Journal editor offers top writing tips to students
November, 2013


Dr. Alwaleed Alkhaja said the workshop would be an

introduction into the world of scientific publishing

Students at WCMC-Q received expert advice on writing research papers when Dr. Alwaleed Alkhaja, commissioning editor at QScience.com, delivered a workshop at the college.

QScience.com is a peer-reviewed online publishing platform developed by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals, a member of Qatar Foundation. The workshop was hosted by the department of global and public health and the Writing Center.

Dr. Alkhaja’s session, entitled Organizing a Scientific Research Paper for Publication, presented a step-by-step guide to writing each of the key elements of a paper, from choosing the most suitable format for a title through to the best way to present results.

The event proved popular with students, staff and faculty, and Lecture Hall 4 at the college was filled almost to capacity for the workshop on Sunday 10 November.

Drawing on his experience as a researcher and his role at QScience.com, Dr. Alkhaja told the audience: “This workshop is intended to serve as an introduction to the world of scientific publication. It will show you how to present the information you want to communicate in the correct way so that your peers in the scientific community will be able to understand and appreciate your work. This is very important because your work is going to be peer-reviewed so you must present it in an acceptable form to give yourself the best chance of seeing it published.”

Dr. Alkhaja outlined the differences between various types of papers, including literature reviews, case reports, editorial articles and full-length research papers.  He then dissected a research paper into its constituent parts and explained each one in turn, beginning with the title and then moving on to the description of the materials and methods used, the presentation of results, the discussion and conclusion of the findings, and finally the reference list and bibliography.

He said: “You need to be aware of the difference between the reference list and the bibliography. In the reference list, you must note all of the sources you have explicitly referred to. In your bibliography, you list sources that you may not have referred to but which you have drawn upon in your background reading. This is very useful for anyone reading your paper that wants to research the subject in more depth.

“My key piece of advice for this section is to record everything you read from the beginning. Don’t leave it until the end because you will definitely forget some of the material you have read.”

Dr. Alkhaja had one final piece of advice: “Set realistic goals for yourself,” he said. “Don’t say that you’re going to write five research papers by the end of the year because you probably won’t manage it. Instead, aim to write one paper and divide your work into a series of manageable milestones.”

For pre-med 1 student Mohamed Suliman, the workshop could not have come at a better time. “I found the session really useful because I am working on a poster presentation that has to be finished in a week’s time. The information Dr. Alkhaja gave will really help to improve the poster.”

WCMC-Q writing center coordinator Adam Larson said: “In the age of evidence-based medicine, medical students and aspiring researchers need a firm understanding of how science is communicated. Dr. Alkhaja’s workshop provided an important first step.”

Dr. Sohaila Cheema, director of the department of global and public health added: “The workshop was very well received. We will endeavor to host similar workshops on various topics, aimed to enhance understanding of the science of scientific writing and publishing.”