Technical articles

Medical and scientific writing


Medical and scientific writing encompasses a range of writing activities in the areas of medicine and science, whether they focus on the regulations, clinical research, or the dissemination of knowledge to the medical and scientific community. This article is dedicated to the last point – that driven by the goal of passing on a scientific message and enabling it to be disseminated within the medical and scientific community. Publishing scientific articles is a way to share knowledge and explore a specific topic. It also provides a means to be recognised by peers and build a reputation in the medical and scientific community. The scientific data obtained through a study also have more of an impact if they are published in a journal by means of a scientific article than if they are only analysed in an internal report.

What constitutes medical and scientific literature?

Various types of documentary sources make up the medical and scientific literature:

  • Original scientific articles: they report on research work, describe its aim and the way it was conducted, and present and discuss the results obtained;
  • Literature reviews: they compile and analyse a set of journal articles to describe the state of the art and scientific breakthroughs in a specific field;
  • (Often thematic) editorials, having the same theme as an original article published in the same issue of the journal;
  • Clinical case studies: they report and comment on an observed clinical case study;
  • Commentaries: they analyse an article published in another journal and are generally written by an expert in the field;
  • Study protocols or methodological articles: they describe the steps taken to conduct a study or undertake an experiment.
A well-defined structure to be followed

There are four components that need to be considered when writing any type of article: the subject matter, the strategy, the structure, and the editorial style. The subject matter and strategy comprise the substance of the article, i.e. they give it its relevance. The structure and editorial style form the very heart of the scientific article.

The structure generally used to share scientific results is the IMRaD format: Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion. The aim of this organisational structure is to facilitate reading and knowledge acquisition by readers. Each part of this structure will answer one or more specific questions:

  • Introduction: What issue was addressed through the study and why (background and presentation of the problem)?
  • Materials and Methods: How was the scientific issue addressed?
  • Results: What results were generated by the study’s implementation?
  • Discussion: What meaning was assigned to the results? What prospects have been opened up through these results, and what new research is suggested/necessary?

Within every section, each paragraph should develop a main idea. 

Specific skills

Medical and scientific writing takes time and requires strict adherence to grammatical rules. The main challenge consists in gathering together a wide range of complex ideas within a clear article following a well-defined structure. 

This type of writing is different from literary writing. The publication of a scientific article may be delayed or even rejected if the journal’s editorial and/or formatting requirements are not met. Moreover, some scientific journals provide word count limits for articles. Therefore, the exercise of writing should follow four principles: concision, clarity, precision, and simplicity. Indeed, most scientific articles are published in peer-reviewed journals, where they are critically assessed by several reviewers who generally specialise in the article’s subject matter. These reviews, conducted after the article has been submitted, aim to evaluate the scientific quality of the data presented. The reviewers generally provide feedback that the authors have to address before the article can be accepted for publication in the journal.

A time-consuming activity

Although medical and scientific writing activities are essential for the promotion of research work, the associated workload can be heavy and time-consuming. In addition, several back-and-forth exchanges are usually necessary between the article’s submission and its acceptance in order to answer questions from the editor/reviewers and make corrections as required. This activity, just like literature review activities, can be subcontracted in full so you may focus on your daily research work.

Efor expertise

Benefit from the support of Efor PhD consultants specialising in medical and scientific writing. With their scientific rigour and expertise, they are ideally positioned to assist you in every step of the writing of your medical and scientific articles and literature reviews.

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