Secrets of Publishing in International Journals.ppt

The secrets of how to publish
your paper in the international
Editor in chief JGR Oceans
Departamento de Oceanoloxía
Instituto Investigacions Mariñas (CSIC)
Eduardo Cabello 6, 36208 VIGO
The road to publication
Preparing your paper
Common pitfalls
Writing in English as a foreign language
Plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and dual
Dealing with reviews
Reviewing aids writing
Maximising your citations
The road to publication
Publication 55%
Copy editing
& production
Reviews & editorial decision
Select 3 reviewers
Scope/Cross check?
AGU Quality control
Submit ms
Base camp –the results
Preparing your paper
– What makes a good paper?
Every paper must have at least one clear key idea that advances knowledge.
Papers may be descriptive approaches to phenomena and processes, or purely
modeling or analytical treatments. Trend is to combined approaches and to
trans-disciplinary analyses.
A JGR paper is of more than local interest. Most studies take place in a particular
location, but they are publishable when the results and conclusions have a wider
importance in terms of processes or dynamics etc applicable to other regions.
JGR-C embraces the application of
physics, chemistry, biology, and geology
to the study of the oceans and their
interaction with other components of the
Earth system. Deepening the integrated
knowledge of the sea utilizes new
observational, analytical, computational
and modeling capabilities to build upon
established approaches in all areas of
marine science.
Preparing your paper
Follow a standard pattern:
Use formal scientific style.
Use a short, pithy title that reflects the main conclusion.
Abstracts should summarize the article briefly:
•Include motivation, what was done, how, what was found, and major
•Avoid abbreviations and references, unless absolutely necessary;
•Keep it short <250 words in one paragraph.
The article should tell a story, set out to lead from one section to the next.
Preparing your paper
Preparing your paper
Grammar and punctuation are important because they are fundamental to
transmission of meaning.
Poor grammar, spelling and punctuation:
lead to misinterpretations and ambiguities;
give the impression of lack of care in
suggest perhaps other aspects of the paper
are careless;
can upset some referees and make them
more critical than otherwise;
can be difficult to overcome, but it is
essential to do so.
Preparing your paper
Be sure to:
write complete sentences, not too long, not too short,
use commas properly,
be consistent in the use of tenses,
avoid slang, colloquialisms and jargon,
use no contractions – “don’t, couldn’t”,
write in reasonably sized paragraphs.
Preparing your paper
A few words on tenses:
when describing the details of an experiment (i.e., what was done), use
the past tense - “Velocity was measured with … “;
general truths are expressed in the present – “Velocity is difficult to
measure precisely…”, as are conclusions – “In the MCC, maximum velocity
coincides with…”;
recommendations often use future tense – “Modeling this velocity
structure will require…”
A word on voice or mood:
though the passive has been preferred in scientific prose, the active voice
is more vibrant, often briefer and should be used to highlight important facts
and to provide variety.
Avoid writing in the first person – repeated use of “I/we” can read as
pompous and tiresome.
Preparing your paper
To convey unambiguous meaning:
write as simply as possible,
use the correct words and terminology,
avoid padding “It is noteworthy that in this example…”,
delete meaningless or weak words – very, quite, shows, possibly,
ensure that pronouns “it, this, those etc” are unambiguous,
be consistent in the use of tenses,
use “significant” only in its statistical sense,
write in reasonably sized paragraphs.
Common pitfalls:
Wrong journal
Dual publication
Bad preparation of ms
Weakly presented science
Incremental advance (< 1 lpu)
Lack of discussion
Insignificant conclusions
Poor response to reviews
Despite pitfalls, publication is
“There seems to be no study too
fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no
literature too biased or too egotistical,
no design too warped, no methodology
too bungled, no presentation of results
too inaccurate, too obscure, and too
contradictory, no analysis too selfserving, no argument too self-circular, no
conclusions too trifling or too unjustified,
and no grammar or syntax too offensive
for a paper to end up in print.”
D.Rennie, deputy editor Journal of the
American Medical Association
Also see:
Writing in English as a foreign language
W.Strunk and E.B.White The Elements of Style
“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should
contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no
unnecessary sentences, for the same reason
that a drawing should have no unnecessary
lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This
requires not that the writer make all his
sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and
treat his subjects only in outline, but that every
word tell.”
While the book has been criticized by linguistic experts of English language as
backward looking, inconsistent , eccentric and overly prescriptive, it remains an
excellent guide to anyone who aspires to write elegant, terse, and lively text.
Writing in English as a foreign language
Points to be aware of include:
use “the” and “a” properly and know when to omit them,
have improved
in reliability.
the appropriate
(general reference)
and English
have multiple
at sites…
(the specific
ones used)
all sentences
a subject,
and idiomatic uses:
at site that…”,
(an unspecified
“Is known
not permissible
in English –
“It is known
E.g. “Throughout the summer” not “along the summer”
one many
(Plural subject
lost atsubsidiary
site A…
(the particular
one) and verb)
“For this reason” not “By this reason”
of up
current meters
(single subject and verb)
into was
if you are not sure your English is good enough, find a native
English speaker to polish the final text.
Plagiarism, self-plagiarism and
dual publication
Definition of PLAGIARIZE
transitive verb
: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
: use (another's production) without crediting the source
intransitive verb
: to commit literary theft
: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
Copying (or modifying) ideas, text, tables or figures from any source without
explicitly acknowledging that source, deliberate or not, is plagiarism.
Repeating ideas, text, tables or figures from your own published work without
citing the source is self-plagiarism.
To avoid plagiarism, always cite your sources for paraphrased passages and
place exact quotes inside quotation marks.
Copied figures should cite the source in the legend (and may need copyright
Plagiarism, selfplagiarism and dual
Plagiarism, self-plagiarism and dual publication
The above example would be detected immediately by the present QC.
CrossCheck provides a summary % of copied text and, for any copied
passage of more than a few words, a link to the source document.
As a general rule do not copy or paraphrase more than 250 words from any
source. Do not re-use published figures.
location maps for field work that gives rise to several papers;
Methodologies with identical instrumental set up in various studies;
introductory passages in related papers from a single study.
Reasonable re-use as above is permissible, but it is always advisable to refer
to the first of the publications.
Plagiarism, self-plagiarism and dual publication
AGU policy "prohibits the submission of material for publication that has been
previously published in peer-reviewed scientific publication. "
EGU states Discussions papers "do not constitute peer-reviewed
publications. After interactive public discussion, it appears thus not
inappropriate to submit the same manuscript or an improved version for
peer-reviewed final publication elsewhere."
Authors are therefore justifiably confident that a rejected Discussions paper
may be sent to another journal, even though the original remains on the web.
However, it seems clear that the availability of two publicly accessible,
citable documents with identical titles and similar content by the same
authors constitutes de facto dual publication.
For this reason AGU considers that Discussions papers and related
comments indeed are equivalent to peer-reviewed publications.
The consensus at this time is that we should not accept such papers.
Dealing with reviews
Peer review (PR) is a check on quality basic to modern science, but of
relatively recent implementation despite origin in C17.
Subject academic work to scrutiny of experts in the field before publication
Idea is to
improve quality of reports,
remove errors,
eradicate irrelevancies,
& unjustified inferences,
unsupported conclusions,
avoid personal views
But it might allow:
maintenance of elites,
perpetuation of dogma,
obstruction of new findings,
personal bias
since reviewers principally “established”...
The third reviewer
Dealing with reviews – the Einstein way:
Einstein famously wrote in response to the review of a paper on gravitational
waves, submitted to Physical Review:
Dear Sir,
We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you
our manuscript for publication and
had not authorized you to show it to
specialists before it is printed. I see
no reason to address the—in any case
erroneous—comments of your
anonymous expert. On the basis of
this incident I prefer to publish the
paper elsewhere.
Stupid referee, as so often is the case!
In fact the referee’s criticism was correct. Einstein later recognized the error
and the paper was published elsewhere with a different conclusion.
Dealing with reviews
Authors can influence
outcome of reviews
favourably by suggesting
lists of suitable and
unsuitable reviewers.
Not necessarily because of
cronyism; could be that
authors know who is most
appropiate to judge the
Based on 788 reviews in 10
journals with and without
author selection.
Few suggestions received
for exclusion in JGR.
Grimm (2005) Science 309, p1974
Dealing with reviews
Do not engage in polemics even with hostile reviews
Respond thoughtfully and courteously to the criticisms
Answer ALL the points thoroughly
If you disagree,
explain exactly why in
a polite and detailed
Papers can be
rejected because
authors do not
respond properly to
Understand what the
decision categories
mean before
Dealing with reviews
Accept without revision – very rare for a first submission, but attainable after
one or more revisions.
Minor revisions – no serious problems with the paper, but points of detail
and inaccuracies that require attention. 21 days.
Major revisions – paper may be ultimately acceptable but there are some
significant problems that imply further or re-analysis, re-writing, changes to
figures, additions or deletions etc. 42 days.
Reject with encouragement to resubmit – ms looks promising but has
sufficient deficiencies that rethinking and complete formulation required;
Authors have ignored or responded inadequately to repeated major
criticisms. Indefinite.
Reject – paper inappropriate to journal or is inadequate. Editors can reject
without review. Never.
Dealing with reviews
•Quote and respond to every comment, indicating you agree or disagree with the
Unless the criticisms are exclusively minor points of spelling or similar, replies like
“we have corrected the text following the reviewers’ comments” are insufficient in
themselves. Reviewers and editor need to see original comment, your reaction,
and the changed text or figure together.
•Justify any disagreement with any aspect of reviewers’ recommendations.
Lay out your reasoning clearly and courteously. Sometimes an apparently major
criticism arises because an explanation was ambiguous and misconstrued. If so,
clarify the text.
•Always incorporate your responses to reviewers’ comments and criticisms into
the revised manuscript.
Ensure that changes indicated in your response have been made in the paper.
They will be checked by reviewers and editor. It is generally a waste of time
producing extended text and additional figures solely to explain a point to
reviewers. If the point is so complicated, the explanation should be in the paper.
Dealing with reviews
Ledbetter vs Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Following introduction in
2001 of double-blind
review by Behavioral
Ecology, there was
7.9% increase in female
first-author papers.
Should female authors
use only initials?
Budden et al (2007) TRENDS in
Ecology and Evolution, 23, 1, 4-6
Results unsupported by
further research.
Women more often than
men lack resources
necessary to produce
high-quality work.
Ceci & Williams (2011) PNAS
108(8): 3157–3162.
Dealing with reviews
“We portray peer review to the
public as a quasi-sacred
process that helps to make
science our most objective truth
teller. But we know that the
system of peer review is biased,
unjust, unaccountable,
incomplete, easily fixed, often
insulting, usually ignorant,
occasionally foolish, and
frequently wrong.”
R. Horton, editor of The Lancet
On the other hand, no one has suggested anything better and it is demonstrably
superior to tradition, received authority, revelation and intuition as a means of
approximating “truth”.
Options like open reviewing and double blind reviewing are being explored but as
yet do not appear convincingly superior. See etc.
With the move to Open Source publishing, there will undoubtedly be changes.
Dealing with reviewers
The Editors’
Hate scale for
reviewers who
You know
where you fit!
I personally am
Impressed by the diligence shown by some reviewers and
Dismayed by the number of invitees who deign not to reply
Reviewing aids writing
Reviewing develops your critical skills.
You see and learn from the common mistakes.
You learn what the journal requires of author responses to criticism.
You become aware of the need for attention to detail.
You recognize the typical problems with figures.
You appreciate more the importance of the
You see the latest advances before others.
Your opinion influences the science.
Be a conscientious reviewer! It is time well spent that will benefit your writing.
Unofficial reviews
On the internet everyone can be an expert
and every opinion is regarded as valid.
Any result that attracts public attention or
affects vested interests may provoke
comment by tweets or blogs.
Nu-uh Some guy
on Twitter just
said you’re wrong
Comment may range from wellinformed to idiotic, and can be polite
or hostile.
Only possible response is courteous
and reasoned argumentation of the
Ensure your results and conclusions
are correct and logically justified.
Maximising your citations
Readers no longer skim journal contents lists.
They use internet searches
Search engine robots search for KEY WORDS
Include them in your title, repeat them in the
abstract, and in section headings, all in as
natural a way as possible.
Check the popularity of key words with Google, but beware that the most
searched terms will throw up most competitors, while specific long-tailed
keywords may find your interest group more efficiently.
Also, cite your related publications and those that cite your work.
However, Higgs’ 3170 cites for his 1964 boson paper did not use these means.
ISI stats show 47% of all papers are never cited.
Remember Sturgeon’s Law!
There are no secrets. The necessary information is all freely available. Read the
manual before writing!
The pitfalls on the road to publication can be overcome by careful preparation and
attention to detail.
Courteous, considered and detailed responses to the reviews are essential.
We should recognize our reviewing debt to the community. For every paper
published we owe at least two. We should be diligent and timely in returning our
Though peer review can be robustly criticized as inadequate, it is still the best we
have, and should be supported while improvements are sought.
In this age of instant communication, “unofficial” or uncontrolled review and
criticism of controversial results will inevitably occur outside the learned bodies and
Science stands or falls on its reproducibility, openness and honesty and so these
developments should be accepted and welcomed.
Thank you!

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