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Tips to Improve Your Chances of Manuscript Publication

Release Date: April 18, 2016
Category: Scientific Manuscript Writing
Authors: Michelle S., Ph.D., E.L.S., Sonia M., Ph.D., E.L.S.

The best scenario in scientific publication is for your manuscript to be accepted on the first submission, with little-to-no revision. Although this does not happen often, there are steps you can take to increase the odds of a positive review. While following these tips can’t guarantee acceptance, they can help to reduce or minimize the number of rejections you experience:

  1. Answer the question: Will scientists do research differently after they read my paper? Honestly ask yourself: how many scientists will change their approach, hypotheses, or thinking based on your manuscript? Will they use your new, clever method? Will they formulate different hypotheses or change the ones they currently have? If the honest answer is “a large number of scientists in many different fields”, a high-impact journal is a reasonable goal. If the answer is a more modest number of scientists, your paper is still valuable to those scientists and deserves publication. Select a field-specific journal that will ensure that the right people find and read your research. Regardless of which journal you choose and why, consider these important questions up front, and answer them in your manuscript from the very first submission to your top-choice journal. These questions should be answered directly and clearly in three key places: the discussion of the manuscript, the last 1-2 sentences of the abstract, and the cover letter to the journal editor.
  2. Select your target journal thoughtfully. Read the Aims and Scope of the journals you are considering and make sure that your manuscript fits well within those aims. It is also helpful to read some of the published articles in that journal, which will allow you to see the quality and scope of work that has been successfully published in that journal. Because this can be a daunting process, BioScience Writers offers a Journal Recommendation Service to help with this process. (Journal Recommendation Service)
  3. Follow the author guidelines. Journal editors recognize submissions that have been carefully formatted to the proper specifications and those that have not. They also recognize the formatting specifications of their competitors, and submission of an article formatted for another journal suggests that your manuscript was previously rejected by another journal. Be sure to format your manuscript for the journal to which you are currently submitting for consideration. Similarly, if you submit a manuscript that was rejected by one journal to a new journal, ensure that you update your cover letter to reflect the new journal. It will certainly turn off a journal editor when they see one of their competitor’s names on the cover letter, and it makes you appear sloppy and inattentive to detail, which is not a great first impression for your work. (Journal Formatting Service)
  4. Seek help/feedback from colleagues or professionals. Have a trusted colleague or fellow faculty member review your paper before submission. They may find holes in your manuscript that need additional explanation, or suggest additional experiments that could bolster your conclusions. If you are a non-native English speaker (or even if you are a native English speaker!), have your English reviewed by a professional or a colleague you trust to write well. (Editing and Consulting Services)
  5. Be conscientious about plagiarism. Journals examine most submitted manuscripts for plagiarism to ensure they do not publish material that has already been published. Remember, even if you duplicate methods or other material from your own previous publications, you cannot simply cut and paste sentences or sections because this is considered a special type of plagiarism—self-plagiarism. Make sure that you either provide a reference, or reword any borrowed material, even your own. If a journal informs you that your manuscript contains too many sentences or phrases that are similar to other literature, you may wish to use our Overlapping Text Detection Service, followed by our Professional Level editing.
  6. Write a strong cover letter. While a poor cover letter will not necessarily reduce your chances of publication, a strong cover letter will certainly improve them. Instead of drafting a basic, generic, cover letter that addresses the bare-bones requirements, write a thoughtful cover letter that helps the editor quickly recognize the impact of your research and how it will transform thinking in your field. How has your thought process changed after making this discovery? Make this point clearly in the cover letter. By writing a clear, concise, and persuasive cover letter, improve the chances that the editor will be interested in your manuscript. (Cover Letter Service)

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