So You Want to Be a Writer?
Most of the writing in veterinary medicine is technical, which means you cannot use your own opinion if you haven’t conducted primary research or have authority to do so. This type of writing is intricate and requires a certain devotion to finer details: however, it is a great tool for professional development and more veterinary technicians should try their hands at it.
As a potential author, first decide on a topic you are interested in and feel you have expertise to write about. It can be based on a case, a condition, or related to a certification or course you recently took. Then decide on the focus of your paper. Will you talk about the disease as a whole? Will you discuss lab testing only in relation to the disease? After that scope has been established, begin by gathering research. You should initially consult textbooks, but then you should look for journal articles and scientific studies to find the most up-to-date information about your subject. After your research is complete, review all relevant data and begin your draft. Once your draft is complete, references are set, and you feel confident about the first run-through, have a peer or colleague edit it. After that, prepare to submit it to a journal.
So you want to be a writer? Well, follow these tips!
1. Read, read, read. If you want to be a writer, start reading other articles critically. Decide what topics you want to discuss. Pay attention to the tone and structure of the article types you would like to emulate.
2. Do your homework. Most of the time you will need to do research for an article. Make sure that research is current, unbiased, and thorough. You do not always need to read an entire article, as sometimes the abstract is sufficient. However, abstracts often do not discuss problems you are describing in the paper.
3. Cite, cite, cite. Once you have written your paper, make sure your citations are flawless. Many scientific papers follow style guides for the American Psychological Association (APA) or American Medical Association (AMA) but always check with a publication’s editors to see what style guide to use for reference citations.
4. Edit, edit, edit. Once the paper is written and citations added, it is time to edit. Make sure to use the fewest words to describe your point. The paper should flow smoothly and be understandable. Having a colleague (or veterinarian) review the paper before submitting it for peer review is recommended.
5. Trust the process. Once you have edited the paper, it is time to submit it to the journal. Contact the editor and send in the draft. The editor will decide whether it is relevant to publish and distribute for peer review. The peer-review process is extremely important in scientific writing to ensure adequate research and accurate citations.
6. Don’t get defensive. It is common for first-time writers to be defensive when they read peer-reviewer comments. But reviewers adhere to the sanctity of the body of literature in veterinary medicine. Read each comment slowly and carefully. You may change the edit, respond, or ignore it, but it is most respectful to change the edit if you agree or ask the reviewer to clarify if something is not understood.
7. Resubmit & celebrate. You are done—your article will now be slated for publication!
8. Stay organized. Keep a computerized record of all materials you write, organized by publication. Remember to save contact information (email/phone) for each editor you work with so you know whom to reach out to when you want to suggest a new article. Creating this record also helps you build your resume or to update your CV. | EVT
For more guidelines, see Tips for New Authors
Many veterinary journals, including Exceptional Veterinary Team, plan their content up to a year in advance of publication and generally do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It’s a good idea to email the editor of the journal about your idea to assess interest and to obtain information about the publication’s style and requirements before writing your article.