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8/27/2015

How to Write a Good


Research Paper?
Muhammad Farooq

"In science, the credit goes to the man who


convinces the world, not to the man to whom
the idea first occurs."

"Writing is an art. But when it is


writing to inform it comes close to
being a science as well."

Sir William Osler


Robert Gunning, The Technique of Clear Writing

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Why publish in a scientific journal?

Communication: gathering and distribution of information


Degree requirement
Job
Promotion
Performance indicator

Scientists are rated by what they finish, not


by what they attempt

Barriers to publishing
Rather do experiments than write about them!
Dont know where to start
Too confrontingfears of criticism and rejection, no
control over the process
Papers submitted but not being accepted

Publish or perish

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Publish and perish

What constitutes a redundant publication?

Data manipulation, falsification


Duplicate manuscripts
Redundant publication
Plagiarism

Data in conference abstract?


Same data, different journal?
May be
Data on website?
Data included in review article?
Expansion of published data set?

No
Yes
OK if later
Yes

How do I QUOTE an author?


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image and then insert it again.

I WILL NOT
PLAGIARIZE I
WILL PUT MY
PAPER INTO MY
OWN WORDS.

Allelopathic plants may influence the performance of subsequent


crops (Farooq et al., 2014).
Farooq et al. (2014) proposed allelopathic nature of the crops
must be considered while making crop rotations.
Ive just stolen
other authors
work!

Allelopathic nature of the crops must be considered


while making crop rotations.

The image cannot be display ed. Your computer may not hav e enough memory to open the image, or the image may hav e been corrupted. Restart y our computer, and then open the
file again. If the red x still appears, y ou may hav e to delete the image and then insert it again.

Paraphrase and cite the source!!!

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What makes a good paper?


Good science
Good writing
Publication in good journals

What constitutes good science?


Novel new and not resembling something formerly
known or used (can be novel but not important)
Mechanistic testing a hypothesis - determining the
fundamental processes involved in or responsible for an
action, reaction, or other natural phenomenon
Applied propose a practical solution of an important
problem

What constitutes a good journal?


Impact factor
Average number of times published papers are cited up
to two years after publication.
.
Repute
Fame in the discipline
Publisher
Publishers of good repute and/or society journals

What is a journals Impact Factor?


2014 Impact Factor =
(cites in 2014 to papers published in that
journal in 2012 + 2013) (no. of papers
published in that journal in 2012 + 2013)
(Institute of Scientific Information, Thomson Corporation)

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The Impact Factor (IF) for 2014

Citations in 2014 to articles published in:


2012 = 470
2013 = 330
Sum: 800

Top Research Journals in Agriculture and Plant Sciences


Name

Impact factor

Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

1.524

Agricultural Systems

2.453

Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment

3.203

Agronomy for Sustainable Development

2.841

Agronomy Journal

1.542

Number of articles published in:


2012 = 220
2013 = 180
Sum: 400

Crop and Pasture Science

1.284

Crop Science

1.48

European Journal of Agronomy

2.918

Experimental Agriculture

1.069

Calculation:
Citations to recent articles 800
Number of recent articles 400

Field Crops Research

2.608

Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science

2.618

Journal of Integrative Plant Biology

3.448

Journal of Plant Physiology

2.77

Physiologia Plantarum

3.262

Plant and Soil

3.235

Things to consider before writing


1. Time to write the paper?
You cant compare Impact Factors
across disciplines!
Impact factors may change over the years

- has a significant advancement been made?


- did the experiments test the hypothesis?
- are the controls appropriate and sufficient?
- can you describe the study in 1 or 2 minutes?
- can the key message be written in 1 or 2 sentences?

Those who have the most to say


usually say it with the fewest
words

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Things to consider before writing

Authorship

2. Read references
- will help in choosing journal
- better insight into possible reviewers
3. Choose journal
- scope
- publication fee
- quality of journal impact factor
4. Choose authors
Guidelines on authorship, International
committee of Scientific Journal Editors

Parts of a manuscript

Writing the manuscript


1. Getting in the Mood

3. Revising, Revising, Revising

2. Writing the First Draft

4. Finishing

Title
Abstract
Introduction
Materials and Methods
Results
Discussion
Acknowledgements
References

The hardest part is getting started

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Methods and materials

Best to begin writing when experiments still in progress.


Should be detailed enough so results can be repeated by others.
Reference published methods where appropriate
Headings
-Site or materials description
-Experimental design
-subheads for separate experiments
-Chemical/physical analyses (reference or describe)
-Statistical analysis

Tables and Figures


- must be clear and concise
- should be self-explanatory

Common mistakes
Experimental design, number of replicates,
experimental site, detail about husbandry practices
not provided
Appropriate references chemical/physical analyses
not provided
No / too much / irrelevant detail about the
observation made
No information about statistical analysis of data set

Tables and Figures

data in time series should be


Presented in line charts

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Common mistakes

Results
Axis title are not given
Units are missing
Abbreviations not defined
Data presented without statistical analysis
Vertical grids
Table / figure title not clear

Common mistakes in Results

Failure to explain interactions


Overstating results
Complicated comparisons; e.g. use than instead of compared with
Inconsistent use/overuse of acronyms
Too much detail instead of citing tables, figures

State important comparisons; interactions first,


then main effects
Avoid repeating numbers from tables, refer to tables and
figures often
USE your draft tables and figures to ensure that your text is
accurate
Can be quite short

Introduction
Introduce topic: from general (not too general) to specific
Use examples from the literature BUT avoid literature
regurgitation
Identify the specific problem
State aims/hypothesis*
Ideal length <2 double-spaced pages

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Discussion

Aims paragraph
Focuses the readers expectations (and forces the authors focus)
Clearly identify what you are doing that is new and why
Measuring and describing are not aims but they may be tools in
identifying: We measured with the aim of identifying
A formal hypothesis may help: It was hypothesized that
Or less formally: We explored

Start strongwere the aims achieved?


Emphasize the new
Discuss anomalies
Discuss in context of previous work
State practical/research implications
Separate Conclusion heading only if the paper is large

Common mistakes in Discussion


Signs of insufficient interpretation
-Restating results
-Repeating introduction
-Quoting too many statements from literature

Overstating practical implications

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References
Relevant and recent
Be highly selective
Read the references
Do not misquote
Use correct style for journal
Consult the instructions for authors / recently published article from the
respective journal
References cited in the text must appear in the bibliography
If possible, use automated reference and/or article formatting tools (e.g.
EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite, Biblioscape, PAPYRUS).

Abstract

Critical part of paper


To attract readers to your paper!
State main objective(s) and experimental treatments
Summarize key results
State the conclusion and take home message
Avoid acronyms and citations
Should not exceed 300 words

Common mistakes
Background / objectives missing
Too detailed methodology / experimental treatments missing
Very brief results
Lack of solid conclusion / take home message
Use of acronyms

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Title

Keywords
Spend time thinking about appropriate keys
words to put at the end of your abstract.
Appropriate key words help

Will determine whether paper gets read


Avoid long title
Be very specific
Avoid abbreviations

indexers
researchers working in your area to find your work

Words and expressions to avoid

Title formats

Clunky phrase

Equivalent

a considerable amount of

much

on account of

because

a number of

several

Referred to as

called

In a number of cases

some

Has the capacity to

can

It is clear that

clearly

It is apparent that

apparently

Employ

use

Fabricate

make

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Words and expressions to avoid


Clunky phrase

Equivalent

A majority of

most

Are of the same opinion

agree

At the present moment

now

By means of

by

Less frequently occurring

rare

In close proximity to

near

In order to

to

Fewer in number

fewer

Give rise to

cause

All three of the

the three

Use Passive not Active Voice


Active
We used ANOVA to compare distances moved.
I sampled 50 leaves.
But better is Passive
ANOVA was used to compare distances moved.
Fifty leaves were sampled.

Use the Appropriate Tense


Abstract
Past tense when describing and giving results
Present tense for conclusions
Introduction
Past or present tense
Methods & Results
Past tense (What you did and what you found)
Discussion
Past and/or present tense

Develop a good writing style


Read well written articles
Try to get good writers to review
Learn from editing changes

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Revise, revise and revise

All authors should participate


Review order of data presentation
Polish the writing style
Double check references
Look for typos
Double check spelling

Read instructions carefully


Fill out all necessary forms
Copyright transfer
Conflict of interest
Write cover letter (suggest reviewers)

Responding to reviewers

Publication process

Carefully prepare your responses

Completion of research

Each comment should be addressed


Each change should be stated
Be enthusiastic

Preparation of manuscript
Submission of manuscript

Reviewer may be wrong


Be tactful thank the reviewers
Do not respond to reviewers while upset
Never call the editor
Get help from other authors

Assignment and review


Decision
Rejection

Submission

Revision
Resubmission
Re-review
Acceptance

Rejection

Publication

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Major reasons for rejection


Confirmatory (not novel)
Poor experimental design
- Poor controls
- Hypothesis not adequately tested

Inappropriate for journal


Poorly written

There is no way to get experience


except through experience.

Ethics, Rights and Permissions


Beware of originality and copyrights of
others.
Do not copy anything without giving the
credit to the owner by referencing it.
In some cases permissions are needed
Repetitive publication of the same data is
considered plagiarism

Thanks

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