Formatting tables, graphs, and other visuals in your research paper

The format in which you present your research data is very important because it helps you communicate your data to your reader and editors in the best possible way. Although there are many formats in which tables, graphs, and other figures can be presented, you need to choose the best format for your category of data, provided it is within the prescribed guidelines of the journal you are targeting for publication. Before reviewing a paper, many journal editors and reviewers first glance at the layout of the manuscript in terms of its text, tables, figures, and illustrations. Therefore, to make your presentation effective while presenting a large amount of information, a suitable distribution between text, tables, and figures comes handy.

How to use

Sometimes using too much text can get tiresome and confusing, making the reader lose interest or miss data. So encapsulating the information into visual representations can help summarize your analysis. Centralizing the important findings will help readers get the outline without reading the whole manuscript. However, excessive use of visuals can hinder the flow of text and make the whole presentation abrupt. To achieve the highest impact, a proportionate combination of text and visuals always pays off.

Understanding the message

The intension of using a chart, graph, or table is for one of four primary reasons. One illustration might be intended to show a relationship, while another wants to show the composition of a dataset. A third visual could be plotting distribution of data, while a fourth could be comparing various data points. Therefore, you need to understand the objective of the visual before choosing the format; one format may justify one goal but might not fit another.

A relationship is the correlation and connection between the variables of the data presented, like the value of a particular share today versus the value over the year.

A composition is the set of all variables present in the manuscript to make a conclusion, like the total sale of your product, sale online, sale in retail, and direct sales.

A distribution is a representation of all the correlated and non-related data to determine the connection and pattern if any, and the interaction between the variables.

A comparison is the process of finding out the similarities and differences between sets of variables.

Best format for you

Graphics are best for putting your point forward while tables work fine for providing a structure to numerical information. Different formats that work best for various situations are:

  • A bar chart or bar graph shows correlation between distinct categories. One axis shows the particular categories being compared, and the other axis depicts a calculated value. Some bar graphs show bars bunched together in groups of more than one, showing the values of multiple measured variables.
  • Pie charts are generally applied to represent the rate and proportionality of information, and the rate of percentage depicted by every category is marked next to the corresponding portion of the full pie.
  • Line graphs can be used for more than one variable to show the change over time simultaneously.
  • Scatter plots and line graphs are alike, as both use horizontal axes and vertical axes to plot data information points. Scatter plots are used to show the degree to which one variable is affected by another variable, or the connection between them.

Publication Cycle: An Overview

Every manuscript submitted to a journal has to progress through the complete publication cycle before it finally gets published. The publication cycle takes genesis with the research idea. The researchers take this idea to a new horizon by conducting experiments, taking into account the previous publications that deal with similar topic. The research draft is then submitted to a journal that is followed by the assessment, reviewing, and further production processing before being published. Let’s discuss the different phases in detail so that we can get a bird’s eye view of the entire publication process.

How publication cycle works?

After the manuscript is submitted, it is first screened by the Editor-in-chief; if rejected, the paper is returned to the author, and if accepted, it goes to the next level. Here, the paper is checked for plagiarism, and conformity to the journal guidelines. Once the manuscript clears this technical round it is then sent for review by a panel of reviewers, who are subject experts. Here, the reviewers either reject the paper for lack of novelty or other reasons that might be study specific or they could either accept the paper or suggest revisions before acceptance. The paper with revisions is sent to the Editor-in-chief for approval, before being sent for a second and final round of review. At times, the paper gets rejected even after coming this far. If the paper is accepted it then goes through the in-house publication process, before finally getting published.

Some journals forego this time taking and tedious process and instead publish all manuscripts after checking it for novelty, relevance to the field of study and compliance to the style guide of the journal. This ensures a shorter review time and faster publication.

How long can a publication cycle run?

The publication cycle time of a journal cannot be assessed unless and until it is specified by the journal. Hence, it is difficult to know which journals have a fast publication cycle. Some journals take months before they give their first decision whereas some let their first decision known in a couple of weeks. Generally, the time gap between submission and first decision varies between 2-3 weeks.

What if the publication cycle is slow-moving?

The slow decision process becomes mentally tasking for researchers, as they spent many anxious months and even years before they actually get to know if their manuscript has been published or not. If their manuscript does not get published they have to again go through the same process of preparing their manuscript according to the guidelines of a new journal, submit it there and again wait for its decision. This cycle sometimes goes on for a few years before the manuscript gets published. In this process sometimes it so happens that the relevance of the paper or the research gets outdated by the time it is accepted for publication, thereby making the efforts of the researcher futile.

It is for these reasons that the researchers earnestly want a fast publication cycle, where they do not have to wait for so long to get a decision on their manuscript. Also, the publication houses are trying their best to formulate ways to make the publication process faster so that good and relevant researches do not become irrelevant. However, the authors need to be aware of the millions of predatory journals luring them for publishing within a very short duration. The authors are the best person to judge their options and choose the one that helps their research best.

Proper Citation: A Key Norm in Academic Publishing

What to Cite?
Academic publishing is important for the career enhancement of every researcher. A long string of publications under the belt of a researcher not only performs the constructive role of filling gaps in existing research, but also enhances the chances of the researcher being cited by other researchers. The number of times your research work is cited indicates the impact of the study in your research field.
Researchers usually draft their own investigations in the light of discoveries of other researches. In the process, it is vital for these study findings to be recognized as standalone researches by maintaining a strategic distance from issues like copyright infringements and plagiarism. To walk this academic tightrope, researchers take care to refer to previous studies by presenting the thoughts of the first researcher in one’s own writing and by referring to the earlier publication. Other than recognizing the work of different researchers, the citation process also helps readers discover the source article and refer to it to acquire more data or details.
The advent of the World Wide Web and the Internet has helped the process of identifying fitting, reliable, and logical scientific information and using it in one’s research with proper citations. The researcher takes recourse to online search tools, for example Google Scholar or PubMed, to gather information about publications revolving around the proposed research area. To disentangle the mass of search results, it is important to sieve research articles that could form part of the critical reading list.
Demonstrating In-Text Citing
The purpose of referencing or in-text citation is to give credit where it is expected. There are various reference style guides and it is up to the researcher and the requirements of the target journal to choose the most suitable one. If it’s a book citation, the author needs to consider the detailed referencing guidelines specific for books. In case of a thesis, the concerned university will have a favored reference style that needs to be followed. In case of research journals, one needs to visit the author page to peruse “Instruction for Authors.” Here, the author would get a bird’s-eye view of the required referencing style along with the in-text citation style. Once the reference style has been chosen, it is critical to remain faithful to the reference style in a consistent manner throughout the manuscript.
Here are three ways to use in-text research citations.
– Name-Year format: The surname of the first author is mentioned, followed by the publication year in brackets after the text.
For e.g.:
(Smith, 2017) or “Huron et al. (2017) stated that the tumor regeneration process was…”
– Citation-Sequence and Citation-Name: Both these citation styles are widely used by many journals. These two mainstream referencing styles are fundamentally the same. In both, in-text referencing is a number that compares to the full reference in the reference list. In case of Citation-Sequence, the number relates to every article’s ordered appearance. In case of Citation-Name format, the list of sources is arranged alphabetically. For example, if the primary article referenced in the manuscript was a work of Smith (an anonymous author name), this paper would be doled out the number 1. In the numbered book reference, if Citation-Sequence style is used, Smith would be the primary reference in the reference list. If Citation-Name style is used, the reference list would be arranged alphabetically, and the in-text number assigned to Smith would relate to whatever position Smith has in the reference list.
Hence, it is vital for a researcher or author to follow the reference style guide in an organized manner. Notably, footnotes are by and large not utilized as a part of logically written scientific work. Besides, there are style guides that demand abbreviating the journal names. For e.g.: International Journal of Civil Engineering can be abbreviated as ‎Int. J. Civ. Eng.
Fortunately, there are currently many reference management tools accessible to researchers and scientists. These tools assist academic research in maintaining consistency in reference citations with an assortment of style guides. Few examples are Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote, and Papers. These are additional reference directories, which are purchasable. However, all these reference managers also offer scholarly or understudy discounts.
Academic Publishing, Academic Research, Authors, Researchers

Preparing tables for research papers

How to effectively prepare tables for research papers

Tables and illustrations are important tools for efficiently communicating information and data contained in your research paper to the readers. They present complex results in a comprehensible and organized manner.

However, it is advisable to use tables and illustrations wisely so as to maximize the impact of your research.They should be organized in an easy-to-understand format to convey the information and findings collected in your research. The tabular information helps the reader identify the theme of the study more readily. Although data tables should be complete,they should not be too complex. Instead of including a large volume of data in a single unwieldy table, it is prudent to use small tables to help readers identify the important information easily.

Here are some points you should consider before drafting the tables in your research paper:

  • Finalize the results that are required to be presented in tabular form.
  • Include the data or results that are relevant to the main aim of the study without being choosy and including only those results that support your hypothesis.
  • Create each table in a lucid manner and style without cluttering it with in-table citations.
  • Number the tables in a sequence according to their occurrence in the text.
  • Don’t mix tables with figures. Maintain separate numbering systems for tables and figures.
  • Create tables in a storytelling manner. Remember that your tables communicate a story to the reader that runs parallel to the text.
  • If you are using or reproducing tables from other published articles, obtain permission from the copyright holder (usually the publisher) or/andacknowledge the source.
  • Do not repeat the tabular contents in the text again; that will create confusion among readers.
  • Use clear and informative text for each table title.
  • Take extra care while extending the data in your tables. If you have too many tables, consider using them as appendices or supplementary materials.
  • Create tables with sufficient spacing in the layout so that they do not look messy, crowded, or cluttered.
  • Do not forget to spell out abbreviations used in the tables, ideally in the footnotes.

For the reader, a research paper that is dense and text-heavy can be tiresome. Conversely, tables not only encapsulate your data lucidly, but also welcome a visual relief for the reader. They add value to the layout of your paper. Besides, and more importantly, reviewers often glance at your tabulated data and illustrations first before delving into the text. Therefore, tables can be the initial draw for a reviewer and deliver a positive impact about your research paper. If you can achieve an optimum balance among your text, tables, and illustrations, it can go a long way toward being published.

Preparing your figures for research papers

How to prepare your figures for research papers

Often a research paper is embedded with loads of data and complex results and it might not be viable to include all them in the space-constrained paper. Hence, this calls for effective presentation of the information in the form of figures or diagrams. In fact, figures are the most powerful tools that leave a strong visual impact for both reviewers and readers.

Here are few tips on how you can improve the presentation of figures in your research paper.

  • Ensure that the components of the figures are clearly visible including the lines and text.
  • Always use a standard font style and size for the figure text.
  • Every figure needs to have a legend. The legend should support your figure entirely. The reader should be able to understand your figure, paired with its legend, without going to the results or method sections.
  • All abbreviations in the figure legends need to be consolidated and spelt out.
  • All parts of the figure need to be labelled. The symbols, lines, colors, abbreviations, error bars, scale bars, and other components need to be defined and described properly.
  • If you are using photographs of your human subjects, don’t forget to obtain an informed signed consent for the same.
  • Do not be afraid to use lengthy figure and table captions—better that than confusing or incomplete ones.
  • Do not forget to cite the figure that has been taken from another source and supports your present study. Use the same citation style throughout the paper.
  • All journals have their specific requirements for formatting figures, such as file format, font size, font style, image resolution, style of numbering, etc. Adhere to these guidelines before submission.
  • Cite figures in the main text at the appropriate place where the text is supported by a particular figure.

The figures in your research paper communicate a parallel story to the reader. In fact, the reader can derive a fairly good idea of your paper by just scanning the figures in the paper. Remember that figures are not just tools to beautify your text; they are the heart of your research and an intrinsic part of your research paper. This highlights the importance of organizing the figures well so that they are able to perform as an excellent prop for your text.

Take a step closer to publication by formatting your manuscript

puzzled with how to for your manuscript?

A properly formatted manuscript is likely to be preferred by a journal editor compared to an unorganized alternate version. Hence, instead of submitting a manuscript with your data and text in a disorderly stack, it is crucial to format your manuscript according to the guidelines of the targeted journal before submission.

You should ensure that your manuscript is properly formatted to reduce the publication time. On the other hand, an unorganized manuscript is often returned by the journal house weeks after submission with instructions to adhere to the formatting guidelines. That entails lost time in the publication process.

The following are some basic rules of formatting:

  • Page size: Use 8½ x 11-inch size of normal sheet.
  • Page margin: Keep all margins within 1 to 1½ inch. Avoid using end-of-the-line hyphenation or justified margins.
  • Spacing: Use single or double spacing uniformly for the entire manuscript.
  • Font: Use 12-point font size of Times New Roman or Arial. Try to avoid fancy fonts.
  • Page numbering: Number each page of the manuscript according to the guidelines given by the target journal.
  • Manuscript sections: Divide your manuscript into clear sections such as title page, main text, references, appendices, footnotes, acknowledgements, tables, figures, and figure legends.

format your manuscript by your own

In addition, take care of the following extra minutes:

  • On the title page, provide your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author. It is a good practice to mention the word count of the abstract and main text, and the number of figures and tables.
  • Check whether the journal guidelines call for a blinded manuscript for the peer review process. If yes, ensure that your manuscript is prepared in a way that does not give away the authors’ identity.
  • Maintain a sequential pattern of headings and sub-headings. Mixed-up sections can confuse editors and peer reviewers.
  • Follow the house style of the journal for both in-text and end-text references.
  • Journals often ask for signed copyright transfer agreements, conflict-of-interest forms, patient consent forms, funding information, and ethical approval related data. Cross-check the forms before submission. Non-complying manuscripts can be returned for corrections months after the submission, which results in unnecessary delay in publication.

Manuscript formatting is quick and easy. If you conform to the aforementioned details, you can prepare an attractively formatted manuscript that is likely to be welcomed by the journal editors. If you face any obstacles in the formatting process, seek the services of professional manuscript editors who can tailor the format of your manuscript to fit perfectly with the target journal’s guidelines.

Importance of an apt title for your research paper

Writing a research paper with innovative and groundbreaking findings might be a difficult task in itself, but a carefully formulated title is also just as important.

A Good Research Paper TitleBy its sheer positioning at the top, the title occupies a pristine position in your research paper and readers, reviewers, and editors are inadvertently drawn to it first. This makes it imperative on your part to give considerable time and thought to go through several iterations before finalizing the title of your research paper. The title needs to be clear, concise, and indicative of the research topic.

Often, readers consider the title as the primary parameter to check the suitability and importance of a research work. Hence, the title should be enticing without being verbose, so that the reader is persuaded to read the abstract that follows the title. Much like the cover of a book, it is the main heading of a research paper that leaves an indelible imprint in the reader’s mind. Besides, in this age of Internet search queries, the title can technically act as a metadata string that highlights the aim of your research and helps other researchers locate your paper when they use a web crawler.

The following are some tips for making your title more meaningful and easily discoverable by search engines:

  • Use proper sentence structure in the title.
  • Consider the target audience of your paper before selecting words for the title and structure them accordingly.
  • Think of a short title that best expresses the salient features of your paper.
  • Avoid descriptive, interrogative, or rhetoric titles for scientific research papers.
  • Try to include the fine points of the subject population (e.g., children with autism and alcohol-withdrawn patients, etc.).
  • Focus of the title should be on the outcome of the study.
  • Restrict the use of abbreviations unless they are exceptionally common.
  • Never construct the title on the basis of statistical findings of the paper.
  • Use punctuations wisely.

Title tells the objective of the paperA title of an article or a paper, irrespective of its type and genre, should be able to express the main objective of the paper in order to be useful for readers or researchers. That will lead more web searches to your research paper and increase the chances of it being cited in other research work.

The Editor: A vital role barely talked about

One of the most crucial roles in the domain of manuscript publishing is that of the editor. While a manuscript undergoes a series of steps that finally leads to its publication in a journal of the author’s choice, editing is the first stage that breathes life into a raw document. An editor polishes the knowledge and skills of a writer and even supplements the manuscript with new material that a writer might not have, might not know how to use, or fail to see its relevance in the work. In short, an editor assembles the pieces of a manuscript to create a fascinating and appealing picture that the readers will want to explore in depth.

  • A writer can employ specific services and specialist editors; the choice depends on the stage in which the manuscript is in the publishing cycle:
  • A structural or stylist editor gives shape and expression to the work.
  • A proofreading editor examines and corrects the spelling, punctuation, and grammatical elements of the work.
  • A copyeditor typically reads the text and checks it for sense, clarity, and grammatical accuracy, and conformity with the guidelines provided by the writer.
  • A manuscript editor focuses on the structure and flow of the work as a whole.

An editor serves the project, the author, and the reader. Therefore an editor should preferably be a native English speaker or someone who is very well-versed with the nuances of the language. One of the primary functions of an editor is to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation and simultaneously be aware of the target journal guidelines. It is essential for an editor to maintain consistency and logic (ensuring the need of the target audience), and verify headings, statistics, graphs, and footnote entries. An editor captures the writer’s voice and sensibilities and presents the work in the best possible manner to meet the expectations of the audience. All in all, an editor balances the writer’s intent with the publisher’s standards and the reader’s expectations and finds a way to satisfy all three requisites.

Editors are sticklers for perfection. They have a great eye for detail, a strong vocabulary, and in-depth knowledge of grammar rules and conventions. Language is their forte and they are aware of its impact and significance. Hence, it becomes imperative to know the background and credentials of the editor you are entrusting your work to. Requesting testimonies and work samples is a good approach to know more about the editor and make an informed choice. By researching and being clear on the expectations and outcomes, one can be in control and convey the right message to the editor to ensure that the manuscript reaches its apt destination. A great editor is ideally supposed to make the journey toward publication a pleasurable one. Conversely, a poor editor will have an adverse effect both on the quality and the time taken to see the project reach a logical conclusion.

As Stephen King rightly put it, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

Importance of English editing for non-native speaking authors

English is recognized as the lingua franca for scientific publications. This might be considered to be a deterrent for Non-Native English Speaking (NNES) authors because they find it difficult to assemble their thoughts and prepare their manuscripts for submission to the leading journals. Therefore, many new scientific researches or revelations might never come to light.

NNES researchers and authors usually seek international recognition instead of being confined to their national boundaries. Consequently, they opt for international journals in English. However, these journals are very particular about the language structure and a manuscript with poor language is inevitably rejected. Even if the paper is accepted, the journal reviewers will come down hard on any ambiguity in the language and give a negative feedback. In few cases, they can reject the manuscript citing lack of relevance to the journal’s scope.

In this scenario, NNES authors can seek solace in proficient editing services, which can help bring their manuscripts to the required standard. Professional editors can tweak sentences and content to expunge ambiguous statements, so that the research is presented in a clear, lucid, and cogent manner.

Common mistakes by NNES authors

The most common mistakes committed by NNES writers include the following:

  • Sentence structure: They commit mistakes in basic English writing, particularly grammatical mistakes.
  • Clarity: They often face the problem of expressing their ideas in English, which leads to complex and wordy sentences that impede understanding.
  • Subject specific terms: They are often unable to use technical terms appropriately, which might lead to serious fallacies.

The way forward for NNES authors

Rather than being disheartened, NNES authors should take measures to overcome the obstacles on the way to getting published in reputed journals.

Before hiring a professional editing service to review their manuscripts, they need to take care of the following points to communicate their research ideas better through their writing:

  • They should keep the text as simple as possible by reducing the sentence length, vocabulary usage, and complexity.
  • Usage of idioms and phrases should be minimized.
  • The paper should contain only subject-related technical terminologies.
  • The context of the paper should be clear and concise so that the referees build-up an understanding about the subject while reviewing.

These writing guidelines, coupled with the expertise of a professional editor, can go a long way in ensuring publication in renowned journals.

Why opt for professional editing services?

Importance of professional editing

Professional editing services provide a broad spectrum of services such as basic and advanced copy editing, proofreading, and substantive editing. Substantive editing can be opted for by an author when the paper requires in-depth editing, restructuring, and rephrasing, or if the sentences lack clarity. In such cases of high-level editing, professional editors rephrase and rewrite the convoluted and imprecise sentences and paragraphs. This input considerably enhances the presentation of your manuscript and improves the chances of publication. Advanced copyediting is a less rigorous editing process that often encompasses an expanded copyediting service to fix minor errors in your paper. The service also includes rewriting of certain unclear sentences, but the amount of editing remains modest. Basic copyediting entails correction of general grammatical and syntax errors and improving word choice to enhance the manuscript in terms of presentation and clarity. Proofreading involves checking of overall errors in the manuscript including grammar, punctuation marks, capitalization, and better word choice at certain places to improve the quality of the paper. It constitutes the basic level of editing and polishes a manuscript. To avail such professional editing services, one needs to hire an editor who is well-versed with the aforementioned editing categories. The benefits of hiring a professional editor include the following:

  • Authors who have excellent ideas but find it difficult to express them on paper can gain substantially.
  • Professional editing services save the author’s time.
  • The chances of publication of the manuscript are enhanced manifold.
  • Minor as well as major errors in your manuscript are identified and ironed out.
  • Authors get acquainted with the general writing conventions, grammar rules, and proper usage of punctuation marks, which helps them avoid convoluted and incorrect sentences in their writing.
  • Professionally edited manuscripts have an edge in the peer review process.

Professionally edit for publication

Although professional editors can polish the manuscript by pointing out gaps in the paper, the onus of the research paper lies on the author. Therefore, a professional editor can ably serve as a helping hand in the publication process, but cannot assure publication of the manuscript. Nonetheless, if the author is able to take note of all suggestions by the editor and provide the necessary information, the paper has a much greater chance of success.