Writing clearly

There is no substitute for a good idea, for excellent research or for clean, clear writing. A journal article should be concise, straightforward and well defined. It is not a novel with subplots and flashbacks so should have a single, linear narrative line.  Therefore, conveying a professional tone is important. Grammar mistakes or violations of style will give the impression that you are not being careful.

  • Get a pre-review

Don’t send the manuscript to an editor until you have it reviewed with a fresh eye. Recruit two objective colleagues: one who is familiar with the research area, another who knows little or nothing about it. The former can provide technical advice, while the latter determine whether your ideas are being communicated clearly.

Many academic departments form reading groups to review each other’s work. After you’ve got that fresh critique of your work, listen to the pre-reviewers advice. If the reviewer did not really understand a particular page don’t just say that the reader did not read carefully – other people will be likely to make that same mistake. For a final check some editors suggest to use a professional manuscript proofreading service.

  • Send you manuscript to the right journal

Many rejections are the result of manuscript-journal-mismatch, a discrepancy between the submitted paper and the journals scope or mission. Consider the papers that regularly appear in the journal before you submit a paper to it. A major faux pas is submitting your manuscript simply to get it reviewed. This is not a good idea because it wastes editors’ time, and those who reject it from the journal may also be the ones who have to review the paper when it’s submitted to a different journal.

  • Work on your cover letter

Many authors don’t realise the usefulness of cover letters. In addition to stating “here it is” and that the paper conforms to ethical standards the letter can contain the authors rationale for choosing the editor’s journal – especially if it is not immediately apparent. The letter can also suggest reviewers for your manuscript, especially in the case of a field that an editor is not well-versed in. The flip side is also acceptable: Authors can suggest that certain people not review the manuscript for fear of potential bias.

  • Don’t panic

The overwhelming majority of initial journal manuscripts are rejected at first. To get a lot of publications, you also will need to get lots of rejections. Only a small proportion, 5 – 10 percent – are accepted the first time they are submitted. Moreover, usually they are only submitted subject to revision. Since most papers are rejected from the start, the key is whether the journal editors invite you to revise it.

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