Tools for writing scientific articles
When writing scientific articles, there are various tools you can use to edit text, process data and ensure your referencing is done correctly.
At the end of this section, you should understand:
- The use of Mendeley, as free reference management software.
- How to set up collaboration groups on Mendeley.
- The use of Microsoft Word and Excel features to improve writing skills.
- How to use Google drive.
Technology continues to improve and has improved the outlook of manuscripts. Microsoft Word is applied to simplify editing to identify errors and to create some of the major sections of research. Below are some of the common processes that can be enhanced through Microsoft Word tools.
- Checking grammar and spelling
- Converting documents From Word to PDF and back
- Special add-on features such as Mendeley for referencing
- Inserting captions for easy generation of figures and tables
- Automatic generation of the table of contents
- Page numbering, headers, and footers
- Page layout and manuscript editing using the review tools
- Further improvement of table presentation
- Easy creation of mathematical function formulas
Microsoft Excel simplifies data manipulation and is user–friendly. The following tasks can be performed using Microsoft Excel;
- If function for identification of specific information and creation of new specific values
- Data visualisation, further improvement on the presentation of graphs, charts and histograms
- Data filtering options for data cleaning
- Additional add-on tools for data analysis and other tasks
Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network with the following features:
- Automatic generation of bibliographies
- A platform to collaborate easily with other researchers online
- Option to easily import papers from other research software
- Web Importer can be installed in Mendeley using the ‘Tools’ menu in Mendeley Desktop and this allows direct import of articles from browsers
- Options on Mendeley to import articles from another reference manager using the import function under the ‘Files’ menu in Mendeley Desktop
- Searching online databases
- Organising documents using folders and tags
- Adding tags to make it easy to find articles
- Using the ‘Sync’ button for changes made in Mendeley Desktop to be stored in the cloud
Other Important Features of Mendeley
Creating and joining groups
- Option to join other public groups to exchange ideas and reference information with other Mendeley users
- Share articles using Mendeley’s private groups: allow your collaborators to read the same materials as you by dragging and dropping them into the group on Mendeley Desktop, or using the ‘Add to’ menu in the Web Library
- Create a personal profile to connect and share information with other researchers
Creating and updating citations and automatic generation of bibliography
- This function is enhanced by installing the Mendeley Citation Plugin found under the ‘Tools’ menu in Mendeley Desktop
- This plug-in tool will be visible in the ‘References’ tab of the Microsoft Word menu bar
- The plug-in tool allows you to: insert citations; insert a bibliography at the end of your paper or chapter, and change citation formats.
- Google Drive is a platform to store documents.
- It helps to increase security and avoid loss of your documents
- Google has options to share and edit documents
- Sync files and documents for automatic updates
Here are some activities to get you going.
Watch the following videos for the Mendeley free reference management software:
Activity 1: Mendeley Installation
Install Mendeley Desktop software on your laptop or computer.
Create a folder that will be linked to the facilitators for collaboration.
Develop an article-writing implementation plan.
Activity 2: Reading Material
Read the material provided and use it in the following section.
Activity 3: Discussion
Discuss with your colleagues your understanding of Mendeley as a reference-management software tool and its advantages.
Estimated Length (to be aligned to journal guidelines)
Post and Respond to at least two postings from your peers in one or more of the following ways:
- Ask a probing question
- Expand on a colleague’s posting with additional insight and resources
- Offer polite disagreement or critique, supported with evidence
In addition to this, you may want to:
- Offer and support an opinion
- Validate an idea with your own experience
- Make a suggestion or comment that guides or facilitates the discussion
- Share preferred article writing day and create and set time and duration to work on your article alone or with your research buddy.