Writing quality is improved by training and perseverance

Editorial published in 

Acta Paul. Enferm. 27(1)  São Paulo Jan./Feb. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1982-0194201400001

In non-English-speaking countries such as Brazil, translation into English of scientific manuscripts is a necessary complement to their writing. Whereas writing plays a central role, translation must be correct and accurate. In the scenario of international-level academic production, I highlight the participation of four actors.

Editors of scientific journals, including Acta Paulista de Enfermagem, have imposed stringent conditions in order to improve the quality of their publications and thus obtain international acknowledgement.

The authors should consider the Christian principle of giving the reader what they themselves would like to receive: a clear and concise text. The formal aspects of writing are much simpler than research itself, and manuscripts that do not take them into account may suffer restriction by the referees. Conversely, the articles may be cited as their authors hope, provided the readers read them to the end.

Translators of scientific manuscripts are anonymous experts although increasingly present in the academic life. Experienced scientific translators perform the dual role of translator and editor when writing is not clear.

Universities benefit from the production of their researchers. Thus, graduate programs should include writing disciplines and universities should implement spaces for training and assistance by professionals to academic authors who have difficulty in writing.

If a synergistic action of these actors occurs, everyone will benefit and the costs will be reduced.

For those who wish to improve their skills of scientific writing and translation, I suggest the following:

1. Improve your English.

2. Make a list with expressions from the literature that may be helpful in writing your next manuscripts.

3. Develop your own dictionaries and glossaries.

4. When writing (or translating), prefer using short sentences, written in direct order (subject, verb, complement, etc.).

5. Write first, then revise and edit your manuscript.

As in other human activities, quality of both writing and translation is improved by training and perseverance. 

Paulo Boschcov

Adjunct professor at Federal University of São Paulo (Escola Paulista de Medicina, Department of Biophysics, 1975-2008)
Managing editor of BRIDGE Textos Técnicos / Language Services (2008-)