First Publication

Insight from a first-timer on the entire process

Hi friends! I apologize for being away for so long (have you noticed??) Anyways, I’m back!

Recently, I officially became a published author (holler)! Now that I’ve went through the process of publishing a paper, I wanted to share a little bit about the whole ordeal.

*I will note that I was not first author on this publication so this list is not all-inclusive, as the first author plays a larger role.

Ok so here we go:

Research


Once you perform the preliminary experiments, there will be hints and subtle correlations that may appear. There will undoubtedly, however, be holes that need to be filled in. Don’t skimp on the experiments. If you are asking “what ifs” about your experiment, there is a chance that your reader and the scientific community will also be asking this. Be sure to run experiments that will strengthen your conclusion so you can not only have a publication but also be a strongly cited source for furthering knowledge and/or advancing technology in your field.

Writing


In order to publish in a respectable journal with a high impact factor, the research must not only be relevant but must be explained properly. That is, it is not so important/believable/respected if you run one experiment and obtain results with wide variation but state that there “appears” to be a correlation. Anyone could do that. (Right?) But also having good results is not enough. You need to be able to explain to the reader what the results mean and why they are relevant. I don’t think I can count how many times I proofread our paper prior to the final submission but it was a lot. Don’t take this lightly; be picky. There was a lot of back and forth “arguing” over wording, sentence structure, and diagrams within the paper. It was sort of strange to argue with my boss over these minute details at first but he later stated that since my name was going on the paper, I better make sure that I think it’s perfect. He encouraged the back and forth arguments because it first meant that I cared and second, it meant that I had to think about why I was arguing for my case; I had to back up my reasoning which strengthened my understanding of the material.

Journal Selection


The issue with selecting a journal is that you want to aim high but aim realistically. If you submit to a journal “out of your league”, you are just wasting everyone’s time and in the end, another lab group just may submit an article based on the same research you did (and have their article accepted) by another journal while yours is being denied by Science or Nature. And just like that, the credit and the months/years of hard work go down the drain. My lab group had a meeting to select the proper journal for our article. And to be honest, we pulled up a list of respected journals online that were related to our research and weighed our options. Consider what topic your article could fall into - broad and specific. Broad may hit a larger crowd but specific might find a journal with a higher impact factor that may be more relevant/helpful in a specialized journal.

Revisions


After the initial submission to whichever journal, it will be reviewed by reviewers who are experts in the area. The reviewers will state if they recommend that the article is accepted or if they do not recommend (the material is not novel, not enough results, results not explained well enough, etc.). After our intial review, the reviewers stated that they did believe our article should be accepted if changes were made. They attached a list of questions and comments about our article. These comments range from clarifying what we meant in a section of the results, suggestions for strengthening our conclusion, and suggesting additional references to give credit where it’s deserved so we may add the proper information to our introduction and citations.

A lot of work went into addressing all of these corrections and suggestions. Back to the “arguing” about how to phrase certain statements, placement of commas, and second-guessing initial word choice. After we all agreed on the final product, all that was left was to proofread three more times and choose how I wanted my name to appear in the scienticic community.

Published


Read my first publication here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.analchem.5b00775

Jennifer M. Jarvis

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