customers. And 20% of those customers have submitted three or more papers for editing. That’s how pleased they are, and you can read some of their reviews here.

We know you won’t be disappointed if you choose Nextgenediting. Submit your manuscript now.

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Where should I submit my paper?

Even for experienced authors, selecting the right journal to submit a paper to can be a difficult decision. For inexperienced authors it can be downright confusing. Over the past few years the proliferation of open-access journals has resulted in more choice than ever, but as Declan Butler reports in this recent Nature article, some open-access publishers are ‘predatory’ and appear to prioritise profits ahead of scientific rigour. They are best avoided. The checklist in the Nature article is a handy guide you may wish to consult prior to submission. Briefly:

  • check the journal’s contact details,
  • ensure the editorial board is legitimate,
  • ensure the author fees are transparent prior to submission,
  • beware of journals originating from spam emails,
  • assess the quality of papers already published in the journal,
  • ensure the journal is a member of an industry association,
  • and use common sense!

We would also add that you should check that the journal is indexed in Pubmed or other relevant indexing and abstracting services. Since new journals are not indexed immediately they may still be worth considering as a suitable ‘home’ for your paper, but in our experience the papers we edit are easily of a standard that they deserve publication in an established, high-quality journal.

Of course there are many other factors that need considering when choosing which journal to publish in. Some of these are fairly predictable, such as impact factor, cost to publish, whether it is open-access, subject-specificity, and journal scope. Some other parameters are a little more subjective and require subject-specific expertise and an intimate knowledge of the field, journals, or journal editors’ preferences. Often the work requires external and unbiased appraisal so that the authors do not fall into the trap of either pitching the article too high or too low (the latter being more common in our experience).

If you do not have access to that kind of scientific publishing support, please contact us for assistance from our own subject-specific editors. In general, we target the highest possible impact factor after scientific appraisal of your manuscript, and we aim to ensure your manuscript is actually a) accessible and b) going to be read. Otherwise, what’s the point of publishing it in the first place?

However, one of the great things about our new forum for our Global Initiative Volunteers is that there has been some sharing of useful resources. We like JANE (Journal/Author Name Estimator) in particular (thanks to Jen for this tip). JANE is a freely available web-based tool that allows you to identify suitable journals based on the title of your manuscript or other suitable keywords. It can also be used to find peer reviewers or even citations relevant to your paper that you may have missed. Since the results are given an ‘Article Influence’ score, it can help you rank the journals so you have an impact-based strategy for getting published. While no substitute for professional academic support, it certainly is an extremely useful starting point.

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Free scientific and medical editing for authors from low income countries

Today (20th May 2013) Nextgenediting, a provider of premium scientific and medical editing services, launches the Nextgenediting Global Initiative. This free service addresses two unmet needs within the scientific editing sector: the provision of high-quality editing to authors from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and the provision of training for individuals seeking a career in medical and scientific editing.

Authors from LMICs face a number of barriers to scholarly communication, not least the frequently high charges associated with publishing the results of their research. Some publishers committed to open access of the scientific literature already meet the cost of publishing. However, unlike their 'first-world' counterparts, many authors from LMICs simply cannot afford the 'polish' provided by professional editing companies to help get their manuscripts published in highly competitive international journals. The Nextgenediting Global Initiative aims to remove this barrier.

Volunteer editors will edit the manuscripts submitted to the Initiative. In return for providing their time, Nextgenediting will provide these volunteers with professional feedback on their work. In addition, volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in an online training program with a focus on critical appraisal of the scientific literature, technology developments, statistical analysis, and ethics.

Company Director Sarah Aitken said: "We regularly see really high-quality manuscripts from scientists from the poorest countries, and until now we have been unable to help them. We have selected twelve talented volunteers who show a real passion to help these authors publish. The Global Initiative will ultimately help to develop local research skills and infrastructure in low-income countries and improve opportunities for inclusion in the global research agenda."

Nextgenediting is part of Nextgenology Ltd., a leading professional editing company based in the United Kingdom dedicated to improving science by providing quality editing, publishing, research, and educational services to the clinical, medical, and scientific communities.

For further information, please email: or visit
If you are an author from one of the eligible countries, you can submit your manuscript here.
If you are a publisher or journal editor who wants to find out more, or promote the initiative, please click here.


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The Nextgenediting Global Initiative - Update #2

We just wanted to post a brief update on the Nextgenediting Global Initiative.

We are now no longer accepting applications for volunteer editors. We received over one hundred applications, which was an unexpected and phenomenal response.

We have selected twelve individuals for the first phase of this exciting project, all of whom demonstrated that they have a real passion for the social aspects of the initiative, often very personally. 

We believe that we have struck the right balance in terms of experience and qualifications in the group. Half have doctorates, while the other half possess other experience or attributes which we feel will enrich the group and ultimately improve the quality of service. We believe that we can all learn a lot from each other through this diversity, and those with less experience can benefit from interacting with more experienced colleagues. Our focus will unashamedly be on the science, since we believe it is the quality of the science (and what we can do to improve it) that matters most to the successful dissemination of scientific endeavour.

We are starting to receive interest from authors from low-income countries, and we are pursuing links with publishers to improve visibility of this worthwhile cause. We aim to open our doors to submissions later this month, so please continue to let people know that this service is available and that we are eager to receive submissions.

For further information, please click here.
If you are a publisher or journal editor who wants to find out more, or promote the initiative, please click here.

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Meeting standards for science editing - and then exceeding them

The science manuscript editing industry is largely unregulated. Many authors simply don’t know where to start when they take the plunge and decide - either for themselves of because a journal has suggested - to solicit the services of a professional manuscript editing company. That’s probably why, if you Google ‘science manuscript editing’, this Nature article from late 2010 appears in the first few hits: Publishing: A helping hand (Nature 2010; 468, 721–723).

It’s a really useful article for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it provides some advice on careers in science editing, and we will come back to that in another blog post. Most importantly for the consumer, it lists a set of standards one should look for when choosing an editing company. We have had these rules in mind from the earliest days of Nextgenediting, and we can now proudly say that we have met them all.

Their recommendations state:

1. Select a company that specialises in academic editing and has field-specific editors with graduate-level training.

Check. Our editors are subject-specific academics. Our science editors posses doctoral degrees, and out clinical editors possess doctoral and medical degrees. We don’t employ students.

2. Be suspicious of companies that post testimonials with no names or affiliations on their websites.

Check. We take pride in our service. That is why we are proud to announce that we are the first manuscript editing service to open ourselves up to unbiased, comprehensive, unfiltered review using feefo, the independent review company. See our reviews here or on Facebook.

3. Be wary of English-language editing companies based in countries where English is not the native language.

Check. We are based in London and Cambridge, UK. We do not hire non-native English speakers.

4. Ask to submit a 500-word sample edit to see how the company performs.

Check(ish). OK, so we do 300 word samples, not 500, but we will do 500 if you ask nicely.

5. Look for a company with a web-based submission system (where a user logs in, creates an account and uploads the paper). Such companies are likely to be established organisations with a high level of security.

Check. Our current system is security protected by Norton, we use at least three (on site and off site) backup systems, and later in 2013 we will be introducing personalised user accounts.

6. Don't just choose on the basis of price. Consider quality, convenience and turnaround time.

Check. One price, one great service. See our current turnaround times here, and feel free to compare prices with our competitors.

7. Seek a company that offers services such as formatting, help with selecting a journal or translation from another language.

Check. Formatting and journal selection are standard, as are manuscript-specific recommendations (which often amount to peer review) from the editor. Translation services coming soon!

8. Look for a company with a clear privacy policy that requires its editors to sign confidentiality agreements.

Check. All our editors sign confidentiality agreements and you can feel reassured that your data is safe.

So we’ve met the eight standards set by Nature. We feel proud of that, and we think it helps build trust.

But we think it’s our Global Initiative that really sets us apart. The Global Initiative best illustrates our ethos and values when it comes to science, training, and social responsibility, and that is why we we feel we are exceeding standards in this industry. We hope you agree.

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The Nextgenediting Global Initiative - Update #1

Two and a half weeks ago we launched the Nextgenediting Global Initiative, which seeks to provide free editorial services to the poorest nations. Thank you for the very positive feedback and encouragement. We would like to give you an update on how things are progressing.

The response from would-be editors has been truly remarkable. Once again we would like to say a genuine “thanks” to all the applicants - over eighty so far - and we are reviewing these in detail in order to decide on the first ten or so who will take part in the first phase of this innovative project. We will inform all applicants of the outcome by the end of March, and there is still time to apply if you would like to get involved - just fill out the application form here.

The applicants so far offer amazing breadth and depth in both qualifications and experience (from grad students to professors, from lawyers to leading medical researchers). It looks like we can build a strong and vibrant community of editors of varying experience and seniority. This will allow for peer support for junior editors, while maintaining high editorial standards and subject-specific editing. We have also been struck by several applications from individuals who originate from the Global Initiative target countries, but who are now established researchers in developed countries. These scientists in particular recognise this unmet need for editorial help in these countries, and provide a first-hand perspective on what we are trying to achieve.

In response to comments, we have started to build an online forum for the editors, which will be a shared environment for discussion. Since Nextgenediting places the science at the heart of the editing process, we will organise regular journal clubs in order to hone critical appraisal skills.

A question we have been asked a few times is “Why only ten editors?”. Firstly, we do not wish to disenfranchise either our volunteers or the authors who submit manuscripts, and by keeping the initial number of editors small we can keep a closer eye on standards. Secondly, until we have support from the larger publishers, the number of documents we receive is actually likely to be rather small.

This is where you can help. Please tell people about this, and spread the word both online and in person. Let’s encourage the use of the service, so that we can grow the mutual benefit that the Nextgenediting Global Initiative seeks to provide.

For further information, please click here.
If you would like to apply to be a volunteer editor, please click here.
If you are a publisher or journal editor who wants to find out more, or promote the initiative, please click here.

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The Nextgenediting Global Initiative

Today, Nextgenediting launches the search for volunteers for the Nextgenediting Global Initiative.

The Global Initiative aims to address two unmet needs within the scientific editing sector: the need for provision of high-quality editing to authors from low-income countries, and the provision of training for individuals seeking a career in medical and scientific editing.

Two events occurred here recently which brought home the need for innovation in this area. Firstly, we received a few manuscripts from low-income countries which were of high scientific quality. However, they required editing and the authors were unable to pay ‘high-income country’ editing fees, which represented 50-100% of their monthly wage. The second thing that happened was that Rubriq, a company based in the US, launched its portable peer review service which will see further fees passed on to the author (see a Nature news item here). This will place another barrier between the output from scientists in low-income countries, and publishing in recognised international journals. Although these developments are no doubt exciting (and indeed necessary) for those within the industry, they are also another source of global inequity in science.

We recognise that there may be a solution to this, hence the Nextgenediting Global Initiative. We receive many requests each month from individuals seeking to carve out careers in medical and scientific editing, but do not know where to start. We believe that one way to learn how to edit is by ‘on-the-job’ training, feedback, and mentorship.

By matching volunteer editors with manuscripts from low-income countries, and quality-assuring the process at Nextgenediting, we believe that we can improve the accessibility of editing services - and hence the quality of the communication of the science - without unduly harming commercial interests.

Everyone stands to gain: authors get their manuscripts improved at no cost and receive quality feedback on style and English, editors receive training, publishers receive higher-quality submissions, we meet our aims of being an ethical and socially responsible company, and society benefits from the dissemination of science which may otherwise not be published due to financial constraints or shortcomings in language and editing.

We believe that by offering these services at no cost to authors from the poorest countries, we will help remove another barrier they face in scholarly communication. The Nextgenediting Global Initiative will ultimately help to develop local research skills and infrastructure in low-income countries. This improves their chances of being included in the global research agenda.

We are currently in the first phase of the initiative - the recruitment of volunteer editors. Manuscript submission will start in April. While a core aim of the project is to support training of junior editors, we will also welcome experienced editors who wish to offer their services for free. Nextgenediting is absorbing the costs associated with the initiative, which is being offered on a non-profit basis.

For further information, please click here.
If you would like to apply to be a volunteer editor, please click here.
If you are a publisher or journal editor who wants to find out more, or promote the initiative, please click here.

Finally, please spread the word via social networking (links below or top right). This promises to be exciting.

The Nextgenediting Team

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The World Databank - An Amazing Resource

Something we feel strongly about at Nextgenediting is the use of computational biology to support and contextualise the main experimental findings of a biological paper. There is a wealth of primary research that can be performed before you even get started doing your experiments in the lab, and the best papers know how to make the best use of it. These data can be particularly useful for grant applications, too. We sometimes send recommendations back to our biomedical authors saying ‘go to GEO and analyse this dataset - you have all the information available to you tell you exactly what the expression of your gene of interest is in thousands of breast cancers…or colon cancers…or cardiovascular patients….or whatever your disease of interest is’. When you take this approach you often find the experiment you were planning (in vitro or in vivo) has already been performed, or there is supporting mouse data, or often clinical data. They can be used to generate the first figure(s) of the paper, put the experimental data in clinical context, and save a huge amount of time and effort performing costly -omics experiments. If you don’t know how to use these resources or need more information, please contact us.

What we hadn’t realised until very recently was that the same can be done for epidemiological data. We are currently planning our Nextgenediting Global Initiative (for more information click here), and while researching health and income statistics of third-world countries we found the World Bank World Databank. This is a free, online database of Development Indicators, Gender Statistics, and other useful data, which you can mine and interrogate at will for hundreds of different countries - both developed and otherwise. Most exciting for us however, is the Health, Nutrition, and Population Statistics Database which allows you to mine health and disease-related data. You just choose your country or countries of interest, the data series you want, and the range of years you are comparing (from 1961 to present) and the results are presented as tables, graphs, or on a map. You can even download the raw data and work with it yourself to present your own graphs or figures. Truly amazing.

We remember feeling like this when we first realised we could get our hands on raw gene expression data. What a powerful tool to contextualise your own work.

So if, for instance, if you are doing a study on HIV, and you need to know what the AIDS death rates are in various African countries, it would take two minutes to get this chart:

Pasted Graphic

which you can then fully customise. So much better than some outdated and over-cited WHO data, don’t you think? You can then get a first-hand grip on the numbers, trends, and associations relevant to your own research.

The World Databank provide the following video tutorial, so please check it out:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

We strongly recommend you go and have a play with this fabulous resource and see if it is useful for you. It’ll be particularly useful for students looking for thesis data. And please let us know what you think by commenting below.

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Because science does not need to be difficult

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Six-second journal club 1: #vinesciencechallenge

Over the last week, Vine has taken the net by storm. For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet - and believe me you will - Vine is a Twitter offshoot which allows users to take and share six-second video clips.

Nauseating? Mundane? Banal? Some think so, but like a toddler taking its first steps, we see it as wondrous and full of potential. In fact more so, because this toddler’s going to fly, which really would be something a loving parent could boast about.

That’s because Vine is all about communication. If a picture tells a thousand words, then Vine could recite the works of Shakespeare.

So we’re over egging the pudding, but that’s because we’re excited about what it can do for science.

That is why we are inviting you to take the #vinesciencechallenge.

Science is complex. Science can be difficult to communicate. Science baffles people. And that is why a tool like Vine can be used to break down barriers and make complex ideas simple. Condensing complex ideas into six-seconds forces you to think of the most important points, and be innovative in the way you communicate them.

The #vinesciencechallenge idea is simple. Take a scientific idea, and Vine it. That sequencing data you’ve been working on? Vine it. That paper you’ve just published? Vine it. That complex method you’ve just mastered. Vine it.

Vine it. Vine it. Vine it. Making your science accessible will make you a better scientist, excite other people, and encourage kids to think about science.

We did a six-second journal club Vine based on this PLOS One paper:

…..but we are sure you can do much better. When you have, follow us, send us the link (or post your comment below) and we will post the best ones here.

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Does technical editing really improve your manuscript?

There are a seemingly endless number of hurdles one has to jump over in order to get your scientific or medical manuscript published. One of the most frustrating can be conforming to journal style. This usually means wading through pages of author instructions, re-writing and re-structuring the paper to meet strict ‘in-house’ requirements, formatting figures, and changing the reference style. While some of this burden used to be shouldered by the journal itself (hence justifying the exorbitant publishing fees), there seems to be a shift to ‘passing the buck’ to the author/scientist/general dog’s body (see here). This is epitomised by the editorial policy at PLOS One, where the copyediting is the responsibility of the author in its entirety.

So is all this editing worth it?

Well, a Cochrane review on the subject suggests the answer is ‘yes’. You can read the whole document here, but it is a dry and slightly laborious read so we’ll summarise it for you:

- peer review and journal editing improve the ‘readability’ of manuscripts
- detailed author instructions improve a paper
- structured abstracts can improve a paper
- technical editing improves the accuracy of references

The magnitude of benefit of ‘technical editing’ (i.e. those steps that occur from acceptance through to publication) are relatively small, mind you. This comes as no surprise to us. In our experience that isn’t where most authors’ manuscripts fall short of excellent. That is not why they are failing to get accepted. Technical flaws are easy to fix (and we can do it for you, see here).

No, it is those elements which are slightly harder to quantify which make or break a paper (particularly in higher impact or general journals). Are the hypothesis and aims clearly stated? Is the most significant result presented with clarity, or is it obfuscated by unnecessary detail? Is there unnecessary use of confusing jargon? Is there repetition both within and between sections? Is the discussion overly long and is this due to over-interpretation of results (usually a problem in short descriptive clinical papers)?

That is why Nextgenediting offers more than just copyediting. Copyediting is just the basics, as far as we’re concerned. Our concept is that we should firstly understand your science (by using expert editors), and only then will we be able to perform the type of structural and conceptual changes which are required to perfect your work. Sometimes that’ll be collaborative (you know the most about your work), but that’s we’re here to read and re-read until we’ve sculpted your words into something better than they were before.

So yes, technical editing is worth it, but be aware you will get so much more from our services. We know you won’t be disappointed.

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How can you afford not to?

As if thinking up ideas, writing grants, planning experiments, hiring staff, performing experiments, suffering the lows of failed experiments, relishing the highs of successful experiments, interpreting data, giving talks, going to conferences, being criticised, being commended, writing grants (did I mention that?), writing papers, supervising, teaching, marking, lecturing, course planning, peer reviewing, journal editing, and (if you are clinically trained) treating patients weren’t enough!


These days, particularly with some of the open access journals, if you want to publish you now have to be copy editor, graphic designer, computer geek, desktop publisher, artist, statistician, and expert in ethics and governance. The English must be perfect, the grammar impeccable, and perhaps most importantly, you must be able to communicate the importance of all your hard work.


You need to be fluent in Photoshop, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Adobe Acrobat, SPSS, Endnote, and Reference Manager. Depending on what you’re doing, you might need to be able to code in R or use LaTeX. You need to navigate author guidelines, file submission systems, and image and table formatting guidelines. Get it wrong and - ping! - the manuscript comes straight back.

All a bit of a heartsink, right?

Of course that’s where we come in and say, “Well, Nextgenediting can do all of that for you”. And that’s right, we can, but if you are not familiar with using professional science editing services, you may have doubts about how much time you can save, and how much the service costs. With tightening budgets and a cold funding climate, forking out a few hundred pounds can seem a little steep.

So what is the real cost of professional science editing?

Well, let’s look first at what the actual cost of editing is as a proportion of total publication costs (i.e. not including research costs). In the table below there are some indicative examples of publishing costs for a few standard research articles to typical journals. The cost of professional editing is presented as a percentage of total publishing cost. A few assumptions have been made: you are publishing colour figures, you have selected open access publishing, and you have submitted your article to one other journal (where it was rejected - a sad but real fact for most authors). Your time is worth about £30/$50 an hour, and you have spent 12 hours preparing the first submission, and 4 hours on the second. All prices are GBP, and there are 1.6 USD to the pound.


So what are the messages here?

Firstly, professional editing is on average only 10% (range 3.4%-17.9%) of the total cost of publishing. Just publishing. As a proportion of the total value of the research, it is likely to be a tiny, tiny fraction of that, for most biomedical subjects.

Think of what you get for that, with Nextgenediting at least (see our prices and payment options here). Collaborative editing, so that your science is presented in the best possible way: logical flow, clear statement of aims and hypothesis, contextual improvements in your writing. Perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Your manuscript has its hand held through to acceptance, however many re-edits that requires. You don’t have to worry about journal formatting, because we do that for you.

But the column to really study is the cost of professional editing vs your time. We are cheap compared to you. Editing your own work is a false economy.

Think about what that time could be spent on: writing grants, planning experiments, hiring staff, performing experiments, suffering the lows of failed experiments, relishing the highs of successful experiments, interpreting data, giving talks, going to conferences, being criticised, being commended, writing grants (did I mention that?), writing more papers, supervising, teaching, marking, lecturing, course planning, peer reviewing, journal editing, and (if you are clinically trained) treating patients.

Or, if like most of us, preparing manuscripts happens out of office hours, how about more time with the family or doing the things you enjoy doing?

Food for thought. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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Happy 2013, and prosperous publishing to you all!

With the arrival of the New Year, the Nextgenediting team has decided to be more than just a faceless company and talk more directly with you, our visitors and customers - so here is the new Nextgenediting blog! Over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years we intend to post regular snippets on what is going on inside the medical and science editing community, plus much, much more.

Here at Nextgenediting we’re not content just doing the day job - all of us have a passionate interest in science and medicine so we will bring you the best of what’s happening in basic and clinical science across the globe. We will keep a particular eye on publishing trends, news and developments from the publishers, and hints and tips on how to improve your manuscript submissions and achieve the highest impact. We’ll also let you know how you can use the latest technology to improve your papers, and keep you informed on what we’re doing to make our services better for you. Some of it will be serious, some technical, but we hope to develop a more informal style and try to keep you entertained. While we take our jobs very seriously indeed, we also believe there is some room in science for humour and entertainment!

We are on the regular lookout for new editors and we will use this blog - along with social media - to let you know when we are recruiting, so keep looking and sign up for our Twitter and Facebook pages. Our aim is not to be didactic, so please comment and contribute. We love to hear your feedback and by doing so we believe we will continue to achieve our (informal) motto - to exceed your expectations.

We are genuinely looking forward to having this conversation with you in 2013. Drop us an email if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Best wishes to you all.

The Nextgenediting Team.

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