Author Guidelines

Guidelines for Publishing Papers in the International Dental Research

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Writing an effective article is a challenging assignment. The following guidelines are provided to assist authors in submitting manuscripts.

The International Dental Research publishes original and review articles related to the scientific and applied aspects of dentistry. Moreover, the  International Dental Research has a diverse readership that includes full-time clinicians, full-time academicians, residents, students and scientists. Effective communication with this diverse readership requires careful attention to writing style.

 

General Points on Composition

 

Authors are strongly encouraged to analyze their final draft with both software (e.g., spelling and grammar programs) and colleagues who have expertise in English grammar. References listed at the end of this section provide a more extensive review of rules of English grammar and guidelines for writing a scientific article. Always remember that clarity is the most important feature of scientific writing. Scientific articles must be clear and precise in their content and concise in their delivery since their purpose is to inform the reader. The Editor reserves the right to edit all manuscripts or to reject those manuscripts that lack clarity or precision, or have unacceptable grammar. The following list represents common errors in manuscripts submitted to the  International Dental Research:

a. The paragraph is the ideal unit of organization. Paragraphs typically start with an introductory sentence that is followed by sentences that describe additional detail or examples. The last sentence of the paragraph provides conclusions and forms a transition to the next paragraph. Common problems include one-sentence paragraphs, sentences that do not developthe theme of the paragraph (see also section “c”, below), or sentences with little to no transition within a paragraph.

b. Keep to the point. The subject of the sentence should support the subject of the paragraph. For example, the introduction of authors’ names in a sentence changes the subject and lengthens the text. In a paragraph on sodium hypochlorite, the sentence, “In 1983, Langeland et al., reported that sodium hypochlorite acts as a lubricating factor during instrumentation and helps to flush debris from the root canals” can be edited to: “Sodium hypochlorite acts as a lubricant during instrumentation and as a vehicle for flushing the generated debris (Langeland et al., 1983)”. In this example, the paragraph’s subject is sodium hypochlorite and sentences should focus on this subject.

c. Sentences are stronger when written in the active voice, i.e., the subject performs the action. Passive sentences are identified by the use of passive verbs such as “was,” “were,” “could,” etc. For example: “Dexamethasone was found in this study to be a factor that was associated with reduced inflammation”, can be edited to: “Our results demonstrated that dexamethasone reduced inflammation”. Sentences written in a direct and active voice are generally more powerful and shorter than sentences written in the passive voice.

d. Reduce verbiage. Short sentences are easier to understand. The inclusion of unnecessary words is often associated with the use of a passive voice, a lack of focus or run-on sentences. This is not to imply that all sentences need be short or even the same length. Indeed, variation in sentence structure and length often helps to maintain reader interest. However, make all words count. A more formal way of stating this point is that the use of subordinate clauses adds variety and information when constructing a paragraph.(This section was written deliberately with sentences of varying length to illustrate this point.)

e. Use parallel construction to express related ideas. For example, the sentence, “Formerly, Endodontics was taught by hand instrumentation, while now rotary instrumentation is the common method”, can be edited to “Formerly, Endodontics was taught using hand instrumentation; now it is commonly taught using rotary instrumentation”. The use of parallel construction in sentences simply means that similar ideas are expressed in similar ways, and this helps the reader recognize that the ideas are related.

f. Keep modifying phrases close to the word that they modify. This is a common problem in complex sentences that may confuse the reader. For example, the statement, “Accordingly, when conclusions are drawn from the results of this study, caution must be used”, can be edited to “Caution must be used when conclusions are drawn from the results of this study”.

g. To summarize these points, effective sentences are clear and precise, and often are short, simple and focused on one key point that supports the paragraph’s theme.

 

General Points on the Organization of Original Research Manuscripts

 

  1. Please Note: Starting in 2009, all abstracts should be organized into sections that start with a one-word title (in bold), i.e., Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, etc., and should not exceed more than 250 words in length.
     
  2. Title Page: The title should describe the major conclusion of the paper. It should be as short as possible without loss of clarity. Remember that the title is your advertising billboard–it represents your major opportunity to solicit readers to spend the time to read your paper. It is best not to use abbreviations in the title since this may lead to imprecise coding by electronic citation programs such as PubMed (e.g., use “sodium hypochlorite” rather than NaOCl). The author list must conform to published standards on authorship (see authorship criteria in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals at www.icmje.org).
     
  3. Abstract: The abstract should concisely describe the purpose of the study, the hypothesis, methods, major findings and conclusions. The abstract should describe the new contributions made by this study. The word limitations (250 words) and the wide distribution of the abstract (e.g., PubMed) make this section challenging to write clearly. This section often is written last by many authors since they can draw on the rest of the manuscript. Write the abstract in past tense since the study has been completed. Three to ten keywords should be listed below the abstract.
     
  4. Introduction: The introduction should briefly review the pertinent literature in order to identify the gap in knowledge that the study is intended to address. The purpose of the study, the tested hypothesis and its scope should be described. Authors should realize that this section of the paper is their primary opportunity to establish communication with the diverse readership of the  International Dental Research. Readers who are not expert in the topic of the manuscript are likely to skip the paper if the introduction fails to provide sufficient detail. However, many successful manuscripts require no more than a few paragraphs to accomplish these goals.
     
  5. Material and Methods: The objective of the methods section is to permit other investigators to repeat your experiments. The three components to this section are the experimental design, the procedures employed, and the statistical tests used to analyze the results. The vast majority of manuscripts should cite prior studies using similar methods and succinctly describe the particular aspects used in the present study. The inclusion of a “methods figure” will be rejected unless the procedure is novel and requires an illustration for comprehension. If the method is novel, then the authors should carefully describe the method and include validation experiments. If the study utilized a commercial product, the manuscript should state that they either followed manufacturer’s protocol or specify any changes made to the protocol. Studies on humans should conform to the Helsinki Declaration of 1975 and state that the institutional IRB approved the protocol and that informed consent was obtained. Studies involving animals should state that the institutional animal care and use committee approved the protocol. The statistical analysis section should describe which tests were used to analyze which dependent measures; p-values should be specified. Additional details may include randomization scheme, stratification (if any), power analysis, drop-outs from clinical trials, etc.
     
  6. Results: Only experimental results are appropriate in this section (i.e., neither methods nor conclusions should be in this section). Include only those data that are critical for the study. Do not include all available data without justification, any repetitive findings will be rejected from publication. All Figs./Charts/Tables should be described in their order of numbering with a brief description of the major findings.

Figures: There are two general types of figures. The first type of figure includes photographs, radiographs or micrographs. Include only essential figures, and even if essential, the use of composite figures containing several panels of photographs is encouraged. For example, most photo-, radio- or micrographs take up one column-width, or about 185 mm wide X 185 mm tall. If instead, you construct a two columns-width figure (i.e., about 175 mm wide X 125 mm high when published in the  International Dental Research), you would be able to place about 12 panels of photomicrographs (or radiographs, etc.) as an array of four columns across and three rows down (with each panel about 40 X 40 mm). This will require some editing on your part given the small size of each panel, you will only be able to illustrate the most important feature of each photomicrograph. Remember that each panel must be clearly identified with a letter (e.g., “A”, “B”, etc.), in order for the reader to understand each individual panel. Several nice examples of composite figures are seen in recent articles by Chang, et al, (JOE28:90, 2002), Hayashi, et al, (JOE 28:120, 2002) and by Davis, et al (JOE 28:464, 2002). At the Editor’s discretion, color figures may be published at no cost to the authors. However, the Editor is limited by a yearly allowance and this offer does not include printing of reprints.

The second type of figure are graphs (i.e., line drawings) that plot a dependent measure (on the Y axis) as a function of an independent measure (usually plotted on the X axis). Examples include a graph depicting pain scores over time, etc. Graphs should be used when the overall trend of the results are more important than the exact numerical values of the results. For example, a graph is a convenient way of reporting that an ibuprofen treated group reported less pain than a placebo group over the first 24 hours, but was the same as the placebo group for the next 96 hours. In this case, the trend of the results is the primary finding; the actual pain scores are not as critical as the relative differences between the NSAID and placebo groups.

Tables: Tables are appropriate when it is critical to present exact numerical values. However, not all results need be placed in either a table or figure. For example, the following table may not necessary:

% NaOCl N/Group % Inhibition of Growth
0.001 5 0
0.003 5 0
0.01 5 0
0.03 5 0
0.1 5 100
0.3 5 100
1 5 100
3 5 100

Instead, the results could simply state that there was no inhibition of growth from 0.001-0.03% NaOCl, and a 100% inhibition of growth from 0.03-3% NaOCl (N=5/group). Similarly, if the results are not significant, then it is probably not necessary to include the results in either a table or as a figure. These and many other suggestions on figure and table construction are described in additional detail in Day (1998).

  1. Discussion: The conclusion section should describe the major findings of the study. Both the strength and weaknesses of the observations should be discussed. What are the major conclusions of the study? How does the data support these conclusions? How do these findings compare to the published literature? What are the clinical implications? Although this last section might be tentative given the nature of a particular study, the authors should realize that even preliminary clinical implications might have value for the clinical readership. Ideally, a review of the potential clinical significance is the last section of the discussion.
     
  2. References: The reference style follows Index Medicus and can be efficiently learned from reading past issues of the  International Dental Research. Citations are placed in parentheses at the end of a sentence or at the end of a clause that requires a literature citation. Do not use superscript for references. Original reports are limited to 40 references. There are no limits in the number of references for review articles.

 

  1. Page Limitations for Manuscripts

     

    1. What is the limitation? Original research reports in the categories are limited to no more than 2,000 words (total for the abstract, introduction, methods, results and conclusions), and a total of three Figs./Charts/Tables. If a composite figure is used (as described above), then this will count as two of the three permitted Figs./Charts/Tables.
    2. Does this apply to me? Manuscripts submitted to the  International Dental Research can be broadly divided into several categories including review articles, clinical trials (e.g., prospective or retrospective studies on patients or patient records, or research on biopsies excluding the use of human teeth for technique studies), basic science/biology (animal or culture studies on biological research related to dentistry, or relevant pathology or physiology), and basic science/techniques (e.g., stress/strain/compression/strength/failure/composition studies on dental instruments or materials). Manuscripts submitted in this last category are the only category subject to these limitations. If you are not sure whether your manuscript falls within this category please contact the Editor by e-mail at info@dental-research.com
    3. Why page limitations? Most surveyed stakeholders of the  International Dental Research desire timely publication of submitted manuscripts and an extension of papers to include review articles and other features. To accomplish these goals, we must reduce the average length of manuscripts since increasing the  International Dental Research’s number of published pages is prohibitively expensive. Although a difficult decision, restricting this one category of manuscripts accomplishes nearly all of these goals since ~40-50% of published papers are in this category.
    4. How do I make my manuscript fit these limitations? Adhering to the general writing methods described in these guidelines (and in the resources listed below) will help to reduce the size of the manuscript. Authors are encouraged to focus on only the essential aspects of the study and to avoid inclusion of extraneous text and figures. The Editor will reject manuscripts that exceed these limitations.
       

     
  2. Available Resources:

    1. Strunk W, White EB. The Elements of Style. Allyn & Bacon, 4th ed, 2000, ISBN 020530902X
    2. Day R.. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. Oryx Press, 5th ed. 1998. ISBN 1-57356-164-9
    3. Woods G. English Grammar for Dummies. Hungry Minds:NY, 2001 (an entertaining review of grammar)
    4. Alley M. The Craft of Scientific Writing. Springer, 3rd edition 1996 SBN 0-387-94766-3.
    5. Alley M. The Craft of Editing. Springer, 2000 SBN 0-387-98964-1.