The Materials and Methods section of a scientific paper is often considered the easiest section of a manuscript to write and edit. However, in a recent study of scientific manuscript journal rejections, nearly 30% of the reasons for rejection are related to writing errors in the Materials and Methods section. At LetPub we have learned to take extra care when helping our authors fine-tune their Materials and Methods sections. One of the most common questions we receive about this section is how to write about products used such as equipment, devices, and reagents; this seems to be a simple task upon first glance, but we often see variation in how these products are described.
Here’s a breakdown of what authors need to know:
- When making general statements about commonly used interchangeable items such as catheters, pumps etc., it is best to simply stick to nonproprietary names or descriptive phrasing (the same goes for drugs and isotopes).
- If several brands of the same product are being compared or if the use of proprietary names is necessary for clarity or to replicate the study, then proprietary names should be always used at first mention along with the nonproprietary name.
- In these cases, (such as the instance above) information regarding the supplier and location (city and state) is also important and authors should include this information in parentheses after the name of the item. Authors should provide this specific information for any reagents, antibodies, enzymes, or probes used in their study.
Let’s review some examples:
The following sentences are examples of when the “general product reference format” should be used:
- Some hearing loss may result from use of a portable radio equipped with headphones (Walkman-style) played at high decibel levels.
- Currently, treatment by Nd:YAG laser is the accepted method to surgically open the opacified posterior capsule.
Here is an instance when the authors must provide more specific information:
All magnetic resonance angiography examinations were performed with a 1.5-T whole-body images (General Electric Medical Systems, Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
In the above example the supplier, city, and state information are all included.