To write the first draft you need to have detailed notes. If you not have a case at present, preparation of an outline for each section including major headings, sub-headings and paragraphs containing different points may help. At this stage you should turn your notes and outline into a narration.
Some people believe that it is better to start with the introduction and write other parts afterwards in order to make sure of the flow. Some others recommend that you first start with drafting the easiest parts which are deemed to be the Methods and Results and then write Discussion, Conclusion, Introduction, References and Title. Write the abstract last of all.
- Incorporate all the data. Make sure that you need everything that you need for writing, i. e., all data, references, drafts of figures and tables.
- Target a journal. Decide in which journal you want to submit your manuscript and draft it based on the requirements of your target journal. The requirements may have been clearly mentioned by the journal or you may reach them by reviewing some of the recently published issues of the target journal.
- Start writing. The goal of writing the first draft is to write something down on the paper, so don’t worry if the sentences are not grammatically perfect as long as the main ideas have been communicated. Write when you feel energetic, not when you feel tired. Find a time and place where you can think and write without distraction.
- Write quickly. At this stage don’t worry about words, spelling or punctuation; only mind the ideas. Just keep going. If necessary, leave gaps. Write as quickly as possible to keep the flow. Make use of abbreviations and leave a blank space for the words that escape your mind.
- Write with your own voice. If you expressed yourself in your own voice you will be able to say what you mean more easily and your readers will understand you better.
- Write without editing. Resist the temptation to edit as you write, otherwise, you will get stuck and waste time. Writing and editing at the same time can spoil both.
- Stick to the plan of your outline. keep your eye on the headings of your outline, this helps you to concentrate on what you want to say.
- Draft the paper in parts. It is not a good idea to write the whole paper in one sitting. Treat each section of the paper as a short essay. Check your notes, consider the goal of that particular section and what you intend to achieve.
- Put aside the first draft. Don’t touch the first draft for a few days. This time interval allows you to be another person. Proofreading and editing your own work is difficult. This break between creation and critique is helpful.
- Revise it. Revise your writing constantly until there is no need to do more revision. The aim is to look at your work not as its author but as a respectful but serious critic. Is every sentence meaningful? In longer sentences, is it possible to keep track of the subject at hand? Do the longer paragraphs follow a particular idea, or can you break them into smaller paragraphs? These are among the questions that you should ask yourself.
- Check for clarity and brevity. Review sentences and paragraphs with focus on clearness. The length of sentences for maximum readability should be between 15-20 words. The optimal length of paragraphs in a scientific article is about 150 words.
- Be consistent. A manuscript is often written by more than one writer and the writers have to share the process. Yet, the manuscript must keep a consistent style all throughout. The first author need to review the whole manuscript and if necessary make revisions before submitting the manuscript.