The importance of editing dissertations

Writing a dissertation is the start of the final phase of graduation. For a student, it marks the transition from being a graduate to a research scholar. Writing a dissertation is a self-directed process, making it an interesting yet challenging task. It is the culmination of years of hard work and study.

However, writing a dissertation is only the first, albeit most important, part in a series of necessary actions that contributes to the final form of a dissertation. After the draft is complete, it is critical to submit it to a professional service provider for a thorough proofreading and editing process to ensure that the text reaches its final, refined, and presentable form.

An apposite editing of a dissertation involves several important steps. Although there is a temptation in this digital age to take recourse to an automated editing process by means of many available software, it is far more reliable to go in for a manual or physical editing service. A professional editor rectifies all inappropriate or incorrect usages with an astute eye on the spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting aspects of the dissertation. From this standpoint, a professional dissertation editing service is a crucial step before submitting the dissertation. In the process, there will be plenty of indicators on the quality of the dissertation and its chances of being accepted or rejected.

Here are some essential guidelines for refining your dissertation:

Don’t edit while writing the paper.
Editing the text while writing will not only break the flow of thoughts and words of the text, but it will also break your concentration in detecting any mistakes made. It is better to leave the editing of the text to the post-writing phase.

Self-evaluate your dissertation carefully. Contrary to popular belief, a quick reading of the whole dissertation does not suffice. Conversely, a thorough check on your part will help iron out many basic errors in the dissertation and can serve as the primary stage of editing your paper. This will help the professional editor to better understand your text and improve it further.

Edit your dissertation in sections. Breaking the whole text into sections and sub-sections is a great idea for the self-editing purpose. Editing chunks of the text with proper and timely breaks is more effective than continuously working on the dissertation.

Seek a peer-review. Family and friends, who constitute the most crucial system in your research journey, can be good reviewers of your paper. Sharing your text for a thorough reading might help detect many loopholes.

Hire a professional editor/editing service. A professional editor carries out a careful review of the dissertation to ensure that the thesis is clearly stated and is in accordance with the university guidelines. They would also check the consistency of sentences and flow between paragraphs. This brings greater clarity of the ideas in the text from a reader’s point of view. Often, a professional reader is able to identity many loopholes that a self-assessment or a peer review might miss.

Journal Impact Factor: All That Matters

The impact factor, often abbreviated as IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations that a paper published in a journal receives over a defined period of time. Conceptually developed in the 1960s by Eugene Garfield, founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), IF is now frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field. Journal impact factors are published annually in Science Citation Index (SCI) Reports.

Researchers are often conditioned to believe that IF matters the most. Publication in journals with a high IF is regarded as an indication of the quality of the research published, and by implication, the quality of its authors. Therefore, it is not surprising that publishing in high IF journals is an aspiration for most scientists as it often plays an important role in their career prospects and progression.

High IF journals are widely read. But there has been a discrepancy regarding the importance of journal IF among researchers. Journal ranking systems have evolved in the present-day world and allow for better comparisons. Sadly, they are often ignored even when such rankings may benefit a given journal. But even these systems are not foolproof and can be quite flawed, especially those assuming that the scientific value or quality is less if the scope of a discussion is small. A more appropriate approach could be to say that the best journals are those that can rank high in one or more categories or ranking systems, rather than reducing the overall journal quality and usefulness to a single number.

IF, originally designed for purposes other than the individual evaluation of the quality of research, is undoubtedly a useful tool provided its interpretation is not stretched far beyond its limits of validity. Having said that, the research quality cannot be measured solely using IF. It should be used with caution, and should not be the dominant or only factor accounting for the credibility of a research.

How to resurrect a rejected manuscript?

Rejection of your research paper by a journal does not necessarily imply that your research is fundamentally unsuitable for publication. This is because rejection depends on several factors that might not be solely linked to the main thrust of your research. Besides, the reviewers who evaluate your paper are not familiar with your credentials and therefore might not emphasize the positive factors in your paper. Therefore, it is important that you do not get disheartened or overly disappointed. With certain modifications and perseverance, it is definitely possible to resurrect your research and see it through to publication.

In fact, there are several positive takeaways from a rejection. The well-known chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie carried out a systematic study of the rejection procedure and concluded that most manuscripts do not go through large-scale modifications on their way from a rejection to eventual publication. Therefore, a rejection does not signify that your paper is beyond redemption. In fact, there is every chance that the paper will ultimately find its destined forum for publication.

On the other hand, a study by Vincent Calcagno, ecologist at the French Institute for Agricultural Research in Sophia-Antipolis, has concluded that a research paper goes through several iterations and modifications from the time of its first submission until its final acceptance. These changes contribute significantly to the improvement of the research. The study also observed that research papers that have gone through one or more rejections before publication tend to be cited more than those that have been published following their first submission. This trend is evident after about three to six years following publication.

Calcagno argues that the influence of peer reviews and the inputs from referees and editors makes papers better and each rejection improves the quality of the manuscript from the last attempt. There is also a theory among certain editors to “reject more, because more rejections improve quality.”

Therefore, instead of giving in to despair, it is important to patiently evaluate the reasons for rejection and the associated comments, and to act on them in future submissions of the paper. You can also take recourse to professional editing services to refine your manuscript and help in the submission of the paper to other journals.

The following are some guidelines for first-time writers in making their papers more acceptable:

  • Select an innovative and interesting research topic.
  • Ensure that your writing is well-organized and lucid as it flows from its aim to the conclusion through the methodology, results, and discussion sections.
  • Stay away from plagiarized text and ensure that your research is original and unpublished.
  • Select the most suitable journal that has a good scope for your research topic.
  • Follow the reviewer’s suggestions on your paper in case of a rejection, so that it is in better shape for the next submission.

In case the reviewers cite the reason of unsuitability of your research for the target journal, it is important to prepare and resubmit it to another more suitable journal. If it gets rejected again, keep working on your paper and make repeated attempts at submission until it gets accepted. After all, patience and perseverance are two important virtues of any writer. As the well-known 19th-century American writer Elbert Hubbard said, “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

Effective Peer Reviewing

What do you mean by “Peer Reviewing”?

A peer review is a planned and well-organized process that aims to improve the quality of a research paper. It is the most effective feedback-generation system that takes place during the development of a research paper.

Who is considered as a “peer”?

A peer is someone who is related to the field of study, doing similar kind of research, and an expert in the mentioned area of research. A peer is neither the author nor the person who has provided grants for successful completion of the research paper.

Types of Peer Review:

In broader terms, peer reviews are classified into two types: internal peer review (which includes the editorial team members) and external peer review (which includes experts in the particular field of study).

The peer review process looks for:

  • Suitability of the paper for the target journal, which may include cross checking with the journal requirements and scope of publication of the research article. The reviewer’s objective is to identify the uniqueness of the conducted study.
  • Relevance of the intext citations as well as those in the reference section.
  • Accuracy of the statistical analysis and correct presentation of the data.
  • Proper and accurate formatting of the text, tables, figures, references, etc.
  • Confirmation of the inclusion of the conflict of interest disclosure, copyright forms duly signed by the authors, citation of the ethical consideration, etc.
  • Relevant citation in the conclusion.

There are several advantages of peer reviewing. The process:

  • Leads to the generation of a high-quality publication by improving the contents.
  • Helps in the improvement of the structure of the paper.
  • Provides a logical view of the research paper.
  • Enables the author to use critical feedback in a productive or constructive manner by incorporating important changes in the research paper.
  • Helps authors by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the research work.
  • Helps authors in their learning process for future research.

Conversely, an inadequate or below-par peer review might lead to the following problems:

  • Poor error and fraud detection.
  • Slower process for finalizing the paper.

 

Nonetheless, the advantages far outweigh the cons. Therefore, the peer review process needs to be adopted by research writers as it helps them improve the quality of the research writing.

How does the publication cycle work?

What is the publication cycle?

The publication cycle is an inseparable and critical aspect that every researcher or writer needs to understand. This is because the publication cycle gives a tangible form to a theoretical concept, an idea, or an expression of writing talent. To use a commercial term, it is much like an assembly line where an idea passes through various inter-related processes and iterations before it develops into its final published form.

Content and medium: Two determinants of the publication cycle

The publication cycle differs based on two factors: the nature of content and the medium of publication. A writing output can belong to one of a myriad range of topics and publication mediums.  Some writers present their ideas in the form of research articles on various topics in, inter alia, journals, dissertations, conference papers, and scholarly books. Conversely, the output of other writers might be in the form of informal writings that appear in magazines catering to the general reader.

Apart from the nature of content, publications also differ in the medium selected for publication. Unlike most of the 20th century, publications are no longer limited to the print medium. In fact, the digital revolution and advent of the Internet have given an entirely new dimension to publishing with the popularity of articles and even books published on the web and in the electronic medium. Therefore, one needs to understand that the publication cycle, or the intervening processes for an idea to reach the reader, is determined by several factors. These factors determine the processes and the time cycle for a writing to be published in its final form.

Electronic publications include two categories. The first is the category of online publications on the World Wide Web. These include personal web pages of the author, individual blogs, online videos or presentations, as well as online research journals or periodicals. The second category includes electronic books, often referred to as e-books, which are bought and sold in the market, but the reader can access them only by using software on a digital device or a personal computer.

Conversely, the more conventional publications in print include research papers or reports published in journals, magazines, and books.

What does the publication cycle involve?

The publication cycle starts with the generation of an idea by the author or writer. This first step toward publication is basically an individualistic approach in the sense that it is a creative process and not a time-bound phenomenon.

After an idea takes root in the writer’s mind, the next step is to undertake the research that will help develop that idea into a well-constructed piece of writing. In this step, the authors search for existing literature on the relevant subject and identify the lacunae in such writing. This helps them make a useful contribution to their area of research.

The research work is followed by an informal communication among the authors (in case of multiple authors) that includes regular conversations on the phone and meetings for discussion of their research output. This stage provides a common platform for different authors to share ideas and views on a particular topic or idea of research.

The next major step involves report research. This could either be an informal approach adopted by the author or authors to share their research on their individual blogs or web pages, or a formal approach that includes white paper publications, report publications such as lab or research reports, and presentations at conferences and colloquia.

The next step is to report the findings as a publication in journals and/or magazines. Such publications provide a platform for popularization of the authors’ work, or to bring the research to the notice of a wider readership.

The culminating point of the publication cycle of a research idea occurs in a book or encyclopedia publication.  This is the most formalized medium of publishing a research work, and is recognized as the ultimate achievement for a researcher.

Each stage of the publication cycle is relevant because it constitutes a step in the ladder toward the final form of a research idea. Considered holistically, an understanding of the publication cycle facilitates the development of an efficient strategy for publication of a research work in an organized manner.

Conference papers vs journal publications: Which is the better publication route?

In course of their research, academicians often need to interact and exchange views with their colleagues to provide a firmer ground for their inferences. Such meetings help them debate their research topic with other like-minded participants and then assimilate the information that is presented through audio-visual media to produce a more conclusive finding. Therefore, seminars and colloquia are an essential part in the growth of any research. Often the proceedings of such meetings are recorded in the form of a collection of papers that were presented during the event.

On the other hand, a journal publishes research work, either on the web or as printed copies, after a rigorous process of review and a long approval cycle. However, once published in a reputed journal, your paper has an audience that you would otherwise have never had access to.

Why opt for conferences?

Conference proceedings have several advantages for a researcher. This is because conferences:

– Give a platform for interaction among research scholars who share a common interest.

– Have a faster review process and generate a faster feedback.

– Are often characterized by short presentations, so they manage to present the aim of the research clearly without consuming too much time.

– Include discussions sessions, which encourages exchange of views and ideas on the presentations.

– Allow interaction of scholars from all over the world who are engaged in the same or allied research fields.

– Have a predictable and time-bound review time.

– Help the presentations to be properly archived for reference in similar events held elsewhere on related research topics.

– Involve sponsors, who allure researchers with publishing credits and personal and professional benefits for attending the conference.

– Have high visibility and often leave a greater impact on the academic fraternity.

– Mainly focus on recent researches or up-to-date academic endeavors, unlike a journal that often takes a long time to finally publish a research.

Demerits of a conference publication

On the flip side, conferences have the following drawbacks:

– The review process is often superficial or cursory, i.e., there is no second round of reviewing.

– They have a low acceptance rate.

– The feedback from the research fraternity may be lukewarm compared to a publication in a journal.

– Economies of scale work against good quality publications because the publication is one of many expense heads for the organizers. Therefore, the production quality often leaves much to be desired.

Why opt for a journal publication?

A publication in a reputed journal presents the following advantages for the researcher:

– Research papers that are published in journals are thoroughly peer reviewed, including multiple review phases.

– The quality of research published in a journal is of a high standard.

– Journal publications carry deep analysis of a research work.

– Useful feedback is received from the reviewers, which help bring about substantive changes in the paper to improve the research analysis.

– Word and page limits are longer in the case of journals. This gives more scope to the researcher to express his or her thoughts and interpretations.

– A journal gives a chance to authors to revise their work based on the feedback and then re-submit it for further review and publication.

– Conference papers are never considered the ultimate in publishing a research. Often, conference papers can be converted to journal papers and published in reputed journals with a high impact factor.

Demerits of journal publications

There are also few demerits of journal publications. These include:

– The publication process is time-consuming.

– Due to such delays, the research topic might get outdated.

– Selection of journals is a difficult task. Sometimes, a good research is published in a sub-standard journal.

Both these routes to publication have their pros and cons. It must also be noted that conference proceedings and journal publications are not mutually exclusive; a situation may arise where one form of a research work might be published in the conference proceedings and another, perhaps more developed, form might be published in a journal. Therefore, for a more diverse and in-depth research output, both conference proceedings and journal publications need to play a significant part.

Is self-plagiarism ethical?

Research papers or journals are the medium of spreading knowledge and new ideas evolved. Innovative and original piece of work would certainly be more educative and admirable. Nevertheless, authors and writers are often found to be reusing their old piece of work or some extracts from their previous published papers while writing a new research paper.

When questions are raised against this content reuse, authors claim that those stuffs are their own works and materials, and thus, they can reuse them as they wish, and it cannot be termed as plagiarism since they have not stolen the ideas from any other author or source.

The ethics of plagiarism are not applicable to such reuse, as a result of which it has been overlooked till date. While the discussion is whether this reuse is ethical or not, the publications and the journals, on the other hand, have set certain guidelines for such works citing it as Self-plagiarism.

What is self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is a form of plagiarism where the writer reuses his/her own previously published work in portions or entirely while creating a new study paper. It can breach the publisher’s copyright on those published work when it is reused in the new study papers without appropriate citations. Let us now know more about the ethical aspects of self-plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism can be detected when:

a)  A published paper is used to republish elsewhere without the consent of the co-authors and the publisher of the paper or work.

b)  A paper of a large study is published in small sections with an intention to increase the number of publications.

c)  A previously written work either published or not is reused again in portions in the new study papers.

Although the laws of self-plagiarism are not enforced, it somehow reflects the dishonesty of the author. Moreover, the journals and the publishers are rejecting such copy-paste works as they are seeking writings based on original research findings and proper citations of all the references.

Nowadays, journals are also pointing out questions on the reuse of one’s own work. In order to avoid self-plagiarism, one should try to keep his/her work original, and in case it is necessary to include any portion from his/her previous works, it should be then properly cited with proper references. I hope this article will surely help you in detecting prospective self-plagiarism before submitting your paper or work to publications or journals.

BioConference Live 2014

President Barack Obama's participation in BioconferenceLive 2014 alongside ManuscripteditThe BioConference Live virtual neuroscience conference conducted on March 19-20, 2014, was an online event set to unite the neuroscience community via live video webcasts and real-time networking. Manuscriptedit participated in this high profile conference that saw the participation of President Barack Obama as well.

Researchers, post docs, lab directors, and other medical professionals learnt about recent investments and the scientific foci of the BRAIN Initiative through a panel discussion with key leaders from diverse scientific and funding regulatory agencies. The BRAIN Initiative was part of a new Presidential focus intended at reforming our understanding of the human brain.

The Neuroscience conference included topics from science journals like Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience, Epigenetic Regulation, Genetics of Neurologic Diseases, Molecular Mechanism, Neurologic Dysfunction from Human Diseases, and Nervous System Development. It also covered neurological diseases from lab to clinic, including Alzheimer’s, ALS, Epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

In addition to topics on diseases, the conference also covered emerging therapies, like combinatorial therapies, immunomodulation, myelin repair, non-coding RNA, neurorobotics, neuroengineering, stem cells, and imaging technologies – in vitro and in vivo.

The intense two-day conference covered original research data, teaching presentations, broad overview of new frontiers given by thought leaders in the field and discussion forums. Attendees learnt new concepts, tools and techniques that they can apply to research and diagnosis.

Planning an oral presentation

Learning the art of presentation of research findings is very important for graduate students. You  may have obtained very speaking interesting results, but communicating your findings effectively is also very important. This article discusses how to make an effective oral presentation; it can be a conference presentation or in-house symposium presentation or thesis presentation. You need to work on few basic aspects to deliver a good lecture: Timing, Audience, Content, Organization, Presentation tool, and Tone and body-language of the speaker.

Timing: First, find out the duration of presentation, whether it is a 15 min (presentation: 10 min + question: 5 min) or 45 min or 60 min. It is better to finish little early, rather than overshooting the recommended duration. Overshooting presentation time is not only against professional courtesy, but also reflects lack of preparation. Therefore, it is extremely important to plan your presentation according to the recommended duration. Obviously, planning for a 10 min talk would definitely be different from a 60 min lecture. For the short talk, you only have to show the key points without discussing much on the individual research methods. However, for a 60 min lecture, you may elaborate on important research methods used for your study.

Audience: The success of a presentation lies on your ability to understand your audience and accordingly make the presentation. Now how to get an idea about the audience will you have. Well, that’s not very hard to find out. If it is a conference of specialized field (e.g., Asian Society of Spectroscopy, Experimental NMR conference, etc.) or thesis presentation, you may audienceexpect peers or experts of the field as your audience. On the other hand, if you are presenting in conferences, like American Chemical Society or Royal Society of Chemistry, you may expect general audiences from various fields of Chemistry. When you are presenting in front of peers or experts of a particular field, you need not have to bother about jargons or acronyms or technical terms regularly used in your field. However, for general audience, you need to define them or restricting yourself not to use much jargons. If you need to use such term, then make an effort to explain those to your audience. You may expect more general audience when you are going to deliver a talk in a college or in a university set up, where students and teachers from diverse fields of science may be present. Here, you need to be more cautious about the planning of your talk. Always remember that the objective of your presentation is to communicate your research findings effectively with your audience, and they should at least understand the overall implication of your work.

Content: Well, you need not present all the details. Plan the content of your presentation keeping in mind the “timing” and “audience”. Before deciding the content, think about the “take home message” you want to give the audience. To make your presentation interesting, take a step back and think what made you interested to take up this project, while working on this project what are the new things you learnt, and what are the main points you want the audience to remember after you finish your presentation.

Organization of contents: Once you have decided the contents, it is time to organize them. Following is a rough outline:

  1. First wish the audience and introduce yourself and then start your presentation
  2. Title: make it interesting but simple
  3. Background of the project: keep it brief
  4. Objective: what made you undertake this project and what would you like to examine
  5. Methods: keep it brief highlight the key points (use flow diagrams/schematics/pictures/ short video clip for showing actual reaction or experiment), but save some extra slides at the end of the presentation so that if somebody is interested to know the actual method,those slides would be helpful.
  6. Results: the most important part, show only the key results. Club the similar type of results together instead of showing single graph for each parameter. Never forget to show control while comparing.
  7. Discussion: compare the related work by others
  8. Conclusions and future direction
  9. Acknowledgement

Use flow diagrams, schematics and minimize the use of text. Write the bullet points not a whole paragraph of text.

Presentation tool: These days people rarely use transparent sheets for presentation. Everybody uses power-point, the most effective tool for presentation. Few points to remember while using power-point:

  1. Choose background color and text color in such a way so that it would be visible in more or less any interior lighting. Do not go for fancy, keep it basic. Most importantly, be consistent throughout. Do not use different background color for different slide.
  2. Choose font and font size so that it should be visible from the last row of audience in a standard size of lecture room. For heading choose one size and another for text, but be consistent throughout the document.
  3. Do not play with colors. Use multiple colors only when required to distinguish or highlight some points.
  4. You may use animation but do not overdo it. Use only if required.
  5. It is okay to waste slide space but never over-crowd slides.

Tone and body-language of the speaker: Talk in an audible voice so that everybody can hear you. Talk slowly and pronounce clearly each tone and body language word. Always face the audience and never read your slides line by line. Make eye-contact with your audience. Do not be nervous. Practice and give mock presentation in front of your labmates or friends. If you are afraid of forgetting something, bring notes. Think about the questions audience may ask. While giving mock presentation, ask your labmates or friends to ask questions. Keep some back-up slides, you may need while answering some question. However, it is okay to say “I don’t know” rather trying to give a vague answer which actually you do not know. Practice makes one much refined and confident, but never be overconfident or aggressive to prove your point. Try to address the questions with proper scientific reasoning. Finally, dress well — dress like a professional.

Practice…….. Practice…….Practice…….

Writing a Book Review

Writing a book review is an extremely resourceful task that includes an extensive variety of skills. Writing a book review is not confined to certain disciplines as a wide range of subjects have book review tasks where the writer evaluates a book after carefully reading it entirely. While writing a book review, writers should incorporate some details about the chief aspects of the book, like character, plot, theme and setting. In order to write an effective book review, it is essential to have the reviewer’s outlook of how well the author has pursued in using those aspects.

The present article on “Writing a Book Review” provides some basic tips and information that every writer should follow in order to efficiently review a book.

Tips for Writing a Book Review

  • A book review specifically presents sufficient details to help the reader decide whether he/she needs to read the book.
  • In order to write an effective book review, the reviewer must first read the book intensely, which requires a thorough and careful attempt.
  • While writing a book review, the reviewer must have sufficient knowledge about the genre of the book, like whether it is a romance novel or historical, mystery and thriller or science fiction. Nonetheless, reviewers must also be considerate of the elements that involve great literature of this type.
  • While evaluating a book, try to find out the intention of the author. Take into account what the title and subtitle might mean. Collect notes, write down the favorite parts or quotes you think are weak, and then review every section.
  • Always try to do some background research. Gather information about the author. Explore the subject matter. Think about the possible subjects for the book. After conducting a sufficient amount of research work, you can prepare about writing the first draft of your review.
  • Review the book shortly in the first paragraph. Try a passage from the book and support it with a statement that explains why that note is distinctive or not distinctive. Comment on what you think the author’s intent was in writing the book and how well has he/she achieved this target.
  • Depending on how you start the book review, the rest of the part will be influenced by your choices. Nevertheless, the fundamental direction and focus of the piece goes from there.
  • Try to convey each of your views about your opening message with simplifications. Try to state how every of your illustrations make your point.
  • Ensure to provide transitions between paragraphs. Try to make your review mix together with views related to your subject matter.
  • Wind up your review using a paragraph or two that express your topic into ultimate focus for your reader. You might end up to a conclusion about the subject matter, the author’s intention, or about the overall efficiency of the book.
  • After writing a book review, always read them out loud and remove the discomfited phrases. Observe your notes for correctness and precision. Moreover, make sure that you have not updated your review with notes.
  • Try not to write the review unless you have analyzed the book intensely and completely.
  • Try not to make general comments about the book. In fact, you can use explicit quotations or examples.
  • Lastly, if possible, request a friend to appraise the review. As a matter of fact, fresh eyes can often catch mistakes in the review that you might have missed out.

By following the above given tips for writing a book review, one can easily learn to review a book without any major error or mistake. However, in order to be able to write a completely effective book review, thorough knowledge and practice is needed.