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Writing and Publishing a Research Paper

Written by Saira Naeem

Researchers conduct research or study a phenomenon and write research papers on them for a number of purposes, they might include the following

  • To know about something new
  • To answer specific research questions
  • For finding solutions to a problem, or
  • To offer alternatives etc

Once their research is complete, they most certainly would want their papers to get published in international journals, because after all what good is a research if its findings are not shared right?

The best way to share research findings is to get your research paper published in an international journal. This way the research findings can be examined by peers and colleagues, they can review the significance of the study as well as use the data to gain new insights from a globalized perspective.

BUT

Getting your paper published in a journal isn’t that simple or easy. Every journal has its own specific requirements. A research journal may publish  either a scientific research paper or an  academic research paper or both….its going to depend which journal you choose.

While writing this article we found that one of the major reasons why journals refuse to publish papers is because the researcher doesn’t posses the skills needed to get them published.

Like any other thing writing for international journals  is a skill  that requires practice. The more you write , the more proficient you are likely to become but it was found that scientists/ researchers delay writing for journals because

  • They don’t understand the basic structure of the research article
  • Most often then not writing is delayed because english is not the native or first language in many developing countries.

It needs to be understood that scientific articles are not supposed to be superb works of literature, rather these need to be clear, concise and accurate.

However, if you are still having problems writing your research in English make a note to write in point form , you can worry about verbs, adjectives at a later stage.

Another reason that people avoid writing for international journals might be that they don’t understand the basic structure they need to follow for writing the articles.

Use IMRAD

Most articles follow the standard IMRAD structure (this is however not the case if you are writing for health sciences) lets break up this term for clarification purposes

  • Introduction (why the research was done)
  • Methods and materials (what was used and how)
  • Results (what was found) and
  • Discussion (what do the results mean)

The journal

While you don’t necessarily need to choose or a select a journal before you start writing, if you do go  through some of the papers that have been published you will get a clear idea of what to expect in terms of you article being accepted or rejected. Plus you would get an idea about the type of articles that are of particular interest to the journal and writing on these would improve your chances of success.

For instance if you do a descriptive survey discussing prevalence of a particular disease say malaria or typhoid in a group of villages, this is likely to get published in the local or regional journal.

Every journal has specific instructions regarding submission of the manuscript and these can be found at the start of the volume, these instructions must be followed. If you select a journal ahead of time and follow the requisite instructions you wouldn’t have to alter these at a later stage.

For people who choose research as a career getting their articles published is likely to increase their chances of promotion and improve their statuses in the respective institutions. A point of advice however is that

Do not get disappointed by rejections or critical reviews, they aren’t necessarily aimed at you as a person, take the criticism in a constructive, positive way to improve the quality of your work instead.

Below are listed some key points that we believe would be helpful and beneficial for you , do take a look at these before writing and submitting your work

  • As pointed out earlier with the exception of health articles use the IMRAD style of writing
  • Write a draft first
  • Choose a relevant journal and go through some of the published articles for a clearer picture
  • Keep accurate note of all references used
  • Make a title page with all necessary information
  • Make decisions about authorship
  • Provide key words and a running title
  • Provide a brief but complete abstract regarding your study
  • Follow the KISS principle when writing an introduction, keep it short and simple
  • Ask colleagues for guidance whenever and wherever possible
  • Gives details about the methods you used so if others want to repeat the study or experiment they would be able to do so
  • The text should not be a duplication of the information provided in the tables and figures
  • Most often the journal do not publish in colors, so use shading for tables and figures instead and do not over embellish these. The tables and figures should be clear and appropriate not attractive. Tables should have titles and figures should have legends.
  • The opening paragraph of the discussion section should be bold for attracting the attention of the reader.
  • All findings should be stated and a salami technique should be avoided.
  • Conclusions should be backed up with evidence.
  • Recent and relevant references should be used, the style of referencing can be referred by the journal if not use the Vancouver style of referencing.
  • Check with the journal regarding overall length of the article, word count and the number of tables and figures to be used.
  • The writer must follow the ethical codes of conduct while writing and also in publication process.
  • An article should be submitted to only one journal at a time.
  • Avoid using important names as guest writers for your paper.
  • Do not allow ghost writers to offer help or write in your name.
  • Do not under any circumstances alter data to support pre existing hypothesis
  • Do not use the use salami technique to produce several papers from limited amount of data and be ware of self plagiarism.
  • Ask colleagues to read final version of paper before submission
  • An editorial or peer review is bound to take several weeks, don’t become impatient, wait.
  • Few articles are accepted just the way they have been submitted, make the necessary alterations as soon as possible and resubmit.
  • When you reply to the editor, tell him you have made the changes in the same numerical order as the issues that were raised by the reviewers.

References

“Writing and publishing a scientific paper”. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264233797_Writing_and_Publishing_a_Scientific_Paper

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