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How to write a world class paper Anthony P.F. Turner 2008 10 th Biosensors Conference, Shanghai.

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Presentation on theme: "How to write a world class paper Anthony P.F. Turner 2008 10 th Biosensors Conference, Shanghai."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to write a world class paper Anthony P.F. Turner 2008 10 th Biosensors Conference, Shanghai

2 Professor Anthony P.F. Turner Editor-In-Chief, Biosensors & Bioelectronics, Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology, Commercial Director, Cranfield Health, Director Cranfield Ventures PhD, DSc, FRSC Founder and Editor of B&B since 1985 Cranfield University Professor Turner's name is synonymous with the field of Biosensors

3 Outline Current status of Chinese articles Why do scientists publish? Ethical issues Revision, and response to reviewers What gets you accepted? How to write a good manuscript for an international journal 1.preparations before starting of an article 3.technical details

4 Current status of Chinese articles High quantity— exponential growth since 1999 Low quality— China is at 70% of the world average

5 Comparison of number of Chinese submissions and accepted articles in B&B 2006 2007 %of %rate of %of %rate of Submission acceptance Submission acceptance China 18 17 29 25 US 12 16 15 20

6 How can Chinese authors do better? English is poor Papers which are deeply out of scope of our journal Failure to format the paper according to the guide for authors Inadequate response to reviewers Multiple submissions Submission of paper already published in Chinese Plagiarism (especially of small parts of a paper) We have encountered the following serious issues

7 And who has to deal with it? 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 4.Editors may receive a small payment, but reviewers are UNPAID

8 Your personal reason for publishing … ??? Get funding? PhD degree? get promote d…??? However, editors, reviewers, and research community don’t consider these reasons when assessing your work.

9 Why should scientists publish? Scientists publish to share with the science COMMUNITY something that advances, not repeats, knowledge and understanding in a certain field. To present new, original results of methods To rationalize published results To present a review of the field or to summarize a particular topic

10 Journal publishers do not want zero- cited articles Editors now regularly analyse citations per article “ the statistic that 27% of our papers were not cited in 5 years was disconcerting. It certainly indicates that it is important to maintain high standards when accepting papers… nothing would have been lost except the CV’s of those authors would have been shorter…” Articles are increasingly checked for originality and relevance

11 QUALITY and VALUE: are at the heart of scholarly communication Do not publish: 1.reports of no scientific interest 2.out of date work 3.duplication of previously published work 4.incorrect/unacceptable conclusions 5.“ salami-sliced” papers: datasets too small to be meaningful

12 Deadly sins- Unethical 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

13 1. Multiple submissions( 一稿多投 ) Multiple submissions save your time but waste editors. The editorial process of your manuscripts will be completely stopped if the duplicated submission are discovered. “ it is considered to be unethical… We have thrown out a paper when an author was caught doing this. I believe that the other journal did the same thing.” — James C. Hower, Editor, the international Journal of Coal Geology Competing journals constantly exchange information on suspicious papers (even between competitors). You should not send your manuscripts to a second journal UNTIL you receive the final decision of the first journal.

14 2. Redundant publication( 重复发表 ) An author should not submit for consideration in another journal a previously published paper. 1.Published studies do not need to be repeated unless further conformation is required. 2.Previous publication of an abstract during the proceedings of conferences does not preclude subsequent submission for publication, but full disclosure should be made at the time of submission. 3. Re-publication of a paper in another language is acceptance, provided that there is full and prominent disclosure of its original source at the time of submission. 4.At the time of submission, authors should disclose details of related papers, even if in a different language, and similar papers in press.

15 3.Plagiarism( 剽窃 ) “Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas,processes,results,or words without giving appropriate credit, including those obtained through confidential review of others’ research proposals and manuscripts ”(the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy,1999). “Presenting the data or interpretations of others without crediting them, and thereby gaining for yourself the rewards earned by others is theft, and it eliminates the motivation of working scientists to generate new data and interpretations.” ---Bruce Railsback, Professor, Department of Geology, University of Georgia For more informatin on plagiarism and self-plagiarism, please see

16 Source: China Daily,15 March 2006 Chinese authorities take strong measures against scientific dishonesty Plagiarism and stealing work from colleagues can lead to serious consequence Example


18 Inappropriate paraphrasing Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s ideas while not copying verbatim. Unacceptable paraphrasing includes any of the following using phrases from the original source without enclosing them in quotation marks; emulating sentence structure even when using different wording; emulating paragraph organization even when using different wording or sentence structure. -Statement on Plagiarism. Department of Biology, Davidson College. Example 1

19 Acceptable paraphrasing Original(Buchanan,1996): what makes intentionally killing a human being a moral wrong for which the killer is to be condemned is that the killer did this morally bad thing not inadvertently or even negligently, but with a conscious purpose-with eyes open and a will directed toward that very object. Restatement 2: Buchanan(1996)states that we condemn a person who intentionally kills a human being because he did a “morally bad thing” not through negligence of accident but with open eyes and a direct will to take that life. -Ronald K. Gratz. Using Others’ Words and Ideas. Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University Example 2

20 4.Data fabrication and falsification( 数据造假 ) Fabrication is making up data or results, and recording or reporting them. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, processes, or changing/omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. “The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.” -G.C.Lichtenberg(1742- 1799)

21 5.Improper use of human subjects and animals Experiments on human subjects or animals should follow related ethical standards, e.g. Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000(5). If doubt exists in accordance of the research with Helsinki Declaration, authors must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate the approval from the institutional review body

22 6.Improper author contribution Authorship credit should be based on 1. substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2. drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; 3. final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1,2,and 3.Those who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project should be acknowledged or listed as contributors.

23 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…. Sink into despair Take 3-4 months to prepare the manuscript get the first decision after 4 months revise carefully within time limitation….accepted 磨刀不误砍柴工 Please cherish your own achievements!


25 Revision before submission-checklist Reasons for early rejection: Content (aims and scope) Paper is of limited interest or covers local issues only (sample type, geography, specific product, etc). Paper is a routine application of well-known methods Paper presents an incremental advance or is limited in scope Novelty and significance are not immediately evident or sufficiently well-justified Unacceptably poor English

26 Revision before submission-checklist Reasons for early rejection: Content (aims and scope) Paper is of limited interest or covers local issues only (sample type, geography, specific product, etc). Paper is a routine application of well-known methods Paper presents an incremental advance or is limited in scope Novelty and significance are not immediately evident or sufficiently well-justified Reasons for early rejection: Preparation Failure to meet submission requirements Unacceptably poor English


28 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 and again.

29 Don’t resubmit a rejected manuscript to another journal without significant revision! It won’t work A suggested strategy In your cover letter, declare that the paper was rejected and name the journal. Include the referees’ reports and a detailed letter of response, showing how each comment has been addressed. Explain why you are resubmitting the paper to this journal, e.g. this journal is a more appropriate journal; the manuscript has been improved as a result of tis previous review, etc.

30 1.Check the originality of your idea Have you done something new and interesting? Is there anything challenging in your work? Is the work directly related to a current hot topic? Have you provided solutions to any difficult problems? If all answers are “yes”, then start preparing your manuscript.

31 2.Decide the type of your manuscript Full articles/Original articles; Letters/Rapid Communications/Short communications; Review papers/perspectives Self-evaluate your work: Is it sufficient for a full article? Or are your results so thrilling that they need to be shown as soon as possible? Ask your supervisor and colleagues for advice on manuscript type. Sometimes outsiders see things more clearly than you.

32 3.Who is your audience? Do you want to reach specialists, multidisciplinary researchers, a general audience? You will need to adjust information and writing stle accordingly Journals, even in similar subjects, reach readers with different background Each journal has its own style; read other articles to see what gets accepted Is readership worldwide or local?

33 4.Choose the right journal Investigate all candidate journals to find out: Aims and scope Types of articles Readership Current hot topics (go through recent abstracts ) You can get help from your supervisor or colleagues. Chase them if necessary. Articles in your references will likely lead you to the right journal. DO NOT gamble by scattering your manuscript to many journals. Only submit once!

34 Differences between journals In addition to ensuring technical correctness, journal editors seek to maintain their journal’s philosophy and quality Some of this can be understood from a journal’s statement of scope, which should be read carefully However, journals clearly have different rankings and you will not get into a top journal designed for general readership if your paper addresses a specialist audience Equally, high impact specialist journals will tend to rigorously enforce editorial criteria such as “interest to the community” Choose a journal appropriate to the breadth and importance of your work and take advice when unsure to avoid rejection and associated delay in publication


36 Content and Presentation A good paper leads readers to scientific significance immediately Content is essential contains an adequate, useful, exciting and convincing scientific message Presentation is critical in a logical manner—readers arrive at the same conclusions as authors in a good format-best showcases the materials in a clear style-clearly transmits the message

37 The general structure of an article Title Authors Abstract For indexing and searching! (informative, attractive, effective) Keywords Main text Introduction Materials and Methods Results Each has a distinct function Discussion Conclusions Acknowledgements References Supplementary materials-for the electronic copy

38 We often write in the following order: Figures and Tables Materials and Metheods Results and Discussion Conclusions Introduction Abstract and Title

39 1.Title A good title should contain the fewest possible words that adequately describe the contants. A good title is concise, but informative is accurate, clear, specific, and complete identifies the main issue of the paper can attract readers Please do not include infrequently-used abbreviations

40 2.Authorship Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone. Does not justify authorship Each author should have sufficiently participated in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included on the paper. People who have helped, but, not authors, should be acknowledged.

41 5. Introduction What is the problem? Are there any existing solutions? Which is the best? What is its main limitation? What do you hope to achieve? Provide sufficient background information to help readers evaluate your work Convince readers that your work is important Answer a series of questions:

42 In summary, the Introduction section should State the purpose of the investigation Cite relevant references – not an extensive review and avoid extensive self- citation Briefly describe your work Not mix introduction, results, discussion and conclusions

43 6.Materials and Methods Authors must provide enough information so that people can repeat the experiments Materials and Chemicals Instruments Measurements Procedures (published procedures should just be cited) Safety considerations (hazardous procedures and special precautions, and toxic chemicals)

44 7.Results and Discussion A set of principal equations or theorems The main findings (adequate, useful and convincing) – Text (simple findings) – Figures and/or tables including Error bars or Relative standard deviation The interpretation of the results The comparison between your approach and results and those published and should include – Advantages and disadvantages – Valuable conformation – Contrary findings – Your findings building on previous knowledge Future experiments

45 Captions of Figures and Tables Keep it concise Make it self-sufficient Figures and tables together with their captions should be clearly understandable without having to read the text

46 8. Conclusions Do Give global and specific conclusions, in relation to the objectives Indicate uses, extensions, and limitations if appropriate Suggest future work and point out those that are underway Do not Summarize the paper Make a list of trivial statements of your results Make statements that the results can not support Make judgments about impact Use uncertain words such as “might”, “probably”

47 5.Cover letter Do not summarize your manuscript! Title of the manuscript Article Type: Review or Full paper or Short Communication New method used and its advantages & limits Application of published techniques Extension of your previous publication and its improvements Potential reviewers (not you friends)

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