Conducting scientific research and writing a research paper for publication requires a different skill set. Scientists often come up with poor write-ups, as they mostly ignore the requirements for drafting a good research paper. This often leads to adverse comments from peer reviewers and even rejection of manuscripts.
Here are a few pointers of common errors and how to address them.
Word limit, page limit, figure limit, and limited attention spans are some of the constraints within which a scientist has to write a research paper. It is advisable to set certain objectives as benchmarks while meeting these constraints. The basic objectives are (a) clarity on the purpose of the research paper, the key hypotheses and the message it tries to convey; (b) the target audience, journal of publication, and intended outreach;
A scientific paper encounters thousands of critics during peer review as they often fail to convey their intentions. If scientists do not clearly define and communicate terminologies, concepts, or technical matters in their scientific paper, other scientists reading the paper will use their own logical reasoning to fill in for what is missing, and this often creates a gap. Therefore, it is important to give special attention to glossaries, etc. to clarify the exact meaning of any technical term being used in the research paper manuscript.
Often, scientific papers have multiple scientists contributing as authors. In such cases, usually different sections of papers are initially written by different people. This creates sharp distinctions, as often the tone and syntax of different sections are markedly different. Such differences affect the experience of reading the scientific paper and often the real message gets lost. This is where a professional editor becomes critical for reviewing the manuscript before it is finalized for publication.
It is very critical to stick to the correct format for a scientific article. Formatting includes the structure of the paper, depending on whether it is presented as a review, commentary to an ongoing discussion, reporting of primary investigations, etc. Formatting includes proper structuring of the paper with an introduction, literature survey, discussion of methodology, proper reporting of findings, etc. Each of these sections to have its own proper syntax and format.
A research paper should be written in an authoritative style, but must not be preachy. Criticisms to other’s work under the literature survey section must be logical and not become dismissive of their work. Affirmation for one’s arguments must allow for space of contradictions and not pose to be definitive and absolute.