Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Useful tips from Science Authors' workshop in Bangkok (part 2)

A second presentation in the Authors ' Workshop by Elsevier 's Editorial Specialist, Dr. Zhou Mingxin, is quite informative and pleasant.

She gave us insight about what scientific journal editors would be thinking. And she said the editors really care for feeling of their reviewers, who work for free. Each journal has enormous manuscripts coming in so editors have to screen a lot of them out, and they had to find suitable reviewers for the remaining ones, from the field covered by each paper. More often, they 'd get the people as cited in the manuscripts and thus the authors had better read those they were citing. The editors are looking for manuscripts that will advance the knowledge in the particular field, and they look for quality and value of the papers. (And I also think that they are looking for papers that potentially will pull up the journal 's citation ranking as well.) Some of her noteworthy points are:-

- She urged authors to stick to the authors' guide for each journal from the beginning of drafting a paper.
- The title of the paper must be precise, and consise.
- Quality of the abstract is very important, since a bad one can lead to the manuscript 's rejection quite instantly, without the rest of the paper being read.
- The introduction section must make it clear to the readers why that manuscript is important.
- Good (clear to understand) figures is the best way to present the results. Sometime, it might be better to split a graph with multiple lines into two.
- A clear conclusion will also help reviewers and editors to decide on acceptance of the paper more easily.

The speaker also stressed the importance of ethics (including avoidance of plagiarism and data fabrication / falsification) and other points to the audience (which I don't have time to write here).
Revision of the manuscripts as suggested by the referees is important, otherwise good reasons should be explained/ argued. And never try to resubmit the unedited paper to a new journal, since some reviewers might still be the same people in the same field.

In a third presentation, also from Elsevier Far East, SCOPUS was introduced: real citation data on some Thai papers were shown. She also introduced a new publication ranking system in addition to the impact factor, the h-index developed by Dr. Hirsch of UCSD. The citation tracking feature of SCOPUS is quite interesting and worth taking a look.

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