Although sometimes maligned, guidelines make manuscript writing easier and increase the chances of getting published. A good set of guidelines can be used as a checklist (many even include checklists) to help organize, write, format and submit a manuscript.
Manuscript writing guidelines are sets of instructions put together by journal editors and other experts to help ensure that all manuscripts attain a uniform level of quality and ethics. Guidelines can also answer questions, help avoid pitfalls, and ensure that the manuscript is in agreement with standard medical writing practice. In this way, guidelines can reduce the chance that your manuscript is rejected and they help save time. Following guidelines can also improve the chances that the results are included in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Although guidelines are important, they are not laws. They often have to be adapted to the specific needs of the manuscript. In some cases, guidelines will insist on something that you consider irrelevant. Regardless, they can be of great help in reducing the number of problems and amount of time spent in completing a manuscript.
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