Starting to write your research paper? These tips will help you through it – Part 2

Writing a scientific paper is an inevitable task in a researcher’s life. In Part 1 of this article, we focused on how to better structure and prepare your manuscript for submission.

But, although the content is crucial, the preparation for it is as important as the paper itself. Setting timelines and objectives, being able to choose the correct journal or proper tool can be crucial. They may be the difference between an easy or ponderous academic writing process.

In the second (and last) segment of this article, we will offer you some “backstage” tips that will facilitate your writing of a scientific paper.

Block out time to write the paper

Create a comprehensive story from your stack of results can be a scary process. Piece by piece you will start building a text. Keep in mind this a long trip and you should definitely reserve some time for it.

In most cases, you will still be running experiments in the lab. This means your writing time is reduced to in-between experiments time points or after working hours. Independent of your methodology, there are two things you should always do:

  1. Block constant daily periods for writing;
  2. Set up hard deadlines for the different sections of the paper.

Writing every day will avoid the need to spend large periods of time in front of the computer and that inner thought of “I should be doing experiments”. By defining a timeline it will help you complete your goals in a swift manner.

Get feedback from other scientists before submitting the paper

Science is about collaboration and this principle should also apply when you are writing a paper. After hours of reading the same text, you will most definitely miss small mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Sharing the several draft versions with other team members (authors or not) is helpful. Not only for an initial feedback on the content of the paper but also scientific comments. These comments can definitely increase the success of having a good research paper.

Find the correct journal and read the author guidelines before submitting

Every scientist wants a Nature or Science paper in his CV but we should be honest, less than 1% of the scientists will be able to see their results being published in those top-tier journals.

One of the first things you should think of is in which journal you believe your paper will be the best fit. Trying journals with high impact factor is always appealing but formatting a scientific paper is a tedious process that can easily be avoided.

Use a Reference Manager

There are several tools that exist to simplify your scientific life (like labfolder) and when writing a paper, few can reach the importance of a Reference Manager. The scientific bibliography is essential in a paper because it provides a context to your research. By citing previous works that focused on the topic you are working on, you are making a historical connection between your paper and older ones.

Using a reference manager is not only necessary because you might handle over 100 references (always remember to cite original data papers and not reviews) but also because each journal has its own specifications in reference formatting.

Software like Mendeley or EndNote are the most commonly used tools for managing references and, thanks to Microsoft Word integration, both will optimize the way you work on your reference list.

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