Before you begin

Study design

You must have a good study design to get publishable results. When designing an experiment you will need to decide:

  • What is your hypothesis or research question?
  • What are the aim(s) of your study?
  • What are the best methods for achieving your aims?
  • Do you have the necessary resources to carry out your methods?
  • Which positive and negative controls will you use?
  • Do you have the required ethics and regulatory permissions? For example, if your experiment will have human subjects, you will probably need approval from your institution's review board.
  • Will your experiment have enough statistical power to give useful results? Is your sample size large enough to draw valid conclusions? Which statistical tests will you use for your analysis? If you are not sure, consult a statistician; they can provide you with expert advice that may save you a lot of time.

Reference Managers

Reference managers (or reference formatting software such as BibTeX for LaTeX documents) make it easy to organize and format citations. They can also assist with managing libraries containing citations, PDFs, and image files. This allows you to organize important manuscripts by subject and to search your library using keywords. This will help you remember to appropriately cite manuscripts that you have read.

Some widely used reference management and formatting software applications are:

When using a reference manager, make sure you have the correct style file for your target journal. Formatting references using a reference manager with a style file is very simple. You can find specific instructions on formatting references and style files for BioMed Central in the journal instructions for authors.

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