Taxonomic names: Format them right!

Taxonomy (the study of classification), provides scientific writers with a system for organizing and naming living things. Each organism belongs to a series of ranked taxonomic categories, such as class, order, family, etc. (see overview here by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye). The basic systematic ranks or taxa (singular is “taxon”), in descending order, are: Domain Kingdom Phylum (animals and bacteria) or Division (plants and fungi) Class Order Family Genus Species A number of formatting rules govern the way taxonomic descriptors are written: Names of taxa at the level of genus and below should be written in italics. This includes genus, species, subspecies, variety, and forma. Poa species are widespread in North America. Most tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The sulfate-reducing bacteria Desulfovibrio desulfuricans aesturii is found in estuarine sediments.   Names of taxa at the level of family or above should be in roman type (there are exceptions for bacteria and viruses). Most Salmonellae encountered in EID will be serotypes. The plant kingdom includes Bryophyta (bryophytes) and Tracheophyta (tracheophytes). The family Malvaceae includes both temperate and tropical plant species. Sharks belong to the class Chondrichthyes. Prokaryotes are classified into the domains Archaea and Bacteria.   Use an initial capital letter for the names of all taxa down through genus. They sampled Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae). Humans, Homo sapiens, belong to phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, and family Hominidae. The complete genome of Shigella boydii (Bacteria; Proteobacteria; Gammaproteobacteria; Enterobacteriales; Enterobacteriaceae; Shigella) is available in databases.   …

pseAdminTaxonomic names: Format them right!

Guidelines for responding to reviewers

Congratulations on having your paper sent out for peer review and returned with comments! You have passed one of the major hurdles to publication, and you now have an opportunity to polish your manuscript further. Remember that the purpose of peer review is to dissect and critique your work, deliberately looking for flaws, with the end goal of producing and publishing the best possible manuscript. Although criticism can be painful, it can help you to improve your paper. Very few manuscripts are published without going through at least one round of critique and revision. Try not to take the criticism personally. Rather, use it to your advantage. The response letter generally gives an indication of the journal editor’s level of interest in your manuscript. If your paper was recommended for major revision with future publication possible but not assured, you must decide whether it is in your best interest to resubmit the revised manuscript to that journal or to submit it to a different journal. Regardless of your choice, use the reviewers’ comments to help you optimize your manuscript. KEY POINTS FOR WRITING RESPONSES TO REVIEWERS Be polite and appreciative The reviewers probably spent a number of hours reading and critiquing your manuscript. It is important to show appreciation for their efforts, even if you do not agree with all of their points. If some of the comments anger you, take a few days to step back and allow your emotions to cool down. Then, determine how you can use the comments to …

Anne AltorGuidelines for responding to reviewers

How to write a great cover letter for a scientific manuscript

You have worked hard to prepare your manuscript for submission to a journal you have chosen carefully. Now, introduce your manuscript with a great cover letter. Although many authors hastily compose this document, the cover letter can make or break your chances of publication: it can make the difference between being granted a peer review and being rejected outright. Follow the guidelines below to make your cover letter and manuscript stand out. Feel free to use this template to construct your cover letter, and modify it according to your needs. The basic elements of the cover letter include a heading/salutation, the body, and the closing: Heading and salutation The heading includes the name and title of the Editor-in-Chief or handling editor, the name of the journal, and the date. See a sample heading here. The salutation is a standard greeting (e.g., Dear Dr xxx:) addressed to the Editor-in-Chief or handling editor. If you cannot find the name of the appropriate editor, you can write “Dear Editor:” Body The body is the heart of the cover letter; this is where you will make the case for why your paper should be granted a peer review. Begin with a concise opening statement announcing that you are submitting a manuscript entitled [“your title”] for consideration as a Research Article, Letter, Brief Communication, Note, or other format tailored to the journal. See a sample opening statement here. Next, provide a brief but compelling description or summary of the most important or interesting findings addressed …

Anne AltorHow to write a great cover letter for a scientific manuscript