Have one folder where you save everything. Use an intuitive versioning system. If you use dates to keep track of versions, append your documents with the ISO convention of YYYY-MM-DD. Trust me. Lots of details on this post.
Have realistic goals and stick to deadlines
Come up with some firm deadlines. For a 2 month epidemiology manuscript-writing project, here’s a possible schedule:
- Week 1 – Combine all existing written documents (eg, proposal) into one manuscript
- Week 2 – Draft tables. Write methods.
- Week 3 – Baseline characteristics. Describe in results.
- Week 4 – Describe exposure and outcome. Describe in results.
- Week 5 – Estimate primary outcome. Describe in results.
- Week 6 – Secondary analyses. Describe in results.
- Week 7 – Finish first draft.
- Week 8 – Finish second draft
Managing your mentor: Send reminder emails more frequently than you probably realize
I block off time to work on your stuff, but clinical priorities or other professional/personal life crises might bump that time. I try to find other time to work on your stuff, but a big crisis might mean that I don’t have a chance to reschedule.
Please, please, please, please email me early and persistently about your projects. This will never annoy me — these emails are very helpful. Quick focused emails are helpful here, especially if you re-forward your prior email threads. Eg, “Hi Tim, wondering if you had a chance to take a look at that draft from last week, reforwarded here. Thanks, [name].”
Working on revisions
Use tracked changes
And remember to turn them on when you send around a draft!
Append your initials to the end of the document that you are editing for someone else
For me, I’ll change a name to “My cool document v1 tbp.docx”.