Scientific editing requires clarity, precision, and speed. Accordingly, as an editor, I aim to present a manuscript in a coherent manner while ensuring that the author’s original meaning and intended emphasis are retained. Simplicity and conciseness are the hallmarks of a well-written manuscript. From an editor’s perspective, meeting the above-mentioned requirements involves leveraging his/her expertise to ensure that a manuscript is technically sound while conforming to international standards of publication in terms of content and language. Moreover, absolute commitment to client satisfaction and deadline adherence is of paramount importance.
Japan is a global leader in cutting-edge research. In my seven years of experience as a scientific editor, I have found that article usage (a, an, the) and subject-verb agreement (singular verbs for singular subjects and plural verbs for plural subjects) are the primary focus areas for Japanese authors in terms of improving their written English.
How to deliver an excellent oral presentation; some do’s and don’ts（2017.11）
How to deliver an excellent oral presentation; some do’s and don’ts
The first rule is that your talk should never over-run its allotted time. The Chair of the session will most likely have to keep everyone to time. If you over-run, it is disrespectful to both the Chair and your fellow speakers.
Secondly, less is more. On the slides, do not have bullet points exceeding 10 words ? the message should be short and it is for you to expand upon these points, not simply read them verbatim.
Thirdly, ensure that the figures/data in your slide are legible and that the font is sufficiently large that those at the back of the audience can see the data.
Your presentation should have a coherent theme that adheres to the title of the talk. It is often easy to get side-tracked if you have lots of good data but sticking to the main message is key so that the audience is with you from beginning to end. To that end, your title of talk should be concise, with study methodology included, if possible. An example could be “Impact of the H1N1 vaccine on acute respiratory illness: a population-based analysis”.
Finally, it is very important in your acknowledgements to recognise the team effort that may have gone into generation of data and the reason why you are standing there. You are the recognised expert but the team should be officially recognised for its efforts.
Author beware: The rise and spread of “predatory journals”
In recent years, a growing phenomenon termed “predatory journals” has presented a threat to the integrity of scientific publishing. This article describes this problem and presents advice about how to recognize legitimate journals.
Thousands of journals publish scientific articles. Most of these journals offer important services, chiefly the expert peer review of articles and the scrutiny of submissions by an experienced editor. Many journals have long histories and good reputations.
However, the development of the internet has enabled various fraudulent activities, and the academic sphere has not been immune from this trend. Opportunists have established numerous online-only, open-access journals that exist only to extract publication fees from authors. These predatory journals do not offer rigorous peer review or editorial oversight, and they publish almost any articles that are submitted, regardless of the quality of the research.
Having an awareness of this problem is essential, because predatory journals are rarely indexed on the PubMed search engine and have non-existent impact factors. Thus, if your research is published in such a journal, other scientists may not be able to read it, and predatory journals have a poor reputation, so it is advisable to avoid being associated with them.
The table below provides some guidance on how to differentiate between legitimate journals and predatory ones.
What makes an article a good article? Of course the content matters…but to begin with, what triggers one to read it??
As mentioned so many times, an attractive title with a clear message that explains its academic value. Straightforward abstract with a good closing sentence makes the article worthwhile to read.
And most important point of all, a well organized text ? Introduction, M&M, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions in clear and simple English. （Although this depends on the journal and the specific journal instructions）
The Introduction should include the following points: 1) What’s known 2) What is not known 3) Problem ? Issues 3’) Approach taken in your paper (whether in the clinical or experimental setting)
Materials and Methods (M&M) & Results: M&M should have clear and straightforward descriptions of the experimental details sufficient to allow reproduction by other investigators (make sure to provide full information on the equipment and reagents used, etc.) Straightforward description of the results with clearly presented tables and/or figures that display the data or details of the study graphically. Avoid feeling the need to write long and redundant results, if tables and figures are clear enough. Take extra care in not introducing redundancies throughout by repeating the same sentences multiple times.
Then, once more, question the following: Is the article presented with a clear theme? What are the main results of and importance of the new findings? Mention these at the closing of the Conclusions. Is the organization of the article in good order? Is the text written in clear and simple English with abbreviations and acronyms used in appropriate ways? When all of the above has been accomplished, you are ready for careful proofreading.
Typical Writing Mistakes of Japanese learners of English PART II by Dr. Sonia Sharmin（2017.8）
Typical Writing Mistakes of Japanese learners of English PART II by Dr. Sonia Sharmin
9. Mixing up Singular and Plural: Incorrect: No Excuse! Correct: No Excuses!
10. Lack of Imperative: “You will...” sounds like a prediction to native English speakers, which is quite different from an imperative. Incorrect: “You will do homework tonight.” Correct: “Do your homework tonight.
11. Adjectives and Plurals: Adjective doubling is rare in English and has a different meaning (emphasis). Incorrect: “... different different color...” Correct: different colors
12. Using a wrong preposition: Very often, incorrect prepositions are used after some specific words. Here are some particular words that create problems: i) Absorb Incorrect: The man was absorbed at his work. Correct: The man was absorbed in his work. ii) Accustom Incorrect: I am accustomed with cold weather. Correct: I am accustomed to cold weather. iii) Aim Incorrect: He aimed on (or against) the bird. Correct: He aimed at the bird. [Note: The preposition ‘at’ always indicates path of something. E.g. ‘throw at’, ‘shout at’, ‘fire at’, ‘shoot at’.]
13. Misuse of the infinitive: There are some particular cases where ‘gerund’ should be used instead of an ‘infinitive’: a) After ‘preposition’ or ‘prepositional phrase’: i) Without + ing Incorrect: Do your work without to speak. Correct: Do your work without speaking. ii) Instead of + ing Incorrect: He went away instead to wait. Correct: He went away instead of waiting. b) After words which are normally followed by a preposition: i) Capable of + ing Incorrect: He is quite capable to do that. Correct: He is quite capable of doing that. ii) Insist on + ing Incorrect: He insisted to go to London. Correct: He insisted on going to London.
14. Use of wrong tense Some mistakes are made by using ‘past tense’ instead of ‘present infinitive’ after ‘did’: a) To ask questions: Incorrect: Did you went to school yesterday? Correct: Did you go to school yesterday? b) To make negative: Incorrect: I did not went to school yesterday. Correct: I did not go to school yesterday.
15. Possessive forms: These should not be used for objects. Incorrect: His room’s window is open. Correct: The window of his room is open.
16. Pronoun after ‘to be’ verb: This must be in the nominative case’, not in the ‘objective case: Incorrect: It was him. Correct: It was he.
Typical Writing Mistakes of Japanese learners of English PART I by Dr. Sonia Sharmin（2017.7）
Typical Writing Mistakes of Japanese learners of English PART I by Dr. Sonia Sharmin
Making mistakes is an integral part of foreign language learning. However, some errors seem to possess a relation with the students' mother tongue. Here, from my experience as a proofreader and editor of scientific research articles as well as a teacher of academic English at the tertiary level in Japan, I have tried to point out the most typical mistakes in the writing of English language learners whose native tongue is Japanese.
1. Missing articles: The Japanese language lacks plurals in the normal English sense and the nouns are not preceded by articles either. However, singular nouns are almost always needed in English. Incorrect: Write few lines. Correct: Write a few lines
2. Word order in Questions: The word order in interrogative sentences is stricter in English than in Japanese. Just adding a question word is not sufficient - you must also invert the subject and the verb. Incorrect: Why you are not doing anything? Correct: Why are you not doing anything?
3. Omission of Words: While sometimes possible, omission of pronouns or other words understood from the context is much less common in English than in Japanese. Incorrect: Finish? Correct: Have you finished?
4. Omission of Prepositions: Some mistakes are made by omitting prepositions after some specific words. Incorrect: She explained me the matter. Correct: She explained the matter to me.
5. Tag Questions: Unlike Japanese, English has no fixed phrase which can be tagged on to the end of a sentence to convert it into a question. Incorrect: You speak good English, isn't it? Correct: You speak good English, don't you?
6. Superfluous Words: It is very unusual in English to include extra words like in 'orange color book' or 'big size car'. Instead, it should be written as ' orange book' and 'big car' respectively.
7. Confusion of ‘gender’: Mixing up 'he' and 'she' may seem like a small point, but it is irritating to English speakers and is a source of confusion. Also, for objects, the pronoun should be 'it'. Incorrect: The door is open; please shut her. Correct: The door is open; please shut it. If for some reason, an abstract thing is expressed as a person, it will take a masculine/feminine pronoun: e.g. Time has his work to do.
8. Third person singular tense: i) Some mistakes are made by using ‘third person singular’ instead of ‘present infinitive’ after ‘does’: a) To ask questions: Incorrect: Does the gardener waters the flowers? Correct: Does the gardener water the flowers? b) To make negative: Incorrect: The man does not waters the flowers. Correct: The man does not water the flowers. ii) Some mistakes are made by using ‘third person singular’ instead of ‘present infinitive’ after ‘modal auxiliaries’(can, must, may, shall, will etc.): Incorrect: He can speaks English very well. Correct: He can speak English very well.
グリーンは、著者が自身の HP や所属する学術・研究機関のリポジトリなどで論文のアクセプト原稿を公開することでオープンアクセスを実現する方法で、いわゆるセルフアーカイブといわれる方法です。 ゴールドは、オープンアクセスジャーナルで論文を出版するという方法をさします。 近年では、特に医学・生物学系の領域で、オープンアクセスジャーナルの新設が相次ぎ、ゴールドの占める比率が急上昇しているのが特徴です。
Making your poster stand out: the role of design（2017.4）
NEW 2017/4/01 Editor:C.F
Making your poster stand out: the role of design
When preparing a poster several design aspects can help it to attract attention.
Most importantly, the title and abstract should be highly visible, usually with the title center-aligned at the top of the poster and the abstract left-aligned below the title. It can also be useful to provide a condensed summary of the topic and key findings (3?5 bullet points).
High contrast between the text and background is essential (i.e., black text on a light background or white text on a dark background). The color scheme also needs to work with any figures or photographs. Remember that colors can look significantly lighter or darker on a computer monitor vs. a printed poster.
If your research group will present multiple posters, consider using a standardized design. This can be effective when posters from the same group are assigned to adjacent poster boards, and it helps attendees to remember your department.
A standardized design can be achieved by creating a poster template (PowerPoint: Save As → Save as Type → Poster Template). Alternatively, colors can be standardized between posters by copying their RGB and transparency values (PowerPoint: Color Selection Tool → More Colors → Custom).
The most effective and professional designs tend to use a small number of colors (around 3?4 in total) and allow some empty space between different elements on the poster.
I hope these tips will help you to design your research posters in the future.
Should a researcher be lucky enough to have an abstract accepted at a conference, there are several important aspects to remember when designing the presentation.
This applies to both poster and oral presentations.
Although tempting, try not to cram too much information into the presentation; you are providing a snapshot of the context, methods, results, interpretation and conclusions.
For any presentation, one should consider ‘why’ the research is being performed ? is there a clinical need for the study? What does the research add to the evidence base? Be realistic in what your study shows because even incremental steps in knowledge have the potential for publication.
Although often considered routine, it is incredibly important to clearly present the methods e.g. was this a multi-centre approach, did it include a large sample of individuals, was there a suitable period of follow-up?
These are questions the research should consider.
Then, when it comes to presenting the results, it is best to only include those that are statistically significant and that are directly linked to the research question.
Finally, don’t be tempted to over-interpret the findings but do compare data to studies performed by others, whether it conflicts or agrees. A final conclusion slide leaves the audience with the take-home message and the implications of the research. At this point, the audience should be ready to ask questions about your exciting research.
Making your poster stand out: the role of design（2017.2）
Tips for a good poster presentation
It is daunting to present your work, especially when using a second language. To help, here are some tips for a poster presentation: Blocks of text on posters can be quite difficult to read, particularly when a small font size is used. Try using graphs, charts, diagrams, tables, photographs, and bullet points instead of text. A saying in English is “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This is especially true for posters that will be presented in crowded spaces where people may struggle to get close.
When the use of text is unavoidable, ensure it is large enough to read easily. To assess the sizing of text, it is useful to set up the page layout in PowerPoint to the exact dimensions of the printed poster. Then, with the zoom setting at 100%, the text will appear at the same size on the computer screen as in print.
Conversations at poster sessions can lead to interesting collaborations. When someone reads your poster, try saying “Hello, can I help you with any questions?” or when looking at another poster, try saying “This is very interesting work - how will you develop it in the future?”.
I hope these tips will help you to present your work effectively at poster sessions.