Post by Julia Slone-Murphy | Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
So you’ve written your paper and it’s been accepted for publication – hooray! But that’s not the end of the story. There’s little point in publishing if your paper is never going to be cited, or perhaps even read! The way you write your manuscript can not only help you get published but can also serve to boost citations.
Understand your readership
Who will be most interested in your study? Answering this will help you decide which journal to submit the manuscript to. The highly specialised Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium & Orientation will have a very different reader demographic than a broad-ranging journal like Nature, or an open-access mega-journal like PLOS One. As you draft your manuscript, consider your target reader, choose an appropriate journal, and write appropriately for its readership.
Use good keywords and effective phrasing
The main way research papers are found today is by online searches, and the number of papers appearing in search results is growing at an eye-watering pace. By choosing good keywords and phrasing that include the words people are likely to search for, you’ll have more chance of your paper being near the top of those search results.
But beware of “keyword-stuffing”. Repeating certain words and phrases throughout the manuscript might help you get to the front page of Google Scholar, but your reader will be human and is not going to appreciate too much repetition. So write for your reader, not for Google’s algorithms; just bear in mind what that reader might be searching for when they want to find papers in your field.
Break it down
Long sentences are hard to read, and important information gets lost in them. Writing in short sentences can make complex concepts easy to understand, remember, explain, and discuss. And ultimately, you want your research discussed and remembered – at conferences, in other people’s papers, and even by the public.
Similarly, consider writing your take-home message in fewer than 280 characters, because this invites tweets! Twitter is full of scientists discussing and sharing research, so the easier you make it to share your main finding in a tweet, the more chance it has of being seen, retweeted, shared, discussed, and cited.
Next, find out my view on considering the public when writing a journal article. And if you missed it, catch up on the previous post in this series, where I explain how writing well can help you reduce research waste.
At NeuroEdit, we help researchers create the best possible version of their manuscript before submitting to a journal. We work with native and non-native English speakers at all stages of their career. If you're writing a paper and the information we've listed above sounds too time-consuming or too difficult to implement, we can help. We can shorten sentences while retaining important information, ensure the arguments in your paper are clear, help you write engagingly, and more - usually within a week, and often for around the price of an antibody! Contact us to see how we can help you publish more effectively.