Writing tips

Usage tips

  • Tricky words

    • Stereotaxic frame: in official documents or manuscripts use "stereotaxic frame" rather than "stereotax"

    • Track/tract: Microelectrodes make a track through the brain; the nerve bundle from the eye is the optic tract.

    • Since/Because: Many journals require the use of "because" when some causal link is implied rather than since, because since can sometimes mean the duration of time after an event. I've adopted this; I never use "since" in a paper unless I am talking about time.

    • Bifurcations / branch points / branch tips: Some papers on morphology refer to "branch points". We decided we will use "number of bifurcations" to indicate, well, the number of bifurcations, and "number of branch tips" to indicate the number of arbor ends. We'll use segment number to indicate the number of arbor pieces that are between bifurcations.

  • Hyphenation:

    • The words orientation selectivity and direction selectivity are not hyphenated

    • The word interstimulus, as in interstimulus interval, is in Webster's dictionary.

    • When something occurs N days after eye opening, there is no hyphen; if something is an eye-opening experience, then it is hyphenated.

      • When used as an adjective (or as an adverb), use the following:

      • orientation-selective [cell, neuron, etc]

      • direction-selective [cell, neuron, etc]

      • experience-dependent [process, etc]

        • experience-independent [process, etc]

      • dark-reared [animals]

      • feed-forward [model, connections] (Steve decided he will write feed-forward with a hyphen, although "feed forward" also seems widely acceptable; feedforward seems uncommonly used but would be my preferred choice)

      • bidirectional [stimulation, training]

      • unidirectional [stimulation, training] (Steve decided the lab will use "bidirectional" and "unidirectional", not "bi-directional" or "uni-directional")

      • spatiotemporal [selectivity]

      • color-opponent [neurons] (But can you call a neuron color-opponent if it is orientation-selective? That is a matter of debate of definitions.)

      • multi-channel [recording, or electrode] (multichannel is acceptable but for consistency Steve will use "multi-channel")

  • Document preparation

    • When preparing a manuscript, always number the pages; it makes it easier for a collaborator or reviewer to give comments.

How to use EndNote and Microsoft Word with collaborators (out of date, EndNote is smarter now)

The problem:

When writing a paper in Word and organizing references with EndNote, one has to be very careful about sharing the paper with collaborators. The reason is that the default behavior of the "Cite while you write" function is to paste the entry number of the reference from your personal library. For example, if you cite Smith 2000, and suppose this paper is the 715th entry in your library, then EndNote will literally enter into word {#715}. When you send it to your friend, and your friend has Jones 1982 as the 715th entry in their EndNote library, the reference will be replaced with Jones. This is not the behavior you want.

The solution:

The solution is a bit annoying but it works. Instead of using Word/EndNote's own Cite While you Write function to paste in your references, enter {AuthorLastName, Year, pages}. For example:

Some great stuff was found {Smith, 2000, 125-31}. Then some other stuff was found {Jones, 1982, 356-89}. Sometimes we want to cite more than one paper at a time, which we can do like this {Smith, 2000, 125-31; Jones, 1982, 356-89}.

This will force EndNote to look through the library to find the paper. It seems to only work with author last name, year, and pages; I've tried using other parameters that are easier like the author name, year, and journal name, but that doesn't work. In practice, you have to keep your EndNote library open so you can look up the page numbers, but it works quite well.

Source: This place I found with a Google search