The one-day Editage workshop, Writing to Publish: Essential elements, was attended by biomedical researchers from all corners of Japan, from Toyama and Kobe, even as far as Fukuoka. What was their objective? They must publish period.

The participants were anxious to know how journal editors and reviewers looked at a research paper. They wished to know about the latest trends in the publishing industry and information regarding managing their data, presenting tables and figures accurately, and avoiding plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a hot topic in Japan these days. Japanese researchers are aware of the latest STAP case involving Obokata et al. All participants dreamed to know how to avoid such issues. However, some felt the task insurmountable because they must either summarize or paraphrase in English.

“How do I paraphrase my own methods?” This is the most difficult task of all, one participant said.

In my presentation, I provided many ways of avoiding the pitfall of plagiarism. A good way is to use quote marks when writing down direct quotes, I explained. I also described methods I have used personally to write original sentences such as very first, I ask myself questions about the paper and then reaction them. This helps in the writing original sentences. Another method I have used is to edit what others have written: take complicated, wordy sentences and make them more direct and lighter to understand.

The participants actively participated in the workshop by mentioning other ways to prevent plagiarism. One researcher suggested writing notes in Japanese very first and then translating them into English. To add to that, I suggested that after reading an article, they should think about the subject while doing everyday tasks and then jot those thoughts down either in English or Japanese.

The next topic of greatest interest to participants was the management of data to prevent research misconduct. Again, they recalled the troubles of Obokata et al. who were questioned by the journal editors and other experts in the field about falsification of photos and misidentification of cell lines among other troubles. All participants related to warning signs of trouble: unclean laboratory, mislabeled materials, and no centralized system of data storage.

I introduced one method of storing data that I had learned from a massive open online course (MOOC) on project REDCap, a “secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases” developed by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA: I introduced a brief introduction of the system during the break because many participants were interested in it.

Before using a system such as REDCap, I mentioned that research groups must include writing a data management plan as they consider the methods they plan to use to begin any fresh research project. I mentioned that I knew of one data management-planning contraption from the University of Berkley: The website mentioned that the UC Berkeley created the device because researchers applying for National Science Foundation or National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants must include a data management plan with their grants.

I encourage all researchers to attend future Editage workshops on this topic as well as other significant topics. I look forward to watching you there.

This write up was authored by Mary Nishikawa, the trainer for the workshop on Writing to Publish.

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