Manuscript Architect: a Web application for scientific writing in virtual interdisciplinary groups.
BACKGROUND: Although scientific writing plays a central role in the communication of clinical research findings and consumes a significant amount of time from clinical researchers, few Web applications have been designed to systematically improve the writing process. This application had as its main objective the separation of the multiple tasks associated with scientific writing into smaller components. It was also aimed at providing a mechanism where sections of the manuscript (text blocks) could be assigned to different specialists. Manuscript Architect was built using Java language in conjunction with the classic lifecycle development method. The interface was designed for simplicity and economy of movements. Manuscripts are divided into multiple text blocks that can be assigned to different co-authors by the first author. Each text block contains notes to guide co-authors regarding the central focus of each text block, previous examples, and an additional field for translation when the initial text is written in a language different from the one used by the target journal. Usability was evaluated using formal usability tests and field observations. RESULTS: The application presented excellent usability and integration with the regular writing habits of experienced researchers. Workshops were developed to train novice researchers, presenting an accelerated learning curve. The application has been used in over 20 different scientific articles and grant proposals. CONCLUSION: The current version of Manuscript Architect has proven to be very useful in the writing of multiple scientific texts, suggesting that virtual writing by interdisciplinary groups is an effective manner of scientific writing when interdisciplinary work is required.
Pietrobon, R; Nielsen, KC; Steele, SM; Menezes, AP; Martins, H; Jacobs, DO
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