Sunday, 18 November 2012

How to get your work published...on high impact journals (Part II)

Heya folks,

In the previous post, we talked the importance of having original content if anyone wants to have a paper published. And its very important indeed. No one would want to read magazines with similar content by different authors page after page.

But .... why are some journals more 'popular' or of 'higher impact' than others? What makes people pay attention to them? 

The answer ... is novelty.


Readers want to see new information that is exciting. Just stating the obvious or paraphrasing common content is not interesting. An example would be our daily newspaper. We will flip through the pages quickly unless we see a headline that catches our attention. Something new, something out of the blue, something unexpected. That's novelty.

Good journal magazines like Nature and Science continue to attract readers because they contain a collection of articles that explains novel ideas with solid evidence. Ideas needs to be backed up with proofs and that's what the referees are for. 

Submitting article to referees

When an article is submitted to a magazine, the editor will sent it to two or more referees who are experts in that particular field to review the write-up. They will give their opinions on the merits of the article based on their experience as well as the evidence provided. Therefore, solid evidence such as characterization, data, trends, graphs and diagrams are of paramount importance.

Novelty ... often gets mixed up with originality!

These referees will also look out for novelty. Being experts in the field, they are experienced enough to know whether your article contains key points that will spearhead new frontiers in the field. It is different from being original. In fact it is an additional requirement to being original. 

Bring original means that you have prepared content that has not been published before. Being novel means your content is revolutionary , capable of helping people make breakthroughs or make people go 'wow, I did not think that's possible!'. Examples of revolutionary would be the article on DNA model by Watson and Crick.

Its not something that is easily described. Rather its more easily identified by 'feel'. I am sure you have read abstracts and said 'that's rubbish'. But have you ever wanted to read on because you wanted to know more? That article that keeps you wanting to know the details has more value.

Students tend to believe that journals will accept all works as long as their work has not been done before but editors are selective. 

So ... how to be novel?

My humble two cents in the next post ...

signing off~

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Where do I find IDEAS for my research proposal?

Heya folks,

To be perfectly honest, there is no easy answer to this question. More experienced researchers have told me they get ideas from their work (experience) as the years goes by and they know intuitively what they would like to study and what is commercially viable. What about the novices ...?

1. Start off by reading

As a professor once said ... there is NEVER too much research. Keep research and reading. Don't stop. There is always something new to stimulate you or something done previously to help guide your initial work.

You may wish to start by reading some articles from Peer Reviewed Journals online. Just google and you can find plenty. After which you might want to dwell further into specific topics by going directly to the website of these Journals (More updates soon!) or search using some tools such as SciFinder and Web of Knowledge that are likely to be offered by your school library or subscribed by your company.

From the reading exercise, have a FEEL of the current status of research in your field of interest. You definitely do not want to perform duplicate work. And try to SPOT research that interests you. That is the topic or type of work you might want to consider focusing upon.

2. Communicate

Talking to peers and seniors who have experience will help you. They may offer advice and opinions on the research route you intend to take or provide some insights on the workings of a reaction if they have done similar work. This will save you LOTS of time and may be even more effective than readings. Sometimes its like striking Jackpot. Really. I would recommend doing this after you've done some fundamental readings so that you have enough base knowledge to initiate a meaningful conversation. But ... try to get to this step as soon as possible.

3. Don't procrastinate!

Seriously, don't! Steps 1 and 2 takes time and there's no guarantee that doing both once will work. Some people take iterations! No matter how intuitive or 'common sense' these pointers sound, they are necessary. Underestimating the importance of preparing solid research proposals is just plainly not worth it. Start early!

Going through these steps have worked for me in general. Computers unfortunately cannot substitute for good and hard work, and I will venture a guess that they are unlikely to be able to do so in the near future...

Well fortunately for us, that the reason why scientists and researches have a Job!

signing off~

Saturday, 3 November 2012

How to get your work published...on high impact journals (Part I)

Heya folks,

This is a question that a budding researcher or (i hope?) a student will eventually ask. How do I get my work published in high visibility journals. To be honest, it can be both easy and difficult at the same time...

I've had the privilege of attending a seminar conducted by @Dr. Joerg Heber, who is a senior editor from Nature materials. Here he provided some interesting advice on how to get published on Nature and I believe they do apply for most other Journals as well. 

As the post may be a little long, it will be done in a couple of parts, each containing a topic and a quick recap for subsequent posts. Here we get started on the topic of originality...


First and foremost, the work must be original. Identical work should not have been done and published previously. It is very important to perform the necessary due diligence to continuously keep up with updates regarding your field of work and look out for similarities to the work you have done. I would suggest performing checks by searching important keywords on Google or Google Scholar. While they are definitely not foolproof, they may provide some assurance.

A more scholarly approach to keep up with the latest updates would be to subscribe to the Journals where you intend to publish your article and the 'popular' Journals such as Angewandte ChemieJournal of the American Chemical SocietyAmerican Chemical Society or Nature Chemistry. The list just goes on and on. There are plenty of good and relevant peer reviewed journals and deserve our attention. However, if and in most circumstances, we do not have the time to read all of them it becomes important to pick and choose those most relevant to us.

Plagiarism Check!

And consider this... we have FINALLY written our article, performed all the necessary formatting changes, editing and we have a Journal in mind to submit to. Should we submit now? Well, you can. But I would suggest a quick check via ithenticate. It is a online service similar to turnitin but more specific to research related and scholarly work. It detects plagiarism and checks for originality against a wide database. Ever wonder if you accidentally adopted a nicely written phase from the 'introduction' of a journal article? This is possibly a tool that locates that for you. Perhaps you might want to try it out.

 *disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated or advertising for ithenticate, I did try out their services recently and thought it might be helpful both new and experienced users.

So .... next on how to get your work published (II)....

signing off~