If you are looking at your laptop screen and thinking about your Ph.D. supervisor telling you: “Why don’t you start putting your data together in a publication format so we can get it through to an international journal?”, it is high time to focus on the process of compiling your scientific data and get going on the path of your first publication.
As a scientist, you can do hundreds of experiments and get successful relevant data to benefit science in the long term using advanced research equipment and models, but even with an array of positive results, if your research is not published, it has nil value for the scientific community. So, how do you write a research paper for publication? Here are some simple steps to follow.
- Who is your audience?
A very crucial start to your paper writing is the idea of who will be your audience. The idea of your audience will help you choose your research journal for publication. More importantly, when you have decided your domain, the path to choose a good journal for your paper starts with reviewing their impact factors and indexing.
2. Draft your content and references
After choosing a target journal by reviewing the impact factor and citation index, you need to look out for the author guidelines where the journal has specified certain formats for your document. Once you have procured the manuscript format idea, you need to start arranging your relevant data, figures, and graph accordingly. Also, remember that it is very important to correctly cite your references as it will help other scientists to know about your work and the work of others intimately. Always try to have a wholesome idea of your research as it will help you structure your data better. Lastly, discuss your figures and tables with your guide and colleagues for selecting the most suitable ones for the publication.
3. Start writing your paper
Once you are done with understanding your required outline, you need to start writing your paper. A hundred ideas in your head will remain jumbled up if you do not take the first step of writing down. Start crafting your first draft!
Your peers and other researchers will understand your work clearly only if you can explain your data and results in a pristine format. The encouragement comes after that. Always start writing the ‘Material and Methods’ and ‘Results and Discussion’ part as these sections form the most notable data in the paper. Write your ‘Introduction’ section with a clear view of the definition of the existing problem and how your research will help in resolving or reducing the issue. Once you are done with it, gather a crucial understanding of your whole research and accordingly write the ‘Abstract’ and ‘Conclusion’ sections. Always keep a good note of your citations so that they refer to specific sections in your paper and do not fail their purpose.
4. Does your draft look good?
Yes, it is a lot of hard work to write a paper by compiling all your research data and figures but once you are done writing the first draft, you have to put in double the effort and crucially review your draft for any textual or scientific errors. Once you are done reviewing the first draft, send it to your project supervisor for further review and edits. It is very important to have more than one person editing a document before sending it to the publishers. Now, you have to discuss any form of corrections and ideas to decide what more to include or omit from your draft. After finalizing the draft, follow the process of ‘review and edit’ again. Before submitting the paper, pay attention to the formal requirements of the journal and decide on the corresponding author.
Once you are done with your side of the edits, it’s time to submit the paper for publication in your selected journal. Once you have submitted your paper, it is time to receive an acknowledgment for the same and wait for the journal reviewers to go through and send their valuable comments regarding acceptance or rejection.
6. Post-submission Review
Once submitted, the editor and reviewers of your selected journal read and evaluates the manuscript on novelty, methodology, hypothesis, and reasoning, and scientific relevance, to be accepted for publication. This is mostly a one-time process for which, once the manuscript is sent back, you need to discuss the points of the reviewers with your supervisor and accordingly re-edit the manuscript before sending it back. At times, this process repeats twice or thrice in case the research is very vital to the scientific community and should be published. Finally, the editor decides on the outcome of your research paper and either approves it or disapproves of it.