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.

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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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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Open source software for scientists - our top five recommendations

As part of our drive to help reduce barriers to scientific publishing, today we would like to share Nextgenediting’s top five open source or free alternatives to commercial scientific software packages. Although the vast majority of the submissions we receive are written in Microsoft Word with citations embedded using Endnote, we also use the freely available programs listed below to help edit and prepare papers for submission. This has become even more important as we liaise with scientists from low- and middle-income countries as part of the Global Initiative, who sometimes cannot afford the (sometimes extremely) high cost of commercial software. Please let us know if you have any other recommendations or questions about the use of these packages.

1. Image processing and manipulation - GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program)

GIMP is a fantastic and versatile alternative to Adobe Photoshop, feely downloadable for all platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux, and others). We find it particularly useful for image conversion in preparation for manuscript submission, especially for producing the high-resolution 300 dpi figures frequently required by the journals. Although the learning curve is relatively steep, there is comprehensive online documentation (including in multiple languages) that holds your hand through basic tasks, such as image re-sizing, cropping, and how to add text to figures. Although CMKY is not supported, we use the Separate+ plugin when conversion is necessary. Give it a try!

2. Statistical analysis - PSPP

Although SPSS is probably the dominant statistical analysis software package used in the social and life sciences, its high cost and annual license fees make it inaccessible to many researchers and students, particularly those already working in under-resourced environments. Although R is a phenomenally powerful (and free) statistical programming environment, it can be difficult to learn due to the lack of an intuitive graphical interface and need to grasp a new programming language (great in theory, just not going to happen in practice for most of us). PSPP is an open source alternative to SPSS that is certainly worth a shot. It is limited to basic analyses - descriptive statistics, linear regression, t-tests, and the like - but those familiar with the SPSS interface will have no problems using it since it is almost identical. If more people start to use it, perhaps we will see development of more complex functions.

3. Citation management - Bibus

Learning how to use citation management/bibliographic software is a must for academics. The proprietary software packages are not usually prohibitively expensive, but it would be wise to check with your institution first to see whether they have cheaper institutional licensing arrangements and training courses available. However, what about a free alternative? We recommend Bibus, a powerful reference management software package that integrates with MS Word and OpenOffice and allows online searching of PubMed via an intuitive user interface. One drawback though - while you can get Bibus to work on a Mac, it does not currently integrate with Word for Mac.

4. Typesetting and word processing - LaTeX

The scientific community is, without doubt, tied down to MS Word for document preparation and that is unlikely to change in the near future. The transition to any other word processing program can seem daunting, and most of us who have tried have generally failed. is a free alternative to MS Office and, as explained above, can be used with citation management software to good effect. However, LaTeX, another powerful ‘programming language’, might be worth exploring if you are embarking on a large document that requires a professional finish, such as a thesis. LaTeX produces documents with superior typesetting and is particularly useful if the document contains a lot of maths. It is free and easily extensible (see the Comprenhesive TeX Archive Network, CTAN). It does take some getting used to because it is not WYSIWYG, but consider it if you are about to undertake a ‘long-haul’ project. See also the great resource from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge to help you get started with LaTeX.

5. Open Access (OA) article searching - CORE Research Mobile App (for iOS and Android)

Sometimes finding the data can be as difficult as processing it, especially when a lot of papers are still hidden behind paywalls. We recently found this nifty app from the UK’s Open University, which allows you to search and download freely available, full-text articles and read them on your device (in another app of your choosing, such as Kindle). The repository currently contains over 18 million open access articles. A great place to look if you need to find full text to support your research and don’t have access to journal subscriptions.

So there we are - our top five open source software packages for scientists - but please suggest your own too using the comments box below.

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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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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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