Manuscript Development and Publishing

Types of manuscripts

Common manuscript types for publications include:

Original research and clinical trials

Original research articles

Original research articles are detailed studies that report original research and are classified as primary literature.

They contain the following sections:

  • Hypothesis
  • Background study
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Interpretation of findings
  • A discussion of possible implications

Original research articles are long, with the word limit ranging from 3,000 to 12,000 words. These require a significant investment of time.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are specific to the field of medicine. They describe the methodology, implementation, and results of controlled studies, usually undertaken with large patient groups.

Clinical trial articles are also long, usually of about the same length as an original research article. They also require practical work experience as well as high standards of ethics and reliability.

This kind of article is more for experienced researchers.

Review articles

Review articles give an overview of existing literature in a field, often identifying specific problems or issues and analyzing information from available published work on the topic with a balanced perspective.

These manuscripts are considered as secondary literature and can be a particularly efficient way for early career researchers to begin publishing.

Review articles can be of three types, broadly speaking:

  • Literature reviews
  • Systematic reviews
  • Meta-analyses

Review articles are usually long, with the maximum word limit being 3,000 to 5,000 or more, depending on the journal. Some journals also publish short reviews.

Clinical case studies

Clinical case studies present the details of real patient cases from medical or clinical practice. The cases presented are usually those that contribute significantly to the existing knowledge on the field.

Studies are expected to discuss the signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of a disease.

These manuscripts are considered as primary literature and usually have a word count ranging from 3,000 to 12,000 words. Clinical case studies require a lot of practical experience and may not be a suitable publication format for early career researchers.

Opinion and similar pieces

Perspective pieces

Perspective pieces are scholarly reviews of fundamental concepts or prevalent ideas in a field. These are usually essays that present a personal point of view, critiquing widespread notions pertaining to a field

A perspective piece can be a review of a single concept or a few related concepts. These are considered as secondary literature and are usually short articles, around 2,000 words.

Opinion articles

Opinion articles present the author’s viewpoint on the interpretation, analysis, or methods used in a particular study. It allows the author to comment on the strength and weakness of a theory or hypothesis.

Opinion articles are usually based on constructive criticism and should be backed by evidence. These articles promote discussion on current issues concerning science. These are also relatively short articles.

Commentaries

Commentaries draw attention to or present a criticism of a previously published article, book, or report, explaining why it interested the author and how it might be illuminating for readers. They are short articles, usually around 1,000 to 1,500 words.

How to choose a journal

Choosing a journal that fits your project can be difficult, especially for your first submission.

Here are some general considerations:

  • Does your content fit the mission of the journal?
  • Has your review topic been covered recently in the journal?
    • Journals publish review manuscripts in cycles and will not repeat too often unless something has really changed.
  • Do you have novel data that may affect patient care outcomes?
    • Novel data improves your chances in higer lever or higher impact factor journals.

Tips to help you select a journal


For more information

The following are contacts and links to resources that will help you with the writing and publishing process.

  • Collaborative Scholarship Intensive (CSI)
    Learn how to develop a research question, write manuscripts, select a journal, and more in this six-month training program. Contact Angela Buffington, PhD, MA, buffington.angela@mayo.edu.
  • Manuscript development and review
    Contact Bill Roberts, MD, MS, rober037@umn.edu.
  • Research facilitators
    A research facilitator is an experienced research staff member that offers faculty support services at most of our clinic sites. They are here to help increase scholarly activity across the entire department. Learn more and contact a research facilitator