From the Writers… A Guide to Organizing Your Writing

Finding your main and sub-arguments  
17 March 2023
WMW Writing Team

For writers of all kinds, one key to success is learning to effectively organize your writing. However, this is especially important for medical writers (whether it be scientific, clinical, or regulatory), for not only is there an extensive amount of research involved in our work, there is a need to remain concise and forthright in our writing. At Wiesen Medical Writing (WMW), we consider ourselves experts in the field of medical writing, but we also know that part of being an experienced writer is the continual refining of one’s craft. Thus, we’d like to share with you some of what we’ve learned over the years in the hopes that we can help you improve your process

Finding your main and sub-arguments

Once you’ve decided on a clear topic and associated objectives, you have to determine what your main argument will be, and then work on developing your sub-arguments. Ideally, you’ll do this during the pre-writing (or outlining) phase, ie, the time you spend researching and taking notes. As you’re conducting literature searches, it’s helpful to keep the following questions in mind:

  • Who is my audience, and what are my strategic goals?
  • Am I writing for experienced academicians, for clinical scientists, for regulatory professionals, for knowledgeable clients, for physicians, or for inquiring patients (the layperson)?
  • Is the purpose of my writing to educate, to evaluate, and/or to persuade?
  • Are there any word/character/slide/time limits?

Although the answers to these questions are often not as straightforward as one would hope, thinking about them will help you to further refine your work.

For example, let’s say you’re writing the introduction section of a clinical trial protocol for an investigational lung cancer agent. Knowing that your audience consists of clinical scientists, regulatory professionals, and healthcare professionals, you’ll want your writing to accommodate their advanced knowledge of the subject matter. Your goal with this particular piece will be both to educate and persuade. You might, for instance, want to start by reviewing the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) guidelines to see if there are any changes in recommendations for therapy. You’ll also want to include relevant prior clinical research and discussion of important literature so as to provide background for the trial. Finally, you’ll want to convince your reader as to the importance of this clinical trial.

As you’re writing, remember that there is a fine balance between clarity and conciseness. That is, you’ll want to remain as succinct as possible without sacrificing the coherence of your message. Finding that balance, especially in a piece of medical writing, can be a difficult task, but it can greatly increase the effectiveness of your argument.

Stay tuned in!

This is just some of the wisdom we’ve acquired over our years of experience. Keep checking for more newsletters!

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