Wednesday, May 06, 2020

10 tips for writing a truly terrible journal article

This post is a summary of tutorial video on research academy at Elsevier:
Visit the link for a more complete explanation. This writing is just a short version of what I heard.

Bear in mind, the following 10 sure-fire ways guarantee your paper won’t be accepted (NOT THE OPPOSITE). So, to make your paper to be accepted, DO THE OPPOSITE WAYS. You already have been warned.

The 10 tips (minute 13:31)

1. Refuse to read the previous literature published in your field.

Every scientific paper should add knowledge to the field. In other words, it should contain novelty. Failure to read previously reported findings means a rejection for you.

2. Take the lazy route and plagiarize (including your previous own article)

Don't make a double submission because of laziness waiting review. Don't plagiarize others including your own. If you submit an article from conference to journal (with a major change of contributions), cite and state your previous works. Plagiarism is a crime no matter how small it is.

3. Omit key article components.

Scientific article follows strict rules and components. One of the well-known is IMRaD model (Intro, Method, Results, and Discussion; conclusions is optional).

4. Disrespect previous publications.

Example of disrespecting previous publications: plagiarism, repeating paper without adding novel contribution, not citing previous papers, etc.

5. Overestimate your contribution

Don't overestimate your contribution by writing "This paper is the first contribution...". Instead, use "To the best of our knowledge, we know no report has reported...". It also works in parts, e.g., finding/result.

6. Excel in ambiguity and inconsistency

In reading a scientific paper, the readers are not allowed to make their interpretation. It if happens, then the writer has failed in writing their manuscript. All sentences must be clear without any ambiguity and inconsistency.

7. Apply incorrect referencing of statements

Every statement in scientific articles should be backed up immediately by suitable references.

8. Prefer subjective over objective statement

If you write your paper subjectively, there is a high possibility your paper will be rejected. Don't give emotion/tone to your paper. Academic writing must use an academic tone that is formal and neutral.

"The figure should that our numerical simulations are in excellent agreement with experiments.

9. Give little care to grammar, spelling, figures, and tables

Grammar is important, the reviewer will directly reject your manuscript if it contains many grammatically errors, including typos. The figure and table should be self-explanatory. The reader can gather main message only by looking at the figure and table without reading the whole article.

Remember, a proverb "A picture is worth of thousand words" only works if the picture actually can be read.

10. Ignore editor and reviewer comments

Editor and reviewer represent your reader. They read and criticize behalf of the readers. If you ignore them, you ignore your readers. If you say thank you but didn't revise your paper, it is also the same meaning.

Say thanks to the editor/reviewer.

"We appreciate your comments but we do not totally agree with you..."
If you didn't give reasons for this, your paper will be rejected.

A good way to respond to the reviewer is by embedding the response both on your "response to reviewer" and your manuscript.

Ten best ways to respond to the reviewer are explained in this two-page PLOS journal:

Happy reading, happy drafting!
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