Completing a First Draft

In the first draft you should put little effort into details such as getting vocabulary right, guarding against repeated language, checking tenses, evaluating transitions. Instead, whenever you fear you may not be making a good choice, use your private code to mark the place, and move on. At this point you should not be interested in polished language. You have now completed a first draft. It is far from a finished manuscript but it is an accomplishment of which you should be proud. Take a break of several hours or overnight before beginning a second draft. You need to give your mind a rest and chance to gain perspective, yet not give yourself so long that you will have forgotten the thinking you did during your first draft.

Four problems in manuscripts have caused innumerable papers to be rejected. Before you go beyond your first draft, check your plans against these deadly sins:

• The scope of the manuscript is too broad; this material should be divided into 2-3 papers and resubmitted.

• The claim of this manuscript goes beyond the given data.

• The manuscript is too lengthy, includes unnecessary details such as an overly long review of history, or redundancy.

• The authors have failed to give appropriate credit to others.

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