Writing manuscripts for peer reviewed engineering journals
Good morning!And thanks for inviting us to MASDAR.
Getting published in apeer-reviewed journalChristopher Leonard Editorial Director - QScience.com
What was a journal?Journal des sçavans & Philosophical Transactions ofthe Royal Society both started in 1665Late 1800’s see the emergence of ‘theory-experiment-discussion’ structure of articles1980’s see IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Resultsand Discussion) adopted widely as a reﬂection ofthe process of scientiﬁc discoveryPrint only, limited readership, limited number of titles
What is a journal?Electronic-only, or e-leading, peer-reviewedselection of articles judged to be of a certainquality within a certain, narrow, ﬁeld.Many papers publicly available via open access orPubMed/arXiv>20,000 active journal titles>5,500 papers per day published (2m/year)
EditorialsWritten by Editor or invited guestShort, select and narrowly focused
CommentariesCommentaries may be narrative reviews, butsomewhat more opinionated.Little research methodology, biased synthesis of acollection of articles.Usually there to provoke controversy or academicdebate.
Review articlesA comprehensive narrative synthesis of previouslypublished information, often summarising eachkey article.Bibliographic research methodology frequently apart of narrative reviews (although is not strictlyrequired). Reputable sources only.Will provide in-depth snapshot of a ﬁeld, convey aclear message and draw conclusions supportedby data analysis.
Target journalThink about this before you start to write.Best journal for your article may not necessarily bebest in the ﬁeld.Has similar work been published in that journal?Check the I4AsTyranny of the Impact Factor.
Authorship Sort this out before writing the manuscript*. Consult with coauthors, gather their ORCIDs. Otherwise, preferred name listing and afﬁliation. Usually listed in decreasing order of their contribution (although this can vary) Determine who is the corresponding author* READ THIS: Liz Wager’s excellent guide “Recognition, reward and repsonsibility: why theauthorship of scientiﬁc papers matters” Maturitas 2009; 62:109-12
Ethical issues Fabrication of data Duplicate publication Plagiarism Misuse of statistics Manipulation of images Inadequate or false citations READ THIS: HTTP://PUBLICATIONETHICS.ORG/ MAINLY FOR EDITORS AND PUBLISHERS, BUT GIVES A GREAT INSIGHT INTO PROBLEMS SOME PAPERS FACE
TitleTitle is THE most important part of the paper.Decide on best title after writing the manuscript.Should be descriptive, not cute, and match theabstract. Not too general, not too much jargon.
Examples GOOD TITLE A study of thrombocytopenia in hospitalized vivax malaria patientsBAD TITLES Physics of waves Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity Read more about this at http://physics.nyu.edu/sokal/
AbstractIn Web of Science/Scopus/Google Scholar.Think of it as a ‘teaser’ or ‘trailer’ for your paper.DON’T make it too long. Shorter is ALWAYS betterDON’T introduce and deﬁne lots of acronymsDON’T include references to citationsDO pitch it to non-specialists in your broader ﬁeldDO write (or rewrite) it at THE END.
Background informationBibliographic research to set research question incontext.Make sure it is up-to-date (consider revising if ﬁrstdraft is more than 3 months old) - reviewers getvery suspicious about missing citations.Papers over 10 years old, use with caution.
AbstractContextQuestion or purposeMethodology/ResultsInterpretationConclusions ALL IN 250 WORDS OR LESS
Passage from the Wikipedia article on "The English Language"The following paragraph has a Gunning Fog Index of 24.4.As a result of the military, economic, scientiﬁc, political, and culturalinﬂuence of the United Kingdom from the 18th century, and of the UnitedStates since the mid 20th century, it has become the lingua franca in manyparts of the world, and the most prominent language in internationalbusiness and science. It is used extensively as a second language and asan ofﬁcial language in the European Union and many Commonwealthcountries, as well as many international organisations.Analysis ■There are 79 words in two sentences. ■The 17 italic words are considered complex. ■0.4 ((79/2) + 100(17/79)) ■0.4 x ( 39.5 + 12.79) ■Fog index = 24.4
The same passage simpliﬁedThe following paragraph has a Gunning Fog Index of 7.07.English has become the standard language around the world. This wasthe result of many factors. In the 1700s, the British affected Englishwith the army, economy, science, politics and culture. In the mid-1900s,the United States caused change. It is the most used language in worldbusiness and science. It is a famous second language and an ofﬁciallanguage in most of Europe and in Commonwealth countries. It is alsothe case in groups around the world.Analysis ■There are 79 words in seven sentences. ■The 5 italic words are considered complex. ■0.4 ((79/7) + 100(5/79)) ■0.4 x ( 11.28 + 2.5) ■Fog index = 7.07
IntroductionIntroduce topic to readers in an accessible wayShould be short and focusedAim for 3 paragraphs only. PARA1: Question or issue, context, relevance [What is known] PARA2: Importance of problem/unclear issues [What is unknown] PARA3: Rationale, hypothesis, main objective [Why study was done]Can be written at any point, but good to revisit atthe end.
Materials and methodsDetails required to replicate the studyShould include; study design, data collectiondetails, analysis principles and rationale.Describe sample selection and exclusion criteriaEthical considerations and a description of therandomization or group assignment.
ResultsOrganised presentation of the collected data.Should be a distant semantic description with nointerpretation or opinions.Include negative results and reasons for non-collection of information on important non-measured variablesOConnor, T. R., & Holmquist, G. P. (2009). Algorithm for writing a scientiﬁc manuscript.Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 37(6), 344-348. doi:10.1002/bmb.20329
DiscussionExplain the meaning of the results, structured as anatural ﬂow of ideas.Key ﬁndings should be linked to study objectives,along with an acknowledgement of the strengthsand weaknesses of the studyDescribe logically, links between results andmechanistic interpretations of cause and effect.Are results consistent with other studies? If not,why not?
DiscussionDon’t repeat yourself.Don’t present results not documented in ResultsDon’t overstate importance of resultsDo feel free to criticise study limitationsDon’t repeat yourself.
ConclusionIt’s not another Abstract or Introduction.Keep it short‘Take home’ messageDo not write: ‘further study is needed’ or anyvariation thereof.
Acknowledgements etc.Contributors who do not qualify for author statusConﬂicts of interestFinancial support for the researchGroup name if appropriateAuthor contributions
ReferencesKeep a good reference library (Mendeley/Zotero)Make sure references adhere to journal styleAvoid abstracts and ‘personal communications’Exclude articles ‘in submission’Authors responsibility to make sure they do notrefer to retracted articles.
A word on ﬁgures Please, please use your own ﬁguresThey are easy to generate with sufﬁcient datapoints and standard desktop software. Developyour own style/colour scheme.Difﬁcult and expensive to get rights to ﬁgurespublished by other publishers (>$150/ﬁgure)Scans and photos should be highest possibleresolution. Don’t just embed in Word - we needsource ﬁles.
Reviews & revisionsView peer reviewers as collaborators rather thanenemiesThey often make constructive remarks whichshould improve the quality of the paperGood editors will shield you from performing moreexperiments (unless it’s Nature or Science)For each point the reviewer makes, provide a briefnote explaining how you have incorporated theirremark, or a rebuttal.
PromotionYou are the marketer of your own work (usually)Link to your article from your facebook/twitter/linkedin/orcid pageDepartmental website, institution PR department?Mendeley, scribd, list-servs, other discussionboards and lists