Writing an Epidemiology Paper in a Few Easy Steps

I. Start with the Results

Make your tables and figures

A. Tables and Figures

i. Table 1 – Population Description

1. If dichotomous outcome list descriptors by case control status with p values (age, gender, height, weight, BP, fev1 etc)

2. If Quantitative outcome – describe sample size, age, gender etc in table

ii. Table 2 – Exposure variable and how it related to other variables

1. Still descriptive

2. Maybe a table of correlations

3. Describe what variables will be in the analysis

a. Chemistry results

b. Allele frequencies

c. Pack years

d. Co-morbidities

iii. Table 3 – Regression Models for each outcome

1. Logistic

a. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals

2. Linear or multivariate

a. Beta coefficient

3. Format – do not need all information. Can use just the interesting results in the table and footnote the expected results.

a. For example: Table with – Univariate OR/ OR controlling for basic demographics/ OR controlling for CV risks/ OR controlling for other risks.

iv. Figures

1. Do a compelling figure demonstrating the most important result in the study – Does not have to be including all analysis, may just demonstrate Univariate result that is confirmed with regression model

B. Writing

A paragraph for each figure referencing the figure and describing the important findings but not all the data in the table

II. Introduction

A. Paragraph 1

Discuss the outcome variable: COPD is the 4th leading cause of death

B. Paragraph 2

Discuss the exposure variable: MSK disease is common in aging but often overlooked in systemic illness. It is a strong predictor of QofL.

C. Paragraph 3

What is known about the outcome variable and exposure variable together (or not known)

D. Paragraph 4

“Therefore we did the following study to examine the relationship between MSK disease and COPD

III. Methods

A. Population description

B. How you measured each exposure and outcome

C. Events “were adjudicated by a panel of three physicians…..”

D. Details of biochemical measurements as needed by the situation

Common measure vs. new technique

E. Statistical methods

IV. Discussion

A. Paragraph 1

Primary result and how it ties to what was in the introduction

B. Paragraph 2

More details about the outcome or exposure in the literature and how your study was similar or different (point by point)

C. Paragraph 3

Limitations (maybe) or strengths

D. Unique methodologies

E. Clinical or public health significance of results

F. Generalizability issues

G. You probably want to conclude something

V. Titles

A. Very important to draw attention to your results

B. 90% of people who read the title will not read any further

C. Describe the important result in the title

i. “Increased use of IM rods for hip fracture surgery is associated with greater cost and higher complications” rather than “the association between IM rods, costs and complications”. One TELLS the reader what he or she will read the other is trying to tantalize the reader into reading the paper, one is efficient, one isn’t. Guess which!



Reddit: Writing an Epidemiology Paper in a Few Easy Steps by John Hokanson

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