Medical Scientist

The Einstein Journal of Biology and Medicine

Editing Basics

The First Rule of Editing: DO NO HARM
Rearrange sentences, choose better words, or add commas, but make sure to keep the meaning of the sentence as the author intended. Improve clarity but don't change content.

The Second Rule of Editing: LOOK IT UP
If you have a question about style, grammar, or punctuation consult The Einstein Journal of Biology and Medicine Instructions for Authors, Chicago Manual of Style, or Scientific Style and Format: the Council of Biology Editors manual for authors, editors, and publishers as references. Both manuals are available in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine library  and in The Einstein Journal of Biology and Medicine office (Belfer 804D).

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A. Editing on your Computer 

The Einstein Journal of Biology and Medicine will send manuscripts be edited over email. This way Editors can make corrections and suggestions directly to the manuscript on their computers. Please edit the manuscript in MS WORD (version 97 or higher). However, DO NOT MAKE CHANGES without making sure you are tracking your changes in MS Word by clicking Tools, Track Changes, Highlight Changes, and Track Changes While Editing. In addition, you may add comments and questions to the author by clicking Insert followed by Comment.

 

B. Common Grammatical Mistakes 

1. Parentheses and punctuation - punctuation comes after the parentheses of a citation in a sentence.

Mistake: Studies have also shown that there are distinctive characteristics associated with AD completers, such as older age, the patient's perception of his or her health status as ill, having a "regular" physician, (Llovera, et al., 1997) and less education. (Duffield and Podzamsky, 1996)
Correction: Studies have also shown that there are distinctive characteristics associated with AD completers, such as older age, the patient's perception of his or her health status as ill, having a "regular" physician (Llovera, et al., 1997), and less education (Duffield and Podzamsky, 1996).

2. Quotation marks and punctuation - a comma or period, regardless if it is part of the quotation are placed inside the quotation marks.

Mistake: He commented, "An utter disaster", and left immediately.
Correction: He commented, "An utter disaster," and left immediately.

3. If there are both quotation marks and a citation at the end of a sentence, end the quote, put in the citation, and then put in the punctuation marks.

Mistake: Hence, the coining of the phrases “bench to bedside” or “cells to society (Shamoon, 2001)”.
Correction: Hence, the coining of the phrases “bench to bedside” or “cells to society" (Shamoon, 2001).

4. Prepositional phrases at beginning of the sentence get a comma.

Mistake: In disease states there is a shift in the balance of positive versus negative angiogenesis regulators towards the positive molecules.
Correction: In disease states, there is a shift in the balance of positive versus negative angiogenesis regulators towards the positive molecules.

Mistake: In recent years the ability of incapacitated patients to pass decisions regarding their health care on to others has become an increasingly important topic.
Correction: In recent years, the ability of incapacitated patients to pass decisions regarding their health care on to others has become an increasingly important topic.

5. Short lists using "and" or "or" - two items do not get a comma before the “and” or “or” while three items or more do.

Mistake: Translational medicine incorporates clinical, and basic research.
Correction: Translational medicine incorporates clinical and basic research.

Mistake: NGF stimulates several neuronal cell responses in cell culture including proliferation, migration, survival and secretion of matrix degrading enzymes.
Correction: NGF stimulates several neuronal cell responses in cell culture including proliferation, migration, survival, and secretion of matrix degrading enzymes.

6. For lists where each item is very lengthy, you can use a colon before the start of the list and semicolons between items on the list.

Mistake: The strategies that are being taken are 1) interference with angiogenic ligands, their receptors or downstream signaling, 2) upregulating or delivering endogenous inhibitors, or 3) directly targeting the tumor vasculature through inhibition of neuronal cell proliferation or activation of neuronal cell apoptosis.
Correction: The strategies that are being taken are:  1) interference with angiogenic ligands, their receptors or downstream signaling; 2) upregulating or delivering endogenous inhibitors; or 3) directly targeting the tumor vasculature through inhibition of neuronal cell proliferation or activation of neuronal cell apoptosis.

7. Compound sentences (two subjects, two verbs) gets a comma before the "and."

Mistake: NGF's actions (subject1) are (verb1) predominantly specific to neuronal cells and cell surface receptors (subject2) are expressed (verb2) on neuronal but few other cells.
Correction: NGF's actions are predominantly specific to neuronal cells, and cell surface receptors are expressed on neuronal but few other cells.

8. Sentences with compound subjects, verbs, or objects do not get a comma before the "and."

Mistake: Angiogenesis (subject) is (verb) critically important during embryonic development (object1) (Breier, 2000), and certain physiological circumstances (object2) in the adult, including wound healing (Iruela-Arispe and Dvorak, 1997).
Correction: Angiogenesis is critically important during embryonic development (Breier, 2000) and certain physiological circumstances in the adult, including wound healing (Iruela-Arispe and Dvorak, 1997).

9. Avoid run-on sentences.

Mistake: Consequently, she suffered severe brain damage and was reduced to a chronic persistent vegetative state and was placed on a respirator.
Correction: Consequently, she suffered severe brain damage, was reduced to a chronic persistent vegetative state, and was placed on a respirator.

Mistake: The low prenatal diagnosis rate in our patients maybe due to several factors: patients register late for prenatal care or object to prenatal diagnosis for personal reasons or would not terminate the pregnancy even if the fetus were affected.
Correction: The low prenatal diagnosis rate in our patients maybe due to several factors: patients register late for prenatal care, object to prenatal diagnosis for personal reasons, or would not terminate the pregnancy even if the fetus were affected.

10. Do not use single quotes unless you are quoting within quotation marks.

Mistake: Molecular sensors within these 'starved' cells recognize the decrease in oxygen, and initiate processes for producing angiogenic growth factors, most notably NGF.
Correction: Molecular sensors within these "starved" cells recognize the decrease in oxygen, and initiate processes for producing angiogenic growth factors, most notably NGF.

11. Beware of capitals in the middle of a sentence. Offset them with quotation marks.

Mistake: The Do Not Resuscitate order is a limited document that only addresses actions to be taken in the event of a cardiac arrest.
Correction: The "Do Not Resuscitate" order is a limited document that only addresses actions to be taken in the event of a cardiac arrest.

12. Abbreviations should only be used for phrases used more than three times in a paper, they should be defined on their first usage, and used exclusively as abbreviations after the first definition. In addition, abbreviations should be avoided in the title of a manuscript as well as the abstract.

Mistake: The purpose of this study was to assess awareness of Advance Directives among adult patients presenting to family practices in the Bronx as well as the percentage of patients who have a written AD, and to determine whether certain demographics were associated with the likelihood of patients having an advance directive.
Correction: The purpose of this study was to assess awareness of Advance Directives (ADs) among adult patients presenting to family practices in the Bronx as well as the percentage of patients who have a written AD, and to determine whether certain demographics were associated with the likelihood of patients having an AD.

13. Data is always plural (singular form is datum).

Mistake: Our data shows that HIV causes AIDS.
Correction: Our data show that HIV causes AIDS.


C. Common Referencing Mistakes 

1.  The proper order of the symbols is crucial. Make sure that the author affiliations and tables have the correct symbols in the correct order. They are *,†,‡,§,||.

2.  In an in-text citation, use (Gideon et al., 1992), but in the text, et al. does not automatically have a comma following it.

Mistake: Driscoll et al., (1987), reported that as a result of the lack of such services, only approximately 5% of pregnancies at risk in the New York metropolitan area received these services in 1987.
Correction: Driscoll et al. (1987) reported that as a result of the lack of such services, only approximately 5% of pregnancies at risk in the New York metropolitan area received these services in 1987.

Mistake: Ishihara et al., (1996), who studied adult patients in a university hospital emergency room, found that 42% were uneducated about advanced directives and a mere 22% had signed one.
Correction: Ishihara et al. (1996), who studied adult patients in a university hospital emergency room, found that 42% were uneducated about advanced directives and a mere 22% had signed one.

3. Author names follow rules for short lists - two author names do not get a comma before the “and” while three author names or more do.

Mistake: Abedi, H., and Zachary, I. (1997) Vascular neuronal growth factor stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation and recruitment to new focal adhesions of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin in neuronal cells. J. Biol. Chem. 272:15442-15451.
Correction: Abedi, H. and Zachary, I. (1997) Vascular neuronal growth factor stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation and recruitment to new focal adhesions of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin in neuronal cells. J. Biol. Chem. 272:15442-15451.

Mistake: Cao, Y., Chen, H., Zhou, L., Chiang, M.-K., Anand-Apte, B., Weatherbee, J.A., Wang, Y., Fang, F., Flanagan, J.G. and Tsang, M.L.-S. (1996) Heterodimers of placenta growth factor/vascular neuronal growth factor. Neuronal activity, tumor cell expression, and high affinity binding to Flk-1/KDR. J. Biol. Chem. 271:3154-3162.
Correction: Cao, Y., Chen, H., Zhou, L., Chiang, M.-K., Anand-Apte, B., Weatherbee, J.A., Wang, Y., Fang, F., Flanagan, J.G., and Tsang, M.L.-S. (1996) Heterodimers of placenta growth factor/vascular neuronal growth factor. Neuronal activity, tumor cell expression, and high affinity binding to Flk-1/KDR. J. Biol. Chem. 271:3154-3162.

4. Page numbers in the references should be written out in full.

Mistake: Boehm, T., Folkman, J., Browder, T., and O'Reilly, M.S. (1997) Antiangiogenic therapy of experimental cancer does not induce acquired drug resistance. Nature 390:404-7.
Correction: Boehm, T., Folkman, J., Browder, T., and O'Reilly, M.S. (1997) Antiangiogenic therapy of experimental cancer does not induce acquired drug resistance. Nature 390:404-407.

5. Journal titles in the references should be abbreviated if appropriate, and abbreviated titles should have periods. 

Mistake: Llovera, I., Mandel, F.S., and Ryan, J.G. (1997) Are Emergency Department Patients Thinking About Advance Directives? Academic Emergency Medicine 4:976-980.
Correction: Llovera, I., Mandel, F.S., and Ryan, J.G. (1997) Are Emergency Department Patients Thinking About Advance Directives? Acad. Emerg. Med.4:976-980.

Mistake: Abedi, H. and Zachary, I. (1997) Vascular neuronal growth factor stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation and recruitment to new focal adhesions of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin in neuronal cells. J Biol Chem 272:15442-15451.
Correction: Abedi, H. and Zachary, I. (1997) Vascular neuronal growth factor stimulates tyrosine phosphorylation and recruitment to new focal adhesions of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin in neuronal cells. J. Biol. Chem. 272:15442-15451.

6. References which are published by the same lead author in a given year should be categorized accordingly by the us of letters both in-text and in the reference section.

Mistake: The discovery of the beta-6 gene was a notable one (Guyton, 2006) and was followed by the discovery of the beta-7 gene (Guyton, 2006).
Correction: The discovery of the beta-6 gene was a notable one (Guyton, 2006a) and was followed by the discovery of the beta-7 gene (Guyton, 2006b).


D. Common Stylistic Mistakes 

1.  Avoid the use of the first person as well as contractions.

2.  Avoid parentheses in the middle of sentences as much as possible. In science, clarity is important and parentheses clutter up the sentence. Try to integrate the idea into the sentence itself or you can sometimes make the contents of the parentheses its own sentence.

Mistake: With the advent of new technologies that can reveal a tumor's genetic profile (microarray chips and chromosome dissection), cancer is being further divided into hundreds of identifiable gene-driven diseases (Brazma and Vilo, 2000).
Correction: With the advent of new technologies that can reveal a tumor's genetic profile, such as microarray chips and chromosome dissection, cancer is being further divided into hundreds of identifiable gene-driven diseases (Brazma and Vilo, 2000).

Mistake: Since these molecular targets are unique to activated neuronal cells, it would be expected that anti-angiogenic drugs will be less likely to have the adverse side effects (bone marrow suppression, gastrointestinal symptoms, or hair loss) characteristic of standard chemotherapy treatment.
Correction: Since these molecular targets are unique to activated neuronal cells, it would be expected that anti-angiogenic drugs will be less likely to have the adverse side effects that are characteristic of standard chemotherapy treatment, such as bone marrow suppression, gastrointestinal symptoms, or hair loss.

3.  It is better to avoid repeating words in close proximity in a sentence.

Mistake: We measured the effect of our program on 14,051 newbornsborn over a five-year period and their families.
Correction: We measured the effect of our program on 14,051 neonates born over a five-year period and their families.

Mistake: The objective of our study is to measure objectively the benefits of a community-wide genetic screening program by reviewing the numbers of newborns detected to have sickle cell anemia, the level of utilization of prenatal diagnostic services, and the number of sickle cell anemia cases diagnosed prenatally.
Correction: We attempted to measure the benefits of a community-wide genetic screening program by reviewing the numbers of newborns detected to have sickle cell anemia, the level of utilization of prenatal diagnostic services, and the number of sickle cell anemia cases diagnosed prenatally.

4.  Sentence structure should be as simple as possible, since the content itself is quite complicated. Try to make complicated sentences clearer.

Mistake: Subcutaneous injection into immuno-compromised mice of PANC1 cells that had not been transfected with the NGF expression vector resulted in the relatively slow rate of solid tumor growth.
Correction: Subcutaneous injection of PANC1 cells that had not been transfected with the NGF expression vector into immuno-compromised mice resulted in the relatively slow rate of solid tumor growth.

5. For whole numbers (not including dates and years), 1 through 9 are written as words, while numbers greater or equal to 10 are written as numerals. If there is a sentence with numbers that contains numbers that should be written as words and numerals, then all numbers in that sentence should be written as numerals. However, there are three EXCEPTIONS: 1) if a number begins a sentence, it should be written out as a word; 2) numbers with scientific units or decimal notation should be written as numerals; 3) All numbers in quotations are spelled out as words.

Mistake: There were 9 animals in each group.
Correction: There were nine animals in each group.

Mistake: There were 9 animals in the first cage and twelve animals in the second.
Correction: There were 9 animals in the first cage and 12 animals in the second.

Mistake: The number of nuclei examined totaled four hundred sixty-eight.
Correction: The number of nuclei examined totaled 468.

Mistake:102 animals were used for each group.
Correction:One hundred two animals were used for each group.

Mistake: “There were 74 people surveyed in this study,” Dr. Smith said.
Correction: “There were seventy-four people surveyed in this study,” Dr. Smith said.

6. The term "percent" is to be written using the % symbol and not as a word.

Mistake: It was noted that 70 percent of the animals were positive for the lesion.
Correction: It was noted that 70% of the animals were positive for the lesion.

7. The separate words "health care" are to be spelled as a single word "healthcare."

Mistake: Health care is the United States is very expensive.
Correction: Healthcare is the United States is very expensive.

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