My last few weeks in Uganda went by very quickly due to the large amounts of research data collection and writing obligations. The second to last week of our program, all graduate students attached to Makerere University for the Summer Research Program were required to meet in the capital city of Kampala to attend a Research Manuscript Writing Course. The writing course was in collaboration between Ibadan University in Lagos, Nigeria; Makerere School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda; and San Diego State University, San Diego, United States. Each respective university had graduate students from medical, doctorate, and Master of Public Health programs placed in various districts of Uganda for the field-placement research. Hence, the writing course was provided to help guide students in synthesizing their collected data and writing their research findings.
The writing course had faculty members representing several international universities. The main purpose of the writing course was to enhance scientific manuscript writing techniques. Many professors reflected on their personal approach to writing manuscripts and gave tips on how they became successful scientific writers. In my opinion, the most influential tip given was for students to just start the process of writing. It is common for students to become anxious, thinking about writing a scientific manuscript, to the point of delaying the writing process until they feel their findings are perfectly outlined. I’ve personally experienced that anxiety, waiting months to start writing because I did not know how to begin the paper. Therefore, I really appreciate faculty advising students to simply start writing, even if your findings are not perfectly organized.
The lecturers also had specific details on what sections of manuscripts are easiest to begin writing. Many suggested writing the findings sections first, and then moving on to the methods section. For myself, I found writing the findings section helped me think through the methodology of my study. Furthermore, the faculty strongly suggested that the manuscript be written in a consistent “active” or “passive” voice, while being written in chronological order throughout the manuscript.
Overall, the manuscript writing week helped increase my confidence in writing research manuscripts. It demonstrated that manuscripts do not have to be perfect to be submitted for literature peer review, and that writing manuscripts is a process to be completed overtime.
Through mentorship of an assigned faculty member via the Research Manuscript Writing Course, each of my research team members plan to write a first-author manuscript from the research we conducted in Mbale district, Uganda.
Author: Briana Thrift