Table of Contents
You’ve completed your research, and come up with your conclusions and ideas for further research. Now it’s time for preparing a manuscript for publication. Since you’ve probably read many scientific articles, you’ll recognize some of the universal sections important in preparing and publishing a scientific manuscript.
In this article, we’ll cover each section that you should consider with your manuscript in preparation, and highlight some key tips that will give your paper a greater chance of getting published.
This is, literally, the first thing the reader and publisher will see. In some ways, you need to think of your manuscript title as ad copy. An effective title sparks interest, and invites your audience to keep reading. But, it isn’t enough for the title to be clever. It also has to inform the reader what the content of your article is, so they can determine if it’s relevant to what they’re studying.
Make your title specific and catchy, and leave out phrases like “study of,” “investigation into,” or “observations of.” Additionally, avoid using slang and overly specific field jargon, as well as abbreviations that may not be easily recognized. The clearer your title, the easier it is for your manuscript to be found and read.
How authors are listed on a manuscript in preparation depends on the discipline of your paper. In general, authors are listed who have made a significant intellectual contribution to the study, including the authors who will be taking responsibility for the method and data, as well as any conclusions, and those who have approved the final version of the manuscript. Consult the author’s guide for your target journal to determine the exact format for listing your authors.
List of Keywords
When preparing a manuscript for publication, you also need to put together keywords that the journal can use. These would include any words that capture the essence and detail of the article. For example, important words from the title, abstract, index and conclusions. The better your keywords, the easier it will be for researchers to find your article. Some Elsevier journals request subject classifications when you submit your manuscript online; this will help the journal select the best reviewers for your article.
Know more: How to choose keywords for a manuscript?
In two-hundred words or less, can you describe your research? That’s the trick to writing an effective abstract. Think of the abstract as an extension of your title, as it’s not unlike ad copy. You want to “sell” your article accurately and completely. In the abstract you’ll summarize the objective or problem, your research methodology, results and conclusions. Typically, you don’t include references, tables or figures/statistics. The point here is to include enough detail so that the reader can make a decision to continue reading – or not. Make your abstract interesting to read, but it also absolutely needs to be reliable. Think truth in advertising.
Most important here is to help the reader understand the context and background of your research, but not be a detailed and unnecessary history lesson. You’ll state the objective of your research, including the problem you’re investigating, as well as the reasons the research is being conducted. Include any questions that you’re trying to answer with the research, and prior findings that you’re either adding to, or challenging. Make your introduction brief and logical.
The method of your research (also referred to as “Materials and Methods” or “Experimental Methods”) should be described with enough detail that a fellow researcher can replicate the research and test your conclusions. Include details about procedures, any methods that might be new, and how you studied the problem.
Here is where you sum up your findings, as objectively as you can. The challenge for any researcher is to not interpret your results in this section; that comes later (see below). If you include any tables or figures, they have to be numbered. Any figures will also need a brief description and/or a legend that explains how the data was generated.
Discussion & Conclusions
The meat and potatoes of any scientific manuscript are in the discussion and conclusion. Here is where you present both specific and general conclusions beyond what you were able to do in the abstract. Refer back to your introduction where you explained your question or hypothesis, and how the results of your study answered any expectations and previous research. Does your study support or reject previous research? What are the limitations of your research? Do you have any suggestions for further research?
Critically, your conclusions should be 100% supportable by any data you collected, so as to avoid speculation. You may also want to outline what your next steps will be.
Make sure to name individuals who helped you with the research, including suppliers of free materials and contributors. Disclose any substantial conflict of interest or financial support that might be seen as a possible influence on your interpretations.
Any previously published research needs to be acknowledged and listed here. Unless the information is “common knowledge,” or generated by your work, it has to be recognized with a properly formatted citation. Any quoted text should be placed between quotation marks, and include a corresponding reference. The format you’ll use will depend on the journal, so (as always) refer to their Guide for Authors.
Language Editing Plus
Your article has to report your findings as clearly as possible. To do this, avoid unnecessary phrases and words, use the proper tense and an active voice. Take advantage of Elsevier’s Language Editing Plus service, which ensures that your manuscript is ready for submission, including unlimited rounds of language review, a focus on the logic and flow of your article and reference checks. Plus service also includes a customized cover letter.