Writing and Publishing for an International Journal: How – and Not

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How to publish an article
Saleem Saaed Qader
MBChB, MD, MSc, MPH, PhD, SBGS
Consultant General Surgeon and Lecturer
General Director
Medical Research Centre, Hawler Medical University, Erbil
Department of Surgery, Medical College, Hawler Medical
University
Department of Surgery, Rizgary Teaching Hospital, Erbil
TMC
Oct 2014
Scientific paper
Is a written and published document
A report describing original research results
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
To assess observations
To repeat experiments
Must have an impact
Available to scientific community without restriction
Available for regular screening by one or more of the
major recognized secondary services (Pub Med etc…)
Brilliant writing can NOT mask a poor experiment
But poor writing can mask a brilliant experiment
Publish OR Perish?
Publish AND Flourish!
Why should scientists publish?
 Academic career depends on publication list
 Getting employ easier (to get you short listed)
To share COMMUNITY with something that advances (not
repeats) knowledge in a certain field
To present a review/ summary of the field
A scientific experiment is not complete until the results
have been published & understood
The knowledge should be distributed to all others
Knowledge could not be circulated without publication
Stages of Publication?
 Draft
 Manuscript
 Submitted
 Under revision
 In press
 Published
Which journal?
Where to look for the journal:
Personal experience
Colleagues’ experience
Library
Citations and published articles
Online
PAUSE & PONDER
Questions to answer in choosing a journal
1. National or international audience?
2. Language?
3. Disciplinary?
4. The journal’s content area/culture?
5. Chances of acceptance?
6. Indexed journal (PubMed)
7. What about the impact factor?
8. Practical matters (time to publication, etc.)
Know your journal targets?
a) Impact factor and prestige
b) Content of one of the journal issues
a) Which kind of manuscripts are published ?
b) What are the preferred formats ?
c) Style and recent trends in the journal
d) Who is the editor-in-chief ? Can you contact him ?
e) Who are the members of the editorial-board? They are
very aware of the journal’s publication policy
f) How much it costs?
g) Citation index
Nature around 20
On Publications
Authorship
all authors must have scientific contribution
How many authors? No matter how many are ...
Review process
getting a postive comments means that you are able to
publish the paper
 You need to convince editors that your topic is interested
and significant:
Letters to editros/ cover letter
Approval copy
Any conflict
Submission process
 The average reviewing time (assistant of the editors)
 Is there an online submission process?
 Can you track your manuscript status online?
Citation rates
 The Institute of Scientific Information (ISI)
records scientific citations/references
 Citation Index:
The number of times a publication has been cited
within a certain period
Published annually in the Journal Citation Reports
Impact factor
The recorded number of citations within a certain year (eg
2003) to the items published in the journal during the
preceding two years (e.g. 2001 and 2002)
Citation Half Life
How long articles in a journal continue to be cited
after publication
Calculating the BMJ’s impact factor for 2003
Impact Factor: Oncology
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
10.730
12.945
14.159
14.240
14.500
J of Clinical Oncology
8.228
7.963
8.773
8.530
9.868
Cancer Research
8.370
8.614
8.460
8.302
8.318
Clinical Cancer Research
2.941
3.442
4.643
5.076
5.991
Oncogene
6.192
6.517
6.490
6.737
5.979
Gene Chromosome Cancer
3.804
4.902
4.534
4.416
4.199
Int Jrnl Cancer
3.283
3.545
3.918
4.233
4.056
Cancer
3.660
3.362
3.611
3.909
3.941
Annals of Oncology
2.867
3.195
3.249
3.153
3.114
J Natl Cancer Institute
Getting your paper accepted
 Keep it simple (focus on one specific theme)
 Announce that idea in abstract, intro & conclusion
 Follow style and structure the journal you have in mind
 If more ideas or themes come to mind: split it off for future
publications
Help Editors/ Referees (and yourself); Number all pages
Re-writing
Be prepared to re-write and revise and revise
Go through revisions and feedback: colleagues, supervisors,
native speakers, editors.
Follow suggestions from editors
Welcome useful suggestions but make sure you remain
coherent & consistent
If you disagree with reviewer’s suggestions: make a case to
the editor
Be self-critical, but not to the point of paralysis
What to do with rejected papers?
Read rejection letter, don’t send angry impulsive emails
Return to it after a couple of days?
Take criticism into account, may be change angle of the
paper, focus on strongest points, if necessary rework design
& analysis
Submit to another journal
See it as new project
Aim for a slightly less prestigious journal
Who is going to deal with your paper?
Editors and reviewers:
1.The most precious resource of a journal!
2. Practicing scientists, even leaders in their fields
3. Busy people doing their own research, writing and
teaching, and working for journals in their spare time, to
contribute to science
Editors may receive a small payment, but reviewers are
UNPAID
QUALITY
The heart of scientific communication
Do not publish:
1. Reports of no scientific interest
2. Duplication of previously published work
3. Incorrect/unacceptable conclusions
4.“ salami-sliced” papers: datasets too small to be
meaningful
Deadly sinsUnethical behavior “ can earn rejection and even a
ban from publishing in the journal”
— Terry M Phillips, Editor, Journal of Chromatography B
Multiple submissions
Redundant publications
Plagiarism
Data fabrication and falsification
Improper use of human subjects and animals in research
Improper author contribution
Why is revision important and necessary?
Which procedure do you prefer?
Send out a sloppily prepared manuscript get
rejected after 4-6 months send out again only a few
days later get rejected again….
Take 3-4 months to prepare the manuscript get the
first decision after 4 months revise carefully within
time limitation….accepted
Please protect your own achievements!
Before submitting your article
1. Check the originality of your idea
Have you done something new and interesting?
Is there anything challenging in your work?
Have you provided solutions to any problems?
2. Decide the type of your manuscript
Full articles/Original articles;
Letters/Rapid Communications/Short communications;
Review papers
Ask your colleagues for advice:
Sometimes outsiders see things more clearly than you
3. Who is your audience?
Do you want to reach specialists, multidisciplinary
researchers, a general audience?
Journals reach readers with different background
Is readership worldwide or local?
4. Choose the right journal
Investigate all candidate journals to find out:
Aims and scope and types of articles
You can get help from your colleagues
Articles in your references will lead you to the right journal
DO NOT scatter your manuscript to many journals
Only submit once!
The Process of publishing an article
Writing the manuscript:
Moral and ethical standards
Obtaining data, analyzing results and writing
IMRAD
Revision and revision and revision
Getting feedback (supervisor and coauthors)
Finding journals (instruction to the author)
Submitting (confirmation letter)
Revisions (changes and comments) or rejection
2. Revision after
submittion: Carefully
read the comments and
prepare a detailed letter
of response
Reasons for rejection
Did not address important scientific issue
Not original
Did not test authors hypothesis
Different study should have been performed
Sample size too small
Uncontrolled or inadequately controlled
Analyze incorrect or inappropriate
Unjustified conlcusion reched from data
Significant conflict of interest
Badly prepared regarding submittion requirements or poor
English
Rejection: not the end of the world
Everyone has papers rejected-do not take it personally.
Try to understand why the paper was rejected.
Note that you have received the benefit of the editors and
reviewers’ time; take their advice seriously!
Re-evaluate your work and decide whether it is appropriate
to submit the paper elsewhere
If so, begin as if you are going to write a new article
Read the guide for authors of the new journal again &
again
Don’t resubmit a rejected manuscript to
another journal without significant revision!
It won’t work
What to avoid in the paper
Superficial literature search, Wikipedia-based
Don’t claim that “very little” research has been done in an
area if you’re not 100% sure!
=> reviewers may react negatively
Sloppiness in presentation of text: respect style sheet, make
sure references are in right format, double-check list of
references, make sure spelling of surnames is correct
Style that does not match that of journal
Taking a side in a debate & ignoring the counter-arguments
Moral standards
Establish a reputation of a reliable & honest researcher
(always acknowledge your sources)
Be prepared to give advice to those who seek your advice
Accept to review papers (journals)/ chapters
Stick to deadlines
Don’t be pretentious, don’t take your work too seriously
Be optimistic and friendly with colleagues
If you guessed who reviewed your paper and you meet that
person: don’t start talking about the paper unless the reviewer
starts about it
Ethical standards
As a reviewer in an international journal
Make sure you give constructive criticism together with
your honest opinion
Never be nasty or dogmatic
Don’t cite/use data of a paper you revised
If you wish to contact the author/s, ask the editor to pass on
the message
Final recommendations
Research is fun!
Publish and flourish! (it’s a game really)
Writing up requires patience & perseverance: it is
worth the effort!
Nobody is perfect: everybody sweats!
Be thankful of the reviewer who sends you a 10
page report with criticism & comments: that person
has spent a lot of time and effort on your work (and
it may be a major name, who might start referring to
your work)
What mark have you thought to leave after?
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