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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 215-219

Technology and tools for easy writing of the medical dissertation and original articles

1 Consultant Pathologist, Department of Pathology, Kegan Path Labs (NABL Accredited), New Delhi, India
2 M.Sc Statistics, Garg Associates, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission05-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication26-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ketan Garg
A279 First Floor Shivalik, New Delhi - 110 017
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJAM.IJAM_8_20

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Medical writing has become an unaccountable alternate subject in the curriculum of doctors. It starts from the undergraduate level where a medical student has to write some projects in the Preventive and Social medicine department. Apart from that, case summaries in the various clinical subjects begin in the final year of undergraduation. At the postgraduate level, Indian medical students have a big task in front of them in the form of a thesis. The protocol writing in the initial 3 months of the tenure seems such a daunting subject and it puts so much of pressure on the naïve mind who is mastering a particular medical field. The focus starts deviating from the learning of the clinical skills to completing the protocol writing without any specific tutorial-based guidance on the technology to write a protocol for the thesis or a complete thesis itself. Nonetheless, this is superseded by one/two compulsory research publications in the postgraduation. The increasing population in our country, increasing workload in the departments, especially surgical fields in the government hospitals, has led to an undue burden on medical students for medical writing. The complete digitalization of the dissertations has warranted a complete knowledge of the computers and writing softwares such as Microsoft word, Excel, and PowerPoint and the various plagiarism tools for an easy and errorless completion of the dissertation during the medical tenure.
The following core competencies are addressed in this article: Interpersonal and communication skills, Professionalism, Systems-based practice.

Keywords: Dissertation, medical writing, original article, thesis, tools

How to cite this article:
Garg K, Garg B. Technology and tools for easy writing of the medical dissertation and original articles. Int J Acad Med 2020;6:215-9

How to cite this URL:
Garg K, Garg B. Technology and tools for easy writing of the medical dissertation and original articles. Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 10];6:215-9. Available from: https://www.ijam-web.org/text.asp?2020/6/3/215/296146

  Introduction Top

In an era of digitalization, medical field has been strongly linked with information technology and computers. Every section of medical writing (which includes dissertation/thesis, research article, case report, e-poster and review articles) demand a thorough knowledge of the computers and the various writing softwares; all of them demand a thorough knowledge of the computers and the various writing softwares. The students pursuing the field of Computer engineering specifically use the LATEX writing software (current version: LaTeX2e, origin: 1994, distributed under the LaTeX Project Public License) for writing the dissertation. Although the use of LATEX is tough, they are susceptible to learn the new computer coding language and easily master the art of writing the thesis by using that software. However, in the medical studies, the scenario is different. Most of the medical students are not even comfortable using the computer. The increased presentations, seminars, and e-posters during the medical curriculum require a thorough knowledge and speed in medical writing and using the software tools and technology.

In the medical curriculum, there are no special lectures to inform the students about the use of computers and the writing software's. Nonetheless, the new amendments in the medical field are being applied which mandates few research publications during the postgraduation for upgrading the resume in the future interviews for senior residency. The student may sometime fall behind due to inadequate teaching related to the aspect of medical writing. In the competing world, despite a standard teaching medical curriculum throughout India, students from the old premiere institutes, with a high output of research publications, are more familiarized with such tools and medical writing technology through their seniors and the faculty, as compared to other institutes with less output of research publications or newer medical institutes. This is creating a technology divide amongst the medical students in our country which subsequently leads to various problems. The special article here deals with the various tools and the technology that can be used currently for an easy, errorless and successful completion of any medical writing. It may help form a strong base for the medical writing for the new medical students joining and pursuing the medical course.

  Medical Writing Top

In addition to the medical knowledge, medical writing is an important part to compile and publish the completed researches. It helps communicating health and health-care-related information to the doctors, general public, health-care decision makers and pharmaceutical companies.

Medical writing is beginning to enroll as a service industry in India since 2005 and has grown by leaps and bounds now. It has a tremendous growth potential, although it faces some unique challenges and issues in the use of the digital technology.[1]

First and the foremost is the speed of typing. Most of us have a very low typing speed in the range of 15–25 words per minute (wpm). The authors have trained themselves in writing with both hands and have attained a maximum speed of 35 wpm but, it was surprising to know that an IIT graduate and some computer engineers from premier institutes have attained a maximum speed of 150 wpm through regular practice. They also change the normal English keyboard pattern to Dvorak keyboard which helps them in typing fast.

The training can be acquired by almost any of us by online tutorials such as typing tutor, typing cat, typing master etc., which guides us to type with both hands without looking at the keyboard. In continuation, one can test his speed online and keep on improving day by day. The key to the improvement remains typing without looking at the keyboard.

The fast typing initiates your interest in writing making you able to write long dissertations in your own language in a lesser time and plagiarism free.

  Plagiarism Top

Nowadays, the medical writing is required to be original without a generalised copy-paste of other published articles. The increasing shift towards publications and dissertations has mandated the universities to run the thesis through plagiarism software before getting it approved for submission.

Every college/university is being provided by a unique ID from the subscribed plagiarism software. Each medical student may get his dissertation checked from the library through the software so as to avoid any rejection later on. This applies for the research articles as well.

Though the thesis is long and very time-consuming, there is no excuse for any unethical behavior. Therefore, it is imperative that any professional involved in medical writing should take extreme caution, not to indulge in deliberate or nondeliberate plagiarism.

Some of the anti-plagiarism softwares are subscription based; many free resources and softwares are also available. These tools and softwares evaluate the manuscript and provide a similarity report. It may be used to correct and modify the sentences which have been found to be plagiarized.[2]

There is a long list of softwares comprising of Turnitin, Plagiarism Checker X, Quetext, Urkund, Cite plag etc. The Indian universities (UGC approved) are mostly using URKUND software. It is important to understand the technology used by these plagiarism softwares to generate a similarity report, only then we will be able to keep our research plagiarism free.

Any 10 words in continuation if found similar to any online research data will be considered plagiarized by this article. Some softwares apply stringent guidelines and consider any 5–7 words in sequence as similarity. This implies that before writing an article, one must read various previous researches to get a gist of it in the mind. This will enable the medical professional to write the research in his own language and plagiarism free.

The authors personally use Quetext (www.quetext.com), which is free for 10,000 words of research checking at one point of time. For an unlimited monthly subscription, the charges are minimal at 10 US dollars, which provides unlimited similarity checks of articles as long as 25,000 words at one point of time. A complete report is generated and a short report is generated which can be printed and attached along with the dissertation while submitting it to the university [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Short plagiarism report

Click here to view

In addition to plagiarism check, to avoid any scientific misconduct (fraud) in medical writing, the scientific examiners and journals undertake a robust peer-review process, careful statistical validation, and image-fraud detection software, necessary for the production of high-quality manuscripts. Thus, it becomes imperative to write an original content when submitting any article for publication after a thorough plagiarism correction.

  Microsoft Word Top

The text writing of the articles is mainly done in the Microsoft word (MS Word). It provides a whole list of tools to make the writing easier. It must be remembered that all the systematic works that involve a specific pattern of writing and amendments can be performed through a single command in this computer software. One should know various shortcuts and tools available on the top of the main page.

  1. Shortcut for cut, copy, and paste: Ctrl/command (in Mac) + X, C, and V respectively
  2. ”Insert” command providing the tools for inserting a table in the results section
  3. Layout tab providing an option to set the page margins for proper printing
  4. References tab which are very helpful in writing the consecutive numbers for the references (bibliography) in the form of endnotes. One can insert the endnotes after the line to be cited and paste the citation in the end on the specific number. The repeat citations can be linked through cross-links of the endnotes. Any amendments made in between the dissertation shall be managed automatically in terms of citations and bibliography. In the end, one will need to select the paper and click on “UPDATE TOGGLE FIELD” to completely update all the linked references
  5. Review tab is very helpful while sending a revised manuscript during publication. You can click on the option “Track changes” which helps to track all the changes made subsequently in the file. Most of the journals require a markup file and a clean file. Track changes helps to mark the changes and then accepting all the changes and stop tracking shall create a clean file. Both the files shall be saved separately by using the “Save as” command
  6. Importing tables and figures from the excel file can be accomplished easily for the results section. The tables design can be altered by double clicking on the table. The figure can be altered by using “CROP” sign.

  Microsoft Excel Top

It is one of the important tools to compile tables and charts with the help of the statistician. The normal version of the MS Excel may not provide all formulas related to association (Chi-square, Pearson's correlation analysis), but the freely downloadable extended version of the MS Excel provides all the formulas inbuilt for applications and making the results. However, from the personal experience, I would suggest taking help from the statistician of the institute to avoid any errors in the statistical analysis. Apart from MS Excel, the use of Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, IBM manufacturer, Chicago, USA, is upcoming and is mainly used by the biostatisticians in a better way [Figure 2]. It is a user-friendly tool for statistical analysis and a much easier way of handling the data and compiling results for the dissertation.
Figure 2: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences entry report

Click here to view

The authors suggest the use of SPSS, as various regression analysis, Kaplan–Meier analysis curve, missing value analysis, and lots more are just a few clicks away. By splitting the file, one can do subgroup analysis very easily which is not possible in excel. We can even save syntax of SPSS in a separate file so whenever there is some change in data, instead of doing it all again, we have to just run the syntax and that feature saves a lot of time and work. Even by just one click, graphs can be made from the raw data and we can also save our own graph template that we can use whenever we want.

An important point I would like to stress here is the compiling of the Master chart in a format that can be easily used for making graphs and charts. The use of codes (such as 1, 2, and 3), rather than writing yes/no/male/female/full sentences, is more appropriate to club and segregate the data. This shall save a lot of time and shall help us in finishing the thesis before the deadline.

  Microsoft Power Point Top

The use of MS power point becomes handy in making the e-posters (formats easily downloadable from the internet), seminars, and presentations. It is a self-explanatory software providing options for animations. One of the important things is that we can copy all the power point data onto the MS Word by saving the Ppt file as rich text format (.rtf). The rtf file can be opened directly in the MS Word and all the text will be written in the MS Word format which may save time in copying and pasting separately.

  Bibliography Top

The management of the bibliography becomes cumbersome while writing a long medical thesis. The shuffling of the lines, the downloading of the articles, and tracking the cross reference used make medical writing a cumbersome and hectic task. It has been made easy now by the introduction of various referencing automated softwares such as Zotero, ENDNOTE, Mendeley, etc. The authors personally use Zotero. It is freely available online whereas ENDNOTE is chargeable.

The referencing softwares offer an advantage of storing all the downloaded files (abstracts and pdf) in one specified folder, sharing the files, citing the references in the text without errors, using different styles of referencing such as Vancouver, American Psychological Association (APA) etc., and finally automatic sequencing of bibliography in the whole file.[3]

All the new technology tools have paved the way for tracking all the citations online. The online data also allows the efficient working of the plagiarism softwares.[4] Finally, this has led to the emergence of the digitalized artificial intelligence.[5] A new era of medical writing is been created and improvised with new tools such as Grammarly that is a kind of artificial intelligence. It checks the grammar, advises corrections, checks for plagiarism, supports your English, and can be linked to all your writings and above all, a free version is easily downloadable.

A plethora of tools and technology beholds our attention but understanding and implementing them demands time, knowledge, and understanding them. In view of these limitations in medical writing, the human professional help has been increasing in medical writing. In a review on author attributes for taking professional medical writing help, 82.9% found it acceptable to take a professional help and 84% valued the assistance that was provided to them. The services most valued (>50 responses) were editing and journal styling, conformity with reporting guidelines (e.g., CONSORT), and manuscript submissions, whereas the least valued service was the scientific expertise of the professional medical writer.[6] Apart from that, certain online detailed courses on writing dissertations and other research articles are available to help the authors and academicians.[7],[8]

  Final Editing, Settings, and Submission Top

The final stages of the editing of a file involves line spacing of the text (usually 2 in the MD and 1.5 in the DNB), standard default margins of 1 inch on all sides, evenly centered text, Times New Roman/Arial font with size 12, and starting the new heading on a new page by clicking command + Enter on the text to be shifted on the next page.

The references are usually put into superscripts by the use of command-shift-+; or by clicking x 2. The find (ctrl + F) and the replace (ctrl + R) option becomes handy while doing final changes in the file. The MS Word also provides the option of selectively searching for the superscripts (^#) or normal digits (^#).

While submission of the article, it is required to copy paste a lot of things and in such cases COPYCLIP freely downloadable software helps a lot. It is a software that helps you to copy a maximum of 80 items at a time. It provides you with a clipboard from where you can select the copied items and keep on pasting it wherever required.

One should also develop a habit of downloading and printing certain forms as Title page, Copyright form, CONSORT guidelines, ICMJE forms, and authorship contribution form. They are required in almost all the journals while submission of the research article.

In the current scenario, for the online submissions, the journals require oneself to create a login account similar to e-mail address which can be used for any current and future submission to one particular journal. Every time, for a new journal submission, a separate ID has to be created by filling in the details as asked online.

For digitally connecting and identifying the authors, an ORCID ID can be generated which can be linked to all your submissions. It is a 16-digit identifier that can be created by logging into ORCID.org. Nowadays, it is mandatory with few journals to register the corresponding author with the ORCID ID.

  Conclusion Top

Medical writing is daunting, but with the medical knowledge and the tools and technology, one can make it simple enough to compete in the progressive medical field.


The authors would like to thank Mr Nikhil Garg (IIT Graduate) for providing the information of the use of technology.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Research quality and ethics statement

The authors of this manuscript declare that this scientific work complies with reporting quality, formatting and reproducibility guidelines set forth by the EQUATOR Network. The authors also attest that the Institutional Review Board/Ethics Committee review was not required for the study as this is a review article written to enhance the academic medicine. No clinical trials were done during the study.

  References Top

Sharma S. Development of medical writing in India: Past, present and future. Perspect Clin Res 2017;8:45-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
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Rathore FA, Farooq F. Plagiarism detection softwares: Useful tools for medical writers and editors. J Pak Med Assoc 2014;64:1329-30.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tramullas J, Sánchez-Casabón AI, Garrido-Picazo P. Studies and analysis of reference management software: A literature review. El Prof Inf 2015;24:680.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bhardwaj P, Sinha S, Yadav RK. Medical and scientific writing: Time to go lean and mean. Perspect Clin Res 2017;8:113-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
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Soyer P. Medical writing and artificial intelligence. Diagn Interv Imaging 2019;100:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Marchington JM, Burd GP. Author attitudes to professional medical writing support. Curr Med Res Opin 2014;30:2103-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
Clemow DB, Wagner B, Marshallsay C, Benau D, L'Heureux D, Brown DH, et al. Medical writing competency model – Section 1: Functions, tasks, and activities. Ther Innov Regul Sci 2018;52:70-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
Clemow DB, Wagner B, Marshallsay C, Benau D, L'Heureux D, Brown DH, et al. Medical writing competency model – Section 2: Knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors. Ther Innov Regul Sci 2018;52:78-88.  Back to cited text no. 8


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