Scientific Writing

What are the different types of manuscripts?

A scientific manuscript is a thorough, factual, and logically written document containing scientific communication from the researchers/scientists to the scientific community or others. These scientific communications can be about a recent research, any interesting case, a literature update or a fresh viewpoint of an old problem. The researchers/scientists may invest a significant amount of time and efforts in writing and publishing their manuscript in a journal. Every journal has their own set of publication guidelines for the authors. It is mandatory for an author to follow them to get their manuscript published without any hassle. There are various types of manuscripts, the few that are widely accepted by the journals are as listed:

Original research article
An original research article is a report on a recent trial performed by the researchers. These articles present the author’s original study findings and so are termed as primary literature. The standard structure of these article includes the Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, List of illustrations, Appendix and References cited. However, the author must refer to and follow the guidelines provided by the journal. The original research articles are extensive and may have a word limit ranging from 4000-12,000, thus demanding a substantial effort and time investment by the author. These articles usually address a specific study and suggests for further research and investigation of a study.

Review article
A review article is a summary of other published articles on a given concept or idea. They are not original research articles and are considered as secondary literature. These articles summarize the existing literature about a topic without having the reader to read all the papers. Review articles usually contain the details about the published work, identifies specific gaps or problems in the study, and provides recommendations for future research. These articles do not have a required page limit or maximum number of references. The author should include appropriate figures, tables and a concise abstract. Review articles can be of three types- narrative reviews, systematic review, and meta-analysis. A well-written review article published in a good peer-reviewed journal may have a high impact and receive a lot of citations in other papers.

Clinical case studies
Clinical case studies are published by a practitioner to document the knowledge that they gain in their clinical practice. The case studies can be written about an unusual case, adverse event, side effects or new mode of treatment for the existing conditions. Not all the journals accept them; there are some dedicated journals like BMJ Case Reports which accept these studies. Though the format of a case study may vary with the journals, the usual format includes, abstract, introduction, case report and discussion. These case studies are evidence-based original submission that can be a great contribution to the medical science.

Clinical trial reports
The clinical trial reports present detailed information about a clinical trial on a large subject base. The report includes sections such as abstract, background, methods followed, results obtained and the analysis of the results. These reports are similar to the original research article, in terms of structure and length.

These write-ups contain the views or perspectives of an author or researcher on a specific topic. Although the opinion in the report is of the author, the thoughts and ideas are evidence-based and backed by scientific evidence. The contributing authors are usually the experts in their field; many journals also invite these experts to provide their opinion as a written report.

A medical writer who contributes to any journal must be aware of the different formats that a journal accepts, and the style guide they follow for their publications. A detailed knowledge of these points can help the writer create reports that adhere to the journal’s content specifications and publishing requirements.

6 thoughts on “What are the different types of manuscripts?

  1. I am interested in medical writing. With 20 plus years in medical transcription and being a science (medical) graduate with convent school education, I think this all gives me a headstart. Can I have more details as to training/recruitment process in medical writing.

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