Academic Writing

How to Setup A Digital Workflow

A Digital Workflow is the execution and automation of research processes where tasks, information or documents are passed from one digital program to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules. Why do you need a digital workflow? Because you spend too much time 1) finding articles, 2) downloading and naming files, 3) annotating and editing pdfs, and 4) organizing and citing research.

Discovery Workflow

  • Search Emtree for the relevant search terms and add them to your Embase search.
    • After you have found your Emtree terms and free vocabulary terms, combine them in advanced search.
    • If there are too many results, add additional filters, preferably in this order:
      • Medline only,
      • Time filters- last 5/10 years,
      • Priority journals,
      • Humans only.
  • Create a search alert- when relevant new articles that are published, you will be notified via e-mail.
  • Download your search results into an Endnote library specific to this project.
  • Continue on to Ovid Medline or PubMed next, and repeat the process for any additional databases you’ve chosen to include in your literature review strategy.
  • Scan the titles/abstracts of the results in Endnote.
  • Reevaluate your search, considering whether any terms should be added/removed.
  • Create a group of articles of interest that you want to download full text.

Reading Workflow

  • Read, highlight, annotate and make notes in Endnote/Zotero. 
  • Save the highlighted, annotated article PDF in Endnote when you exit.
  • Revise core themes and search strategies if necessary (paucity or oversaturation of existing literature).
  • Consider whether you should create any additional search alerts for articles from specific authors or keywords from particularly successful search strategies. Use either Embase, PubMed, or Google to create alerts.

Writing Workflow

  • Find or create a target journal template document.
  • Review keywords and themes to grasp the key concepts for your specific topic/paper.
  • Structure an outline based on key concepts presented in the literature.
  • Clarify your distinct supporting points (claims, opinions, and conclusions) that correlate to the main idea.
  • Write out headings for the sections and add the thesis or main idea to your outline.
  • Sort your evidence under your headings and decide what specific examples you want to use for each supporting point.
  • Move from outline to draft by creating an academic MEAL paragraph (Main idea, evidence, analysis, the link to the next paragraph).
  • Finish a complete first draft. Turn it in to Medical Research Writer.

Citation Workflow

  • Use Endnote/Zotero to insert properly formatted citations into your manuscript as you refer to them.
  • Take advantage of “Insert Selected Citation” to ensure you are adding the exact citation.
  • Double-check in-text citation, as well as bibliography formatting and mechanics.
  • Use “Find Reference Updates” at any point in the Endnote process.

Revision Workflow

  • Revise for methods of development (how you develop, explain, present or argue the supporting points), such as comparing and contrasting two ideas, or explaining cause and effect.
  • Revise for the organization (clear, coherent and logical paragraphs) and rhetorical strategies (exposition, description, narration, or argumentation).
  • Revise for style, tone, and diction (repetition of words and phrases and audience tone).
  • Finish a complete second draft. Turn it in to Medical Research Writer.
  • Finish a complete third draft based on feedback.
  • Submit the manuscript and get published!

Further Reading

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