Editors receive tons of submissions daily with limited time to spend on each piece of paper. What can you do to differentiate your manuscript submission from the rest?
In our recent author workshop – “Strategies to publish in high impact journals”, Associate Editor of Biotechnology Journal, Dr. Jing Zhu shared with over 200 participants key strategies to take on when putting together a research article. Here are 7 author tips that we thought you should not miss out.
1. Titles – make an impression right from the start
Cover letter aside – the title is the first thing that catches the eye of editors. Avoid writing titles starting with commonly used words or phrases (e.g. “Studies on xxx”, “Characterization of xxx”). It sets an impression that the research paper is preliminary.
A good title for a Research article establishes friendliness by delivering the main message of a paper in a statement form with keywords embedded in it.
2. Convey the story of your research in the Abstract
Using the abstract to showcase your research is great because abstracts are free to read. Capture the editor’s attention by telling a story of what your paper is about. Cover the following points in your abstract for a Research article:
- Background study
- Research aims/hypothesis/goals
- Brief introduction of the methodologies used
- Major results discovered (do not include minor results)
- Conclusion and implications
3. Build a strong rationale in your Introduction
Convince the editor in the introduction why your research is novel, significant & relevant. Start off your introduction by discussing the background of your study and expand on what was discussed in the abstract. Lead on the flow of discussion with a literature review of relevant studies. Be sure to cite them accordingly.
Highlight unknown areas within the field of study from there and discuss how your research fits in perfectly.
Get a non-expert to read your introduction to see if a strong rationale resonates in your introduction. Yes, they might not be able to process the scientific details of your studies – but a good introduction would help them understand the logic behind it.
4. Ensure reproducibility & reliability in your research
Editors are on a look-out for high quality and reliable research that can be reproduced. Provide sufficient information in your article so that experiments can be repeated. You can do so by including precise information on the reagents used (e.g. names, suppliers, vectors, etc.).
It is also important for you to prevent overlaps in the materials and methods used. You can do so by acknowledging published methods that you have taken reference from to avoid plagiarism.
The key thing to note here is to highlight what you have done differently and give these references its due credit.
Are you unsure about the originality of your research paper? Read about the 10 different types of plagiarism here.
5. Present Results free of careless mistakes
“This might sound simple but many authors make careless mistakes.”
Such situations can be easily avoided when you pay more attention to it. Remember to cite each and every figure (figure panels included) when discussing the results obtained.
Tip: Provide statistical analysis for all experiments you have carried out. Indicate the significant data clearly and discuss it well. This will add a huge plus point to your research paper.
6. Bridge findings and references in your Discussion
The Discussion portion of a paper might be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. Here’s a checklist for you to run through quickly while you put together your discussion.
- Do a quick summary of the findings
- Discuss the results obtained in a wide context by comparing your study with relevant published works
- Discuss & explain how these results bring on advancements in your field of study – dwell deeper if it contradicts previous studies
- End if off strong with the implications of your findings for future studies
7. Clarity is key in Figures & Tables
“Good figures and tables should allow an informed reader to understand the study without having to refer to the main text.”
Strive for a visually clear and accurate layout and minimize possible careless mistakes (e.g. not having a maximum value in axis, using inconsistent symbols, etc.). Impress your editor with a nice figure legend that contains the following:
- A brief description of the experiment
- The experimental readout
- Independent experimental replicates
- Statistics analysis
- Description of abbreviations and symbols
Get all this down in the Handy Pre-Submission Checklist.