Things to consider for
scientific article publishing
Md. Zahid Hossain Shoeb, PhD
Date: January 26 - February 16, 2019
(Four consecutive Saturdays)
Venue: E-resources Access Center, NSU Library
North South University
Training on Scientific Writing
Researcher vs Writer
• Few of the early career researchers and
scientist aware about their writing
• Their focus is on Data and Result
• Most of them scarcity of the writing skills, i.e.
know how to
• Several publications, grant proposals,
conference presentations etc. have been
written by the professional researchers
Researcher vs Writer
• Great research studies may be written poorly
• Good and experienced scientist may be not a
good scientific writer
• They may know everything but….
• Research output may not be problem…
• English as 1st or 2nd language may not be a
• Rather how to write a scientific article.
• Make a template for all your future
What to include and what not
• Each section has its own merit, so knowing
ins and outs of every section is essential.
• Make sure you follow a proper format:
Abstract, Introduction, Lit. Review, Body of
Your Research (Method/Problem/Hypothesis),
Results, and Conclusions.
Do not repeat
• Repeating (may be written in different way)
is not good, but most of the researchers do
Start with experimental section
• For scientific manuscript, it is suggested to
start with the Experimental section and
• Go for the other sections, the order may be:
Introduction, Results and Discussion,
Conclusions, and then the Abstract
• Prior to writing the Introduction, Results and
Discussion, make the Literature Search and
gather a good number of bibliography
• Before discussing your Data/Results and
Discussion section, use your figures and
Well cited papers
• Try to cite well cited papers as well as
authors as they defined their problem in a
great result and they explained well about
the value of the result.
When the Conclusions
• Write the Conclusions when you are fresh.
– You may write the things most significant about
your study and outcome.
– You should mention why your research even an
– Give an idea and link between your study and
previous related researches?
When the Abstract
• You .must have to know what should not be an
Abstract. Abstract should be written last
– I use to follow the following format (one or two lines
from each section)-
• The title of your scholarly article is what
readers will see first
• If required breakdown and use subtitle
• Concepts are the main ideas of title
• After written all the section reread the whole
manuscript to find any gap to add or fill.
Use translator if….
• English-speaking researchers are taught to
• Many researchers from non-English speaking
countries write long wordy sentences
• If your first language is not English use
simple, short sentences
• Follow the writing scholarly writing style
• Get a good translator if you…, then
proofread, edit….before sent to the editpr
A scholarly article is written on a specific topic of original research for a specific audience (other researchers in that field). Generally, a scholarly article is published in a peer reviewed journal. It typically details an original study and the results obtained. It should provide insights into the relevance of the study to the field of study. Alternative names for a scholarly article are a scientific manuscript, a journal article, an academic article, a scientific paper, a scholarly journal article, or an academic journal article. You can search for scholarly articles via several databases, or widely used Google Scholar or via other paid services, such as Scopus and Web of Science.
For example, write down the major sections in papers from journals in the field where you want to publish your research. You can also search online for the manuscript template of the journal where you want to submit your scientific paper. By making a template, you will always have somewhere to start when you begin writing a new article. This can be especially helpful if each of your papers is in the same field and on the same subject.
Become familiar with how to write an abstract, how to write an introduction, how to list your experimental (or computational) methods and your reagents and materials, how to explain your results, and how to make your conclusion section different from your abstract. Knowing the ins and outs of these sections is crucial. If you have read many peer reviewed articles, you may already have a good idea of what each of these sections typically includes. Also, you may have already developed you own opinions on what to include in each section. But, keep reading. We will provide some new tips on some of these sections for your manuscript. We also have other articles in our blog on some of these topics that may interest you.
So many researchers make this mistake. For example, the same exact sentence is often in both the abstract and in the methods or the conclusion section of their article. This may be the result of writing the abstract last and taking a few sentences from each section of the paper. This is understandable. But, your reader doesn't want to see the same sentence twice (or even the same information twice). They are busy scientists like you. So, be concise and change up your wording enough so it doesn't sound like you are repeating yourself. Science Magazine even explicitly states in its manuscript template to “avoid repeating the conclusions at the end.” This will prevent potential issues with journal editors and peer reviewers.
This section of a scientific manuscript is the easiest to write. Write down what you did in your experiment, and the details will naturally come up that you need to fill in. Before you know it, you will likely have one page of your paper written, which is a great starting point. This will give you momentum for writing the other sections. Once complete, you should have a very good handle on what you did in your study. You should then be able to write the other sections with a clearer understanding of your experiments.
For most fields of study, these are the major sections that you need to include when you write an academic article. The introduction is the second easiest to write, followed by the results and discussion. Sometimes, you should split up the results and discussion into two sections. But, this depends upon the journal's requirements and/or your personal style. Leave the conclusions, abstract, and title for last. This way you have time to think about your study's broader impact and its relevance to your field of study
This will provide you with previous studies to compare your work with in your results and discussion section. It will also help you introduce your study in your introduction.
You will be able to see what researchers in your field think are important details to include in their introductions. For example, if your study is on electron transfer mechanisms and all other studies explain the definition of electron transfer in their introductions, you may want to consider writing something similar as well. In case you were wondering, here’s how Wikipedia defines electron transfer
Make your figures and tables first before you start writing about your data/results. Then, organize their order. Once you know what their order should be in your scholarly article, you have an outline for your results section. Then, start with Figure 1. Describe it and tell what the takeaway message is and what result it shows. If you have organized your figures in the proper order, your discussion about Figure 1 will naturally lead to Figure 2 (or to Table 1). If it doesn't naturally progress, change the figure order if needed. Then, continue writing about them in order.
This method should make it easy to write about all your data and results. When appropriate, mix in comparisons of your data with prior studies’ results. You should start to see the bigger picture of why your results matter.
Don’t worry that you are going through an ‘analysis’ phase of your results while writing your scientific manuscript. This is normal.
Sometimes, it isn't until you write down your results and analyze them in relation to other studies that you begin to see the bigger picture. It's hard to do that sometimes when you only have figures and tables in front of you.
Writing the paper can actually help define the value of your study.
You need not be boastful, but you should clearly state the relevance of your results.
These types of sentences are critical. With these sentences, you should tell the reader why they should care.
How does your study fill a void? How is it useful to future studies and innovations? Are your methods new and extremely useful? Answering these questions can differentiate a great article in Nature from a mediocre paper in a low-tier journal. Mediocre articles give their results and state that the results are important. But, they do not explain why they are important. Great papers explain the relevance well and give details on why.
The conclusion section can be tough. It can be easy to perform a study but hard to make conclusions or discuss why the results happened.
And, let's face it, you are tired of this project by now and just want to move on to the next exciting study. Writing is often the most dreaded part of science for most researchers.
Yet, it is the main way that you tell other researchers and colleagues about your original studies and results.
So, make writing the conclusion section easier by being kind to yourself when you get to this point. Look back at the other sections you have already written. Now, marvel at your progress (even if you have written many papers before, it's always an accomplishment!).
OK, now take the day off (or better yet, work on some other project), and come back to the conclusion section tomorrow. Then, get up early, have a nice breakfast, and sit down to work. Ready. Set. Write.
Write what you think was most important about your study and results. Why does this research even matter? What is the link between your study and prior similar studies? What, if anything, was groundbreaking about your results?
Answer at least some of these questions in your conclusions. Then, you are on your way to writing why the study is relevant.
Put the pieces together. Make a conjecture about what mechanisms are at work (this may be best laid out in your results and discussion section if it requires major discussion). Make estimations. Make projections, and talk about what is still lacking that requires future study.
You may even gain new ideas for future studies, future grant proposals, or your dissertation (if you are a student). Then, reread it to make sure you included all your “conclusions."
The abstract is not just sentences taken from the main manuscript. The abstract is not a literature review. It should not only provide background information without mentioning the results of your study. The abstract is not a mini-methods section. You should not include every detail about how you performed your study.
The abstract should generally have this outline: 1 sentence on background, 1 sentence on the purpose and what you studied generally, 1-2 sentences on your methods, 1-2 sentences on your results, 1 conclusion sentence, and 1 outlook sentence.
Of course, you may need to adjust these numbers depending upon your specific study. You can find some rules for writing a good abstract in our past article on this topic.
The title of your scholarly article is what readers will see first. If it's not compelling and concise but informative, readers won’t continue reading the paper or even the abstract.
This means you could miss out on a citation. So, think long and hard about what words to include in the title of your scholarly article.
This includes thinking about what keywords should be in your title. Keywords are the words that researchers may use to search for your topic. For example, let's say that your paper is generally on gene cloning of E. coli. In this case, you should include both “gene cloning” and “E. coli” in your title. This will direct people to read your amazing results on this topic.
Write the Acknowledgements, Supporting Information, and list of keywords when you need a break.
For example, if you are writing the conclusions but are having trouble making a connection with prior studies, stop!
Instead, spend some time on the shorter sections so that you continue your momentum with writing. This will give your brain a break for a while from the main task. You will have a sense of accomplishment as you continue to make progress and will not get discouraged.
As an example, often determining who to acknowledge is easier than writing your conclusions.
But, don't use this advice as an excuse to not get back to the main task of writing the main sections of the paper. To keep this from being too much of a distraction, set a timer for 30 minutes. During this time, you can relax a little and work on minor sections of the article. Then, get back to work on the bigger sections after the time is up. You may even find that you can actually come up with a good idea or a good phrase to include in one of your main article sections while taking this “break”. Your brain may keep working on the task even when you stop actively working on it, and it's pretty cool when this happens.
You should be able to see what sections are choppy. Look for sections that don’t have a good logical flow. Try to do this all in one sitting or at least all in one day when you can give your article your full focus. Then, work on the problem areas one by one.
Many researchers from non-English speaking countries have been taught to write beautiful, long sentences that are reminiscent of poetry.
These are great oftentimes in the native language and for the native audience of other researchers. However, the problem is that the long, beautiful sentences do not translate well into English.
If translated literally into English, the long sentences often sound fluffy and include too many unnecessary phrases. This makes the actual point of the sentence difficult to determine.
English-speaking researchers, editors, and peer reviewers will unfortunately look at your paper as being too wordy. This is because researchers in English-speaking countries are taught to write concisely.
To avoid this, if you write in your native language, try to use short, active sentences that will be easy to translate. For most languages, this means that your subject and verb should be at the beginning of the sentence and easy to pick out.
Avoid adding in unnecessary phrases. We have an article on some phrases to avoid in scientific writing that you may want to review.
For example, avoid ‘in other words’ and choose ‘thus’ instead. This is a simple example, but the point is that you want to be short and to the point without fluff.
Conciseness is key to a well-written scientific paper in English.
We aren’t saying this because translating and English editing is our business. We say this because we believe that every scholarly article aimed at publication will benefit from editing.
Also, English is the major language of science.
So, if you want your research article to be read internationally, it should be published in an English-language journal and be written in English.
If you cannot write it in English, you need a good translator who will translate it from your native language into English. It should then be edited by a native English speaker who preferably has expertise in your field of study.
Conclusion You may have noticed a general theme of this article - your paper should show its relevance to your field of study.
If you explain the importance of your study, your paper will be heavily cited. Your colleagues may then acknowledge you as an expert in your field.
Writing is a fluid art that should be adjusted and tweaked to meet the needs of your target audience. We hope these 15 tips help you on your scholarly article-writing journey and help you publish your research in a top journal!
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