Inconsistency is one of the most common errors made by authors writing scholarly manuscripts. We understand that one of the most frustrating aspects of English language conventions used by scientific journals is that these conventions are often open-ended and have no firm rules, only options (unless the journal clearly specifies otherwise). However, this situation need not be too frustrating if we keep in mind one simple rule: In situations where there are two or more acceptable conventions, choose one and stick with it throughout the manuscript.
Our downloadable checklist highlights some of the most common instances where two or more conventions are acceptable and a decision needs to be made for which one will be used. This checklist can be printed out and used as a guide when reviewing a manuscript to spot consistency issues. One way to check for many of the instances is to use the “find” feature in your word processor to search for certain key words. Remember that this checklist only covers some of the most common consistency problems encountered in scientific journal writing. It is important to remember that any decision made regarding a format style must be implemented consistently. Finally, your target journal’s style sheet should always be consulted first when making decisions regarding any consistency issue.
Some of the items in the checklist include
- Manuscript structure
- Vague or ambiguous language
- Citation format
- Abbreviations and acronyms
- Numbers, units, and figures
- Field-specific issues (e.g., gene nomenclature)
We hope that our checklist will make the process of writing your next manuscript a little easier! As always, please email us at [email protected] with any questions.