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Writing Scientific


Information revision during the course

Tips and strategies
Analyzing published papers
Reviewing students texts
Advise and recommendations
Expected outcome

Database and information search strategies

Auto(critical) analysis
Discussion of results
Scope and purpose of project
Future perspectives
Major drawbacks encountered


General Introduction
Whether you knew it or not when you started,
conducting research is the defining feature of
your graduate career. If you plan to stay in
academe, it will be the defining feature of
your academic life.
--Lesli Mitchell
The Ultimate Grad School Survival Guide
The genre of research
What its not:
A loose collection of anecdotal information
What its not only:
Reporting of others knowledge
What it is:
Creation of knowledge
Added security of academic support
Contribution to a larger academic discussion
Problems and solutions
Before you write: Read sources
Read studies similar to what you want to write
Professional journals, masters theses, Google scholar
Literature Reviews
Recommendations for Future Study
Take notes (dont highlight!)
Summarize/paraphrase passages
Quoting Sources (in brief)

Use quotations sparingly and strategically.

Use quotations only when the language is so
unique that you must use it; that is, the language
adds color, power, or character, to your project.
Too many quotes are distracting; reader needs to
hear your voice.
The Art of the Paraphrase
You are writers, not re-typers.
Instances of plagiarism:
Failure to use quotation marks when quoting directly from
another, whether it be a paragraph, sentence or part thereof
Copying phrases or ideas from a book, magazine, or other
source without giving credit to the author
Turning in a paper or computer program that is the work of
another individual
Should be the least time-consuming of all
steps in the process
If its taking you forever to write 1,000 words,
two things could be happening:
1. You dont have a clue what you should be
2. You're revising while you draft so that you
end up with one sentence an hour.
The Introduction: Your papers first

Introductions should:
Introduce subject and problem
Clearly state purpose
Write the abstract of the paper you are working
on (confidentiality terms!)
Between 250 and 400 words
Use the previous example as a template
Chose a title for the abstract
Include 4 to 6 keywords related to the topic
Abstract will be polished during the course
Strategies for Introductions
Begin with a narrative
Anecdotes that make the topic more real to
Begin with a question or series of questions.
Shows reader that your subject is provocative and
Begin by quoting a key source.
Bold, expert opinion captures readers attention.
Begin by citing key data
Alarming stats emphasize importance
Review of Literature
Examine/analyze what has already been published
on your topic
Find the gaps (Recommendations for future research)
Provide framework for scope of the problem
Explain where your study fits
Review must be thorough
Currency, credibility
Snowball your sources
Review must be accurate
Follow rules for specific documentation style
Report your findings

What trends did you find in the research?

Did you discover something that hasnt been
addressed? (Creation of knowledge)
Did you gather your own data? (surveys,
Presentation of findings in tables, figures, etc.
Place the paper in a larger context
Convince readers that what they read was
Go beyond mere summary and avoid repeating
word-for-word a statement you wrote earlier in
the paper.
Answers the question, Where could we go from
Makes suggestions or calls to action
You are the author

Paper should be predominately your ideas and

Show your critical thinking skills.
A paper with patched together summaries and
paraphrases, even if they are in your own
words, will not succeed.
Punctual topics
1. An approach to academic writing

Purpose and strategy
Know your audience and write for that specific audience.
Scientific and technical writing is never a general porpuse.
Adopt the style and level of writing appropriate for the

Swales J.M. & Feak C.B., 2009.


Consistent and proper

Formal vs. informal
Single verb better than verb + preposition
1. Informal: Researchers looked at the way strain builds up
around a fault.
2. Formal: Researchers observed the way strain accumulates
around a fault.
Nouns and others
Pick formal and precise one to use
Style (contd)
Formal vs. informal (contd)
Avoid contractions
wont will not
Use more appropriate formal negative forms
not any no; not much little; not many few
Limit the use of run on expressions, such as and so forth and etc.
1. can be used in robots, CD players, etc.
2. can be used in robots, CD players, and other electronic devices
Avoid addressing the reader as you
Limit the use of direct questions
Place adverbs within the verb
Then the solution can be discarded. The solution can then be
The blood is withdrawn slowly. The blood is slowly withdrawn.
are now published
have recently been produced
will be somewhat underrepresented

Moving from one statement in a text to the

Establishing a clear connection of ideas
helps readers follow the text
Flow (contd)
1. Lasers have found widespread application in medicine. Lasers play
an important role in the treatment of eye disease and the
prevention of blindness. The eye is ideally suited for laser surgery.
Most of the eye tissue is transparent. The frequency and focus of
the laser beam can be adjusted according to the absorption of the

2. Lasers have found widespread application in medicine. For

example, they play an important role in the treatment of eye
disease and the prevention of blindness. The eye is ideally suited
for laser surgery because most of the eye tissue is transparent.
Because of this transparency, the frequency and focus of the laser
beam can be adjusted according to the absorption of the tissue
Flow (contd)

Linking words and phrases

Subordinators Sentence connectors Phrase linkers

Addition furthermore, in addition, moreover in addition to

Adversative although, even though, however, nevertheless despite, in spite of

despite the fact that
Cause and effect because, since therefore, as a result, consequently, hence, thus because of, due to,
as a result of
Clarification in other words, that is, i.e.

Contrast while, whereas in contrast, however, on the other hand, conversely unlike

Illustration for example, for instance

Intensification on the contrary, as a matter of fact, in fact

Flow (contd)
Comma ,
Semicolon ;
This/these + summary word
In recent years, the number of students applying to Ph.D.
programs has increased steadily, while the number of
places available has remained constant. This situation has
resulted in intense competition for admission.
Consider the overall format
Check for misspelled words
Use computer spell-check routine
Check for incorrect homophone (e.g. too/to/two)
Proofread for careless grammar mistakes
Check for mistakes in article or preposition usage
Check for common misuse
in the following or as follows
equal or be equal to

Purpose and strategy
Writing General-Specific Texts
Move from broad statements to narrower ones, and widen out
again in the final sentence
General-to-specific movement is useful in writing introductions
or producing data commentaries

General statement

More specific detail

Specific detail

Broader statement
Hook your readers Get to the point
Accordingly, writers are under increasing pressure to get to the
point, to grab the prospective reader's attention and deliver the
goods. In many writing contexts, across genres, readers expect
writers to define the purpose, organization, and significance of a
document in a thesis statement that is provided in the
introduction. As a result, most documents follow a deductive
organization in which the authors make a general statement and
then support it with specific examples.
Using definitions or generalisations

General-specific texts may begin with one of the following:

(a) a short definition

(b) an extended definition
(c) a contrastive definition
(d) a comparative definition
(e) a generalisation
(a) The short definition

In some cases, it may be enough to give a one-sentence

definition before continuing with your general-specific text.

For example:

A change agent is a person or institution who facilitates

change in a firm.
A compact disc (CD) is an optical storage medium onto which
information has been recorded digitally.
(b) An extended definition

In other cases, it may be relevant and important to expand your

definition. In this way, you can demonstrate your knowledge of a
concept more fully. An extended definition usually begins with a general,
one-sentence definition and then becomes more specific as additional
details are provided. The additional information may be a classification,
a chronology, etc.

For example:

Pollution is a form of environmental contamination resulting from

human activity. Some common forms of pollution are wastes from the
burning of fossil fuels and sewage running into rivers. Even litter and
excessive noise can be considered forms of pollution because of the
impact they can have on the environment.
(c) A contrastive definition
This type of definition is often included when you are asked
to display your understanding of two (or more) related
For example:

(1) A patent, in law, is a document that grants an inventor sole rights to

the production, use, or sale of an invention or process for a limited period
of time. (2) The inventor is guaranteed the possibility to earn profit for a
reasonable period, while the public is guaranteed eventual free use. (3)
On the other hand, a copyright is a document that grants an originator
of artistic work exclusive use of the artistic creation for a specific period
of time. (4) Copyrights are issued to authors, playwrights, composers,
artists and publishers, who then have control over publication, sale, and
production of their creations.
(d) A Comparative Definition

These are typically found in introductory sections of

assignments. They can be used to display your knowledge of
the complexities surrounding key terms in your field of
study. There are basically two approaches to this type of
task. One is to present a historical account of how a concept
has changed over time. The other is to present an overview
of how various experts today view a concept differently.
Good comparative definitions often contain elements of
each approach.
The academic literature contains a number of definitions of innovation, each revealing
important aspects of it. Several authors emphasize newness, including anything perceived
to be new by the people doing it (Rogers and Kim, 1985) or innovation as something
different for each organization into which it is introduced (Downs and Mohr, 1976), or as
the generation, acceptance, and implementation of new ideas, processes, products or
services (Thompson, 1965-6) in an applied setting (Mohr, 1969). Some see it as early
adoption of a new idea (Rogers and Kim, 1985), others as synonymous with creativity
(Jacques and Ryan, 1978), still others as the same thing as improvements (Ellwein, 1985),
and a final group as substantive but not revolutionary changes (Merritt, 1985; Deutsch,
We bring several of these key concepts to our definition of innovation. It includes the notion
of creativity: the conception, adoption and implementation of new services or ideas ()
Innovation as used in this book, then, is the conception, early adoption and implementation
of significant new services, ideas or ways of doing things as government policy in order to
improve or reform services, ideas and ways of doing things.
(e) A generalization

Not all your texts need to begin with a definition. In some cases,
it may be unnecessary and in other cases, even inappropriate.
You might decide to begin with a generalisation instead.
1(a) English is a language that belongs to the West Germanic subgroup of the Indo-
European language family. It began its history as a distinct tongue in England around 500
1(b) In comparison to many of the worlds better-known languages, English is relatively
new. Indeed, the English of 600 years ago can be understood only by specialists.

2(a) AIDS is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the immune system.
2(b) AIDS has emerged as a devastating infectious disease for which there is presently no
1. Avoid circular definitions.

Avoid using any form of the term you want to define in the definition.
Erosion is a process during which the surface of the earth erodes.
Erosion is a process during which the surface of the earth is degraded by the
effects of the atmosphere, weather, and human activity.

2. Avoid using when and where in definitions.

Pollution is when the environment becomes contaminated as a result of
human activity.
Pollution is a form of environmental contamination resulting from human
Exercise I
Abstract and Introductions

- Linguistic Characteristic of Abstract

1. the use of full sentences

2. the use of impersonal passive
3. the absence of negatives
4. avoid abbreviation, jargon, and symbols
Create a Research Space (CARS) Model

1. establish a research territory (introducing and reviewing);

2. establish a niche (micro-environment for thriving), indicating a

gap in the previous research, raising a question about it, or
extending previous knowledge in some way;

3. occupying the niche, outlining purposes or stating the nature of

the present research (announcing the principal findings is optional in
introduction, but obligatory in abstract).
Claiming Centrality

For example,

1. there has been growing interest in ...

2. has generated wide interest in ...
3. is a classical problems in ...
4. a central issue is ...
5. has become an important aspect of ...
6. many recent studies have focused on ...
Citation and Tense
Past researcher activity (cited reference) as agent (the participant that carries
out the action expressed by the verb); reference to single studies; close to
writers own opinion;

The causes of illiteracy were investigated by Jones (1987).

Present perfect researcher activity not as agent; reference to areas of inquiry;

close to writers own research;

Several researchers have studied the causes of illiteracy (Jones 1987).

Present no reference to researcher activity; reference to state of current

knowledge; close to the current state of knowledge.

The causes of illiteracy are complex (Jones 1987).

Establishing a Niche
Notes about the niche:

this is the key move among the three;

establish the motivation of for the study;
indicating a gap;
usually short, but can be complicated by analyzing the weakness of
previous work.

Begin a niche by:

beginning with negative subjects (few or little);

using a contrastive statement (rather than ..., as opposed to ...);
raising a question, or hypothesis, or need;
continuing a line of research (follow up previous work).
Comparison Exercise III

IF: 4.601

IF: 13.858

Biocombustibles lquidos Biodiesel Estado del Arte

Bioenerga en Mxico, 2011.

IEA, 2011.
Campbell et al., 2011
Chum et al., 2011
Create a Research Space (CARS) Model
3. Problem, process, and solution

- The structure of problem-solutions

- Procedures and processes
- Types of solution
Problem-to-solution movement is useful in
writing introductions or critiques

descriptive and expository
argumentative and evaluative
Structure of Problem-Solution Text

Situation background information

Problem lack of data, question method,
Solution how to get more data, improve
method, overcome inadequacies
Evaluation Assessment of the merits of the
proposed answer
Formulating Questions
Indirect questions (standard word order)
Direct: What time is it?
Indirect: He asked what time it is/was.

Often begin by reviewing the current state of

knowledge which allows the author to raise
questions and offer answers.
Verbs and Agents in Process
Passive voice often plays an important role in process
descriptions (especially for human agents)
Consider the following notes:
specimen analyzed in the lab
results recorded
report form completed and sent to physician

Turn the notes into instructions:

Analyze the specimen.
Record the results.
Complete a report form and send it to the physician.
Verbs and Agents in Process
Descriptions (contd)
The specimen is analyzed in the lab. The results are
recorded. A report form is completed and then sent
to the physician.
Show how the system works in 3 stages (analysis, results,
Technician A analyzes the specimen in the lab.
Technician B records the results. Technician C
completes a report and then sends it to the
Emphasize the agents, rather than the stages
Midposition Adverbs
to our knowledge, there is no prior work that
published, to do/carry out research, yet
currently, to date, hitherto, as of yet, study,

Exercise see photocopy

Write a list of words used to introduce stages in a
sequence eg. Firstly, secondly, thirdly
after (a while)
afterwards as soon as
at first before (that time)
at last finally
at (the same time) in the end
while meanwhile
first , second, third... next
thereafter immediately
concurrently next
soon firstly , secondly, thirdly...
then in the future
(up to) (then) subsequently
later at that time
somewhat earlier since (then)
shortly so far
over the next (2 days)
as long as
Causes and Effects

Cause-and-effect statements are useful in writing

problem-solution texts
An increase in demand is likely to cause a rise in prices.
Increases in demand usually lead to price increases.
Demand increases; as a result, prices tend to rise.
Increases in price are often caused by increases in demand.
Causes and Effects (contd)

Cause-and-effect statements can be expressed using 1) sentence

connectors, 2) when, 3) v-ing, or 4) verbs such as cause, lead, form
When the cold air from the Pacific Oceans Humboldt current mixes with the
warm coastal air, a thick, wet fog, called camanchaca by the Andes Indians,
forms along with clouds.
The cold air from the Pacific Oceans Humboldt current mixes with the warm
coastal air, resulting in the formation of clouds and a thick, wet fog, called
camanchaca by the Andes Indians.
Note that v-ing must share the same subject in the main clause. Also
thus and thereby can be placed before v-ing
The magma flows into the pores of the rocks; as a result, the rocks rupture.
The magma flows into the pores of the rocks, thereby causing them to
The problem statement
The problem statement is not a description of the process or structure, but points
towards the core problem and how it is conceptualized as well as outlines how to
solve/discuss/explore this problem.

This means that when you have formulated the problem statement, you have already
identified the project's key concepts, theories and methods to understand/explain it
as well as potential solutions.

The problem can be accompanied by sub-questions which guide both you and the
reader in a certain (methodological, theoretical or analytical) direction and which
demonstrate the overall argument, logic and progression in your thesis.
4. Constructing a research paper

-Types of serial research publications

- Short communications
- Longer research papers
- Methods
- Results
Data Commentary

Comment on data displayed in tables, figures, and

other kind of illustrations
Find the right strength of claim
Not simply repeat in words describing what data has
expressed in nonverbal form
Not too much into the data and draw unjustified
Order statements in an appropriate way
E.g., from more significant to less significant, from general
to specific
Example for revision
Structure of Data Commentary

Data commentaries usually have the following elements (in

1. Location elements and/or summary statements
E.g., Table 1 shows (provides, gives, ) the most common modes of
computer virus infection for US businesses.
2. Highlighting statements
E.g., As can be seen, in the majority of cases, the source of viral
infection can be detected
3. Discussions of implications, problems, exceptions, etc.
E.g., While it may be possible to eliminate home-to-workplace
infection , businesses are still vulnerable to major data loss,
especially from unidentifiable sources of infection.
Highlighting Statements

Highlighting statements are generalizations

that can be drawn from the details of the
data display.
Spot trends or regularities in the data
Separate more important findings from less
important ones
Make claims of appropriate strength
Constructing a Research Paper
Parts of research paper
Summary writing
General-specific, problem-solution,
Process descriptions
Data commentaries
Literature comparisons
Shape of a Research Paper

Introduction General to specific



Discussion Specific to general

Basic Tenses

tense modal aspect

perfect progressive

- (non-past) (none) (none) - (none)

-ed (past) will (future) have -en (perfect) -ing (progressive)

Experimental Results: use past tense
Conclusions: use perfect aspect
Future Work: use future modal
Useful tips
A reasonable approach to writing a scientific manuscript may be the following. First
write the Methods section, largely derived from your initial research protocol, and
perhaps during the experimental phase of the work itself so that all details are
included. Construct all of the figures and tables that contain the data included in the
work, and then write the Results section. Depending upon the type of study, there
may be some iteration in the presentation of the data and writing of the text.
Reconsider the scientific questions the manuscript will address, again referring to
your research protocol, and then write the Introduction. Next, use the Introduction
and Results to guide the writing of the Discussion. Summarize everything in an
Abstract, and then condense and refocus the Abstract into a Conclusions section. In
general, the purpose of a scientific manuscript is to construct a clearly written
document that describes a question and then logically presents an answer to this
question that is based upon theoretical or experimental results.
Structure of a scientific paper

Introduction Abstract
TOC Graphics
Methods Experimental Section
(Some papers require this section
to be at the end)
Results Results and Discussion
Discussion References
Supporting Information
Important: KNOW the focus of your

It takes a wise man to know whether he

has found a ROPE or LOST A MULE.
- Anonymous quote
Title page
A title page should be included. State the title of the manuscript, which should be short
and simple, as well as authors and author affiliations. Indicate the journal to which the
manuscript is being submitted. Provide approximately 5 key words, as well as a short title
(sometimes referred to as a running title) for the manuscript. Finally, provide complete
contact information for the corresponding author.
The title of your manuscript is the firstand perhaps the only thingwhich someone
is going to read. Thus, the title must be interesting and fascinating enough so that
someone decides to read the entire article. Make the content clear, be specific and
precise. The following guidelines should be considered:

Do not use acronyms (the meaning might be obvious for the author but some
readersespecially from different disciplinesmight be confused).

Do not use commercial product names (no reason to advertise any commercial
product. As an example, instead of Abaqus one may use commercial finite
element code) as long as they are not your own products.

If the contribution is for an international journal, avoid to indicate a too regional

focus (this could be not interesting for some readers).
Some words on authorship
Everybody who substantially contributed to the work should be listed as an author. In
some disciplines, the order of the authors has some importance since the first author
is considered as the main contributor. Many times, also the last author has some kind
of elevated position and in many places, the coordinator (supervisor) is cited at the
end of the list of authors. Distinguished from the place in the list of authors must be
the so-called corresponding author who is responsible for the entire communication.
In many cases, only the email contact of the corresponding author is given in a
published manuscript and readers would address any questions or comments to this
scientist. Thus, if a supervisor gives the honor of being the first author to his student,
there are strong arguments that the supervisoreven being, for example, the last in
the list of authorstakes the role of the corresponding author. The supervisor or
coordinator represents a certain research direction and works normally for a very long
time on this topic. However, students join and leave research teams and may be not
the right contact in the long term if question ariseperhaps several years after the
manuscript was publishedby any reader.
The abstract is typically a single paragraph. The abstract should be considered as
an independent document, so that the abstract does not rely upon any material
in the body of the report and, similarly, the body of the report does not rely upon
any material in the abstract. The first sentence should clearly state the objective
of the experiment. If the experiment is based upon a hypothesis, which is greatly
preferred, the hypothesis should be stated and followed with statements
describing its basis and evaluation. The subsequent sentences describe how the
investigation was carried out. The following sentences describe, with as much
precision as possible without being verbose, the results of the experiment. The
final sentences describe the significance of the results and the impact of this
work on the general field of study.
The abstract summarizes the work in a few lines, normally between 100 and 300
words. Describe briefly the problem, the methodology to solve it, the main results
and add a concluding statement. Consider the following guidelines:

Avoid references in the abstract. In scientific databases, the reference section

might be not available and the citation in the abstract is not very useful.

Do not refer to any figures or tables within the main manuscript.

Do not start with In this research/paper/work .... Is it possible that the abstract
refers to a different research/paper/work?

The keywords are used to categorize your work and search engines rely on them
to filter results. Avoid repetitions of words which are already contained in the
title since search engines use title and keywords. If the selection of keywords is
free, the more specific the better they are. Think of synonyms, abbreviations and
The introduction requires a short review of the literature pertaining to the
research topic. The introduction is then best constructed as a descriptive
funnel, starting with broad topics and slowly focusing on the work at hand.
Perhaps three to four paragraphs are needed. One approach may be to start
with one or two paragraphs that introduce the reader to the general field of
study. The subsequent paragraphs then describe how an aspect of this field
could be improved. The final paragraph is critical. It clearly states, most likely in
the first sentence of the paragraph, what experimental question will be
answered by the present study. The hypothesis/solution is then stated. Next,
briefly describe the approach that was taken to test the hypothesis. Finally, a
summary sentence may be added stating how the answer of your question will
contribute to the overall field of study.
Materials and Methods
This section should be a straightforward description of the methods used in your study.
Each method should be described in a separate section. Begin, in a single section, with
a statement of the materials used in the study, indicating the vendor and vendor
contact information for each material. This information is critical so that readers have
the capability to repeat the work in their own institutions. Next describe, in separate
sections, each key procedure and technique used in the study. Keep explanations brief
and concise. If a specific experimental design is utilized, describe this design in the
second section of the Methods, after the materials section. Similarly, if a theoretical or
modeling component is utilized, it should also be incorporated in the initial portion of
the Methods. Finally, remember to describe the statistical analysis methods that were
utilized to analyze the results, most likely in the final section of the Methods section.
The use of the passive voice is probably appropriate in the Methods section.
Full article
Short communication
Full article
Results and discussions
(These two sections can be combined or separated)
Describe the results in detail and include a healthy, detailed
The order of figures should follow the discussion themes and
not the sequence they were conducted
Discuss how your data compare or contrast with previous
Include schemes, photographs to enhance the scope of
Excessive presentation of data/results without any discussion
Citing every argument with a published work
Again, first introduce the work and then briefly state the major results. Then
state the major points of the discussion. Finally, end with a statement of how
this work contributes to the overall field of study.

Include major findings followed by brief discussion on future perspectives

and/or application of present work to other disciplines.
Important: Do not rewrite the abstract.
Statements with Investigated or Studied are not conclusions!
Full article
Short communication
Provide a brief statement acknowledging the efforts of any participants or consultants
who are not included as authors of the manuscript. State all of the funding sources for
the work, ensuring that the statement adheres to the guidelines provided by the
funding institution.

Remember to thank the funding agency and

Colleagues/scientists/technicians who might have provided assistance

Staff ID26
Include all references that have been cited in the text. The references should be
well considered, so that they contain all key sources in the field as well as
previous studies that support or motivate the present work. However, do not
include extraneous references in an effort to simply cite particular authors or
journals. It may be appropriate to cite previous publications from your own
laboratory, but this should be done judiciously.
You must use the reference format that is mandated by the journal to which you
are submitting the manuscript. Software packages make citing literature
particularly easy.

The styles vary for different journals. (Use ENDNOTE, RefWorks)

Some journals require complete titles of the cited references
Please check for the accuracy of all citations
ACS Journals RSC Journals

Supporting information
Include methods, analysis, blank experiments, additional data.
Tables and table captions
Tables should generally be included in a separate section after the References
section. The tables should be headed with a caption and title in bold (i.e., Table 1:
Material Properties), followed by a sentence or two that describes the content and
impact of the data included in the table. The table itself should be formatted so
that the data is clearly presented and easily interpreted by the reviewer, however
the table is likely to be reformatted by journal to conform to its standards. Make
sure that each table is referred to in the manuscript text; this will most likely occur
in the Results section, but may also occur in the Introduction, Methods, or
Discussion sections.
Figures & figure captions

As with the tables, figures can also be placed in a separate section after the References
section. Again, clarity is the key factor, especially with images and graphs. All images
should be as large as possible, and include accurate scale bars. The graphs should be
large, with data points and axis labels in a large font. Legends can be included within the
graph or in the caption. All figures need a caption. The caption should identify the figure
in bold (i.e., Figure 3), state a brief title to the figure, succinctly present the significant
result or interpretation that may be made from the figure (this may be modified from the
Results or Discussion section text), and finally state the number of repetitions within the
experiment (i.e., n=5) as well as what the data point actually represents (i.e., the data are
means and the associated error bars represent standard deviations). As with the tables,
make sure that each figure is referred to in the manuscript text.
Authorship and Originality
Plagiarism is unfortunately a major concern among editors and publishers. Therefore, be
certain of the sources of all data and text. If the article is based upon prior work, be sure
to reference that prior work properly. An original research paper can not contain
previously published data in any form without a proper citation.
Authorship and the order of authorship must be agreed upon by all of the authors and
any other personnel who participated in the work but are not included as an author.
It is not permissible to submit a work that is a translation of a previously published
Selecting a journal

Each journal specializes in a specific area of research. Hence its readership

A proper choice of journal can make a larger impact of your research.
Get to know the focus and readership of the journal that you are considering.
- general vs. specialized area journal.
Select 2 or 3 journals in the chosen area with relatively high impact factors.
Discuss with your advisor and decide on the journal.
Find out the journals submission criteria and format.

Tip: Does your references cite journals in the appropriate area?

To choose the right journal, an author should consider the following
factors which can be evaluated on the journal home page or in scientific

Aims and scope;

Publishing frequency;
Impact factor;
Target audience;
Open access or subscriber;
Publication type.
Types of serial research publications
Open Access
The traditional business model for bearing the costs of commercial journal publishing
is the so-called subscriber-pays system where the entire costs are recovered by
institutional subscriptions e.g. through university libraries. This model includes the
transfer of copyright from the author to the publishing house.
The opposed business model is the so-called author-pays system where the entire
publishing costs are recovered by submission and/or article processing fees. These
fees must be covered by an author or his or her institution on the basis of a
submitted and accepted article and not for an entire journal as in the case of the
subscriber pays system. The significant difference of the author-pays system is that
full access to journals is given to everybody without any further subscription or
restrictions. It should be noted here that this free cost access to all readers is
connected with electronic versions of academic journals and developed with the
growing popularity and use of the internet.
Furthermore, this free cost access to readers is commonly connected with the concept of
open access (OA) where a Creative Commons license forms the basis, i.e. the author retains
the copyright. The idea to remove the costs from the reader is known under the expression
gratis OA while the removal from permissions (e.g. some copyright issues) is called libre
OA. In addition to seeing the open access model as a business model, there are solid
arguments in the actual discussion on business models and publications fees. A major
argument is that the results of publicly funded research must be freely available to the
public. Actual plans of the EU commission support this trend: Publications from research
projects funded by the EU or member states should be from 2014 on OA and it is targeted
that 60% of the published results are OA in 2016.
Under some circumstances the OA concept is criticized because of the wrong assumption
that the payment of publications fees substitutes the classical peer review process. This
connection between payment and acceptance is completely wrong since the concept of OA
has nothing to do with the review process. As in the case of traditional journal publishing, a
journal can be peer-reviewedas it is the common case for academic journalsor simply
not. Important is that a journalas OA or notclearly indicates if the peer review policy is
applied and it must be mentioned here that all serious academic OA journals require a peer
review process.
Abstract and Index Databases (Web
of Knowledge, Scopus, Google Scholar)
The use of abstract and index databases is nowadays manifold and ranges from
pure literature research to citation count and evaluation of scientists, research
groups and even entire universities. The most prominent examples can be divided in
two commercial databases, i.e.Web of Knowledge and Scopus, and the free service
of Google Scholar. Content, processing of data and functionality changes from
database to database and it can be observed that many organizations and
institutions relaywhen performing evaluationsonly on a single database.
Impact Factor (IF)
Citation counts in Year 3 to a journals contents in Years 1 and 2, divided by the number of
so-called citable items in that journal in Years 1 and 2, where citable items are defined as
original research reports and reviews.
It is further important to realize that the impact factor can be quite different from
discipline to discipline. This comes from the fact that the publishing and citation behavior is
different from discipline to discipline and not a result of different quality in different
disciplines. It can be clearly seen that the impact factors in medicine are much higher than
in applied mechanics. Thus, it can be concluded that a cross-discipline comparison must be
performed carefully or is even questionable at all.
Time Frame of Publication

Read the finalized paper carefully. Check for accuracy of figures and
Are the figures correctly referred to in the text?
Get feedback from advisor and colleagues.
Make sure the paper is read by at least one or two colleagues who is not
familiar with the specific work.
Provide a cover letter to the editor along with a brief paragraph highlighting
the importance of this work and names of possible reviewers.
Have all coauthors approve the finalized version of the paper.
Submit the paper online along with copyright form.
Cover letter
Each submission of a manuscript should beeven when not explicitly requested-
accompanied by an appropriate cover letter. A good cover letter;
Addresses appropriately the editor-in-chief (The EiC normally holds an academic degree
(e.g. Dr.) and/or academic post (e.g. Professor) and this title/post should be used to correctly
address him or her). Avoid to refer to gender (Sir, Madame), it might be wrong;
Contains the title of the manuscript and the names of all authors;
Gives a brief background of the work and explains the importance of the obtained results;
Includes a statement that the submitted manuscript has not been published elsewhere
and that it has not been submitted simultaneously for publication elsewhere;
Contains the complete contact details (e-mail, postal address, phone and telefax)
of the corresponding author;
Is signed by the corresponding author.
Recommending reviewers
Many journals offer today the possibility that authors may suggest potential reviewers
for their work or even to exclude reviewers (enemies). If an editor-in-chief will
follow such suggestions or select at least one of the provided names can depend on
many factors. Suggested reviewers may look not very trustful under the following
The suggested reviewer is a frequent co-author of one of the submitting authors.
The suggested reviewer is completely unknown in the research field of the submission.
The suggested reviewer is from the same cultural (similar name or name from the
same geographical area) or geographical (for example an author from Liechtenstein
suggests three potential reviewers from Liechtenstein) background.
The suggested reviewer is a well-known expert in the area of the manuscript but
is not mentioned in the literature review/literature section.
The contact details are incomplete and no institutional e-mail addresses are provided.
Nevertheless it might be appropriate for an author to suggest reviewers which are
somehow familiar with the work. In this context, conferences may be a good opportunity
to get in contact with scientists (networking) from the same field and discussions
can even follow up after the scientific meeting. Such a contactwhich is not
a co-author of any previous publicationsmay serve well as a possible reviewer.
Revision of a manuscript

A request for revision (minor or major) of a manuscript can be considered as the regular
case in the publishing process. The corresponding author should receive in this case
detailed comments on what is expected to be changed and improved. In any case, it
should be kept in mind that the intention of the comments should be to improve the
manuscript and that the reviewer is someone who is not directly involved in the work.
Many issues might be obvious and clear for the involved authors but a reviewerwho is
naturally not involved in the entire research process of the presented workcan see
things from a different angle and may need further clarifications. It can also occur that
the reviewer is wrong with one of his statements, i.e. he most probably misunderstood
something in the manuscript. The author should take this as an opportunity in order to
clarify and detail the presented work. In the case that the reviewer is not subject to a
misunderstanding, i.e. he is simply wrong, the author should politely explain the issue
and provide evidence of his appeal based on appropriate references.
After having revised the manuscript, the authors must resubmit their work
to the journal office. The resubmission must be accompanied by:

a new cover letter to the editor-in-chief and

a point-by-point reply to each single comment of the reviewers.
It is also advisableeven if not explicitly requestedto highlight all the
changes in the revised manuscript. New or modified text can be simply
highlighted as indicated in this sentence or by even more noticeable colors
such as yellow or red. Such a marked manuscript is much easier to check for
the reviewer and normally facilitates the second iteration of the review
process. The new cover letter should contain now a statement that the
manuscript has been revised according to the reviewers suggestions and
that these comments helped to make the manuscript much better. The
point-by-point reply may have the following structure:
Revision and galley proof
The manuscript is usually reviewed by 2-3 reviewers
Reviewers point out deficiencies and/or suggestions to improve the
scientific content
Read their comments carefully. (If reviewer misunderstands a point,
the point probably needs revision or additional support.)
-Do not blame the reviewer for his/her misunderstanding!
Be polite and respectful when disagreeing a reviewers comment
Include a point-by-point explanation of changes made in the text in
response to reviewers comments
Once again, carefully read the paper for its accuracy in presenting
the data
Submit the revised version
Once accepted for publication you should receive the galley proof
within a month. This is one last chance to make any final
What to do if a paper gets rejected

Do not get discouraged. Read editorial comments and discuss with

advisor/students/collaborators. Find out how you can make this study
stronger and acceptable for publication.
Do not just turn around and submit the paper to another journal.
Read carefully the comments and find ways to improve the scientific
quality of the papers.
Carry out additional experiments and improve the quality of scientific
discussions. (Journals often look for papers with quantitative and
mechanistic information that represent new physical insights )

Rejected papers can be resubmitted if and only the concerns of the

reviewers are adequately addressed and new results are included.
What to avoid!

Data without scientific discussion, applications of data, or

reviews of the literature are not sufficient.
Routine synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials or
studies that report incremental advance are not considered
suitable for publication.
Use of the phrase Novel or First-time in the title or
abstract. Such descriptions do not impress the reader or
the reviewer.
(Other over used phrases One-pot synthesis, Facile )
Names of flowers, fruits and vegetables to describe the
nanoparticle/nanostructure shapes/morphology
To do even better!

The authors should make every effort to make a

good presentation with proper usage of English
Ask a colleague to comment on your paper before
sending it for publication.
English is not my Native Language is not a valid
justification for reviewer who cannot comprehend.
Reviewers do not wish to review papers that are not
readable. Badly written papers are often
recommended as REJECT by the Reviewers
Ten characteristics of an incredibly dull paper
Sand-Jenson in Oikos 2007, 116 723 (C&E News Sept 10, 2007)

1. Avoid Focus
2. Avoid originality and personality
3. Make the article really really long
4. Do not indicate any potential implications
5. Leave out illustrations (too much effort to draw a sensible
6. Omit necessary steps of reasoning
7. Use abbreviations and technical terms that only
specialists in the field can understand
8. Make it sound too serious with no significant discussion
9. Focus only on statistics
10.Support every statement with a reference
Ethical Guidelines for Publishing
Plagiarism: can be defined as taking someones ideas, words or work without giving
proper reference to the original source. If an entire sentence or paragraph is copied
from a source, it should appear in quotation marks ( ) and the source must be
given at the end. However, copying word-by-word entire paragraphs is not advisable in
engineering and the original wording should be all the time rephrased in own words by
the author. However, the source must be still indicated even when something is
changed to own words. A word-by-word quotation may occur, for example, in the case
of key statements or conclusions in the form of a single sentence. Plagiarism comprises
also the case of self-plagiarism where major parts of the own work are reused without
giving reference to the previous work. This may violate copyright issues (legal aspects).
Data Fabrication and Falsification

Data fabrication relates to the invention of data without, for example, ever
having done any simulation of experiment. Data falsification relates to the
case that someone made the required simulation or experiment but
manipulated the data to better fit to the envisaged trend or idea. Both must
be regarded as scientifically wrong conduct and reveal an utmost unscientific
character. A real scientist is looking for the reason why something does not fit
and tries to explain the obtained set of data. Scientists should bear in mind
that a scientific publication must contain all the information so that an
independent group can repeat the experiments/simulations and verify the
resulting data.
Multiple Submission

Authors should never submit the same manuscript to different journals at the
same time (multiple submission). This may look at the first glance as a
shortcut to save time (we will get at least one through). However, journals
with a similar topical orientation may relay on the same reviewers. A
submission of the same or a revised manuscript to another journal should be
only considered after a rejection. Many journals require, for example, in the
cover letterthat the corresponding author confirms that the submitted
manuscript is not submitted or under review with any other journal. Well-
prepared manuscripts are likely to be considered for publication so that a
double submission will probably lead to a double acceptance.
Redundant Publication

Redundant publication refers to the fact that the same finding is used to
produce different publications ( self-plagiarism). Once a result from an
experiment and simulation is published, it should be no more presented as new
in any other publication of the author. If an author repeats the same result in a
different publication (there may be reasons for doing so), he should give proper
reference to the original publication of the results. The best way is to explain
why it is necessary to repeat the results in the actual publication.

Everybody who made a significant and substantial contribution to a research project is

entitled for authorship of an scientific article. Typical criteria for authorship credit are:

A substantial contributions to conception/design/acquisition of data (e.g. by experiment

or simulation), or analysis and interpretation of results.
Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.

It should be highlighted here that all authors of a manuscript must agree to the final version
and approve it for submission. Each authornot only the corresponding authorwho is
listed on a manuscript takes responsibility for the submission.

It should be mentioned at the end of this section that there is all the time the possibility to
mention someone and its contribution in the Acknowledgments at the end of the
Conflicts of Interest

Reviewers, editors and authors should disclose any conflict of interest, i.e.
financial, personal, academic or religious, which may affect their ability to judge
or present in an objective manner. Journals may ask to disclose any possible
interest that may appear to influence the work and even publish such
statements at the end of manuscripts. Such published statements increase the
transparency of the reader and may avoid wrong conclusions. Typical misdeeds
in this context are, for example, consultancy fees obtained from pharmaceutical
companies and the tendency to claim higher impacts of medicaments or
editors/reviewers taking ideas from articles under review or even rejecting
manuscripts from competitors.

In the context of publications, all the major publishing houses have a clear policy
on how to react on unethical behavior. The ultimate consequence can be that an
article, for example, is retracted from the online platform and the web page
displays a comment on this retraction action.

Further actions that might be taken by a publisher may include to contact the
institution from where the work was submitted (to bring the case to the superiors
of the author), an embargo of further publication at the publishing house
(including books) and co-authorship, or to take appropriate action through their
legal department.
How to write a research proposal
What is a research proposal
What is a research proposal?
A research proposal is a an outline of your proposed project that is
designed to:

Define a clear question and approach to answering it

Highlight its originality and/or significance
Explain how it adds to, develops (or challenges) existing literature
in the field
Persuade potential supervisors and/or funders of the importance
of the work, and why you are the right person to undertake it.

Research proposals may vary in length, but generally speaking, a

proposal should be no more than 2,500 words, or 5 pages in length.
Is it a good research idea?

Does the proposal make a convincing and coherent case for the
importance of issues to be studied in health, economic and societal
Does the proposal make a convincing and coherent argument for
the need for the research to fill gaps in current knowledge?
Does the research proposal frame the issues in a way that makes
them amenable to research using the methodologies and design
Does the research proposed address the key questions in the field?
Are the aims and objectives
Are the methods sound and appropriate?
Are the design and methods for the proposed study fully described,
explained and justified?
Will the design and methods of the study deliver the aims and
Are the design and methods of the proposed study the most efficient
way to deliver the aims and objectives?
Will the results of the study be generalisable or transferable beyond
the immediate research setting?
Does the proposed study design take account of issues of
Does the proposal describe and explain the approach(es) the study
will take to avoid potential sources of bias?
Can the proposed study meet the relevant legislative and regulatory
Is the study practical and feasible?

Is the way that the study will be undertaken described in sufficient detail
for an assessment of its feasibility to be made?
Is it possible to complete the study to the timescale described in the
Is it possible to complete the study with the resources described in the
Is the proposed recruitment rate realistic?
Does the team of investigators incorporate the range of disciplines and
experience needed to carry out the study?
Does the proposal describe the benefits and limitations of the proposed
setting for the study?
Structure of a Research Proposal

On the title page, state your personal data like: name, academic title (if applicable), your
position at your own university, e.g. junior lecturer (if applicable), your date of birth,
nationality, your work and private address including telephone and e-mail address. Then
the title of your planned dissertation (or research report) should follow. Remember that at
this stage, the title can only be a working title. Nevertheless, all words in the title should
be chosen with great care, and their association with one another must be carefully
considered. While the title should be brief, it should be accurate, descriptive and
comprehensive, clearly indicating the subject of the investigation. Note that you will only
be ready to devise a title when you are clear about the focus of your research. You should
also state the area of your research, e.g. Political Science - Theory of International
Relations - or Empirical Social Science etc.
Project details
Possible pitfalls
Make sure that your research idea, question or problem is clearly
stated, persuasive and addresses a demonstrable gap in the existing
Make sure that you have researched the Discipline(s) to which you
are applying to ensure that you will received a proper evaluation.
Ensure that the proposal demonstrates an understanding of research
methods and research approaches and is it clear that the research
methods identified are appropriate to the research question(s)
Ensure that the scope of your project is reasonable, reviewers will be
assessing proposals not only for their intellectual ambition and
significance, but also for the likelihood that the candidate can
complete this project;
A few words on innovation and
technology transfer
From academic discovery to industrial
Starting a spin-off : Luck versus planning

The right place at the right time

Who owns the knowledge?

Infrastructure and institutions

The role of government

References & Literature
a) Swales J.M. y Feak C.B. Academic writing for graduate students: essential tasks and skills.
2nd. Ed. Michigan series in english for academic & profesional purposes, 2009.
b) Brown, N. M. y Stuart M. K. Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking.
2nd. Ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice Hall, 1986.
c) Day, R. (editor) How to write and publish scientific paper. Oryx Press.
d) From academic discovery to industrial applications: Innovation and success in materials.
science and engineering. Philip Ball , Science Writer , London, UK; DOI: 10.1557/mrs.2015.275.
e) How to construct a Nature summary paragraph.
f) Sudheesh K, Duggappa DR, Nethra SS. How to write a research proposal?.
Indian J Anaesth 2016;60:631-4.
g) Slow science. NATURE CHEMISTRY | VOL 4 | AUGUST 2012 |
h) Private Information PhD Eduardo de Jesus Coutio Gonzalez.