Navigating journal publishing can be an arduous task when you’re up to your neck in research. However, Endocrine News offers up these tips to make the process smoother.
Your laboratory is conducting excellent research that promises significant results. Publishing a paper on your work in a scientific peer-reviewed journal is the main way to promote your laboratory’s findings. Getting published has also become a major requirement in career advancement, although many scientists bristle at the writing and review process.
By following a few simple steps, you will fast become a pro at navigating this often daunting endeavor.
Do your homework when considering which journal best suits your research area of interest. An “endocrinology” keyword search in the National Library of Medicine journal catalog yielded about 100 titles — both foreign and domestic. Start with the publications you and your fellow researchers read. Have any colleagues previously published their work or served as reviewers or journal editors? If so, they may help suggest the appropriate publication. The key is to assess whether the publication’s audience will find your research interesting and noteworthy.
Keep in mind that the reviewers and journal editors aim to help improve your submission and see it published. Make all possible attempts to comply with their requests, thank them for their critique, and return the revised manuscript with a detailed letter of how you addressed each of their comments.
Good Research, Good Writing
Detailing your laboratory’s study in a clearly written paper increases the chances of publication. Explain the points in each section, such as the abstract, methods, and discussion, with logic that is crisp and clean. Even while you’re still conducting your research, start planning the structure of your paper. An increasing number of biomedical journals, such as American Journal of Preventive Medicine and Fertility and Sterility, now require authors to follow the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist. This checklist of 22 items was created to guide authors in the writing process to avoid “incomplete and inadequate” reporting of their research. Be sure to circulate your drafts to all co-authors for their input and consider asking a respected colleague or mentor to review your paper for an extra critique.
Review the journal’s website for its “Information for Authors.” All journals are not created equal when it comes to style and format specifications. To avoid delays in your manuscript making it to the next step, make sure it follows the rules listed in the Information for Authors, including maximum word count, figure and table requirements, and reference style.
The Reviews Are In
It is very unlikely that your article will be accepted the first time without any correction. Chances are that it will be returned as either: “accept with minor revision,” “revise and resubmit,” or “rejected.” All of these, however, can have good outcomes. Most often “minor revisions” can mean you forgot to cite a table or figure or you need to reorganize your references in alphabetical order. If your paper receives a “revise and resubmit,” look over the reviewers’ feedback and determine if you can make all the requests. Sometimes, researchers are not able to provide sufficient answers to reviewers’ request because of how their study’s methodology was initially structured. Keep in mind that the reviewers and journal editors aim to help improve your submission and see it published. Make all possible attempts to comply with their requests, thank them for their critique, and return the revised manuscript with a detailed letter of how you addressed each of their comments. What about a rejection? Rejections are not the end of the road. Follow the comments from the reviewers to improve your paper as much as possible and submit it elsewhere. An article in Science magazine reported its editors reject more than 90% of submitted papers. But the good news was the editors found that about 70% of the papers they rejected were eventually published in other journals.
Rejections are not the end of the road. Follow the comments from the reviewers to improve your paper as much as possible and submit it elsewhere.
Due the competitiveness of peer-review journal publishing, many researchers complain about the time it takes for a paper to meander through the stages of submission, review, revise, and publication. The wait can be long. At Nature, the median time it takes a paper from submission to publication has grown from 85 days to just above 150 days over the past 10 years, according to an article in the journal’s February 2016 issue. Likewise, the article reported the review times at PLoSOne has jumped from 37 to 125 days over about the same period. While the days tick by, track your status in your online account, but know that when there is news, you’ll be the first to know.
—Glenda Fauntleroy is a freelance health writer based in Carmel, Ind., and a regular contributor to Endocrine News. She wrote about the issues surrounding the first uterus transplant in the U.S. in the September 2016 issue.