Author Academy — how towrite and get your science published Warren Raye, PhD Senior Editor Edanz
Customer Service Introduction About me … Senior Life Sciences Editor
Customer Service Introduction Today’s presentation • Section One: Academic publishing • Section Two: Before you start … • Section Three: Manuscript structure • Section Four: Hints and tips • Edanz Journal Selector – Your target journal in minutes not days
Scientific publishing Adopt a winning strategy Cricketer Scientist Physical fitness Preparation Results Team members Communication Manuscript Rules of the game Understanding Submission process Opposition Knowledge Published literature Win games Tactics Publication record
Scientific publishing Exchange ideas globally Clear communication is essential Your research is not complete until it has been published!
Scientific publishing You must publish in English• The international language of science• Other scientists want to hear from Indian researchers!• Become an effective science communicator• Funding• International reputation• Career advancement
Scientific publishing The submission process Peer review Results novel? Topic relevant?Manuscript + Editor Rejectcover letter New experiments Improve readability Accepted— Add information publication! Revision
Scientific publishing Publishing timeline • 3–12 months … • Why so long? – Manuscript type – Availability of peer reviewers – Fast tracking – Number of revisions – Other?
Scientific publishing Peer review improves your manuscript Rejection Acceptance Minor revision Major revision• Few papers are accepted without revision• Rejection and revision are integral to the• Peer review should be a positive experience
Scientific publishing Journal editors and reviewers ask themselves …• Is the manuscript novel?• Is the manuscript of interest to our readers? Novelty Aims & Scope Significance Target Audience
Scientific publishing What do journal editors want? • High quality research • Clear & concise English • Stands up to peer review • Original & novel advances a field • Interesting to journal’s readership • Active research area • Quickly assess your work – Cover letter – Appropriate references
Scientific publishing Publication ethics• Multiple submissions• Plagiarism – self-plagiarism• Author contribution• Data fabrication/falsification• Conflicts of interest
Before you start … Section Two • Read • Study design • Journal selection • Evaluate significance
Before you start … Reading• Both sides of the brain are essential• Work in harmony Logic Creativity Reading Writing• Reading and writing are connected
Before you start … Reading improves your writing• Read often – 20–30 min each day – 60 min, once a week• Discuss with colleagues – Journal club• Assists with journal selection• Ideas for next manuscript
Before you start … How to read an article • Start to finish? • Section by section? • Efficiency • Where is the relevant information?
Before you start … How to read an article Title and Abstract Self-assess knowledge of topic Introduction: aims Results: figures, tables, schematics, equations Discussion Introduction and Methods if necessary
Before you start … Study design• Critical• What is your hypothesis or research question? The aim(s) of your study• What methods are appropriate?• Do you have the relevant resources?• Identify your controls
Before you start … Study design • Sample sizes (n) large enough? • Which statistical test(s)? When in doubt – talk to a statistician! • Ethics approval
Before you start … Choosing a target journal• Journal selection must be based on an honest evaluation of your manuscript Novelty Aims & Scope Significance Target Audience
Before you start … Timing• Choose your target journal: – After you have decided you have enough results for a publication – After a decision has been made on how high to aim—high, medium or low impact – Before writing the Title, Abstract, Introduction or Discussion sections
Before you start … Factors to consider What is your publication goal?• Aims & scope • Open access• Publishing frequency • Prestige• Impact factor • Cost• Target audience • Publication type Which factor is most important to you?
Before you start … Evaluating significance: novelty • How new are my results compared with those already published? New findings Incremental Conceptual advances advances Low to medium Medium to high impact impact
Before you start … Evaluating significance: relevance• Are my findings of relevance only to a specific geographical region or ethnic population?• Are there implications for other regions and populations?• High impact factor journals may consider specific findings if they are the first of their kind or of international significance.
Before you start … Evaluating significance: appeal• Is my work in an area of ‘popular appeal’?• Examples: – OLEDs – Higgs boson – Cloud computing – Green aviation – Food irradiation – Stem cells – Medical devices – Global warming
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Incomplete Inappropriate data methodology Weak research motive InaccuratePoor analysis conclusions
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Weak research motive • Scientifically irrelevant • Unclear • Not explicitly stated • Not supported by your data
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Incomplete data • Hinders proper analysis • Conclusions questionable • Invalidates study
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Inappropriate methodology • Old, out-of-date techniques/models • Not approved/unusual methods • Invalidates study
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Poor analysis • Does not stand up to scrutiny • Inappropriate methods • Conclusions questionable • Invalidates study
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the science Inaccurate conclusions • Based on assumptions • Questionable interpretation • Invalidates study
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscriptJournal requirements Citations not met Rationale and aims not stated Poor grammar and Inappropriate data style presentation
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscript Rationale and aims not stated • Clearly and explicitly stated • Why? • Importance
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscript Journal requirements not met • Research too specialized • Author guidelines not followed
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscript Citations • Self-citations • Old, inaccurate, irrelevant
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscript Poor grammar and style • Long, complex sentences and paragraphs • Non-native expressions • Gaps in the logic • Too much information
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: the manuscript Inappropriate data presentation • Illogical representation • Duplication of results • Too much data • Raw data
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: other Inappropriate journal selected • Research too specialized • Not suitable for target audience
Before you start … Reasons for rejection: other Unlucky timing • Hot topics • Increased competition
Manuscript structure Section Three • You are telling a story • Beginning → Middle → End • Must be easy to read and easy to understand
Manuscript structure ‘Tell them three times’ • Introduction = Beginning – Assertion – ‘tell them what you are going to tell them,’ • Body = Middle – Evidence – ‘tell them,’ • Conclusion = End – Affirmation – ‘tell them again what you told them’.
Manuscript structure Introduction What problem was studied? The answer to this question should be in your Introduction Beginning → Middle → End
Manuscript structure Introduction Beginning • Sufficient background information – Puts your work into context General Specific • Comprehensive literature review • Cite publications
Manuscript structure Introduction Middle • Rationale – The reason(s) for doing this work? – Why is it important? – Justify your work • Explain how you addressed the problem • Do not state results from your work
Manuscript structure Introduction End • State the methods used • Clearly and explicitly state specific aims of your study
Manuscript structure Methods• Subheadings• Past tense• New methods must be described in sufficient detail that they can be reproduced• Established methods can be referenced
Manuscript structure Results • Use subheadings • Past tense to describe your results • Present tense when referring to figures and tables • Do not explain the results • Do not duplicate data among figures, tables and text
Manuscript structure Display items • Present data quickly and efficiently • Most significant result as a figure or table • Keep it simple — use separate panels if necessary • Label all parts of figures • Legends must be able to ‘stand alone’
Manuscript structure Discussion What do these findings mean? The answer to this question should be in your Discussion Beginning → Middle → End
Manuscript structure Discussion Beginning• Avoid just restating results• Answer the research question(s) posed• Emphasize the major finding(s) first• What is your major conclusion, based on the results you have presented?
Manuscript structure Discussion Middle • Interpret your results – Compare with other studies • Same or different? • Unexpected results • Briefly describe limitations – How could experiments be improved?
Manuscript structure Discussion End• Restate major conclusion(s) – In summary … or In conclusion …• Possible applications and implications• Suggest future work“Clinical and research priorities include furthering our understanding of thepathogenesis of M. pneumoniae-associated CNS disease, development ofmore reliable serologic assays, and defining the role of quantitative PCR indistinguishing acute infection from asymptomatic carriage and prolongedpost-infection shedding” – Bitun & Richardson Curr Infect Dis Rep 2010, 12:282-290
Manuscript structure A good reference list • Provides relevant information to the readers • Self-citations • Old references • 75% of references from last 5 years
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Section Four • Clear communication • Language • Cover letters • Responding to reviewers
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan• Information is easier to interpret when placed where most readers expect to find it• Good writers are aware of these expectations• Readability
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan 1. Verb placement• Readers expect verbs to closely follow subjects Subject Sentence Verb . Subject and verb far apart = poor readability
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan 1. Verb placement• Readers expect verbs to closely follow subjects Subject Sentence Verb Verb . Subject and verb far apart = poor readability
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan Avoid reader confusion • Readers become confused if subject and verb are separated by too much contentThe smallest of the URFs (URFA6L), a 207-nucleotide (nt)reading frame overlapping out of phase the [NH2]-terminalportion of the adenosinetriphosphatase (ATPase) subunit 6gene, has been identified as the animal equivalent of therecently discovered yeast H-ATPase subunit 8 gene.
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan Avoid reader confusionThe smallest of the URFs is URFA6L, a 207-nucleotide (nt) reading frame overlapping out of phasethe [NH2]-terminal portion of the adenosinetriphosphatase (ATPase) subunit 6 gene, has beenidentified as the animal equivalent of the recently discovered yeast H-ATPase subunit 8 gene.The smallest of the URFs (URFA6L) has been identified as theanimal equivalent of the recently discovered yeast H-ATPasesubunit 8 gene; URFA6L is a 207-nucleotide (nt) reading frameoverlapping out of phase the [NH2]-terminal portion of theadenosinetriphosphatase (ATPase) subunit 6 gene.We identified the smallest of the URFs (URFA6L) as the animalequivalent of the recently discovered yeast H-ATPase subunit 8gene. URFA6L is a …
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Which voice?• Use the active voice as much as possible – Blood samples were collected from 256 patients. – We collected blood from 256 patients.
Coverage andHints and tips Staffing Plan 2. Active voice Subject Verb Active • Sentences written in the active voice are: Simple Direct Clear Easy to read
Coverage andHints and tips Staffing Plan 3. Stress position• Readers focus on information at the end of a sentence. Subject Verb take-home information .
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan Stress positionThe dog sat when her mistress offered a treat.The dog sat when a treat was offered by her mistress.When the mistress offered her a treat, the dog sat.• Readers, without thinking, concentrate on the end of a sentence.
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan 4. Topic position• Readers expect a sentence/phrase to be a story about whoever shows up first Subject Topic position Verb Stress position .
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan Topic position sentence idea idea idea idea Topic link• Linkage and contextThe family went into the courtyard to see the newpuppy. The dog sat when her owner offered a treat.Everyone was so excited they broke into applause.However, as the courtyard was situated right next to mybedroom, the sound woke me from my sleep.
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Readability “only 4% of readers understand a 27-word sentence the first time”• Consider the reader – Only need to read once – Do not have to read slowly – Can understand author logic immediately
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Sentence length • We examined numerous peer-reviewed journals • Easy to read articles had an average sentence length of 17 words • Sentences that are 15–20 words One sentence: one idea
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan Goals to aim for …• Maximum 25–30 words per sentence• Not more than four 30-word sentences in the whole manuscript• Think about ‘reader expectation’ and match the expectation with the contents
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Simple is best• Simple language is best• Makes your science more relevant• Minimizes confusion – maximizes understanding• Science is complex• Use simple language to help more people understand your work
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Before you submit … • Register online • Cover letter – Potential referees – Potential editors • Declare conflicts of interests • Format and resolution of graphics files • Copyright and payment forms
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan Write a cover letter!• Competition for publication space and editors’ attention is very high Dear Editor-in-Chief, I am sending you our manuscript entitled “Techniques to detect circoviruses in Australian bird species” by Raye et al. We would like to have the manuscript considered for publication in Virology Methods Online. Please let me know of your decision at your earliest convenience. Sincerely yours, Warren Raye, PhD This is a poor cover letter
Hints and andCoverage tips Why are cover letters Staffing Plan important? • Introduces manuscript to editor • Acts as a guide for editor • ‘Sells’ your work • Speeds up publication process
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan Your cover letter• Address to editor personally• State manuscript title and publication type• Brief background, rationale, description of results• Explain importance of your results• Why would your findings be of interest to the journal’s target audience?
Coverage and Hints and tips Staffing Plan An effective cover letterDear Dr Graeber,Please find enclosed our manuscript entitled “Amyloid-like inclusions in the brains of Huntington’s disease patients”, byMcGowan et al., which we would like to submit for publication as a Research Paper in Neurogenetics.Recent immunohistochemical studies have revealed the presence of neuronal inclusions containing an N-terminal portion of Give thethe mutant huntingtin protein and ubiquitin in the brain tissues of Huntington’s disease (HD) patients; however, the role ofthese inclusions in the disease process has remained unclear. One suspected disease-causing mechanism in Huntington’s background todisease and other polyglutamine disorders is the potential for the mutant protein to undergo a conformational change to a the researchmore stable anti-parallel β-sheet structure…To confirm if the immunohistochemically observed huntingtin- and ubiquitin-containing inclusions display amyloid features, weperformed Congo red staining and both polarizing and confocal microscopy on post-mortem human brain tissues obtained What wasfrom five HD patients, two AD patients, and two normal controls. Congo red staining revealed a small number of amyloid-like done and whatinclusions showing green birefringence by polarized microscopy, in a variety of cortical regions.... ….detected inclusions was foundobserved in parallel sections, suggesting that only a relatively small proportion of inclusions in HD adopt an amyloid-likestructure.We believe our findings would appeal to a broad audience, such as the readership of Neurogenetics. As a wide-reaching journal Interest topublishing original research on all aspects of neuroscience… journal’s readersPlease address all correspondence to….
Hints and and Coverage tips Peer review improves Staffing Plan your manuscript Rejection Acceptance Minor revision Major revision• Few papers are accepted without revision• Rejection and revision are integral• Peer review is a positive process
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan • Politely respond to all comments in a response letter • Make it easy to see the changes • Refer to line and page numbers • Different color font • Highlight the text
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Revision • Conduct additional experiments and analyses as suggested – If this is impossible, you must explain why • You can disagree with reviewers, but provide evidence (cite references)
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan AgreementReviewer Comment: In your analysis of the data you have chosento use a somewhat obscure fitting function (regression). In myopinion, a simple Gaussian function would have sufficed.Moreover, the results would be more instructive and easier tocompare to previous results.Response: We agree with the reviewer’s assessment of theanalysis. Our tailored function makes it impossible to fully interpretthe data in terms of the prevailing theories. In addition, in itscurrent form it would be difficult to tell that this measurementconstitutes a significant improvement over previously reportedvalues. We have redone the analysis using a Gaussian fittingfunction.
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan DisagreementReviewer Comment: In your analysis of the data you have chosento use a somewhat obscure fitting function (regression). In myopinion, a simple Gaussian function would have sufficed.Moreover, the results would be more instructive and easier tocompare to previous results.Response: We agree with the reviewer that a simple Gaussian fitwould facilitate comparison with the results of other studies.However, our tailored function allows for the analysis of the datain terms of the Smith model [Smith et al, 1998]. We have addedtwo sentences to the paper (page 3 paragraph 2) to explain theuse of this function and Smith’s model.
Hints and and Coverage tips Staffing Plan Cryptic questions“The authors hypothesized to look for thepharmacokinetics of the insulin using this 4 mmneedle; However they didnt do bioequivalenceanalyses for glucose pharmacodynamics. That is oneof my concerns about this methodology.”• Cosmetic changes
Hints and andCoverage tips Understanding reviewer Staffing Plan comments “The English needs to be improved” “Your writing is difficult to understand”• Grammar & spelling• Long, complex sentences and paragraphs• Gaps in the logic• Poor manuscript organization• Too much information
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Online resources • Edanz edanzediting.com • Springer Exemplar www.springerexemplar.com/ • Google Scholar scholar.google.com/ • Purdue Online Writing Lab owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Free resources
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Free resources
Hints and andCoverage tips Staffing Plan Edanz Journal Selector
Hints and and Coverage tips Help your readers Staffing Plan understand“If you can’t explain something simply,you don’t understand it well.” – Albert Einstein• Write to express not impress• Consider your audience – their native language may not be English