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How to Write and Publish Your Research in a Journal

Last Updated: February 15, 2024 Fact Checked

Choosing a Journal

Writing the research paper, editing & revising your paper, submitting your paper, navigating the peer review process, research paper help.

This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Cheyenne Main . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 692,017 times.

Publishing a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal allows you to network with other scholars, get your name and work into circulation, and further refine your ideas and research. Before submitting your paper, make sure it reflects all the work you’ve done and have several people read over it and make comments. Keep reading to learn how you can choose a journal, prepare your work for publication, submit it, and revise it after you get a response back.

Things You Should Know

  • Create a list of journals you’d like to publish your work in and choose one that best aligns with your topic and your desired audience.
  • Prepare your manuscript using the journal’s requirements and ask at least 2 professors or supervisors to review your paper.
  • Write a cover letter that “sells” your manuscript, says how your research adds to your field and explains why you chose the specific journal you’re submitting to.

Step 1 Create a list of journals you’d like to publish your work in.

  • Ask your professors or supervisors for well-respected journals that they’ve had good experiences publishing with and that they read regularly.
  • Many journals also only accept specific formats, so by choosing a journal before you start, you can write your article to their specifications and increase your chances of being accepted.
  • If you’ve already written a paper you’d like to publish, consider whether your research directly relates to a hot topic or area of research in the journals you’re looking into.

Step 2 Look at each journal’s audience, exposure, policies, and procedures.

  • Review the journal’s peer review policies and submission process to see if you’re comfortable creating or adjusting your work according to their standards.
  • Open-access journals can increase your readership because anyone can access them.

Step 1 Craft an effective introduction with a thesis statement.

  • Scientific research papers: Instead of a “thesis,” you might write a “research objective” instead. This is where you state the purpose of your research.
  • “This paper explores how George Washington’s experiences as a young officer may have shaped his views during difficult circumstances as a commanding officer.”
  • “This paper contends that George Washington’s experiences as a young officer on the 1750s Pennsylvania frontier directly impacted his relationship with his Continental Army troops during the harsh winter at Valley Forge.”
  • Scientific research papers: Include a “materials and methods” section with the step-by-step process you followed and the materials you used. [5] X Research source
  • Read other research papers in your field to see how they’re written. Their format, writing style, subject matter, and vocabulary can help guide your own paper. [6] X Research source
  • If you’re writing about George Washington’s experiences as a young officer, you might emphasize how this research changes our perspective of the first president of the U.S.
  • Link this section to your thesis or research objective.
  • If you’re writing a paper about ADHD, you might discuss other applications for your research.

Step 4 Write an abstract that describes what your paper is about.

  • Scientific research papers: You might include your research and/or analytical methods, your main findings or results, and the significance or implications of your research.
  • Try to get as many people as you can to read over your abstract and provide feedback before you submit your paper to a journal.

Step 1 Prepare your manuscript according to the journal’s requirements.

  • They might also provide templates to help you structure your manuscript according to their specific guidelines. [11] X Research source

Step 2 Ask 2 colleagues to review your paper and revise it with their notes.

  • Not all journal reviewers will be experts on your specific topic, so a non-expert “outsider’s perspective” can be valuable.

Step 1 Check your sources for plagiarism and identify 5 to 6 keywords.

  • If you have a paper on the purification of wastewater with fungi, you might use both the words “fungi” and “mushrooms.”
  • Use software like iThenticate, Turnitin, or PlagScan to check for similarities between the submitted article and published material available online. [15] X Research source
  • Header: Address the editor who will be reviewing your manuscript by their name, include the date of submission, and the journal you are submitting to.
  • First paragraph: Include the title of your manuscript, the type of paper it is (like review, research, or case study), and the research question you wanted to answer and why.
  • Second paragraph: Explain what was done in your research, your main findings, and why they are significant to your field.
  • Third paragraph: Explain why the journal’s readers would be interested in your work and why your results are important to your field.
  • Conclusion: State the author(s) and any journal requirements that your work complies with (like ethical standards”).
  • “We confirm that this manuscript has not been published elsewhere and is not under consideration by another journal.”
  • “All authors have approved the manuscript and agree with its submission to [insert the name of the target journal].”

Step 3 Submit your article according to the journal’s submission guidelines.

  • Submit your article to only one journal at a time.
  • When submitting online, use your university email account. This connects you with a scholarly institution, which can add credibility to your work.

Step 1 Try not to panic when you get the journal’s initial response.

  • Accept: Only minor adjustments are needed, based on the provided feedback by the reviewers. A first submission will rarely be accepted without any changes needed.
  • Revise and Resubmit: Changes are needed before publication can be considered, but the journal is still very interested in your work.
  • Reject and Resubmit: Extensive revisions are needed. Your work may not be acceptable for this journal, but they might also accept it if significant changes are made.
  • Reject: The paper isn’t and won’t be suitable for this publication, but that doesn’t mean it might not work for another journal.

Step 2 Revise your paper based on the reviewers’ feedback.

  • Try organizing the reviewer comments by how easy it is to address them. That way, you can break your revisions down into more manageable parts.
  • If you disagree with a comment made by a reviewer, try to provide an evidence-based explanation when you resubmit your paper.

Step 3 Resubmit to the same journal or choose another from your list.

  • If you’re resubmitting your paper to the same journal, include a point-by-point response paper that talks about how you addressed all of the reviewers’ comments in your revision. [22] X Research source
  • If you’re not sure which journal to submit to next, you might be able to ask the journal editor which publications they recommend.

how you publish research paper

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Develop a Questionnaire for Research

  • If reviewers suspect that your submitted manuscript plagiarizes another work, they may refer to a Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) flowchart to see how to move forward. [23] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how you publish research paper

  • ↑ https://www.wiley.com/en-us/network/publishing/research-publishing/choosing-a-journal/6-steps-to-choosing-the-right-journal-for-your-research-infographic
  • ↑ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z
  • ↑ https://libguides.unomaha.edu/c.php?g=100510&p=651627
  • ↑ http://www.canberra.edu.au/library/start-your-research/research_help/publishing-research
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/conclusions
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/writing-an-abstract-for-your-research-paper/
  • ↑ https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/book-authors-editors/your-publication-journey/manuscript-preparation
  • ↑ https://apus.libanswers.com/writing/faq/2391
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/keyword/search-strategy
  • ↑ https://ifis.libguides.com/journal-publishing-guide/submitting-your-paper
  • ↑ https://www.springer.com/kr/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/submitting-to-a-journal-and-peer-review/cover-letters/10285574
  • ↑ http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep02/publish.aspx
  • ↑ Matthew Snipp, PhD. Research Fellow, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Expert Interview. 26 March 2020.

About This Article

Matthew Snipp, PhD

To publish a research paper, ask a colleague or professor to review your paper and give you feedback. Once you've revised your work, familiarize yourself with different academic journals so that you can choose the publication that best suits your paper. Make sure to look at the "Author's Guide" so you can format your paper according to the guidelines for that publication. Then, submit your paper and don't get discouraged if it is not accepted right away. You may need to revise your paper and try again. To learn about the different responses you might get from journals, see our reviewer's explanation below. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Research Method

Home » How to Publish a Research Paper – Step by Step Guide

How to Publish a Research Paper – Step by Step Guide

Table of Contents

How to Publish a Research Paper

Publishing a research paper is an important step for researchers to disseminate their findings to a wider audience and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field. Whether you are a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow, or an established researcher, publishing a paper requires careful planning, rigorous research, and clear writing. In this process, you will need to identify a research question , conduct a thorough literature review , design a methodology, analyze data, and draw conclusions. Additionally, you will need to consider the appropriate journals or conferences to submit your work to and adhere to their guidelines for formatting and submission. In this article, we will discuss some ways to publish your Research Paper.

How to Publish a Research Paper

To Publish a Research Paper follow the guide below:

  • Conduct original research : Conduct thorough research on a specific topic or problem. Collect data, analyze it, and draw conclusions based on your findings.
  • Write the paper : Write a detailed paper describing your research. It should include an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Choose a suitable journal or conference : Look for a journal or conference that specializes in your research area. You can check their submission guidelines to ensure your paper meets their requirements.
  • Prepare your submission: Follow the guidelines and prepare your submission, including the paper, abstract, cover letter, and any other required documents.
  • Submit the paper: Submit your paper online through the journal or conference website. Make sure you meet the submission deadline.
  • Peer-review process : Your paper will be reviewed by experts in the field who will provide feedback on the quality of your research, methodology, and conclusions.
  • Revisions : Based on the feedback you receive, revise your paper and resubmit it.
  • Acceptance : Once your paper is accepted, you will receive a notification from the journal or conference. You may need to make final revisions before the paper is published.
  • Publication : Your paper will be published online or in print. You can also promote your work through social media or other channels to increase its visibility.

How to Choose Journal for Research Paper Publication

Here are some steps to follow to help you select an appropriate journal:

  • Identify your research topic and audience : Your research topic and intended audience should guide your choice of journal. Identify the key journals in your field of research and read the scope and aim of the journal to determine if your paper is a good fit.
  • Analyze the journal’s impact and reputation : Check the impact factor and ranking of the journal, as well as its acceptance rate and citation frequency. A high-impact journal can give your paper more visibility and credibility.
  • Consider the journal’s publication policies : Look for the journal’s publication policies such as the word count limit, formatting requirements, open access options, and submission fees. Make sure that you can comply with the requirements and that the journal is in line with your publication goals.
  • Look at recent publications : Review recent issues of the journal to evaluate whether your paper would fit in with the journal’s current content and style.
  • Seek advice from colleagues and mentors: Ask for recommendations and suggestions from your colleagues and mentors in your field, especially those who have experience publishing in the same or similar journals.
  • Be prepared to make changes : Be prepared to revise your paper according to the requirements and guidelines of the chosen journal. It is also important to be open to feedback from the editor and reviewers.

List of Journals for Research Paper Publications

There are thousands of academic journals covering various fields of research. Here are some of the most popular ones, categorized by field:

General/Multidisciplinary

  • Nature: https://www.nature.com/
  • Science: https://www.sciencemag.org/
  • PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): https://www.pnas.org/
  • The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/
  • JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama

Social Sciences/Humanities

  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/psp
  • Journal of Consumer Research: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/jcr
  • Journal of Educational Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/edu
  • Journal of Applied Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/apl
  • Journal of Communication: https://academic.oup.com/joc
  • American Journal of Political Science: https://ajps.org/
  • Journal of International Business Studies: https://www.jibs.net/
  • Journal of Marketing Research: https://www.ama.org/journal-of-marketing-research/

Natural Sciences

  • Journal of Biological Chemistry: https://www.jbc.org/
  • Cell: https://www.cell.com/
  • Science Advances: https://advances.sciencemag.org/
  • Chemical Reviews: https://pubs.acs.org/journal/chreay
  • Angewandte Chemie: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/15213765
  • Physical Review Letters: https://journals.aps.org/prl/
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/2156531X
  • Journal of High Energy Physics: https://link.springer.com/journal/13130

Engineering/Technology

  • IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=5962385
  • IEEE Transactions on Power Systems: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=59
  • IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=42
  • IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=87
  • Journal of Engineering Mechanics: https://ascelibrary.org/journal/jenmdt
  • Journal of Materials Science: https://www.springer.com/journal/10853
  • Journal of Chemical Engineering of Japan: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/jcej
  • Journal of Mechanical Design: https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/mechanicaldesign

Medical/Health Sciences

  • New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/
  • The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal): https://www.bmj.com/
  • Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama
  • Annals of Internal Medicine: https://www.acpjournals.org/journal/aim
  • American Journal of Epidemiology: https://academic.oup.com/aje
  • Journal of Clinical Oncology: https://ascopubs.org/journal/jco
  • Journal of Infectious Diseases: https://academic.oup.com/jid

List of Conferences for Research Paper Publications

There are many conferences that accept research papers for publication. The specific conferences you should consider will depend on your field of research. Here are some suggestions for conferences in a few different fields:

Computer Science and Information Technology:

  • IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM): https://www.ieee-infocom.org/
  • ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Data Communication: https://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/
  • IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP): https://www.ieee-security.org/TC/SP/
  • ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS): https://www.sigsac.org/ccs/
  • ACM Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (CHI): https://chi2022.acm.org/

Engineering:

  • IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA): https://www.ieee-icra.org/
  • International Conference on Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (ICMAE): http://www.icmae.org/
  • International Conference on Civil and Environmental Engineering (ICCEE): http://www.iccee.org/
  • International Conference on Materials Science and Engineering (ICMSE): http://www.icmse.org/
  • International Conference on Energy and Power Engineering (ICEPE): http://www.icepe.org/

Natural Sciences:

  • American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/meetings/national-meeting.html
  • American Physical Society March Meeting: https://www.aps.org/meetings/march/
  • International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (ICEST): http://www.icest.org/
  • International Conference on Natural Science and Environment (ICNSE): http://www.icnse.org/
  • International Conference on Life Science and Biological Engineering (LSBE): http://www.lsbe.org/

Social Sciences:

  • Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA): https://www.asanet.org/annual-meeting-2022
  • International Conference on Social Science and Humanities (ICSSH): http://www.icssh.org/
  • International Conference on Psychology and Behavioral Sciences (ICPBS): http://www.icpbs.org/
  • International Conference on Education and Social Science (ICESS): http://www.icess.org/
  • International Conference on Management and Information Science (ICMIS): http://www.icmis.org/

How to Publish a Research Paper in Journal

Publishing a research paper in a journal is a crucial step in disseminating scientific knowledge and contributing to the field. Here are the general steps to follow:

  • Choose a research topic : Select a topic of your interest and identify a research question or problem that you want to investigate. Conduct a literature review to identify the gaps in the existing knowledge that your research will address.
  • Conduct research : Develop a research plan and methodology to collect data and conduct experiments. Collect and analyze data to draw conclusions that address the research question.
  • Write a paper: Organize your findings into a well-structured paper with clear and concise language. Your paper should include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Use academic language and provide references for your sources.
  • Choose a journal: Choose a journal that is relevant to your research topic and audience. Consider factors such as impact factor, acceptance rate, and the reputation of the journal.
  • Follow journal guidelines : Review the submission guidelines and formatting requirements of the journal. Follow the guidelines carefully to ensure that your paper meets the journal’s requirements.
  • Submit your paper : Submit your paper to the journal through the online submission system or by email. Include a cover letter that briefly explains the significance of your research and why it is suitable for the journal.
  • Wait for reviews: Your paper will be reviewed by experts in the field. Be prepared to address their comments and make revisions to your paper.
  • Revise and resubmit: Make revisions to your paper based on the reviewers’ comments and resubmit it to the journal. If your paper is accepted, congratulations! If not, consider revising and submitting it to another journal.
  • Address reviewer comments : Reviewers may provide comments and suggestions for revisions to your paper. Address these comments carefully and thoughtfully to improve the quality of your paper.
  • Submit the final version: Once your revisions are complete, submit the final version of your paper to the journal. Be sure to follow any additional formatting guidelines and requirements provided by the journal.
  • Publication : If your paper is accepted, it will be published in the journal. Some journals provide online publication while others may publish a print version. Be sure to cite your published paper in future research and communicate your findings to the scientific community.

How to Publish a Research Paper for Students

Here are some steps you can follow to publish a research paper as an Under Graduate or a High School Student:

  • Select a topic: Choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to you, and that you have a good understanding of.
  • Conduct research : Gather information and data on your chosen topic through research, experiments, surveys, or other means.
  • Write the paper : Start with an outline, then write the introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion sections of the paper. Be sure to follow any guidelines provided by your instructor or the journal you plan to submit to.
  • Edit and revise: Review your paper for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Ask a peer or mentor to review your paper and provide feedback for improvement.
  • Choose a journal : Look for journals that publish papers in your field of study and that are appropriate for your level of research. Some popular journals for students include PLOS ONE, Nature, and Science.
  • Submit the paper: Follow the submission guidelines for the journal you choose, which typically include a cover letter, abstract, and formatting requirements. Be prepared to wait several weeks to months for a response.
  • Address feedback : If your paper is accepted with revisions, address the feedback from the reviewers and resubmit your paper. If your paper is rejected, review the feedback and consider revising and resubmitting to a different journal.

How to Publish a Research Paper for Free

Publishing a research paper for free can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some steps you can take to publish your research paper for free:

  • Choose a suitable open-access journal: Look for open-access journals that are relevant to your research area. Open-access journals allow readers to access your paper without charge, so your work will be more widely available.
  • Check the journal’s reputation : Before submitting your paper, ensure that the journal is reputable by checking its impact factor, publication history, and editorial board.
  • Follow the submission guidelines : Every journal has specific guidelines for submitting papers. Make sure to follow these guidelines carefully to increase the chances of acceptance.
  • Submit your paper : Once you have completed your research paper, submit it to the journal following their submission guidelines.
  • Wait for the review process: Your paper will undergo a peer-review process, where experts in your field will evaluate your work. Be patient during this process, as it can take several weeks or even months.
  • Revise your paper : If your paper is rejected, don’t be discouraged. Revise your paper based on the feedback you receive from the reviewers and submit it to another open-access journal.
  • Promote your research: Once your paper is published, promote it on social media and other online platforms. This will increase the visibility of your work and help it reach a wider audience.

Journals and Conferences for Free Research Paper publications

Here are the websites of the open-access journals and conferences mentioned:

Open-Access Journals:

  • PLOS ONE – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/
  • BMC Research Notes – https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/
  • Frontiers in… – https://www.frontiersin.org/
  • Journal of Open Research Software – https://openresearchsoftware.metajnl.com/
  • PeerJ – https://peerj.com/

Conferences:

  • IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM) – https://globecom2022.ieee-globecom.org/
  • IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM) – https://infocom2022.ieee-infocom.org/
  • IEEE International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM) – https://www.ieee-icdm.org/
  • ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Data Communication (SIGCOMM) – https://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/
  • ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) – https://www.sigsac.org/ccs/CCS2022/

Importance of Research Paper Publication

Research paper publication is important for several reasons, both for individual researchers and for the scientific community as a whole. Here are some reasons why:

  • Advancing scientific knowledge : Research papers provide a platform for researchers to present their findings and contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. These papers often contain novel ideas, experimental data, and analyses that can help to advance scientific understanding.
  • Building a research career : Publishing research papers is an essential component of building a successful research career. Researchers are often evaluated based on the number and quality of their publications, and having a strong publication record can increase one’s chances of securing funding, tenure, or a promotion.
  • Peer review and quality control: Publication in a peer-reviewed journal means that the research has been scrutinized by other experts in the field. This peer review process helps to ensure the quality and validity of the research findings.
  • Recognition and visibility : Publishing a research paper can bring recognition and visibility to the researchers and their work. It can lead to invitations to speak at conferences, collaborations with other researchers, and media coverage.
  • Impact on society : Research papers can have a significant impact on society by informing policy decisions, guiding clinical practice, and advancing technological innovation.

Advantages of Research Paper Publication

There are several advantages to publishing a research paper, including:

  • Recognition: Publishing a research paper allows researchers to gain recognition for their work, both within their field and in the academic community as a whole. This can lead to new collaborations, invitations to conferences, and other opportunities to share their research with a wider audience.
  • Career advancement : A strong publication record can be an important factor in career advancement, particularly in academia. Publishing research papers can help researchers secure funding, grants, and promotions.
  • Dissemination of knowledge : Research papers are an important way to share new findings and ideas with the broader scientific community. By publishing their research, scientists can contribute to the collective body of knowledge in their field and help advance scientific understanding.
  • Feedback and peer review : Publishing a research paper allows other experts in the field to provide feedback on the research, which can help improve the quality of the work and identify potential flaws or limitations. Peer review also helps ensure that research is accurate and reliable.
  • Citation and impact : Published research papers can be cited by other researchers, which can help increase the impact and visibility of the research. High citation rates can also help establish a researcher’s reputation and credibility within their field.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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Home → Get Published → How to Publish a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Publish a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jordan Kruszynski

Jordan Kruszynski

  • January 4, 2024

how you publish research paper

You’re in academia.

You’re going steady.

Your research is going well and you begin to wonder: ‘ How exactly do I get a research paper published?’

If this is the question on your lips, then this step-by-step guide is the one for you. We’ll be walking you through the whole process of how to publish a research paper.

Publishing a research paper is a significant milestone for researchers and academics, as it allows you to share your findings, contribute to your field of study, and start to gain serious recognition within the wider academic community. So, want to know how to publish a research paper? By following our guide, you’ll get a firm grasp of the steps involved in this process, giving you the best chance of successfully navigating the publishing process and getting your work out there.

Understanding the Publishing Process

To begin, it’s crucial to understand that getting a research paper published is a multi-step process. From beginning to end, it could take as little as 2 months before you see your paper nestled in the pages of your chosen journal. On the other hand, it could take as long as a year .

Below, we set out the steps before going into more detail on each one. Getting a feel for these steps will help you to visualise what lies ahead, and prepare yourself for each of them in turn. It’s important to remember that you won’t actually have control over every step – in fact, some of them will be decided by people you’ll probably never meet. However, knowing which parts of the process are yours to decide will allow you to adjust your approach and attitude accordingly.

Each of the following stages will play a vital role in the eventual publication of your paper:

  • Preparing Your Research Paper
  • Finding the Right Journal
  • Crafting a Strong Manuscript
  • Navigating the Peer-Review Process
  • Submitting Your Paper
  • Dealing with Rejections and Revising Your Paper

Step 1: Preparing Your Research Paper

It all starts here. The quality and content of your research paper is of fundamental importance if you want to get it published. This step will be different for every researcher depending on the nature of your research, but if you haven’t yet settled on a topic, then consider the following advice:

  • Choose an interesting and relevant topic that aligns with current trends in your field. If your research touches on the passions and concerns of your academic peers or wider society, it may be more likely to capture attention and get published successfully.
  • Conduct a comprehensive literature review (link to lit. review article once it’s published) to identify the state of existing research and any knowledge gaps within it. Aiming to fill a clear gap in the knowledge of your field is a great way to increase the practicality of your research and improve its chances of getting published.
  • Structure your paper in a clear and organised manner, including all the necessary sections such as title, abstract, introduction (link to the ‘how to write a research paper intro’ article once it’s published) , methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Adhere to the formatting guidelines provided by your target journal to ensure that your paper is accepted as viable for publishing. More on this in the next section…

Step 2: Finding the Right Journal

Understanding how to publish a research paper involves selecting the appropriate journal for your work. This step is critical for successful publication, and you should take several factors into account when deciding which journal to apply for:

  • Conduct thorough research to identify journals that specialise in your field of study and have published similar research. Naturally, if you submit a piece of research in molecular genetics to a journal that specialises in geology, you won’t be likely to get very far.
  • Consider factors such as the journal’s scope, impact factor, and target audience. Today there is a wide array of journals to choose from, including traditional and respected print journals, as well as numerous online, open-access endeavours. Some, like Nature , even straddle both worlds.
  • Review the submission guidelines provided by the journal and ensure your paper meets all the formatting requirements and word limits. This step is key. Nature, for example, offers a highly informative series of pages that tells you everything you need to know in order to satisfy their formatting guidelines (plus more on the whole submission process).
  • Note that these guidelines can differ dramatically from journal to journal, and details really do matter. You might submit an outstanding piece of research, but if it includes, for example, images in the wrong size or format, this could mean a lengthy delay to getting it published. If you get everything right first time, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble, as well as strengthen your publishing chances in the first place.

Step 3: Crafting a Strong Manuscript

Crafting a strong manuscript is crucial to impress journal editors and reviewers. Look at your paper as a complete package, and ensure that all the sections tie together to deliver your findings with clarity and precision.

  • Begin by creating a clear and concise title that accurately reflects the content of your paper.
  • Compose an informative abstract that summarises the purpose, methodology, results, and significance of your study.
  • Craft an engaging introduction (link to the research paper introduction article) that draws your reader in.
  • Develop a well-structured methodology section, presenting your results effectively using tables and figures.
  • Write a compelling discussion and conclusion that emphasise the significance of your findings.

Step 4: Navigating the Peer-Review Process

Once you submit your research paper to a journal, it undergoes a rigorous peer-review process to ensure its quality and validity. In peer-review, experts in your field assess your research and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, ultimately determining whether your paper is eligible for publishing or not. You are likely to encounter several models of peer-review, based on which party – author, reviewer, or both – remains anonymous throughout the process.

When your paper undergoes the peer-review process, be prepared for constructive criticism and address the comments you receive from your reviewer thoughtfully, providing clear and concise responses to their concerns or suggestions. These could make all the difference when it comes to making your next submission.

The peer-review process can seem like a closed book at times. Check out our discussion of the issue with philosopher and academic Amna Whiston in The Research Beat podcast!

Step 5: Submitting Your Paper

As we’ve already pointed out, one of the key elements in how to publish a research paper is ensuring that you meticulously follow the journal’s submission guidelines. Strive to comply with all formatting requirements, including citation styles, font, margins, and reference structure.

Before the final submission, thoroughly proofread your paper for errors, including grammar, spelling, and any inconsistencies in your data or analysis. At this stage, consider seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors to further improve the quality of your paper.

Step 6: Dealing with Rejections and Revising Your Paper

Rejection is a common part of the publishing process, but it shouldn’t discourage you. Analyse reviewer comments objectively and focus on the constructive feedback provided. Make necessary revisions and improvements to your paper to address the concerns raised by reviewers. If needed, consider submitting your paper to a different journal that is a better fit for your research.

For more tips on how to publish your paper out there, check out this thread by Dr. Asad Naveed ( @dr_asadnaveed ) – and if you need a refresher on the basics of how to publish under the Open Access model, watch this 5-minute video from Audemic Academy !

Final Thoughts

Successfully understanding how to publish a research paper requires dedication, attention to detail, and a systematic approach. By following the advice in our guide, you can increase your chances of navigating the publishing process effectively and achieving your goal of publication.

Remember, the journey may involve revisions, peer feedback, and potential rejections, but each step is an opportunity for growth and improvement. Stay persistent, maintain a positive mindset, and continue to refine your research paper until it reaches the standards of your target journal. Your contribution to your wider discipline through published research will not only advance your career, but also add to the growing body of collective knowledge in your field. Embrace the challenges and rewards that come with the publication process, and may your research paper make a significant impact in your area of study!

Looking for inspiration for your next big paper? Head to Audemic , where you can organise and listen to all the best and latest research in your field!

Keep striving, researchers! ✨

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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper in 7 Steps

What comes next after you're done with your research? Publishing the results in a journal of course! We tell you how to present your work in the best way possible.

This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.

Things have gotten busy in scholarly publishing: These days, a new article gets published in the 50,000 most important peer-reviewed journals every few seconds, while each one takes on average 40 minutes to read. Hundreds of thousands of papers reach the desks of editors and reviewers worldwide each year and 50% of all submissions end up rejected at some stage.

In a nutshell: there is a lot of competition, and the people who decide upon the fate of your manuscript are short on time and overworked. But there are ways to make their lives a little easier and improve your own chances of getting your work published!

Well, it may seem obvious, but before submitting an academic paper, always make sure that it is an excellent reflection of the research you have done and that you present it in the most professional way possible. Incomplete or poorly presented manuscripts can create a great deal of frustration and annoyance for editors who probably won’t even bother wasting the time of the reviewers!

This post will discuss 7 steps to the successful publication of your research paper:

  • Check whether your research is publication-ready
  • Choose an article type
  • Choose a journal
  • Construct your paper
  • Decide the order of authors
  • Check and double-check
  • Submit your paper

1. Check Whether Your Research Is Publication-Ready

Should you publish your research at all?

If your work holds academic value – of course – a well-written scholarly article could open doors to your research community. However, if you are not yet sure, whether your research is ready for publication, here are some key questions to ask yourself depending on your field of expertise:

  • Have you done or found something new and interesting? Something unique?
  • Is the work directly related to a current hot topic?
  • Have you checked the latest results or research in the field?
  • Have you provided solutions to any difficult problems?
  • Have the findings been verified?
  • Have the appropriate controls been performed if required?
  • Are your findings comprehensive?

If the answers to all relevant questions are “yes”, you need to prepare a good, strong manuscript. Remember, a research paper is only useful if it is clearly understood, reproducible and if it is read and used .

2. Choose An Article Type

The first step is to determine which type of paper is most appropriate for your work and what you want to achieve. The following list contains the most important, usually peer-reviewed article types in the natural sciences:

Full original research papers disseminate completed research findings. On average this type of paper is 8-10 pages long, contains five figures, and 25-30 references. Full original research papers are an important part of the process when developing your career.

Review papers present a critical synthesis of a specific research topic. These papers are usually much longer than original papers and will contain numerous references. More often than not, they will be commissioned by journal editors. Reviews present an excellent way to solidify your research career.

Letters, Rapid or Short Communications are often published for the quick and early communication of significant and original advances. They are much shorter than full articles and usually limited in length by the journal. Journals specifically dedicated to short communications or letters are also published in some fields. In these the authors can present short preliminary findings before developing a full-length paper.

3. Choose a Journal

Are you looking for the right place to publish your paper? Find out here whether a De Gruyter journal might be the right fit.

Submit to journals that you already read, that you have a good feel for. If you do so, you will have a better appreciation of both its culture and the requirements of the editors and reviewers.

Other factors to consider are:

  • The specific subject area
  • The aims and scope of the journal
  • The type of manuscript you have written
  • The significance of your work
  • The reputation of the journal
  • The reputation of the editors within the community
  • The editorial/review and production speeds of the journal
  • The community served by the journal
  • The coverage and distribution
  • The accessibility ( open access vs. closed access)

4. Construct Your Paper

Each element of a paper has its purpose, so you should make these sections easy to index and search.

Don’t forget that requirements can differ highly per publication, so always make sure to apply a journal’s specific instructions – or guide – for authors to your manuscript, even to the first draft (text layout, paper citation, nomenclature, figures and table, etc.) It will save you time, and the editor’s.

Also, even in these days of Internet-based publishing, space is still at a premium, so be as concise as possible. As a good journalist would say: “Never use three words when one will do!”

Let’s look at the typical structure of a full research paper, but bear in mind certain subject disciplines may have their own specific requirements so check the instructions for authors on the journal’s home page.

4.1 The Title

It’s important to use the title to tell the reader what your paper is all about! You want to attract their attention, a bit like a newspaper headline does. Be specific and to the point. Keep it informative and concise, and avoid jargon and abbreviations (unless they are universally recognized like DNA, for example).

4.2 The Abstract

This could be termed as the “advertisement” for your article. Make it interesting and easily understood without the reader having to read the whole article. Be accurate and specific, and keep it as brief and concise as possible. Some journals (particularly in the medical fields) will ask you to structure the abstract in distinct, labeled sections, which makes it even more accessible.

A clear abstract will influence whether or not your work is considered and whether an editor should invest more time on it or send it for review.

4.3 Keywords

Keywords are used by abstracting and indexing services, such as PubMed and Web of Science. They are the labels of your manuscript, which make it “searchable” online by other researchers.

Include words or phrases (usually 4-8) that are closely related to your topic but not “too niche” for anyone to find them. Make sure to only use established abbreviations. Think about what scientific terms and its variations your potential readers are likely to use and search for. You can also do a test run of your selected keywords in one of the common academic search engines. Do similar articles to your own appear? Yes? Then that’s a good sign.

4.4 Introduction

This first part of the main text should introduce the problem, as well as any existing solutions you are aware of and the main limitations. Also, state what you hope to achieve with your research.

Do not confuse the introduction with the results, discussion or conclusion.

4.5 Methods

Every research article should include a detailed Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) to provide the reader with enough information to be able to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.

Include detailed information so that a knowledgeable reader can reproduce the experiment. However, use references and supplementary materials to indicate previously published procedures.

4.6 Results

In this section, you will present the essential or primary results of your study. To display them in a comprehensible way, you should use subheadings as well as illustrations such as figures, graphs, tables and photos, as appropriate.

4.7 Discussion

Here you should tell your readers what the results mean .

Do state how the results relate to the study’s aims and hypotheses and how the findings relate to those of other studies. Explain all possible interpretations of your findings and the study’s limitations.

Do not make “grand statements” that are not supported by the data. Also, do not introduce any new results or terms. Moreover, do not ignore work that conflicts or disagrees with your findings. Instead …

Be brave! Address conflicting study results and convince the reader you are the one who is correct.

4.8 Conclusion

Your conclusion isn’t just a summary of what you’ve already written. It should take your paper one step further and answer any unresolved questions.

Sum up what you have shown in your study and indicate possible applications and extensions. The main question your conclusion should answer is: What do my results mean for the research field and my community?

4.9 Acknowledgments and Ethical Statements

It is extremely important to acknowledge anyone who has helped you with your paper, including researchers who supplied materials or reagents (e.g. vectors or antibodies); and anyone who helped with the writing or English, or offered critical comments about the content.

Learn more about academic integrity in our blog post “Scholarly Publication Ethics: 4 Common Mistakes You Want To Avoid” .

Remember to state why people have been acknowledged and ask their permission . Ensure that you acknowledge sources of funding, including any grant or reference numbers.

Furthermore, if you have worked with animals or humans, you need to include information about the ethical approval of your study and, if applicable, whether informed consent was given. Also, state whether you have any competing interests regarding the study (e.g. because of financial or personal relationships.)

4.10 References

The end is in sight, but don’t relax just yet!

De facto, there are often more mistakes in the references than in any other part of the manuscript. It is also one of the most annoying and time-consuming problems for editors.

Remember to cite the main scientific publications on which your work is based. But do not inflate the manuscript with too many references. Avoid excessive – and especially unnecessary – self-citations. Also, avoid excessive citations of publications from the same institute or region.

5. Decide the Order of Authors

In the sciences, the most common way to order the names of the authors is by relative contribution.

Generally, the first author conducts and/or supervises the data analysis and the proper presentation and interpretation of the results. They put the paper together and usually submit the paper to the journal.

Co-authors make intellectual contributions to the data analysis and contribute to data interpretation. They review each paper draft. All of them must be able to present the paper and its results, as well as to defend the implications and discuss study limitations.

Do not leave out authors who should be included or add “gift authors”, i.e. authors who did not contribute significantly.

6. Check and Double-Check

As a final step before submission, ask colleagues to read your work and be constructively critical .

Make sure that the paper is appropriate for the journal – take a last look at their aims and scope. Check if all of the requirements in the instructions for authors are met.

Ensure that the cited literature is balanced. Are the aims, purpose and significance of the results clear?

Conduct a final check for language, either by a native English speaker or an editing service.

7. Submit Your Paper

When you and your co-authors have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked the manuscript: submit it via e-mail or online submission system. Along with your manuscript, submit a cover letter, which highlights the reasons why your paper would appeal to the journal and which ensures that you have received approval of all authors for submission.

It is up to the editors and the peer-reviewers now to provide you with their (ideally constructive and helpful) comments and feedback. Time to take a breather!

If the paper gets rejected, do not despair – it happens to literally everybody. If the journal suggests major or minor revisions, take the chance to provide a thorough response and make improvements as you see fit. If the paper gets accepted, congrats!

It’s now time to get writing and share your hard work – good luck!

If you are interested, check out this related blog post

how you publish research paper

[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]

David Sleeman

David Sleeman worked as Senior Journals Manager in the field of Physical Sciences at De Gruyter.

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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal

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  • Published: 30 April 2020
  • Volume 36 , pages 909–913, ( 2021 )

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  • Clara Busse   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-0178-1000 1 &
  • Ella August   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5151-1036 1 , 2  

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Communicating research findings is an essential step in the research process. Often, peer-reviewed journals are the forum for such communication, yet many researchers are never taught how to write a publishable scientific paper. In this article, we explain the basic structure of a scientific paper and describe the information that should be included in each section. We also identify common pitfalls for each section and recommend strategies to avoid them. Further, we give advice about target journal selection and authorship. In the online resource 1 , we provide an example of a high-quality scientific paper, with annotations identifying the elements we describe in this article.

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Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

Introduction

Writing a scientific paper is an important component of the research process, yet researchers often receive little formal training in scientific writing. This is especially true in low-resource settings. In this article, we explain why choosing a target journal is important, give advice about authorship, provide a basic structure for writing each section of a scientific paper, and describe common pitfalls and recommendations for each section. In the online resource 1 , we also include an annotated journal article that identifies the key elements and writing approaches that we detail here. Before you begin your research, make sure you have ethical clearance from all relevant ethical review boards.

Select a Target Journal Early in the Writing Process

We recommend that you select a “target journal” early in the writing process; a “target journal” is the journal to which you plan to submit your paper. Each journal has a set of core readers and you should tailor your writing to this readership. For example, if you plan to submit a manuscript about vaping during pregnancy to a pregnancy-focused journal, you will need to explain what vaping is because readers of this journal may not have a background in this topic. However, if you were to submit that same article to a tobacco journal, you would not need to provide as much background information about vaping.

Information about a journal’s core readership can be found on its website, usually in a section called “About this journal” or something similar. For example, the Journal of Cancer Education presents such information on the “Aims and Scope” page of its website, which can be found here: https://www.springer.com/journal/13187/aims-and-scope .

Peer reviewer guidelines from your target journal are an additional resource that can help you tailor your writing to the journal and provide additional advice about crafting an effective article [ 1 ]. These are not always available, but it is worth a quick web search to find out.

Identify Author Roles Early in the Process

Early in the writing process, identify authors, determine the order of authors, and discuss the responsibilities of each author. Standard author responsibilities have been identified by The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) [ 2 ]. To set clear expectations about each team member’s responsibilities and prevent errors in communication, we also suggest outlining more detailed roles, such as who will draft each section of the manuscript, write the abstract, submit the paper electronically, serve as corresponding author, and write the cover letter. It is best to formalize this agreement in writing after discussing it, circulating the document to the author team for approval. We suggest creating a title page on which all authors are listed in the agreed-upon order. It may be necessary to adjust authorship roles and order during the development of the paper. If a new author order is agreed upon, be sure to update the title page in the manuscript draft.

In the case where multiple papers will result from a single study, authors should discuss who will author each paper. Additionally, authors should agree on a deadline for each paper and the lead author should take responsibility for producing an initial draft by this deadline.

Structure of the Introduction Section

The introduction section should be approximately three to five paragraphs in length. Look at examples from your target journal to decide the appropriate length. This section should include the elements shown in Fig.  1 . Begin with a general context, narrowing to the specific focus of the paper. Include five main elements: why your research is important, what is already known about the topic, the “gap” or what is not yet known about the topic, why it is important to learn the new information that your research adds, and the specific research aim(s) that your paper addresses. Your research aim should address the gap you identified. Be sure to add enough background information to enable readers to understand your study. Table 1 provides common introduction section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.

figure 1

The main elements of the introduction section of an original research article. Often, the elements overlap

Methods Section

The purpose of the methods section is twofold: to explain how the study was done in enough detail to enable its replication and to provide enough contextual detail to enable readers to understand and interpret the results. In general, the essential elements of a methods section are the following: a description of the setting and participants, the study design and timing, the recruitment and sampling, the data collection process, the dataset, the dependent and independent variables, the covariates, the analytic approach for each research objective, and the ethical approval. The hallmark of an exemplary methods section is the justification of why each method was used. Table 2 provides common methods section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.

Results Section

The focus of the results section should be associations, or lack thereof, rather than statistical tests. Two considerations should guide your writing here. First, the results should present answers to each part of the research aim. Second, return to the methods section to ensure that the analysis and variables for each result have been explained.

Begin the results section by describing the number of participants in the final sample and details such as the number who were approached to participate, the proportion who were eligible and who enrolled, and the number of participants who dropped out. The next part of the results should describe the participant characteristics. After that, you may organize your results by the aim or by putting the most exciting results first. Do not forget to report your non-significant associations. These are still findings.

Tables and figures capture the reader’s attention and efficiently communicate your main findings [ 3 ]. Each table and figure should have a clear message and should complement, rather than repeat, the text. Tables and figures should communicate all salient details necessary for a reader to understand the findings without consulting the text. Include information on comparisons and tests, as well as information about the sample and timing of the study in the title, legend, or in a footnote. Note that figures are often more visually interesting than tables, so if it is feasible to make a figure, make a figure. To avoid confusing the reader, either avoid abbreviations in tables and figures, or define them in a footnote. Note that there should not be citations in the results section and you should not interpret results here. Table 3 provides common results section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.

Discussion Section

Opposite the introduction section, the discussion should take the form of a right-side-up triangle beginning with interpretation of your results and moving to general implications (Fig.  2 ). This section typically begins with a restatement of the main findings, which can usually be accomplished with a few carefully-crafted sentences.

figure 2

Major elements of the discussion section of an original research article. Often, the elements overlap

Next, interpret the meaning or explain the significance of your results, lifting the reader’s gaze from the study’s specific findings to more general applications. Then, compare these study findings with other research. Are these findings in agreement or disagreement with those from other studies? Does this study impart additional nuance to well-accepted theories? Situate your findings within the broader context of scientific literature, then explain the pathways or mechanisms that might give rise to, or explain, the results.

Journals vary in their approach to strengths and limitations sections: some are embedded paragraphs within the discussion section, while some mandate separate section headings. Keep in mind that every study has strengths and limitations. Candidly reporting yours helps readers to correctly interpret your research findings.

The next element of the discussion is a summary of the potential impacts and applications of the research. Should these results be used to optimally design an intervention? Does the work have implications for clinical protocols or public policy? These considerations will help the reader to further grasp the possible impacts of the presented work.

Finally, the discussion should conclude with specific suggestions for future work. Here, you have an opportunity to illuminate specific gaps in the literature that compel further study. Avoid the phrase “future research is necessary” because the recommendation is too general to be helpful to readers. Instead, provide substantive and specific recommendations for future studies. Table 4 provides common discussion section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.

Follow the Journal’s Author Guidelines

After you select a target journal, identify the journal’s author guidelines to guide the formatting of your manuscript and references. Author guidelines will often (but not always) include instructions for titles, cover letters, and other components of a manuscript submission. Read the guidelines carefully. If you do not follow the guidelines, your article will be sent back to you.

Finally, do not submit your paper to more than one journal at a time. Even if this is not explicitly stated in the author guidelines of your target journal, it is considered inappropriate and unprofessional.

Your title should invite readers to continue reading beyond the first page [ 4 , 5 ]. It should be informative and interesting. Consider describing the independent and dependent variables, the population and setting, the study design, the timing, and even the main result in your title. Because the focus of the paper can change as you write and revise, we recommend you wait until you have finished writing your paper before composing the title.

Be sure that the title is useful for potential readers searching for your topic. The keywords you select should complement those in your title to maximize the likelihood that a researcher will find your paper through a database search. Avoid using abbreviations in your title unless they are very well known, such as SNP, because it is more likely that someone will use a complete word rather than an abbreviation as a search term to help readers find your paper.

After you have written a complete draft, use the checklist (Fig. 3 ) below to guide your revisions and editing. Additional resources are available on writing the abstract and citing references [ 5 ]. When you feel that your work is ready, ask a trusted colleague or two to read the work and provide informal feedback. The box below provides a checklist that summarizes the key points offered in this article.

figure 3

Checklist for manuscript quality

Data Availability

Michalek AM (2014) Down the rabbit hole…advice to reviewers. J Cancer Educ 29:4–5

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International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Defining the role of authors and contributors: who is an author? http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authosrs-and-contributors.html . Accessed 15 January, 2020

Vetto JT (2014) Short and sweet: a short course on concise medical writing. J Cancer Educ 29(1):194–195

Brett M, Kording K (2017) Ten simple rules for structuring papers. PLoS ComputBiol. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005619

Lang TA (2017) Writing a better research article. J Public Health Emerg. https://doi.org/10.21037/jphe.2017.11.06

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Ella August is grateful to the Sustainable Sciences Institute for mentoring her in training researchers on writing and publishing their research.

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Busse, C., August, E. How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal. J Canc Educ 36 , 909–913 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z

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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

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Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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how you publish research paper

There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

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how you publish research paper

A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

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The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible. You can speed up the proofreading process by using the AI proofreader .

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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  • How to Publish a Research Paper: A Complete Guide
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How to Publish a Research Paper: A Complete Guide

Publishing a research paper in a reputable journal is a significant achievement for any academic researcher. It not only showcases your expertise in a particular field but also contributes valuable insights to the scientific community. However, the process of publication can be daunting, especially for early-career researchers. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential steps on how to publish a research paper successfully. From selecting the right journal to addressing reviewer feedback, we have you covered!

Read:  Learn How to Write & Craft a Compelling Villain for Your Story.

Here’s a list of steps to keep in mind before publishing a research paper :

  • Step 1: Identifying the Right Journal
  • Step 2: Preparing Step 3: Your Manuscript

Step 3: Conducting a Thorough Review

Step 4: Writing a Compelling Cover Letter

Step 5: Navigating the Peer Review Process

Step 6: Handling Rejections

Step 7: Preparing for Publication

Step 8: Promoting Your Published Paper

Step 1: Identifying the Right Journal 

The first step in publishing a research paper is crucial, as it sets the foundation for the entire publication process. Identifying the right journal involves carefully selecting a publication platform that aligns with your research topic, audience, and academic goals. Here are the key considerations to keep in mind during this step:

  • Scope and Focus : Assess the scope and focus of your research to find journals that publish articles in your field of study. Look for journals that have previously published papers related to your topic or research area.
  • Readership and Impact Factor : Consider the target audience of the journal and its readership. Higher-impact factor journals typically attract a broader readership and can enhance the visibility and credibility of your research.
  • Publication Frequency : Investigate the publication frequency of the journal. Some journals publish issues monthly, quarterly, or annually. Choose a journal that aligns with your timeline for publication.
  • Indexing and Reputation : Check if the journal is indexed in reputable databases, such as Scopus or PubMed. Indexed journals are more likely to be recognized and accessed by researchers worldwide.
  • Journal Guidelines : Familiarise yourself with the journal’s submission guidelines, available on their website. Pay attention to manuscript length limits, reference styles, and formatting requirements.
  • Open Access Options : Consider whether the journal offers open access publishing. Open-access journals allow unrestricted access to your paper, potentially increasing its visibility and impact.
  • Ethical Considerations : Ensure the journal follows ethical publication practises and abides by industry standards. Verify if the journal is a member of reputable publishing organisations, such as COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics).
  • Publication Fees : Check if the journal charges any publication fees or article processing charges (APCs). These fees can vary significantly among journals and may influence your decision.
  • Target Audience : Consider the journal’s target audience and the level of technical detail appropriate for that audience. Some journals cater to a more specialised readership, while others aim for a broader appeal.
  • Journal Reputation : Research the reputation of the journal within your academic community. Seek advice from colleagues or mentors who have published in similar journals.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision on the most suitable journal for your research paper. Selecting the right journal increases your chances of acceptance and ensures that your work reaches the intended audience, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in your field.

Step 2: Preparing Your Manuscript

After identifying the appropriate journal, the next step is to prepare your manuscript for submission. This stage involves meticulous attention to detail and adherence to the journal’s specific author guidelines. Here’s a comprehensive guide to preparing your manuscript:

  • Read Author Guidelines : Carefully read and understand the journal’s author guidelines, which are available on the journal’s website. The guidelines provide instructions on manuscript preparation, the submission process, and formatting requirements.
  • Manuscript Structure : Follow the standard structure for a research paper, including the abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections. Ensure that each section is clear and well-organised.
  • Title and Abstract : Craft a concise and informative title that reflects the main focus of your research. The abstract should provide a summary of your study’s objectives, methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Introduction : The introduction should introduce the research problem, provide context, and state the research objectives or questions. Engage readers by highlighting the significance of your research.
  • Methodology : Describe the research design, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques used in your study. Provide sufficient detail to enable other researchers to replicate your study.
  • Results : Present your findings in a clear and logical manner. Use tables, graphs, and figures to enhance the presentation of data. Avoid interpreting the results in this section.
  • Discussion : Analyse and interpret your results in the discussion section. Relate your findings to the research objectives and previously published literature. Discuss the implications of your results and any limitations of your study.
  • Conclusion : In the conclusion, summarise the key findings of your research and restate their significance. Avoid introducing new information in this section.
  • Citations and References : Cite all sources accurately and consistently throughout the manuscript. Follow the journal’s preferred citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.
  • Proofreading and Editing : Thoroughly proofread your manuscript to correct any grammatical errors, typos, or inconsistencies. Edit for clarity, conciseness, and logical flow.
  • Figures and Tables : Ensure that all figures and tables are clear, properly labelled, and cited in the main text. Follow the journal’s guidelines for the formatting of figures and tables.
  • Ethical Considerations : Include any necessary statements regarding ethical approval, conflicts of interest, or data availability, as required by the journal.

By meticulously preparing your manuscript and adhering to the journal’s guidelines, you increase the likelihood of a successful submission. A well-structured and polished manuscript enhances the readability and impact of your research, ultimately increasing your chances of acceptance for publication.

The process of conducting a thorough review of your research paper is a critical step in the publication journey. This step ensures that your work is polished, accurate, and ready for submission to a journal. A well-reviewed paper increases the chances of acceptance and demonstrates your commitment to producing high-quality research. Here are the key aspects to consider during the review process:

  • Grammatical Errors and Typos : Start by carefully proofreading your paper for any grammatical errors, typos, or spelling mistakes. Even minor errors can undermine the credibility of your research and distract readers from your main points. Use grammar-checking tools, but also read your paper line by line to catch any issues that zated tools might miss.
  • Consistency and Clarity : Ensure that your writing is consistent throughout the paper. Check that you have used the same terminology, abbreviations, and formatting consistently. Additionally, pay attention to sentence structure and coherence, making sure that each paragraph flows logically into the next.
  • Accuracy of Data, Graphs, and Tables : Review all the data presented in your research, including figures, graphs, and tables. Verify that the data is accurate, correctly labelled, and represented in a clear and understandable manner. Any errors in data representation can lead to misinterpretations and undermine the reliability of your findings.
  • Citation and Referencing : Verify that all the sources you have cited are accurate and properly formatted according to the citation style required by the target journal. Missing or incorrect citations can lead to accusations of plagiarism and harm the integrity of your work.
  • Addressing Feedback : If you have received feedback from colleagues, mentors, or peer reviewers during the pre-submission process, carefully consider their suggestions and address any concerns raised. Engaging with feedback shows your willingness to improve and strengthen your paper.
  • Objective Evaluation : Try to read your paper with a critical eye, as if you were a reviewer assessing its merits. Identify any weaknesses or areas that could be improved, both in terms of content and presentation. Be open to rewriting or restructuring sections that could benefit from further clarity or depth.
  • Seek Feedback : To ensure the highest quality, seek feedback from colleagues or mentors who are knowledgeable in your research field. They can provide valuable insights and offer suggestions for improvement. Peer review can identify blind spots and help you refine your arguments.
  • Formatting and Guidelines : Review the journal’s specific formatting and submission guidelines. Adhering to these requirements demonstrates your attention to detail and increases the likelihood of acceptance.

In conclusion, conducting a thorough review of your research paper is an essential step before submission. It involves checking for grammatical errors, ensuring clarity and consistency, verifying data accuracy, addressing feedback, and seeking external input. A well-reviewed paper enhances its chances of publication and contributes to the overall credibility of your research.

The cover letter is your opportunity to make a strong first impression on the journal’s editor and to persuade them that your research paper is a valuable contribution to their publication. It serves as a bridge between your work and the editor, highlighting the significance and originality of your study and explaining why it is a good fit for the journal. Here are the key elements to include in a compelling cover letter:

  • Introduction : Start the letter with a professional and cordial greeting, addressing the editor by their name if possible. Introduce yourself and provide your affiliation, including your academic title and institution. Mention the title of your research paper and its co-authors, if any.
  • Brief Summary of Research : Provide a concise and compelling summary of your research. Clearly state the research question or problem you addressed, the methodology you employed, and your main findings. Emphasise the significance of your research and its potential impact on the field.
  • Highlight Originality : Explain what sets your study apart from existing research in the field. Highlight the original contributions your paper makes, whether it’s a novel approach, new insights, or addressing a gap in the literature. Demonstrating the novelty of your work will capture the editor’s attention.
  • Fit with the Journal : Explain why your research is a good fit for the target journal. Refer to recent articles published in the journal that are related to your topic and discuss how your research complements or extends those works. Aligning your paper with the journal’s scope and objectives enhances your chances of acceptance.
  • Addressing Specific Points : If the journal’s author guidelines include specific requirements, address them in your cover letter. This shows that you have read and followed their guidelines carefully. For example, if the journal requires you to highlight the practical implications of your research, briefly mention these in your letter.
  • Previous Engagement : If you have presented your research at a conference, workshop, or seminar, or if it has been previously reviewed (e.g., as a preprint), mention it in the cover letter. This indicates that your work has already undergone some scrutiny and may strengthen its appeal to the journal.
  • Declaration of Originality : State that the paper is original, has not been published elsewhere, and is not under simultaneous consideration by any other publication. This declaration reassures the editor that your work meets the journal’s submission policies.
  • Contact Information : Provide your contact details, including email and phone number, and express your willingness to address any queries or provide additional information if needed.
  • Expression of Gratitude : Thank the editor for their time and consideration in reviewing your submission.

In conclusion, a well-crafted cover letter complements your research paper and convinces the journal’s editor of the significance and originality of your work. It should provide a succinct overview of your research, highlight its relevance to the journal’s scope, and address any specific points raised in the author guidelines. A compelling cover letter increases the likelihood of your paper being seriously considered for publication.

The peer review process is a crucial step in scholarly publishing, designed to ensure the quality, accuracy, and validity of research papers before they are accepted for publication. After you submit your manuscript to a journal, it is sent to peer reviewers who are experts in your field. These reviewers carefully assess your work, providing feedback and recommendations to the editor. Navigating the peer review process requires patience, open-mindedness, and a willingness to engage constructively with reviewers. Here’s a detailed explanation of this step:

  • Submission and Assignment : Once you submit your paper, the journal’s editorial team performs an initial screening to check if it aligns with the journal’s scope and guidelines. If it does, the editor assigns peer reviewers who have expertise in the subject matter of your research.
  • Reviewing Process : The peer reviewers evaluate your paper’s methodology, data analysis, conclusions, and overall contribution to the field. They may assess the clarity of your writing, the strength of your arguments, and the relevance of your findings. Reviewers also look for potential flaws or limitations in your study.
  • Reviewer Feedback : After the reviewers have thoroughly examined your paper, they provide feedback to the editor. The feedback usually falls into three categories: acceptance, revision, or rejection. In the case of a revision, reviewers may specify the changes they believe are necessary for the paper to meet the journal’s standards.
  • Editor’s Decision : Based on the reviewers’ feedback, the editor makes a decision about your paper. The decision could be acceptance, conditional acceptance pending minor revisions, major revisions, or rejection. Even if your paper is rejected, remember that the peer review process provides valuable feedback that can help improve your research.
  • Responding to Reviewer Comments : If your paper requires revisions, carefully read the reviewer comments and suggestions. Address each comment in a respectful and diligent manner, providing clear responses and incorporating the necessary changes into your manuscript.
  • Revised Manuscript Submission : Submit the revised version of your paper along with a detailed response to the reviewers’ comments. Explain the changes you made and how you addressed their concerns. This demonstrates your commitment to enhancing the quality of your research.
  • Reiteration of the Review Process : Depending on the revisions, the editor may send your paper back to the same reviewers or to new reviewers for a second round of evaluation. This process continues until the paper is either accepted for publication or deemed unsuitable for the journal.
  • Acceptance and Publication : If your paper successfully navigates the peer review process and meets the journal’s standards, it will be accepted for publication. Congratulations on reaching this milestone!

In conclusion, the peer review process is an essential part of academic publishing. It involves expert evaluation of your research by peers in the field, who provide valuable feedback to improve the quality and rigour of your paper. Embrace the feedback with an open mind, respond diligently to reviewer comments, and be patient during the review process. Navigating peer review is a collaborative effort to ensure that only high-quality and significant research contributes to the scholarly community.

Receiving a rejection of your research paper can be disheartening, but it is a common and normal part of the publication process. It’s important to remember that rejection does not necessarily reflect the quality of your work; many groundbreaking studies have faced rejection before finding the right publication platform. Handling rejections requires resilience, a growth mindset, and the willingness to learn from the feedback. Here’s a comprehensive explanation of this step:

  • Understanding the Decision : When you receive a rejection, take the time to carefully read the editor’s decision letter and the feedback provided by the peer reviewers. Understand the reasons for the rejection and the specific concerns raised about your paper.
  • Embrace Constructive Feedback : Peer reviewer comments can provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your research. Embrace the feedback constructively, recognising that it presents an opportunity to improve your work.
  • Assessing Revisions : If the decision letter includes suggestions for revisions, carefully consider whether you agree with them. Evaluate if implementing these revisions aligns with your research goals and the core message of your paper.
  • Revising the Manuscript : If you decide to make revisions based on the feedback, thoroughly address the reviewer’s comments and consider making any necessary improvements to your research. Pay close attention to the areas identified by the reviewers as needing improvement.
  • Resubmission or Alternative Journals : After revising your manuscript, you have the option to either resubmit it to the same journal (if allowed) or consider submitting it to a different journal. If you choose the latter, ensure that the new journal aligns with your research topic and scope.
  • Tailoring the Submission : When submitting to a different journal, tailor your manuscript and cover letter to fit the specific requirements and preferences of that journal. Highlight the relevance of your research to the journal’s readership and address any unique guidelines they have.
  • Don’t Lose Hope : Rejections are a natural part of the publication process, and many researchers face them at some point in their careers. It is essential not to lose hope and to remain persistent in pursuing publication opportunities.
  • Learn and Improve : Use the feedback from the rejection as a learning experience. Identify areas for improvement in your research, writing, and presentation. This will help you grow as a researcher and improve your chances of acceptance in the future.
  • Seek Support and Guidance : If you are struggling to navigate the publication process or interpret reviewer comments, seek support from colleagues, mentors, or academic advisors. Their insights can provide valuable guidance and encouragement.

In conclusion, handling rejections is a normal part of the publication journey. Approach rejection with a growth mindset, embracing the feedback provided by reviewers as an opportunity to improve your research. Revise your manuscript diligently, and consider submitting it to other journals that align with your research. Remember that persistence, learning from feedback, and seeking support are key to achieving success in the scholarly publishing process.

After successfully navigating the peer review process and receiving acceptance for your research paper, you are one step closer to seeing your work published in a reputable journal. However, before your paper can be published, you need to prepare it for production according to the journal’s specific requirements. This step is essential to ensuring that your paper meets the journal’s formatting and style guidelines and is ready for dissemination to the academic community. Here’s a comprehensive explanation of this step:

  • Reviewing the Acceptance Letter : Start by carefully reviewing the acceptance letter from the journal’s editor. This letter will outline any final comments or suggestions from the reviewers that need to be addressed before publication.
  • Addressing Reviewer Comments : If there are any outstanding revisions or clarifications requested by the reviewers, address them promptly and thoroughly. Reviewer feedback plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality and clarity of your paper, so it’s essential to give each comment due attention.
  • Adhering to Journal Guidelines : Familiarise yourself with the journal’s production requirements and guidelines for formatting, referencing, and figure preparation. Ensure that your paper adheres to these guidelines to avoid delays in the publication process.
  • Finalising the Manuscript : Once all revisions have been made and the paper aligns with the journal’s requirements, finalise your manuscript. Carefully proofread the entire paper to catch any remaining grammatical errors or typos.
  • Handling Permissions and Copyright : If your paper includes copyrighted material (e.g., figures, tables, or excerpts from other publications), obtain permission from the original copyright holders to reproduce that content in your paper. This is crucial to avoid potential copyright infringement issues.
  • Completing Authorship and Affiliation Details : Verify that all authors’ names, affiliations, and contact information are accurate and consistent. Ensure that the corresponding author is clearly identified for communication with the journal during the publication process.
  • Submitting the Final Manuscript : Follow the journal’s instructions to submit the final version of your manuscript along with any required supplementary materials. This may include high-resolution figures, data sets, or additional supporting information.
  • Waiting for Publication : After submitting the final version, the journal’s production team will work on typesetting, formatting, and preparing your paper for publication. This process may take some time, depending on the journal’s workflow and schedule.
  • Proofing and Corrections : Once the typeset proof is ready, carefully review it for any formatting errors or typographical mistakes. Respond to the journal promptly with any necessary corrections or clarifications.
  • Copyright Transfer : If required by the journal, complete the copyright transfer agreement, granting the publisher the right to publish and distribute your work.
  • Publication Date and DOI : Your paper will be assigned a publication date and a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), a unique alphanumeric string that provides a permanent link to your paper, making it easily accessible and citable.

In conclusion, preparing your research paper for publication involves carefully addressing reviewer comments, adhering to journal guidelines, handling permissions and copyright issues, and submitting the final version for production. Thoroughly reviewing and finalising your paper will ensure its readiness for dissemination to the academic community.

Congratulations on successfully publishing your research paper! Now, it’s time to promote your work to reach a broader audience and increase its visibility within the academic and research communities. Effective promotion can lead to more citations, recognition, and potential collaborations. Here’s a comprehensive explanation of this step:

  • Share on Social Media : Utilise social media platforms to announce the publication of your paper. Share the title, abstract, and a link to the paper on your professional profiles, such as  LinkedIn ,  Twitter , or  ResearchGate . Engage with your followers to generate interest and discussion.
  • Collaborate with Colleagues : Collaborate with your co-authors and colleagues to promote the paper collectively. Encourage them to share the publication on their social media and academic networks. A collaborative effort can increase the paper’s visibility and reach.
  • Academic Networks and Research Platforms : Upload your paper to academic networks and research platforms like Academia.edu, Mendeley, or Google Scholar. This allows other researchers to discover and cite your work more easily.
  • Email and Newsletters : Inform your professional contacts and research network about the publication through email announcements or newsletters. Consider writing a brief summary of your paper’s key findings and significance to entice readers to access the full paper.
  • Research Blog or Website : If you have a personal research blog or website, create a dedicated post announcing the publication. Provide a summary of your research and its implications in a reader-friendly format.
  • Engage with the Academic Community : Participate in academic conferences, workshops, and seminars to present your research. Networking with other researchers and sharing your findings in person can create buzz around your paper.
  • Press Releases : If your research has practical implications or societal relevance, consider working with your institution’s press office to issue a press release about your paper. This can attract media attention and increase public awareness.
  • Academic and Research Forums : Engage in online academic and research forums to discuss your findings and share insights. Be active in relevant discussions to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  • Researcher Profiles : Keep your researcher profiles, such as those on Google Scholar, ORCID, and Scopus, updated with your latest publications. This ensures that your paper is indexed and visible to other researchers searching for related work.
  • Altmetrics : Monitor the altmetrics of your paper to track its online attention, including mentions, downloads, and social media shares. Altmetrics provide additional metrics beyond traditional citations, giving you insights into your paper’s broader impact.
  • Engage with Feedback : Respond to comments and questions from readers who engage with your paper. Engaging in scholarly discussions can further promote your work and demonstrate your expertise in the field.

In conclusion, promoting your published paper is an essential step to increasing its visibility, impact, and potential for further collaboration. Utilise social media, academic networks, collaborations with colleagues, and engagement with the academic community to create interest in your work. Effective promotion can lead to more citations and recognition, enhancing the overall impact of your research.

Read: Here’s a list of 10 best short story books to read in 2023 that you can’t miss.

Publishing a research paper is a rewarding experience that requires dedication, perseverance, and attention to detail. By following this essential guide, you can navigate the publication process successfully and contribute valuable knowledge to your field of study. 

Remember, each publication is a stepping stone in your academic journey, and even rejections provide opportunities for growth. Embrace the process, continue refining your research, and celebrate your contributions to advancing scientific knowledge. Good luck on your journey to academic success!

Publish your book  with  BlueRoseONE  and become a  bestselling author . Don’t let your dream of becoming an author fade away, grab the opportunity now and publish your book – be it fiction, non fiction, poetry or more.

Happy writing and publishing!

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How to Publish a Research Paper

Philip Placek

The process of publishing a research paper can be intimidating and confusing, especially for first-time authors. This article provides a simple step-by-step guide with tips for each stage of publication, starting when the author has completed a first draft of the paper.

Step 1: Find a Journal 

The first step in getting any paper published is to find an appropriate journal. The ideal journal for a paper will help deliver a paper into the hands of the target audience. The target audience may include other scholars who are researching the same topic, those in an adjacent field, or the general public. It is important to consider both who and how many people read a journal. A journal may target exactly the right audience, but if the audience consists of five people, it still may be a less effective choice than a journal that has a slightly less relevant audience of thousands of people.

Questions to ask to find the right journal:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Which journals fit the scope of the manuscript?
  • Does the manuscript match those typically published by the journal?
  • What are high-impact journals that are relevant to the manuscript?
  • How much of the manuscript must be changed to fit the journal?
  • Which journals are open-access and which follow the traditional subscription-based model?

One way to identify journals with the right scope is to begin by looking at the reference section of your manuscript. Journals are likely to publish manuscripts on topics they have already published papers about. The format and style of your paper is also likely to match those of your reference section. In addition, authors of cited papers are a key part of the target audience, and they are likely to read journals they have published in.

Another way to identify journals with the right scope is to use a journal finder. This type of journal finder can not only help with identifying the scope of journals, but also the journal rankings and impact factors. Additionally, journals will put out special issues which target specific topics. Because journal editors need to fill a certain number of slots with relevant papers, special issues can provide an opportunity for newer authors to get published in journals with high impact factors. Overall, editors accept or reject papers based on how many papers they get and how much space they have for a certain issue.

It is also important to make sure that your paper has a similar format to those published by the journal. Some journals publish short single studies, others publish multi-study experiments. Some journals publish theoretical results while others focus on more practical applications.

Because a research paper can be actively under review at only one journal at a time, it is important to prioritize which journals to apply to first. One strategy is to first identify journals with the right scope (i.e., focused on the right topic) and then rank them based on their impact factor (i.e., how many people the journal typically reaches with its articles). The manuscript can be sent first to journals with the highest impact factors, which are typically more prestigious and selective. If the paper is rejected, authors can seek the next highest journal on the list, repeating until the paper is accepted. Although this method is likely to include many rejections, it increases the chance that the paper is published in the best journal possible within the paper’s scope, thereby reaching the most members of the target audience. 

Another factor to consider is the business model of the journal. Broadly, there are two types of models: subscription and open access. In the traditional subscription model, publishers monetize their articles behind paywalls. One can usually only see the abstract of the article and must pay a fee in order to access the full article. Universities typically pay these publishers a large fee so that their faculty and students can access their articles at any time. For most subscription publishers, you must sign over the copyright of the final article to the publisher. This means that the publisher has the exclusive legal right to the final article and you are not allowed to share or distribute the article. 

Open access journals allow authors to retain the copyright of their final article. These journals will get the right to host your final article, but it can be shared, reused, or adapted by anyone as long as they give credit to the original authors. As these journals do not make money via subscriptions, they typically charge a publication fee, or they may be funded and subsidized by a larger organization. Meanwhile, many subscription publishers will also allow you to pay an exorbitant fee, usually in the thousands of dollars, to make your article open access. 

Other factors to consider are how long it typically takes for an article to be published, whether there are fees for publishing papers, and whether a journal is trustworthy. Certain high-quality journals (e.g., American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy) charge a fee to deter low-quality submissions. Some outlets publish almost every manuscript without a peer-review. Some of them are free like SSRN, and some of them charge a fee. However, they do not evaluate the manuscript rigorously or do any serious review on it. Such outlets publish many low-quality papers, and it can be hard to distinguish between good and bad papers in those outlets.

“Predatory publishing” refers to the exploitative business model in which journals charge a fee for publication but do not rigorously evaluate or peer-review manuscripts. These journals have become more common in the era of open access publication. There are many helpful resources so you can be sure you are publishing your article in a reputable journal.

Step 2: Prepare and Submit the Article

Once a journal has been selected, the next step is to prepare the article for submission. Each journal has specific formatting requirements, which may vary based on what kind of manuscript is being submitted (e.g., review, commentary, report, peer-reviewed research manuscript). It is important to note that journals have different expectations for how tables, figures, and supplementary materials should be submitted. This information is typically available on the journal website, often with templates available for Word or LaTeX.

In order to submit a manuscript, most journals require authors to register for a portal on their website and designate a corresponding author for each submission. Once a manuscript has been submitted, the journal may respond and request some fixes for formatting errors or page limits. Once the manuscript has been submitted in an acceptable format, the next step is to await the editor's decision. 

Step 3: Wait to Hear Back

When an article is submitted to a journal, the editor will decide whether or not they want to send the paper to reviewers. A desk rejection occurs if the editor rejects your paper before sending it out to the reviewers. If your paper is sent out to reviewers, there are a few possible outcomes you may receive: rejection, revision and resubmit (major revision), conditional acceptance (minor revision), or acceptance.

There is no set time when you can expect to hear back from the journal. Different journals go through the review process at different rates. It is not uncommon to have to wait more than six months for a response.

Desk Rejection

A desk rejection happens when a paper is rejected before it has left the editor’s desk, i.e., without being sent out to external reviewers. Often this is due to a lack of fit to the journal’s scope, an insufficient contribution, or some major flaw in the manuscript. A desk rejection is typically the fastest kind of response and may happen after a couple of weeks. If you receive a desk rejection, the next steps are to address the criticism, improve your manuscript, and submit your manuscript to another journal.

You usually will not be informed if your manuscript is sent out to reviewers. Thus, if you do not hear back from the editor within a few months, it usually means that the manuscript has been sent out to reviewers. Because reviewers usually do not receive any credit or recognition for their work, they do not have much incentive to work or respond quickly. Thus, if the manuscript is sent to reviewers, it may take several months to get a response. 

Once all of the reviewers have responded, the editor will consider all of their feedback and make a final decision. Ultimately, the editor has total control, and the reviewer comments are treated as suggestions. Editors may override the reviewers, and reject manuscripts even if the reviewers want the manuscript published. They may also decide to exclude some reviewers or their comments. 

A rejection means that, after looking at reviewer feedback, the editor has decided not to accept the manuscript. This is a final decision and indicates that the editor feels that this specific paper is not a good fit for the journal. After receiving a rejection, the next step is to seek another journal to publish the paper.

Revise & Resubmit (Major Revision)

Papers are only rarely accepted without revisions. Instead, many manuscript authors receive a “Revise and Resubmit”, also known as a major revision, which is somewhere between an acceptance and a rejection. The editor has identified significant issues with the manuscript but there is still hope for publication. In this case, the author should take the opportunity to improve the manuscript. Often revisions are significant; in some cases, they require re-analysis of data or even collection of new data.

Journals will frequently give you a list of documents that need to be submitted with the revision. Usually, you will need to include a respectful letter to the editor thanking them and the journal for their work. You will also need to submit a document with all the reviewer’s comments and how you addressed their concerns in your paper. Sometimes you will need to submit two copies of your manuscript, one before the changes were made and one with all the changes highlighted.

Conditional Acceptance (Minor Revision)

After you have properly addressed all the major revisions you may receive a “Conditional Acceptance”, meaning that there are minor issues that need to be addressed before your manuscript can be published. The changes you need to do on your manuscript are usually smaller in scope here: grammatical and formatting changes, rewriting confusing paragraphs and adding more references where needed.

Your manuscript may go through multiple rounds of conditional acceptance, as reviewers may find more minor issues that need to be addressed. Also, you may have different reviewers after each revision, as reviewers can opt out even after previously reviewing your paper.

Once all the reviewers and the editor are satisfied with your manuscript, you will receive an acceptance letter. Typically, you will have to prepare additional files and your final draft in a specific format for publication, and this can be different from what you did during the review process. If you are applying to a subscription-based journal you will also need to sign over the copyright for the final, published paper to the journal.

The time between when your paper is accepted and when your paper is actually published is variable, as editors need to fill space for each issue. It is not uncommon for your paper to be published over a year after the final acceptance.

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How to Write & Publish a Research Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

This guide is far more than a list of instructions on what to include in each section of your research paper. In fact, we will:

  • Use a research paper I wrote specifically as an example to illustrate the key ideas in this guide ( link to the full-text PDF of the research paper ).
  • Use real-world data (on 100,000 PubMed research papers) to show you how professional scientists write in practice, instead of presenting my own opinion on the subject.
  • Provide practical tips on how to: improve your writing , find the right journal , and submit your article .

Let’s get started!

  • Structure of a research paper
  • Writing the Introduction section
  • Writing the Methods section
  • Writing the Results section
  • Writing the Discussion section
  • Writing the Abstract
  • Writing the Title
  • Writing optional sections
  • Refining and improving your article
  • Managing and formatting your References
  • Submitting your article

1. Structure of a research paper

Most research papers follow the IMRaD structure that consists of 4 main sections:

  • I ntroduction
  • D iscussion

The paper also has some essential elements–Title, Abstract, and References–and may contain other optional sections–Conclusion, Acknowledgements, Funding, Conflicts of interest, and Appendix.

These sections often appear in the following order:

Structure of a research paper

The advantages of following the IMRaD structure are:

  • To make the paper easily scannable by readers (since most won’t read the entire manuscript.
  • To avoid repeating the same information in different places.

To follow the IMRaD structure, you must learn what information goes where.

So, here’s an overview of what each of the main sections represents:

Together, these 4 sections start with the main topic of the paper and end up with a conclusion regarding that topic:

Role of each of the main sections of a research paper

1.1. Where to start?

When writing a research paper, some people prefer to start with the Results section—since it comes out right from the data they just analyzed. Others start with the Methods section—since information about how they designed the study and analyzed the data is still fresh in their mind. Personally, I prefer to start with the Introduction section for 2 reasons:

  • While doing a literature review for the introduction, sometimes I discover a problem in my approach or an interesting secondary objective that I did not think about, which as you can imagine, changes a lot of things in other sections of the article.
  • I want to formulate the hypothesis before analyzing the data in order to avoid HARKing (Hypothesizing after the results are known) which is a major problem in statistics (see: 7 Tricks to Get Statistically Significant p-Values ).

2. Writing the Introduction section

The Introduction targets a non-specialized audience, so when writing it, make sure to use simple and beginner-friendly terms.

2.1. Length of the Introduction section

The introduction section should be:

  • 400 to 760 words long (3 to 5 paragraphs).
  • The shortest section of the article (half the length of the other sections: Methods, Results, and Discussion).

(These data are based on an analysis I made on 61,518 articles from PubMed )

2.2. Structure of the Introduction section

Here’s what you should include in the Introduction:

  • Step #1: Describe the general context of your work (your aim should be to convince the reader that the topic of your research is interesting).
  • Step #2: Summarize the results of previous studies on the topic (report what others have found and provide references. But don’t do an in-depth literature review, a short summary of these findings is enough).
  • Step #3: Identify the gap , problem, or limitations of previous studies (find the missing pieces of the puzzle).
  • Step #4: State your objective , hypothesis, question that you want to answer, or problem that you want to solve (make sure that the purpose of your study is clear and understandable, otherwise people won’t care about your results).
  • Step #5: Present your solution : explain the approach you used to achieve the objective, explain what is different about it and what makes it special. Here you have to sell your approach. But keep it short (leave the details to the methods section).

2.3. Verb tense and voice in the Introduction section

Use the past tense for things that were already done and the present tense for things that continue to be true today.

For instance:

“Previous studies found that the rate of heart disease is increasing “.

“The goal of this study is to explore why the rate of heart disease increased in the past 10 years”.

You should write the Introduction using mainly the active voice.

“ A recent study found conflicting results”.

Should be favored over:

“ Conflicting results were recently found “.

2.4. Example: writing an Introduction section

In this section, we are going to verify that the Introduction section of our example article ( link to the full-text PDF ) follows the step-by-step structure discussed above. (The article studies the influence of title length on its attractiveness).

What follows is the Introduction of that article with the main steps highlighted:

INTRODUCTION

The role of a research title is to draw the reader’s attention while providing an overview of the article’s content. Finding a way to engage readers is important since only 18% of those who read the title proceed to read the abstract (Mabe and Amin, 2002).

Title attractiveness may be affected by its length; but studies on this subject have been inconsistent and sometimes contradictory (Subotic and Mukherjee, 2014; Letchford et al., 2015; Guo et al., 2018; Jacques and Sebire, 2010; Habibzadeh and Yadollahie, 2010; Stremersch et al., 2007; Falahati Qadimi Fumani et al., 2015). This may be due to bias and confounding since these studies did not follow a causal model to eliminate alternative explanations and indirect effects.

The confusion over the effect of title length led to a gap between what professional writers recommend and what researchers do in practice: while professionals recommend keeping titles as short as possible (Zeiger, 1999; Neill, 2007), in practice, titles are getting longer (Milojevi¢, 2017; Whissell, 2012) and more descriptive (mentioning the study objective, the variables involved, the main result, and the study design).

To help resolve this issue, the present study aims to quantify the direct influence of title length on its attractiveness by analyzing data on 9,830 biomedical research papers from PubMed and adjusting for confounding and indirect effects through the use of a causal diagram.

Writing is not just about following a series of rules: you should keep an eye on the flow of your story that ties your paragraphs together.

Here’s an overview of the story of our Introduction section:

Mains ideas in our example introduction section

3. Writing the Methods section

The Methods section is the recipe for the study: it should provide enough information to replicate the study without looking elsewhere (although most of those who read the Methods section will not be interested in replicating your study, instead they just want to make sure that your study is credible).

The Methods is the most technical section of the article. So, unlike the Introduction, don’t shy away from technical terms, since those who are not interested in such details will most likely skip this section.

3.1. Length of the Methods section

The Methods section should be:

  • 760 to 1,620 words long (6 to 14 paragraphs).
  • The same length as the Results or the Discussion, and about double the length of the Introduction.

(These data are based on an analysis I did on 61,514 articles from PubMed )

3.2. Structure of the Methods section

Here’s what you should include in the Methods section:

  • The date and duration of the study.
  • The sampling procedure.
  • The assignment to different study groups.
  • The source of the data.
  • Any approval needed to conduct the study.
  • Step#3: List the inclusion and exclusion criteria (i.e., the characteristics that participants must have to be included in the study).
  • The reason behind choosing such procedure.
  • The order in which things were done (a flow diagram can simplify the description of complex procedures).
  • The calculation of the minimum sample size needed.
  • The role of each variable (dependent, independent, or control variable).
  • The methods used to address bias in the study.
  • The methods used to handle missing data.
  • The measures used to summarize the data.
  • The type of statistical test or model you used to test your hypothesis and the threshold for statistical significance (don’t go into detail about obvious statistical tests or models, but advanced methods should be either described or referenced).
  • The statistical software used [optional].

3.3. Verb tense and voice in the Methods section

Use the past tense (because the things you did took place in the past).

“The data were downloaded “.

“A linear regression model was used “.

Use the passive voice (to avoid repeating the pronouns: “I” or “We”).

“Variables were summarized using the mean and standard deviation”.

Instead of:

“I summarized the variables using the mean and standard deviation”.

3.4. Example: writing a Methods section

In this section, we are going to verify that the Methods section of our example article ( link to the full-text P D F ) follows the structure discussed above. (Remember that this article is about studying the influence of title length on its attractiveness).

What follows is the Methods section of this article with the main steps highlighted:

For this cross-sectional study, data were downloaded from PubMed Central in March 2021 using a web API created by Comeau et al. (2019). From a collection of about 3 million biomedical research articles from various journals, 105,984 were chosen at random from those uploaded between the years 2016 and 2021.

From these 105,984 articles, a total of 96,154 were discarded for incomplete data, leaving 9,830 articles ready for analysis (Figure 4). Reasons for discarding articles included: unavailable full text, unmentioned study design, missing impact factor of the journal in which the article was published, missing article DOI, and unavailable citation count.

Example flow diagram

To study the influence of title length on its attractiveness, and in order to avoid defining and measuring Title attractiveness , I substituted this variable with another closely related one: the Citation count for a given article; this can work provided that we block all alternative paths other than the direct effect of Title attractiveness on Citation count . Looking at the causal diagram in Figure 5, we notice that there is only one alternative path, and it can be blocked by adjusting for the Journal in which the article was published. Since the data contained articles from 1,040 different journals (and to avoid complicating the analysis by creating 1,039 dummy variables), I ended up adjusting for the Journal impact factor , a direct descendent of the deconfounding variable Journal , thus representing most of its effect.

Example of a figure format in a research paper

To compute the direct causal effect of Title length on Title attractiveness , alternative explanations of the association between these two such as confounding and indirect effects must also be eliminated. From Figure 5, we see that this can be accomplished by adjusting for the Mention of study design in the title (a confounder) and the use of Comma in the title and Colon in the title (indirect effects).

After determining the variables that we want to adjust for, Poisson regression was used to compute the effect of Title length on Citation count . In our case, a Poisson model has 2 major advantages over linear regression: (1) it fits the data better, since counts follow a Poisson rather than a normal distribution, and (2) it accounts for different publication dates of different articles, which is important to offset the advantage of older articles regarding the time they had to collect citations (this can be accomplished by including Years since publication as an offset in the model).

The Poisson model described above can be summarized with the following equation:

log(Citation count) =β 0 + β 1 × Title length + β 2 × Journal impact factor + β 3 × Mention of study design in the title + β 4 × Comma in the title + β 5 × Colon in the title + log(Years since publication)

Variables in the model, such as Citation count , Title length , and Journal impact factor , were summarized using the median and the interquartile range (IQR), since they follow either a Poisson or a skewed non-normal distribution.

Note that in some cases, you will be forced to include some results in the Methods section. Although the research paper has a separate Results section (which we will discuss next), sometimes we include some results in the Methods section to justify the use of a certain material or method.

For example, in the Methods section above, in order to defend the use of the variable Journal impact factor instead of Journal , I ended up reporting the number of journals in the study (which is a number calculated from the data, so it normally belongs to the Results section):

“Since the data contained articles from 1,040 different journals (and to avoid complicating the analysis by creating 1,039 dummy variables), I ended up adjusting for the Journal impact factor, a direct descendent of the deconfounding variable Journal, thus representing most of its effect.”

4. Writing the Results section

In the Results section, you should describe and summarize your findings without explaining them (the interpretation should be left for the Discussion section).

4.1. Length of the Results section

The Results section should be:

  • 610 to 1,660 words long (5 to 11 paragraphs).
  • The same length as the Methods or the Discussion, and about double the length of the Introduction.

(These data are based on an analysis I did on 61,458 articles from PubMed )

4.2. Structure of the Results section

Here’s what you should include in the Results section:

  • At each stage and for each group of the study, report the number of participants (if some were lost to follow-up, provide the reasons).
  • Describe participants’ characteristics.
  • Compare participants in different groups.
  • Describe the main variables in the study.
  • The statistical significance (the p-value).
  • The precision (the 95% confidence interval).
  • The practical significance (the effect size).

4.3. Using figures and tables

A table or a figure are useful to highlight important results or to represent a lot of numbers that, if reported in the text, can be unpleasant for the reader.

Here are a few rules regarding figures and tables:

  • The supporting text should complement the table or figure but not repeat the same content.
  • The table or figure should stand alone (i.e., the reader can understand it without referring to the text).
  • No vertical lines.
  • A line above the header row.
  • A line below the header row.
  • A line at the bottom of the table.
  • No horizontal lines to separate data rows.

(Refer to the example below to see how your tables should look like)

4.4. Verb tense and voice in the Results section

Use the past tense for completed actions.

“In our sample of 9,830 articles, the median title length composed of 16 words (IQR = 6), had 2.2 yearly citations (IQR = 3.33), and was published in a journal with an impact factor of 2.74 (IQR = 1.67).”

Use the present tense for things that continue to be true today.

“The Poisson model shows a significant negative effect of longer titles on citation count.”

Use the active voice when possible.

4.5. Example: writing a Results section

In this section, we are going to verify that the Results section of our example article ( link to the full-text P D F ) follows the structure discussed above. (Remember that this article is about studying the influence of title length on its attractiveness).

What follows is the Results section of this article with the main steps highlighted:

In our sample of 9,830 articles, the median title composed of 16 words (IQR = 6), had 2.2 yearly citations (IQR = 3.33), and was published in a journal with an impact factor of 2.74 (IQR = 1.67). Also, 4,317 (43.9%) of titles contained at least one colon, 1,442 (14.7%) contained at least one comma, and 2,794 (28.4%) mentioned the study design.

The Poisson model shows a significant negative effect of longer titles on citation count (Table 2). Specifically, each additional word in the title causes a drop of 2.5% in the citation rate (95% confidence interval: [-2.7%, -2.3%]; p < 0.001). Equivalently, we can say that removing one word from the title causes an increase of 2.5% in the citation rate. To put that into perspective, removing one word from the title of the median article (that has 2.2 citations per year) causes a gain of 0.055 (= 2.2 × 0.025) citations per year, equivalent to 1 citation every 19 years.

Example of a table format in a research paper

5. Writing the Discussion section

In the Discussion section, you should explain the meaning of your results, their importance, and implications.

5.1. Length of the Discussion section

The Discussion section should be:

  • 820 to 1,480 words long (5 to 9 paragraphs).
  • The same length as the Methods or the Results, and about double the length of the Introduction.

(These data are based on an analysis I did on 61,517 articles from PubMed )

5.2. Structure of the Discussion section

Here’s what you should include in the Discussion section:

  • Step #1: Answer the study objective (i.e., where the Introduction ended). Your first sentence can be: “We/I found that” , “This study shows/proves that” , etc.
  • Explain its consequences.
  • Comment on whether it supports or refutes your initial hypothesis (i.e., was this result expected or unexpected?).
  • Compare it with the results of other studies (if they contradict each other: explain why, and suggest a way for further studies to resolve this contradiction).
  • Then discuss your secondary finding (if you have any) by following the same steps as you did for the main finding.
  • Step #3: Point out the strengths of your study (e.g., the use of a new and superior method, a larger sample size, etc.).
  • How you addressed these limitations in your design and analysis (i.e., justify the methods used in your study).
  • What future studies should do to address these limitations.
  • Step #5: Conclude with a takeaway message that reminds the reader of your most important finding and its implications (this Conclusion paragraph is sometimes put in a separate section after the Discussion [for more information, see: Length of a Conclusion Section: Analysis of 47,810 Examples ]).

5.3. Verb tense and voice in the Discussion section

Use the past tense for completed actions. For instance:

“I found that…”.

Use the present tense for things that continue to be true today. For instance:

“This study shows that…”.

5.4. Example: writing a Discussion section

In this section, we are going to verify that the Discussion section of our example article ( link to the full-text PDF ) follows the structure discussed above. (Remember that this article is about studying the influence of title length on its attractiveness).

What follows is the Discussion section of this article with the main steps highlighted:

This study shows that shorter research titles are more engaging by proving that they attract more citations. However, this effect, although statistically significant, is practically negligible since removing one word from a title will attract, on average, a single additional citation every 19 years–so I would not recommend shortening research titles as a strategy for increasing the citation count.

Previous studies on the subject reported conflicting results for articles in different disciplines since they did not use a causal approach to control bias and confounding. For instance, they found that shorter titles attracted more citations in psychology (Subotic and Mukherjee, 2014) and general scientific research (Letchford et al., 2015), but less in economics (Guo et al., 2018) and medicine (Jacques and Sebire, 2010; Habibzadeh and Yadollahie, 2010), and had no effect in marketing research (Stremersch et al., 2007) and scientometrics (Falahati Qadimi Fumani et al., 2015). What distinguishes the present study was the use of a causal diagram to identify and block alternative paths between title length and citation count, removing all but the causal explanation of any association between the two.

However, there are some limitations: (1) the 3 million biomedical research articles that are freely available on PubMed Central from which our sample was drawn may not accurately represent all published articles—thus introducing selection bias; (2) adjusting for the journal impact factor instead of the journal itself (to reduce model complexity) may have resulted in some residual confounding; and (3) the general approach taken to adjust for bias and confounding using a causal diagram (Figure 5) created based on my understanding of the subject may have incorporated an element of subjectivity into the analysis. Future studies can address these issues by: (1) collecting data on articles from different disciplines (to increase the result’s generalizability), (2) including a larger number of articles from each journal (to enable adjusting for Journal instead of Journal impact factor ), and (3) validating, either theoretically or analytically, the structure of the causal diagram (to reduce subjectivity).

Finally, this study proves that shortening a research title is not an effective strategy for earning more citations. Yet, writing shorter titles may still have other benefits, such as: getting more reads on Mendeley (Zahedi and Haustein, 2018; Didegah and Thelwall, 2013), tweets (Haustein et al., 2015), appearances in social media in general (Zagovora et al., 2018), and avoiding truncation when they appear on the results page of an online search engine like Google.

6. Writing the Abstract

The Abstract is a summary of the article.

6.1. Length of the Abstract

The Abstract should be 220 to 320 words long (1 to 4 paragraphs).

(These data are based on an analysis I did on 61,429 articles from PubMed )

6.2. Structure of the Abstract

In the Abstract, you should provide a summary of each section of your paper (It can be divided into subheadings, if the journal allows it):

  • Step #1: Start with a one sentence introduction to the subject.
  • Step #2: Mention the study objective .
  • Step #3: Summarize the Methods section .
  • Step #4: Highlight key results in numbers (including data is important for researchers who want to cite your article based only on the Abstract).
  • Step #5: End with a one sentence conclusion (i.e., skip the detailed discussion of the results and go straight to the takeaway message).

6.3. Example: writing an Abstract

In this section, we are going to verify that the Abstract of our example article ( link to the full-text PDF ) follows the structure discussed above. (Remember that this article is about studying the influence of title length on its attractiveness).

What follows is the Abstract of this article with the main steps highlighted:

Attractive titles are expected to drive more reads and thus more citations to a research article, so studying the effect of title length on its attractiveness can be reduced to analyzing its influence on the citation count. Previous studies on the subject showed conflicting results that are probably attributable to bias and confounding, since they mostly focused on predicting citation count based on title length instead of using a causal model to explain the relationship between the two. The present study aims to quantify the direct influence of title length on its attractiveness guided by a causal diagram to identify and eliminate alternative explanations such as indirect effects and confounding. The study used data on 9,830 biomedical research articles from PubMed Central, downloaded through an API created by Comeau and colleagues. Poisson regression modeled the citation rate as a function of title length, adjusting for mediators of indirect effects—such as the use of a comma and a colon in the title—and confounders—such as the journal impact factor and the mention of study design in the title. The model shows that each word removed from the title increases the citation rate by 2.5%. This means that, for the median article that receives 2.2 citations per year, each word removed from the title causes a gain of 0.055 citations per year, equivalent to 1 citation every 19 years. Although statistically significant, this effect is practically negligible—so shortening a research title is not an effective strategy for earning more citations.

7. Writing the Title

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first. Blaise Pascal

The Title’s role is to describe the content of the article and attract people to read it. Remember that only 18% of those who read the title proceed to read the Abstract [Source: Mabe and Amin, 2002 ].

7.1. Length of the Title

The Title should be 11 to 18 words long (80 to 129 characters).

Keep your Title as short as possible, since:

  • Google shows only the first 60 characters of titles in their results page, so longer titles will be truncated when they appear in Google search.
  • High-impact journals tend to publish articles with short titles.

(These data are based on an analysis I did on 104,161 titles from PubMed )

7.2. Structure of the Title

The Title should:

  • Mention the central question or the purpose of the study (including important variables).
  • Be front loaded : this means that the keywords should be close to the beginning of the title (remember that readers are scanning the title and they want to determine as fast as possible if they are interested in your article).
  • Have a meaningful short version . For those searching online, Google will show them only the first 60 characters of your title and the rest is truncated. So, make sure to pack enough information in this part for users to be able to judge whether they want to click it.
  • Mention the study design [optional].
  • Avoid abbreviations and jargon . For instance: “ The effects of having CVD on the psychological status “ should be replaced by “Psychological effects of cardiovascular disease” .

7.3. Example: writing a Title

The following figure shows how the Title of our example article follows the structure discussed above:

Example of writing a title for a research paper

8. Writing optional sections

8.1. writing the acknowledgement section.

In this section, you should acknowledge any significant technical contribution, permission, advice, suggestion, or comment you received.

“I would like to thank Prof. John for assistance with choosing an appropriate study design”.

“Thanks are due to all the hospital crew members who contributed their time and effort to make the data collection feasible in the shortest time possible”.

8.2. Writing the Funding section

In this section, you should provide the sources of funding, or the sources of the equipment and materials used in the study, and the role of funders.

“The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article”.

“This work was supported by [name of the funder, and grant number]”.

8.3. Writing the Conflicts of Interest section

In this section, you should state if you have any direct or indirect competing interests that may have influenced the outcome of the study, such as: financial, work, personal, or religious interests.

“The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest”.

“The corresponding author was a former employee in company X that sells the main product used in this study”.

8.4. Writing the Appendix

In this section, you should provide supplementary information that was too large to be included in the main text, such as: data, questionnaires, and additional details on the materials and methods used.

9. Refining and improving your article

The following is a list of useful tips to improve your writing:

  • Avoid jargon , be concise, and focus on saving your readers’ time. The truth is that nobody enjoys reading, if readers can download information into their brain, they would!
  • Assume that your readers are beginners : so, use terms that are easy to understand.
  • Avoid acronyms when possible.
  • You don’t know the subject.
  • You don’t want to repeat the pronouns ”I” or ”We” in many places in the same paragraph (although it would be fine to use them sparingly, see: ”I” & ”We” in Academic Writing: Examples from 9,830 Studies ).
  • You want to emphasize what was done instead of who did it (especially in the Methods section).
  • To maintain the flow of ideas (for more information, see the video lecture by Steven Pinker below).
  • Write short sentences and paragraphs : each paragraph should be between 2 and 6 sentences long (65 to 167 words), and should cover a single topic. (For more information, see: Paragraph Length: Data from 9,830 Research Papers )
  • Get rid of hedge words : e.g. ”These results might suggest that a fair amount of x is suspected to have a meaningful impact on y” . These make you sound hesitant or unsure about what you are talking about.
  • Avoid using “They” or “Their” when the subject is singular . For a gender-neutral language, revise the sentence to make the subject plural. For instance, use: “Participants were assigned according to their choosing” instead of “Each participant was assigned according to their choosing” .

For more writing tips, I highly recommend this lecture by Steven Pinker:

10. Managing and formatting your References

When it comes to references, you should:

  • Cite between 25 and 56 references overall (approximately 1 reference for every 95 words or 4 sentences) [Source: How Many References Should a Research Paper Have? Study of 96,685 Articles ].
  • Aim to find those published within the past 13 years [Source: How Old Should Your Article References Be? Based on 3,823,919 Examples ].
  • Cite the original source, not secondary sources.
  • Cite research papers and books instead of websites and videos (unless these contained original data not available elsewhere).
  • Use a citation management software to collect and organize your references. I recommend Zotero® since it is free, easy to learn, and has a lot of tutorials online.

11. Submitting your article

Here’s a step-by-step description of how to find a journal and submit your article:

  • Go to: The Directory of Open Access Journals (This is a database of 17,614 journals that publish open-access articles–i.e., if you publish in these journals, your article’s full-text will be available for free to your readers).
  • Under SEE JOURNALS, select: Without article processing charges in order to exclude journal where you have to pay to publish your article.
  • Under SUBJECTS, choose: the domain that is closest to the topic of your article.
  • Under LANGUAGES, select: English.
  • Select a journal from the suggested list.
  • Go to the journal’s website, look for their “Instructions for authors”, and format your article accordingly.
  • Sign-up to their website and submit your article.

Once your article is submitted, the editor takes a look at it and may:

  • The topic of your article is not interesting for the journal’s audience.
  • Your work is not important enough to be published in that journal.
  • Rejected: In this case, you have to send your article to another journal (don’t get discouraged by rejection, sometimes important articles get rejected).
  • Rejected, but can be resubmitted after making some major changes suggested by the reviewers (for instance, expanding, deleting, or re-writing major parts of the article): in this case, you can either revise and resubmit, or look for another journal.
  • Accepted, but needs minor changes.
  • Accepted (without the need for changes).

When you want to revise and resubmit your article, you should prepare 2 things:

  • A revised manuscript with all the modifications you made highlighted (to make it easy for the reviewers to see what you changed).
  • A response for the reviewers where you address their comments point by point: you can either agree or disagree with their recommendations (but, in case you disagree, you should explain the reason).

Once your paper is accepted, you will get a final version formatted in the journal’s style. Be careful to look for errors before you accept this final version.

Further reading

  • How Long Should a Research Paper Be? Data from 61,519 Examples
  • Can a Research Title Be a Question? Real-World Examples
  • Statistical Software Popularity in 40,582 Research Papers

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  • v.10(1); Jan-Mar 2017

Preparing and Publishing a Scientific Manuscript

Padma r. jirge.

Department of Reproductive Medicine, Sushrut Assisted Conception Clinic Shreyas Hospital, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India

Publishing original research in a peer-reviewed and indexed journal is an important milestone for a scientist or a clinician. It is an important parameter to assess academic achievements. However, technical and language barriers may prevent many enthusiasts from ever publishing. This review highlights the important preparatory steps for creating a good manuscript and the most widely used IMRaD (Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion) method for writing a good manuscript. It also provides a brief overview of the submission and review process of a manuscript for publishing in a biomedical journal.

B ACKGROUND

T he publication of original research in a peer-reviewed and indexed journal is the ultimate and most important step toward the recognition of any scientific work. However, the process starts long before the write-up of a manuscript. The journal in which the author wishes to publish his/her work should be chosen at the time of conceptualization of the scientific work based on the expected readership.

The journals do provide information on the “scope of the journal,” which specifies the scientific areas relevant for publication in the journal, and “instructions to authors,” which need to be adhered to while preparing a manuscript.

The publication of scientific work has become mandatory for scientists or specialists holding academic affiliations, and it is now desirable even at an undergraduate level. Despite a plethora of forums for presenting the original research work, very little of it ever gets published in a scientific journal, and even if it does, the manuscripts are usually from the same few institutions.[ 1 , 2 ] It serves the purpose of academic recognition; and certain publications may even contribute to shaping various national policies. An academic appointment, suitable infrastructure, and access to peer-reviewed journals are considered as the facilitators for publishing.[ 3 ]

The lack of technical and writing skills, institutional hurdles, and time constraints are considered as the major hurdles for any scientific publication.[ 3 ] In addition, the majority of clinicians in India are involved in providing healthcare in the private sector in individually owned hospitals or those governed by small groups of doctors. This necessitates performing a multitude of tasks apart from providing core clinical care and, hence, poses an additional limiting factor because of the long and irregular working hours.

It is extremely challenging to dedicate some time for research and writing in such a scenario. However, it is a loss to science if this group of skilled clinicians does not contribute to medical literature.

Maintaining the ethics and science of research and understanding the norms of preparing a manuscript are very important in improving the quality and relevance of clinical research in our country. This article brings together various aspects to be borne in mind while creating a manuscript suitable for publication. The inputs provided are relevant to all those interested, irrespective of whether they have an academic or institutional affiliation. While the prospect of becoming an author of a published scientific work is exciting, it is important to be prepared for minor or major revisions in the original article and even rejection. However, persevering in this endeavor may help preserving one’s work and contribute to the promotion of science.[ 4 , 5 ]

Important considerations for writing a manuscript include the following:

  • (1) Conceptualization of a clinically relevant scientific work.
  • (2) Choosing an appropriate journal and an alternative one.
  • (3) Familiarizing with instructions to authors.
  • (4) Coordination and well-defined task delegation within the team and involvement of a biostatistician from the conception of the study.
  • (5) Preparing a skeletal framework for writing the manuscript.
  • (6) Delegating time for thinking and writing at regular intervals.

S TEPS I NVOLVED IN M ANUSCRIPT P REPARATION

A manuscript should both be informative and readable. Even though the concept is clear in the authors’ mind, it is important to remember that they are introducing some new work for the readers, and, hence, appropriate organization of the manuscript is necessary to make the purpose and importance of the work clear to the readers.

  • (1) Choosing the appropriate journal for publication : The preferred choice of journal should be one of the first steps to be considered, as mentioned earlier. The guidelines for authors may change with time and, hence, should be referred to at regular intervals and conformed to. The choice of journal principally depends on the target readers, and it may be necessary to have one or more journals in mind in case of nonacceptance from the journal of first choice. A journal’s impact factor is to be considered while choosing an appropriate journal.

Majority of the biomedical journals with good impact factor have specific authorship criteria.[ 8 ] This prevents problems related to ghost authorship and honorary authorship. Ghost authorship refers to a scenario wherein an author’s name is omitted to hide financial relationships with private companies; honorary authorship is naming someone who has not made substantial contribution to the work, either due to pressure from colleagues or to improve the chances of publication.[ 9 ]

Most of the journals conform to the authorship criteria defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.[ 10 ] They are listed as the following:

Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; ANDDrafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; ANDFinal approval of the version to be published; ANDAgreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Some journals require authors to declare their contributions to the research work and manuscript preparation. This helps to prevent honorary and ghost authorship and encourages authors to be more honest and accountable.[ 11 ]

Keywords : are mentioned at the bottom of the Abstract section. These words denote the important aspects of the manuscript and help identify the manuscripts by electronic search engines. Most of the journals specify the number of keywords required, usually between 4 and 8. They need to be simple and specific to the manuscript; a good title contains majority of the keywords.

The general flow of the manuscript follows an IMRaD (Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion) structure. Even though this has been recommended since the early 20 th century, most of the authors started following it since the 1970s.[ 13 ]

Important components of the Introduction section

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Object name is JHRS-10-3-g001.jpg

A common error while writing an introduction is an attempt to review the entire evidence available on the topic. This becomes confusing to the reader, and the purpose and importance of the study in question gets submerged in the plethora of information provided. Issues mentioned in the Introduction section will need to be addressed in the Discussion section, and it is important to avoid repetitions and overlapping. Some may prefer to write the Introduction section after preparing the draft of the Materials and Methods and Results sections.

The last paragraph in the Introduction section defines the aim of the study or the study question using active verbs. If there is more than one aim for the study, specify the primary aim and address the secondary aims in a separate sentence. It is recommended that the Introduction section should not occupy more than 10–15% of the entire text.[ 14 ]

This is followed by a detailed description of the study protocol. At times, some of the methods used may be very elaborate and not very relevant to majority of the readers, for example, if polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used for diagnosis, the type of PCR performed should be mentioned in this section, but the entire procedure need not be elaborated in the “methods” section. Either a relevant reference can be provided or the procedural details can be given online as supplemental data.

It is important to mention both the generic and brand names of all the drugs used along with the name of the manufacturer and the place of manufacturing. Similarly, all the hematological, biochemical, hormonal assays, and radiological investigations performed should provide the specifications of the equipment used and its manufacturer’s details. For many biochemical and endocrine parameters, it is preferred that the intra- and interassay coefficients of variation are provided. In addition, the standard units of measurements and the internationally accepted abbreviations should be used.[ 18 ]

There are online guidelines available to maintain uniformity in reporting the different types of studies such as Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) for randomized controlled trials, Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) for observational studies, and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) for systematic reviews.[ 19 ] Adherence to these guidelines improves the clarity and completeness of reporting.

Statistical analysis : One of the most important deterrents for publishing clinical research is the inability to choose and perform appropriate statistical analysis. With the availability of various user-friendly software systems, an increasing number of the researchers are comfortable performing complex analyses without additional assistance. However, it is still a common practice to involve biostatisticians for this purpose. Coordination between the clinicians and biostatisticians is very important for sample size calculation, creation of a proper data set, and its subsequent analysis. It is important to use the appropriate statistical methodologies for a more complete representation of the data to improve the quality of a manuscript.[ 20 ] It may be helpful to refer to a recent review of the most widely used statistical analyses and their application in clinical research for a better data presentation.[ 20 ] There is some evidence that structured training involving data analysis, manuscript writing, and submission to indexed journals improves the quality of submitted manuscripts even in a low-resource setting.[ 21 ] Short, online certificate courses on biostatistics are available free of cost from many universities across the globe. The important aspects regarding the Materials and Methods section are summarized in Table 2 .

Important components of the Materials and Methods section

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The results of the study are summarized in the form of tables and figures. Journals may have limitations on the number of figures and tables, as well as the rows and columns in tables. The text should only highlight the findings recorded in the tables and figures and should not repeat every detail.[ 16 ] Primary analysis should be presented in a separate paragraph. Any secondary analysis performed in view of the results seen in the primary analysis should be mentioned separately [ Table 3 ].

Important components of the Results section

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Object name is JHRS-10-3-g003.jpg

When comparing two groups, it is a good practice to mention the data pertaining to the study group followed by that of the control group and to maintain the same order throughout the section. No adjectives should be used while comparing, except for the statistical significance of the findings. The Results section is written in the past tense, and the numerical values should be presented with a maximum of one decimal place.

Statistical significance as shown by P-value, if accompanied by odds ratio and 95% confidence interval gives important information of direction and size of treatment effect. The measures of central tendencies should be followed by the appropriate measures of variability (mean and standard deviation; median and interquartile range). Relative measures should be accompanied by absolute values (percentage and actual value).[ 22 ] The interpretation of results solely based on bar diagrams or line graphs could be misleading, and a more complete data may be presented in the form of box plots or scatter plots.[ 20 ]

The strengths and weaknesses of the study should be discussed in a separate paragraph. This makes way for implications for clinical practice and future research.[ 16 , 23 ]

The section ends with a conclusion of not more than one to two sentences. The Conclusion section summarizes the study findings in the context of evidence in the field. The important components of the Discussion section are summarized in Table 4 [ Figure 1 ].

Important components of the Discussion section

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Object name is JHRS-10-3-g004.jpg

The hourglass structure of the Introduction and Discussion sections

A referencing tool such as EndNote™ may be used to store and organize the references. The references at the end of the manuscript need to be listed in a manner specified by the journal. The common styles used are Vancouver, Harvard, APA, etc.[ 24 ] Despite continued efforts, standardization to one global format has not yet become a reality.[ 25 ]

It is important to understand the evidence in the referenced articles to write meaningful Introduction and Discussion sections. Online search engines such as Pubmed, Medline, and Scopus are some of the sources that provide abstracts from indexed journals. However, a full-text article may not always be available unless one has subscription for the journals. Those with institutional attachments, authors, and even the research division of pharmaceutical companies may be unconventional but helpful sources for procuring full-text articles. Individual articles can be purchased from certain journals as well.

  • (9) Acknowledgements : This section follows the Conclusion section. People who have helped in various aspects of the concerned research work, statistical analysis, or manuscript preparation, but do not qualify to be authors for the study, are acknowledged, preferably with their academic affiliations.[ 26 ]

The aforementioned section provides the general guidelines for preparing a good manuscript. However, an exhaustive list of available guidelines and other resources to facilitate good research reporting are provided by the Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research network ( http://www.equator-network.org ).

A DDITIONAL F ACTORS I NFLUENCING THE M ANUSCRIPT Q UALITY

  • (1) Plagiarism : Plagiarism is a serious threat to scientific publications and is described by the office of Research Integrity as “theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another’s work and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” The primary responsibility of preventing plagiarism lies with the authors. It is important to develop the skill of writing any manuscript in one’s own words and when quoting available evidence, substantiate with appropriate references. However, the use of plagiarism detection tools and a critical analysis by the editorial team prior to submitting an article for peer review are also equally important to prevent this menace.[ 29 ] The consequences of plagiarism could range from disciplinary charges such as retraction of the article to criminal charges.[ 30 ]
  • (2) Language : One of the important limitations to publication is the problem of writing in English. This can be minimized by seeking help from colleagues or using the language editing service provided by many of the journals.
  • (3) Professional medical writing support : In recent years, it is acknowledged that the lack of time and linguistic constraints prevent some of the good work from being published. Hence, the role of professional medical writing support is being critically evaluated. Declared professional medical writing support is found to be associated with more complete reporting of clinical trial results and higher quality of written English. Medical writing support may play an important role in raising the quality of clinical trial reporting.[ 31 ] The role of professional medical writers should be acknowledged in the Acknowledgements section.[ 32 ]

S UBMISSION TO J OURNALS AND R EVIEWING P ROCESS

The submission of manuscripts is now exclusively an online exercise. The basic model of submission in any journal comprises the following: the title file or first page file, article file, image files, videos, charts, tables, figures, and copyright/consent forms. It is important to keep all the files ready in a folder before starting the submission process. When submitting images, it is important to have good quality, well-focused images with good resolution.[ 33 ] Some journals may offer the choice of selecting preferred reviewers to the authors and hence, one must be prepared for this. Once the manuscript is submitted, the status can be periodically checked. With minor variations, a submitted article goes through the following review process: The Editor allocates it to one of the editorial team members who checks for the suitability for publication in the journal. It is checked for plagiarism as well at this stage. The article then goes for peer review to two to three reviewers. The review process may take 4–6 weeks, at the end of which, the reviewers submit their remarks, and “article decision” is made, which could be an advice for minor/major revisions, rewriting the whole manuscript for specific reasons, acceptance without any changes (very rare), or rejection. It is important to take into consideration all the comments of the reviewers and incorporate the necessary changes in the manuscript before resubmitting. However, if the manuscript is rejected, revise to incorporate the valid suggestions given by the reviewers and consider submitting to another journal in the field. This should be effected without delay overcoming the disappointment so that the research still remains valid in the context of time.

P REDATORY J OURNALS

Some of the well-known journals provide an “open access” option to the authors, wherein if the manuscript is published, it is accessible to all the readers online free of cost. However, the authors need to pay a certain fee to make their manuscript an open access article. In addition, some of the well-known journals published by reputed publishers such as BioMed Central (BMC) and Public Library of Science (PLoS) have online “open access” journals, where the manuscripts are published for a fee but are subjected to the conventional scrutiny process, and the readers can access the full-text article.[ 34 ] The Directory of Open Access Journals, http://doaj.org , is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high-quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. However, many online open access journals are mushrooming, which provide a legitimate face for an illegitimate publication process lacking basic industry standards, sound peer review practices, and solid basis in publication ethics. Such journals are known as “predatory journals.”[ 35 ] The pressure of needing to have scientific publications and the lack of knowledge regarding predatory journals may encourage authors to submit their articles to such journals. Currently, it is not easy to identify predatory journals, and authors should seek such information proactively from mentors, journal websites, and recent and relevant published literature. In addition, editorial oversights (editors and editorial board members), peer review practices, the quality of published articles, indexing, access, citations and ethical practices are important aspects to be considered while choosing an appropriate journal.[ 36 ]

A relevant research hypothesis and research conducted within the ethical framework are of utmost importance for clinical research. The natural progression from here is the manuscript preparation, a daunting process for most of the clinicians involved in clinical research. Choosing a journal that provides an appropriate platform for the manuscript, conforming to the instructions specific for the journal, and following certain simple guidelines can result in successful preparation and publishing of scientific work. Allocating certain time at regular intervals for writing and maintaining discipline and perseverance in this regard are very important prerequisites to achieve the goal of successful publication.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

R EFERENCES

How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal

Affiliations.

  • 1 Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, 135 Dauer Dr, 27599, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
  • 2 Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, 135 Dauer Dr, 27599, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. [email protected].
  • 3 Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2029, USA. [email protected].
  • PMID: 32356250
  • PMCID: PMC8520870
  • DOI: 10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z

Communicating research findings is an essential step in the research process. Often, peer-reviewed journals are the forum for such communication, yet many researchers are never taught how to write a publishable scientific paper. In this article, we explain the basic structure of a scientific paper and describe the information that should be included in each section. We also identify common pitfalls for each section and recommend strategies to avoid them. Further, we give advice about target journal selection and authorship. In the online resource 1, we provide an example of a high-quality scientific paper, with annotations identifying the elements we describe in this article.

Keywords: Manuscripts; Publishing; Scientific writing.

© 2020. The Author(s).

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SciSpace Resources

The 4-Step Guide That Will Get Your Research Published

Monali Ghosh

You’ve spent months and years working on your research project, sometimes sacrificing a good night’s sleep and, often, backing out of events you really wanted to go to. Finally it’s time…to get your research published!

Academic-Research-Publishing_SciSpace-Resources

The scholarly publishing industry is huge and there are thousands of journals for researchers to choose from. However, given the scary high rejection rates of submission in peer-reviewed journals and the 6–12 months time taken to get published, how do you know which journal is your best bet?

Here are a few steps that you can take to significantly improve your chances of getting published:

1. Browse legit journals

As of 2015, the academic publishing market had an annual revenue of $20.5 Billion . This revenue has grown tremendously over the last two years. Consequently, this growth has given rise to a large number of predatory publishers who try to scam early-career researchers in return for getting their research published. Unfamiliar with the process of research publishing and attracted by the prospect of getting published sooner than thought, early- career researchers often fall prey to these publishers.

You can take a few measures to avoid getting scammed by these predatory journals:

  • Stay wary of unsolicited calls /emails — Reputable publishers don’t make cold calls or send unsolicited emails seeking submissions. It is mainly scammers who get access researchers’ details via Google Scholar, Academia.edu etc. and then do cold reach-outs.
  • Use Jeffrey Beall’s list : Jeffrey Beall built this list of predatory journals and publishers . If you find a publisher suspicious, check if their name appears on this list. If it does, be sure that you’re being mugged. Hence, stay away.
  • Non-indexed journals : PubMed, JSTOR, SCOPUS, SHERPA, and DOJA ( Directory of Open Journal Access ) are some of the popular databases of authentic journals. If you are unsure about a publisher’s authenticity, check if their journal is listed on these databases.
  • Non-clarity on APC ( Article Processing Charge)– Most Open Access journals charge APC. This is a definite fee about which you can find information on the journal’s website. However, predatory journals often falter while quoting APC or their websites or do not have a proper APC break-down.

Read more about identifying legitimate journals .

2. Choose the best-fit journal

Allaying your fears of being scammed by a predatory publisher is just step one towards getting your research published. The real test of your efforts starts at submission, when your paper is reviewed. This is the stage where most papers are rejected for not complying to a journals’ formatting guidelines. Each journal has its own formatting, styling and referencing guidelines. Failing to comply with these leads to rejection.

One common mistake that early-career researchers make is that they write a paper first and then decide the journal to get published in. Another mistake they make is to aim for the highest-ranked journal in their field for publication. This naturally increases the chances of rejection for first-timers.

Quality and reputation of journals matter. However, credibility of journals and getting accepted faster is of prime importance.

So a much better approach is to:

  • Write a list of journals in the area of your research. You can use your university’s library search or the internet to find the journals.
  • Once the list is ready, re-organize it according to the journals’ relevance and quality.
  • Check if the journals on your list have published on your specific topic in the past.
  • Look through your references and bibliography to see if your sources come from one or more of the journals on your list.

Together, points 3 and 4, should give you a good idea of the journals you should approach to maximize your chances of getting published.

3. Understand the submission process

As mentioned earlier, not complying with the guidelines of a journal is one of the most common reasons why research papers get rejected . Once you have decided the journal you want to publish in, visit the journal’s website and read through their guidelines. Almost all journals have a different submission process.

The guidelines of each journal tend to vary across the following details:

  • Minimum and maximum length of the article
  • Referencing
  • Formatting (includes space, font, margin, headings etc)
  • British (or Australian)/American English
  • Choice of medium –electronic, hard copy, or both

Use SciSpace (Formerly Typeset) to ensure that your paper is 100% compliant to journal guidelines.

Some submission advice

While submitting your article for publication make sure that you are submitting it to only one journal at a time, as most journals would refuse to consider an article for publication if it’s considered for publication in other journals. Most publications require researchers to declare that their work is not being considered for publishing in other journals.

Some journals only accept hard copy submissions through the post, while some only accept electronic submissions (in .doc, .docx), while others may require you to submit in both formats. It is, therefore, critical to read the submission guidelines carefully on the journal’s website.

4. Write a convincing journal cover letter

The role of a cover letter is to convince an editor that your research work is worth publishing in their journal. Hence, it is highly important that you write the letter with as much sincerity as you would write your manuscript text.

Here are some tips that you can use while writing the cover letter for your journal submission:

  • If possible, find out the name of the editor and address her by name. You can find out the name of the editor through the journal’s online submission system. This information is generally public.
  • In the first and the second paragraph of the cover letter state the name of your manuscript, include the names of the author/s, describe the reason behind your interest in the research work you have done, and the major findings from your research. Additionally, you can refer to prior work or the previous articles that you have published.
  • In the next paragraph, address the aim and scope of the journal. Write how your work contributes to the aim of the journal and falls within the scope of their scientific coverage. Also mention why your work would be valuable for their readers.
  • Finally, conclude the letter with statements that tell the editor that your manuscript is original and that no part of it is under consideration for publication elsewhere. A few journals also seek researchers to submit a list of the reviewers to whom your article can be sent for review. If the journal requests so, you should include the list in the concluding part the letter.

Once submitted, peer-review can take as long as six months. This primarily depends on how a publication has set up its peer-review process. A few publications have a two-stage review process wherein an editor first reviews articles to decide if they are worthy of peer-review. If your article passes this test, it’s then sent to a reviewer or a group of reviewers (these are academics from the field that you have written your article in). This process can take several months and you would, finally, get an email or a letter from the journal stating their decision.

If the journal decides to not publish your article, you would get the reviewer’s report and comments on your work. If you don’t, you can request to get them. This will help you improve your article before you send it to another journal for consideration.

It’s rare that a researcher’s work is accepted in the first attempt. However, most of the time it is not their research work, but the neglect researchers show while approaching publishers and presenting their research that fails them. If you perfect the approach you use to reach editors, you may get your research published in your first attempt!

In light of the fact that you are on the lookout for platforms that simplify research workflows, we recommend you check out SciSpace discover . Our suite of products can make your research workflows easier so that you can focus more on advancing science.

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How to Publish a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Publish a Research Paper

Publishing a research paper or getting it published in an academic journal can be one of the most fulfilling accomplishments in your academic career. You’ve spent countless hours learning, researching, thinking and writing, and now you get to share your knowledge with others who share your interests and passion for research. This guide on how to publish a research paper will help you choose the best journal for publishing your work, what information to include in your manuscript and how to format it correctly and more!

Publish Paper with IJPRSE

Choose your topic

For many scientists, the goal of their research is publication. Every published paper not only contributes to the body of knowledge in a particular field, but also gives credit and recognition for individual accomplishment. Publishing can be an arduous process, however; take this step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Conduct your Literature Review

Find articles from reputable journals and use them to conduct your literature review. To start, you can conduct an academic search in Google Scholar , read the abstracts, and include these articles in your list of sources. Make sure that all the papers are on an appropriate scholarly level (peer reviewed, etc.) and published within 5 years of when you write your paper. Once you have compiled this list of academic sources, it is time to move on the steps.

Write your Introduction

In the introduction, you’ll summarize the paper’s content and specify its goals. After, you’ll establish a clear research question or problem that your research will try to answer. With this all done, you’ll introduce who your target audience is and outline how your findings will affect them. In short, the introduction must tell people what they’re getting themselves into.

Write your Methodology section

I will use the grading scale as an example of how to write a formal methodology section. I have been using this system in all my research writing classes, and it has been accepted by both instructors and readers. As such, I feel confident in saying that it is both efficient and effective. The steps are as follows: To begin, place the question or problem statement in brackets at the top of the page. For instance:

Write your Results section

1.Sit down and think about your research project from beginning to end; ask yourself, What are the major findings? What are my key messages? Once you have answered these questions, it is important to think about how the audience of your paper will react. Will they understand what you’re trying to say or explain? If not, can you simplify it?

2. It is a good idea to start by outlining your ideas in points and then reordering them into an outline that flows in sequential order.

3. This next step is one of the most crucial: having someone who understands English grammar and has excellent writing skills read over your paper for errors before submitting it for publishing.

Write your Discussion section

After thinking about the purpose of your research and reading related papers, formulate an original research question. Make sure your question is clear and has a single answer with some way to measure it, otherwise your results will be ambiguous. Once you have developed the best research question, start writing out how you are going to answer it by outlining what you need. Next, follow these steps when starting on your experimental procedures:

1. set up necessary materials and equipment;

2. construct study setup;

3. collect data; and finally

4. analyze data.

Be sure not to rush this process because you want everything in place before getting into the analysis step so that you can quickly find any errors or mistakes if they exist.

Write your Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, I recommend that you write your introduction at the end of the paper. Then, work on the methods and results sections and finally the discussion section. Once you finish with those three sections, then write your introduction. I also recommend using reference materials like an index card and your computer during the process of writing. Remember that publishing a research paper can be fun and rewarding!

Get References from Sources

A lot of people ask me how to publish a research paper. Fortunately, this is pretty easy these days if you know where to start. Here’s how it works. You need your references from sources, of course. These should be from respected and reliable sources (e.g., journals with peer review) that are relevant for your topic area. Your reviewers may require them for approval purposes and/or help evaluating the quality of your research. You’ll want at least five good references – more is better, but not all papers need more than five good references, especially those on popular topics in academic circles or within a specific discipline.

Start Writing

The first step is coming up with a research question.

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Migrant encounters at the u.s.-mexico border hit a record high at the end of 2023.

The U.S. Border Patrol had nearly 250,000 encounters with migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico in December 2023, according to government statistics . That was the highest monthly total on record, easily eclipsing the previous peak of about 224,000 encounters in May 2022.

A line chart showing that 2023 ended with more migrant encounters at U.S.-Mexico border than any month on record.

The monthly number of encounters has soared since 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic temporarily forced the U.S.-Mexico border to close and slowed migration across much of the world . In April 2020, the Border Patrol recorded around 16,000 encounters – among the lowest monthly totals in decades.

This Pew Research Center analysis examines migration patterns at the U.S.-Mexico border using  current  and  historical data  from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that includes the U.S. Border Patrol. The analysis is based on a metric known as migrant encounters.

The term “encounters” refers to two distinct types of events:

  • Apprehensions: Migrants are taken into custody in the United States, at least temporarily, to await a decision on whether they can remain in the country legally, such as by being granted asylum. Apprehensions are carried out under  Title 8 of the U.S. code , which deals with immigration law.
  • Expulsions: Migrants are immediately expelled to their home country or last country of transit without being held in U.S. custody. Expulsions are carried out under Title 42 of the U.S. code, a previously  rarely used section of the law  that the Trump administration invoked during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic . The law empowers federal health authorities to stop migrants from entering the country if it is determined that barring them could prevent the spread of contagious diseases. The Biden administration stopped the use of Title 42 in May 2023, when the federal government declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency .

It is important to note that encounters refer to events, not people, and that some migrants are encountered more than once. As a result, the overall number of encounters may overstate the number of distinct individuals involved.

This analysis is limited to monthly encounters between ports of entry involving the Border Patrol. It excludes encounters at ports of entry involving the Office of Field Operations.

Since then, the monthly number of migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border has surpassed 200,000 on 10 separate occasions. That threshold previously hadn’t been reached since March 2000, when there were about 220,000 encounters.

It’s not clear whether the recent high numbers of encounters at the border will persist in 2024. In January, encounters fell to around 124,000 , according to the latest available statistics.

  • Apprehensions: Migrants are taken into custody in the U.S., at least temporarily, to await a decision on whether they can remain in the country legally, such as by being granted asylum. Apprehensions are carried out under  Title 8 of the U.S. code , which deals with immigration law.

A stacked bar chart showing that use of Title 42 began during coronavirus pandemic and ended in May 2023.

  • Expulsions : Migrants are immediately expelled to their home country or last country of transit without being held in U.S. custody. Expulsions are carried out under Title 42 of the U.S. code, a previously  rarely used section of the law  that the Trump administration invoked during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law empowers federal health authorities to stop migrants from entering the country if it is determined that barring them could prevent the spread of contagious diseases. In the early months of the pandemic in the U.S., the Border Patrol relied heavily on Title 42 to expel most of the migrants it encountered at the border. The Biden administration stopped the use of Title 42 in May 2023, when the federal government declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency . Since then, the Border Patrol has been apprehending migrants within the U.S. instead of expelling them from the country.

Related:  Key facts about Title 42, the pandemic policy that has reshaped immigration enforcement at U.S.-Mexico border

Who is crossing the U.S.-Mexico border?

An area chart showing that a growing share of migrant encounters involve people traveling in families.

In December 2023, most encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border (54%) involved migrants traveling as single adults, while 41% involved people traveling in families and 5% involved unaccompanied minors.

In recent months, a growing number of encounters have involved people traveling in families. In December 2023, the Border Patrol had nearly 102,000 encounters with family members, up from around 61,000 a year earlier.

There has also been a shift in migrants’ origin countries. Historically, most encounters at the southwestern border have involved citizens of Mexico or the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. But in December 2023, 54% of encounters involved citizens of countries other than these four nations.

An area chart showing that most border encounters now involve people from countries other than Mexico and Northern Triangle.

Venezuelans, in particular, stand out. Nearly 47,000 migrant encounters in December 2023 involved citizens of Venezuela, up from about 6,000 a year earlier. The number of encounters involving Venezuelans was second only to the approximately 56,000 involving Mexicans in December 2023.

There has also been a sharp increase in encounters with citizens of China, despite its distance from the U.S.-Mexico border. The Border Patrol reported nearly 6,000 encounters with Chinese citizens at the southwestern border in December 2023, up from around 900 a year earlier.

How do Americans view the situation at the border?

The American public is broadly dissatisfied with how things are going at the border, according to a new Pew Research Center survey .

Eight-in-ten U.S. adults say the government is doing a very or somewhat bad job dealing with the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. at the border with Mexico. And nearly as many say the situation is either a “crisis” (45%) or a “major problem” (32%) for the U.S.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on March 15, 2021.

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What’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border in 7 charts

Most americans are critical of government’s handling of situation at u.s.-mexico border, after surging in 2019, migrant apprehensions at u.s.-mexico border fell sharply in fiscal 2020, how border apprehensions, ice arrests and deportations have changed under trump, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

Science | Eureka! How a Stanford study revealed the…

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Science | for bay area, a couple of days of mostly dry weather ahead of possible weekend rain, science | eureka how a stanford study revealed the success of research failures, faced with experiments that can’t be reproduced, academia seeks to improve and “future proof” research.

Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Thomas Südhof, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, co-authored a paper with postdoc Kif Liakath-Ali that revealed flaws in previous research. Faced with a disturbing flurry of experiments that can't be reproduced, academia is ramping up efforts to “future proof” experiments.

An important paper recently published by an esteemed Stanford research team reported an unusual result: An experiment went wrong.

Usually, scientists seek to burnish their reputations by announcing positive news of a discovery that solves a problem or transforms how we view the world.

But this negative news — which revealed that earlier neuroscience research was flawed — can also be positive. It builds a stronger scientific foundation and helps restore public trust, according to a growing consensus of scientists and journal editors.

Faced with a disturbing flurry of experiments that can’t be reproduced, academia is ramping up efforts to “future proof” its research.

While headlines are dominated by fraud or research misconduct cases, including a scandal that led to the resignation of Stanford University President Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne , these instances are relatively rare. A bigger problem is experimentation that lacks robust design, methodology, analysis and interpretation of results — so arrives at the wrong conclusions.

“Our efforts highlight the importance of experimental rigor,” said Stanford postdoctoral neuroscientist Kif Liakath-Ali , who conducted the work with Nobel Laureate Thomas Südhof.

His revelation — that sometimes a negative can be a positive — came while he was trying to reproduce and build upon a 2017 study about the behavior of brain cells. He wanted to understand the regulation of brain cells, with major implications for memory, behavior and neurological disease. He discovered that the previous approach in the lab had killed cells, leading to “a skewing of results and biased conclusions,” he said.

I t was a professional setback for Liakath-Ali, who had aimed to build on this research to make a new and meaningful discovery.

A junior scientist, he worried that his insight, based on almost two years of work, would not advance his career. Instead, Liakath-Ali has been honored by the School of Medicine ’s new Program on Research Rigor and Reproducibili ty with an award for his integrity.

His finding has emboldened other research teams to come forward to describe their own failed attempts, he said. Although those teams had stayed silent, “they had seen the same thing.”

“That’s what good science is about,” said Dr. Steven Goodman , who leads Stanford’s Program on Research Rigor and Reproducibility. “It detected that some really important findings … were just wrong.”

“We want to reward how people do science,” he said, “and if they do it better than the last person.”

Science is famed for its “Eureka” moments. We love the tale of Scottish microbiologist Alexander Fleming, who came home from vacation to discover a mold producing penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic, growing inside a neglected Petri dish..

Real experimentation takes many twists and turns and doesn’t always deliver the expected outcome.

“I have not failed,” inventor Thomas Edison famously said. “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

But modern science is competitive. In today’s “publish or perish” academic culture, careers are advanced by insights, so scientists are incentivized to announce only positive findings.

In the worst cases, this can foster fraudulent or sloppy practices. Tessier-Lavigne resigned his post after an independent review found multiple errors in five papers he had overseen , concluding that “multiple members of (his) labs over the years appear to have manipulated research data and/or fallen short of accepted scientific practices.”

Journals also favor papers that are “hot,” with impact that will be widely cited and elevate a journal’s reputation.

“A challenge for scientists has been that (experimental) repetitions are difficult to publish, no matter whether they are positive or negative,” said Südhof, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. “This is bad because it creates a disincentive for repeating experiments.”

Journals are trying to change, said Holden Thorp, editor of the prominent journal Science, at last week’s Stanford conference on research integrity. “It’s a very, very challenging problem, because all of the emphasis is on novelty and ‘being first…We don’t take a lot of papers that say, ‘We tested this hypothesis and we found that it’s still correct.’”

But repetition may reveal problems, and “ensures that people have the full story,” said Emily Chenette, editor-in-chief of PLOS ONE , published by the Public Library of Science, which evaluates research on scientific validity, methodology and ethical standards — not perceived significance. PLOS ONE publishes a collection called “Missing Pieces,” which lists studies that present inconclusive, null findings or demonstrate failed replications of other published work.

A negative finding can suggest promising new directions, approaches and hypotheses. It may warn other investigators to steer clear, saving time and money, Chenette said.

“It has real life implications for people,” she said.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was spurred by anecdotal reports from China and France of patients who seemed to improve and laboratory findings of a possible antiviral effect. But a rigorous study found that the drug didn’t work — a discovery that saved many lives.

In the prestigious British journal Lancet, a doctor linked vaccines to autism, a claim that has led to clusters of resistance to inoculation. It was refuted by multiple studies, and a subsequent investigation showed his work to be bunk. 

This week, in a surprise announcement, a precious 280-million-year-old fossilized lizard turned out to be mostly … black paint. An Italian team had hoped to make history by using high-tech tools — electron microscopy, spectroscopy and micro x-rays — to reveal the cellular structure of one of the world’s oldest reptiles. Instead, they found forgery. But their revelation could lead to a rethinking of ancient taxonomy.

Stanford’s Liakath-Ali sought to better understand how brain cells, called neurons, communicate via trillions of synapses — and how things go wrong. Synapses connect using a vast network of molecules, governed by genes whose function may change if subjected to stress, causing devastating ailments like schizophrenia, autism and other neurological disorders.

He based his work on a 2017 report by scientists from China’s Tsinghua University published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. They had found that when we learn something, brain cells change in a way that helps us remember it better. But brain cells’ regulatory mechanism can be altered by stress.

He took a closer look at the Chinese research and found fault with their technique, which caused the cells to be so stressed — “hammered,” he said — that they died. This skewed their results.

“Liakath-Ali did what no one else had done: He took the care to look at the cells,” said Goodman.

Nobel Laureate Südhof commended his perseverance.

“Science operates by a trial-and-error process in which scientists, like all other humans, also make mistakes,” he said. “To distinguish valid results from erroneous ones, it is necessary to repeat experiments independently.”

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A Columbia Surgeon’s Study Was Pulled. He Kept Publishing Flawed Data.

The quiet withdrawal of a 2021 cancer study by Dr. Sam Yoon highlights scientific publishers’ lack of transparency around data problems.

Supported by

Benjamin Mueller

By Benjamin Mueller

Benjamin Mueller covers medical science and has reported on several research scandals.

  • Feb. 15, 2024

The stomach cancer study was shot through with suspicious data. Identical constellations of cells were said to depict separate experiments on wholly different biological lineages. Photos of tumor-stricken mice, used to show that a drug reduced cancer growth, had been featured in two previous papers describing other treatments.

Problems with the study were severe enough that its publisher, after finding that the paper violated ethics guidelines, formally withdrew it within a few months of its publication in 2021. The study was then wiped from the internet, leaving behind a barren web page that said nothing about the reasons for its removal.

As it turned out, the flawed study was part of a pattern. Since 2008, two of its authors — Dr. Sam S. Yoon, chief of a cancer surgery division at Columbia University’s medical center, and a more junior cancer biologist — have collaborated with a rotating cast of researchers on a combined 26 articles that a British scientific sleuth has publicly flagged for containing suspect data. A medical journal retracted one of them this month after inquiries from The New York Times.

A person walks across a covered walkway connecting two buildings over a road with parked cars. A large, blue sign on the walkway says "Columbia University Irving Medical Center."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where Dr. Yoon worked when much of the research was done, is now investigating the studies. Columbia’s medical center declined to comment on specific allegations, saying only that it reviews “any concerns about scientific integrity brought to our attention.”

Dr. Yoon, who has said his research could lead to better cancer treatments , did not answer repeated questions. Attempts to speak to the other researcher, Changhwan Yoon, an associate research scientist at Columbia, were also unsuccessful.

The allegations were aired in recent months in online comments on a science forum and in a blog post by Sholto David, an independent molecular biologist. He has ferreted out problems in a raft of high-profile cancer research , including dozens of papers at a Harvard cancer center that were subsequently referred for retractions or corrections.

From his flat in Wales , Dr. David pores over published images of cells, tumors and mice in his spare time and then reports slip-ups, trying to close the gap between people’s regard for academic research and the sometimes shoddier realities of the profession.

When evaluating scientific images, it is difficult to distinguish sloppy copy-and-paste errors from deliberate doctoring of data. Two other imaging experts who reviewed the allegations at the request of The Times said some of the discrepancies identified by Dr. David bore signs of manipulation, like flipped, rotated or seemingly digitally altered images.

Armed with A.I.-powered detection tools, scientists and bloggers have recently exposed a growing body of such questionable research, like the faulty papers at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and studies by Stanford’s president that led to his resignation last year.

But those high-profile cases were merely the tip of the iceberg, experts said. A deeper pool of unreliable research has gone unaddressed for years, shielded in part by powerful scientific publishers driven to put out huge volumes of studies while avoiding the reputational damage of retracting them publicly.

The quiet removal of the 2021 stomach cancer study from Dr. Yoon’s lab, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, illustrates how that system of scientific publishing has helped enable faulty research, experts said. In some cases, critical medical fields have remained seeded with erroneous studies.

“The journals do the bare minimum,” said Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist and image expert who described Dr. Yoon’s papers as showing a worrisome pattern of copied or doctored data. “There’s no oversight.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering, where portions of the stomach cancer research were done, said no one — not the journal nor the researchers — had ever told administrators that the paper was withdrawn or why it had been. The study said it was supported in part by federal funding given to the cancer center.

Dr. Yoon, a stomach cancer specialist and a proponent of robotic surgery, kept climbing the academic ranks, bringing his junior researcher along with him. In September 2021, around the time the study was published, he joined Columbia, which celebrated his prolific research output in a news release . His work was financed in part by half a million dollars in federal research money that year, adding to a career haul of nearly $5 million in federal funds.

The decision by the stomach cancer study’s publisher, Elsevier, not to post an explanation for the paper’s removal made it less likely that the episode would draw public attention or affect the duo’s work. That very study continued to be cited in papers by other scientists .

And as recently as last year, Dr. Yoon’s lab published more studies containing identical images that were said to depict separate experiments, according to Dr. David’s analyses.

The researchers’ suspicious publications stretch back 16 years. Over time, relatively minor image copies in papers by Dr. Yoon gave way to more serious discrepancies in studies he collaborated on with Changhwan Yoon, Dr. David said. The pair, who are not related, began publishing articles together around 2013.

But neither their employers nor their publishers seemed to start investigating their work until this past fall, when Dr. David published his initial findings on For Better Science, a blog, and notified Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia and the journals. Memorial Sloan Kettering said it began its investigation then.

None of those flagged studies was retracted until last week. Three days after The Times asked publishers about the allegations, the journal Oncotarget retracted a 2016 study on combating certain pernicious cancers. In a retraction notice , the journal said the authors’ explanations for copied images “were deemed unacceptable.”

The belated action was symptomatic of what experts described as a broken system for policing scientific research.

A proliferation of medical journals, they said, has helped fuel demand for ever more research articles. But those same journals, many of them operated by multibillion-dollar publishing companies, often respond slowly or do nothing at all once one of those articles is shown to contain copied data. Journals retract papers at a fraction of the rate at which they publish ones with problems.

Springer Nature, which published nine of the articles that Dr. David said contained discrepancies across five journals, said it was investigating concerns. So did the American Association for Cancer Research, which published 10 articles under question from Dr. Yoon’s lab across four journals.

It is difficult to know who is responsible for errors in articles. Eleven of the scientists’ co-authors, including researchers at Harvard, Duke and Georgetown, did not answer emailed inquiries.

The articles under question examined why certain stomach and soft-tissue cancers withstood treatment, and how that resistance could be overcome.

The two independent image specialists said the volume of copied data, along with signs that some images had been rotated or similarly manipulated, suggested considerable sloppiness or worse.

“There are examples in this set that raise pretty serious red flags for the possibility of misconduct,” said Dr. Matthew Schrag, a Vanderbilt University neurologist who commented as part of his outside work on research integrity.

One set of 10 articles identified by Dr. David showed repeated reuse of identical or overlapping black-and-white images of cancer cells supposedly under different experimental conditions, he said.

“There’s no reason to have done that unless you weren’t doing the work,” Dr. David said.

One of those papers , published in 2012, was formally tagged with corrections. Unlike later studies, which were largely overseen by Dr. Yoon in New York, this paper was written by South Korea-based scientists, including Changhwan Yoon, who then worked in Seoul.

An immunologist in Norway randomly selected the paper as part of a screening of copied data in cancer journals. That led the paper’s publisher, the medical journal Oncogene, to add corrections in 2016.

But the journal did not catch all of the duplicated data , Dr. David said. And, he said, images from the study later turned up in identical form in another paper that remains uncorrected.

Copied cancer data kept recurring, Dr. David said. A picture of a small red tumor from a 2017 study reappeared in papers in 2020 and 2021 under different descriptions, he said. A ruler included in the pictures for scale wound up in two different positions.

The 2020 study included another tumor image that Dr. David said appeared to be a mirror image of one previously published by Dr. Yoon’s lab. And the 2021 study featured a color version of a tumor that had appeared in an earlier paper atop a different section of ruler, Dr. David said.

“This is another example where this looks intentionally done,” Dr. Bik said.

The researchers were faced with more serious action when the publisher Elsevier withdrew the stomach cancer study that had been published online in 2021. “The editors determined that the article violated journal publishing ethics guidelines,” Elsevier said.

Roland Herzog, the editor of Molecular Therapy, the journal where the article appeared, said that “image duplications were noticed” as part of a process of screening for discrepancies that the journal has since continued to beef up.

Because the problems were detected before the study was ever published in the print journal, Elsevier’s policy dictated that the article be taken down and no explanation posted online.

But that decision appeared to conflict with industry guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics . Posting articles online “usually constitutes publication,” those guidelines state. And when publishers pull such articles, the guidelines say, they should keep the work online for the sake of transparency and post “a clear notice of retraction.”

Dr. Herzog said he personally hoped that such an explanation could still be posted for the stomach cancer study. The journal editors and Elsevier, he said, are examining possible options.

The editors notified Dr. Yoon and Changhwan Yoon of the article’s removal, but neither scientist alerted Memorial Sloan Kettering, the hospital said. Columbia did not say whether it had been told.

Experts said the handling of the article was symptomatic of a tendency on the part of scientific publishers to obscure reports of lapses .

“This is typical, sweeping-things-under-the-rug kind of nonsense,” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which keeps a database of 47,000-plus retracted papers. “This is not good for the scientific record, to put it mildly.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Benjamin Mueller reports on health and medicine. He was previously a U.K. correspondent in London and a police reporter in New York. More about Benjamin Mueller

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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.

A man faces a computer generated figure with programming language in the background

As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.

Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used

What Parliament wants in AI legislation

Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.

Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.

Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future

AI Act: different rules for different risk levels

The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.

Unacceptable risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
  • Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
  • Biometric identification and categorisation of people
  • Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition

Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.

AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:

1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.

2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:

  • Management and operation of critical infrastructure
  • Education and vocational training
  • Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
  • Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
  • Law enforcement
  • Migration, asylum and border control management
  • Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.

General purpose and generative AI

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:

  • Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
  • Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
  • Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training

High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.

Limited risk

Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.

On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.

More on the EU’s digital measures

  • Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
  • Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
  • Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
  • EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
  • Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
  • Artificial Intelligence Act

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