Research Writer’s Block: What is it and how to overcome?

It is very common in the research fraternity to hear discussions going on about the inability to put down their ideas and thoughts on paper. After the completion of their research work when researchers plan to put down their findings in pen and paper they realize that their hands are paralyzed and thoughts do not come to their mind. Most researchers do not know that such a condition is common and is known as writer’s block.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is more of a mental block that the writers experience. There are also some psychological researches that suggest that there is no such thing. But the fact that almost all researchers experience this cannot be denied. One of the main causes of writer’s block is anxiety and this problem can be aggravated if the researcher is not familiar with English, as this is the language that is generally used the world over.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

There are some common strategies followed by experienced researchers to overcome this mental block and complete their research writing within time.

Social Writing: It is a very good idea to join a support or writing group to stay motivated till the end. Social writing reduces the root cause of writer’s block – anxiety, which in turn stimulates writing. Writing while sitting in a group, discussing about the progress, sharing writing goals and achievements helps to understand writing better and increase the flow of creativity. Social writing generates realistic goal-setting and dedicated writing time. With social writing, the need for help or instruction may not be required.

Block Some Time of the Day Exclusively for Writing: Reserve some time of the day for writing, so that you write everyday and avoid the writer’s block setting in again. Morning is considered the best part of the day for writing, the mind is fresh and at its creative best. So, try to write in the morning before checking your email or surf the net to avoid any kind of distraction. The key idea is to write daily, even if it is for 15 minutes then gradually increase the time of writing.

Draft: First write down anything that comes to your mind, without worrying about the grammar and correctness of the sentence. First, jot down your ideas and the content that you want to include in your research paper and then refine it to convert it into your final copy.

So, we can say that the writer’s block is only the creation of the mind, which can be avoided by keeping calm, focused and consistent. All other things will fall into place if the brain is tricked to believe that the writing will be over within time and it will be up to the mark, without any data being missed.

Importance of pre-submission peer review

As the name suggests, pre-submission peer review refers to the review of your research paper before submitting it to a journal. Here, a peer other than the co-authors reviews the paper. This review enhances the quality of the research paper and reduces the load on the peer review system of journals. In other words, this process is a win-win solution for both the authors and the journals.

The below points highlights the importance of pre-submission peer review in the publishing process:

– This process improves your paper by filling in the gaps or fixing errors that might have been previously overlooked.

– It makes your paper more readable and hence, increases the readership of your paper and that of the journal.

– This process gives you the option to choose the person to review your paper, ensuring you get constructive comments from people who know the topic.

– It gives you important feedback from experts in your field of research. Thus, this not only improves your paper but also helps you to make significant contributions to the literature.

However, whether this pre-submission peer review should be implemented or not is still debatable. With increasing workloads and academic pressure, authors often do not feel like wasting time on pre-submission feedback. In addition, they are also reluctant to ask colleagues to do extra work, given that they are always pressed for time. Moreover, with the increasing number of co-authors on scientific papers, most authors do not seek additional external feedback.

But, by adopting pre-submission peer review as an integral part of the publication process, one can substantially reduce the burden on the journal peer review system. Moreover, this also reduces the risk of publishing flawed ideas or inaccurate analyses. peer review

Self-Archiving: A path to greater citation

As subscription and open access publication charges skyrocket, self-archiving has become the sought after mode for gaining high citations for research paper. This method of archiving allows the works of researchers to reach out to maximum number of people- peers in the research fraternity and also the common people. This helps maximize research impact by guaranteeing open access to all, regardless of their ability to pay.

What is self-archiving?

It is the practice of putting digital versions of scientific literature online making it freely available on the Internet for everyone to view. In other words, self-archiving makes your research widely visible, accessible, searchable, and useable, thereby increasing its reach and impact, and in the processing increasing the number of citations it receives.

When to self-archive?

Research paper can be self-archived either before the peer review process commences or after it has been peer reviewed and published.

Version of the paper printed before the peer review process begins is known as pre-print. Whereas refereed post-print is that version of the paper which is printed after the paper has been reviewed and published. All versions of papers available online are referred to as e-prints.

Where to self-archive?

Research articles can be self-archived in electronic repositories or on personal servers.

  • Institutional repositories: Many universities provide scholars from their institutions to upload there research online for their peers to have free access to their work.
  • Subject-based repositories: Some online repositories are subject specific and are every popular in that subject area. For example, PubMed for biomedical studies; arXiv most popularly for physics, mathematics, and computer science.
  • Personal servers: Researchers upload their work on their personal web pages or some social networking sites specially created for researchers like ResearchGate.

There are two ways of self-archiving- green open access and gold open access. Most journals now days are providing authors these methods to help them increase citations of their work. Self-archiving is considered the future of archiving of paper where the authors as well as readers can without paying exorbitant price share as well as access researches and get information about the latest development happening.

Making a Book out of your Research Paper

Making a Book out of your Research Paper
Publishing a research paper as a book is every researcher’s dream, but it is a herculean task. It requires considerable effort and perseverance to get a book published. However, in spite of the apparent difficulties, researchers must realize that by writing the research paper, they have completed a big chunk of the work required for publishing a book.

Most researchers consider their research paper to be a final product and lose sight of the fact that they already have a proofread and peer reviewed manuscript in hand, which can be developed into a book. In the process of submission and publication of their research papers, the authors already have a very good idea of the changes needed to enhance the quality of the research. Besides, they receive feedback on their research from readers, editors, and peers, which could be fruitfully utilized to develop their search into a full-fledged book. Based on the number of citations garnered by the paper and the feedbacks received, the authors gain good insights about the demand for the topic in the market. They also find it easier to identify their target audience and market. Armed with all the information, the authors will be well-positioned to market the book at the right place for their targeted audience.

However, it is important to recognize the difference between a research paper and a book, and proceed accordingly. For instance, a paper prepared for a research journal is completely different from a manuscript prepared for publication as a book. A journal basically targets a select group, such as academicians, researchers or professionals related to that field of study, so there is extensive use of jargons that would be understood by its readers. Conversely, a book is targeted at a bigger audience and should be written in a language that can be understood even by the laity. Therefore, jargons should be used sparingly and properly explained in the context.

In contrast to the tone of a research paper in a journal, a book should be written in a lucid style with a fluid and smooth narration. It requires careful chapterization, preferably with small chapters so that it retains the reader’s interest till the end. Footnotes and citations should be minimized to prevent readers from being distracted. In a book, the focus should be on the bibliography. It is a good idea to include as many relevant images as possible in the book, so as to make it interesting and provide some visual relief to the reader. Attention needs to be devoted to designing and layout, with a good cover design to boot.
Generally, the first impression of a book is formed from its title. Therefore, it is important to choose a title that attracts readers as well as conveys the theme of the book. This helps market the book to a wider readership.

It is also crucial to seek the services of a professional editing house to give the book a stamp of flawless composition. Although there are many editing services available, it is important to choose the most appropriate professional group for your book. In fact, finding a good editor could be the hardest part in the process of publishing a book.
Finally, marketing the book is an essential part of the post-publication process. As the author, the onus of marketing and popularizing the book lies squarely on your shoulders. With social media marketing playing an increasingly important role in promotions and awareness building, you could use platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook at almost zero cost. You could even set up a dedicated website to open new markets for your book.

The best time to employ an Editing Service

best time to employ English editing service
Each day, hundreds of researches are conducted around the world. These findings and discoveries need to be presented in a way that can be understood by all stakeholders in the relevant field of study. Therefore, the paper needs to be written in a language that clearly communicates the author’s intentions and simultaneously avoids ambiguities that hamper comprehension. This is essential because a well-written paper appeals to a larger audience and hence garners higher citations.
This is where a professional editing service can step in to iron out several crucial roadblocks on the publication route.

Overcome the language barrier

Often, the author belongs to a country where people are generally not proficient in English. This makes the job of the author harder because greater effort is needed to present the research in a lucid manner. If this is lacking, a brilliant discovery could very well be overshadowed by poor language. Consequently, the researcher’s painstaking work will largely go in vain.

Guarantee error-free language

Apart from the problem of communicating with their readers, authors are also susceptible to errors of omission and commission because they get very involved in the research content of the paper and have probably gone through the paper a hundred times from that point of view. Consequently, they tend to overlook spelling, grammatical and syntax errors. Only a fresh look by a professional reviewer can detect those errors. Conversely, if the paper is reviewed by a friend or a colleague, there are chances that they may not give an honest review.
Therefore, it is always advisable to employ the services of a good editing service. The trained eye of a professional editor can detect the errors in a manuscript and rectify them. Often, the editor also gives useful inputs to enhance the quality of the paper and thus minimise the chances of rejection by the target journal.From this vantage point, is it not better to employ the services of a professional editing service from the outset instead of seeking numerous reviews from other quarters?

Ensure compliance with journal guidelines

The primary objective of a research paper is to be published in a journal. Each journal specifies its own style guide, which needs to be strictly followed by the writer. This might be a difficult task for writers because their primary attention is on the research content. On the other hand, a professional editor keeps doing similar jobs day in and day out and is therefore well conversant with the specifications of various journals and better equipped to modify research papers according to journal guidelines. This saves the researchers considerable time and effort, which they can instead devote to enhance the research content. It will also help writers avoid the trap of aligning their current research with their past work, which increases the chances of rejection on the grounds of non-compliance with the stipulated journal guidelines.

Therefore, it is very important for a research paper to be presented in a manner that best justifies the research ideas of the writer, communicates clearly to the reader, and satisfies the guidelines of the target journal.

Use of flawless English brings the main idea of the paper to the fore, making it a paper worth reading for a large number of people interested in that field of study. To ensure such an outcome and enhance the chances of publication, it is critical for writers to hire a good English editor having sound knowledge in journal editing services.

Open Access Journals: The new era of publishing

benefits of open access journal
As the name suggests, the main benefit of an open access journal is that it is free for viewing by all. It can be viewed without making any payments and even downloaded for free. This is highly advantageous for libraries and researchers, who would otherwise have to access each journal through a paid subscription. With subscription rates usually very high, it became very difficult for budding researchers to subscribe to all relevant journals. Besides, researchers often have limited finance to access many journals. Conversely, with open access journals, researchers can access several journals, while libraries can add a large number of journals to their collections and thus benefit the research community as a whole.

Open access journals have high citation because they are freely accessible and referred by many people. For writers, too, open access journals give their papers much greater exposure than subscription based journals. It is also observed that there is a sustained number of downloads over a longer period, while non-open access articles have a shorter attention span. There is no need to pay subscription charge or pay-per-view charges to reach the full material. Open access journals are more likely to be indexed in databases and enlisted in search engines.

Some journals ask the author to pay for making their paper free to viewed, but this amount is nominal. After the manuscript has been accepted, the author also needs to pay a onetime charge for processing and handling. This sum is far smaller than the amount paid for publication in non-open access journals, both printed and online.

The best part of an open access journal is that it gives wider scope of access to researchers in developing countries. Since publication of papers is free in many journals, researchers from developing countries have a better chance to publish their papers and present the results of their study to a global readership.

In contrast to traditional journals, open access journals have a short production cycle, which enables quick publication of accepted papers. Some open access journals also offer fee waivers or discounts for authors from developing countries.

Sometimes, due to negligence or oversight, editors of traditional journals omit few good papers, but the chance of a similar occurrence in an open access journal is much less because the journal’s teams of editors carry out a rapid peer review so that the paper is published without delay.

There are advantages and disadvantages of open access journals, but the advantages surely outweigh the disadvantages. With the arrival of open access journals, accessibility to research papers has increased manifold. Besides, a wider audience prompts higher number of citations. Open access publications have thus come as a boon for researchers and libraries in developing countries.

Tips to enhance the visibility of your article

Writing an effective title
Writing an effective title
From the perspective of a search engine, the title is the most important part of a research paper. The search engine recognises the title as inclusive of all important words related to the topic. Thus, you need to choose the words of your title very carefully. Besides, the title is important from the perspective of the reader because it tells the reader whether the topic is relevant or not.
While conceiving the title of your paper, you need to keep the following principles in mind:

• Encapsulate the content and communicate its scope.
• Include words that are generally submitted to search engines when a user is looking up your topic or one similar to yours.
• Focus on words or phrases that occur frequently in your text and describe the content extensively.
• Use short and attractive titles to be more effective.
Hence, a good title should ideally be of 10-12 words containing descriptive words or phrases that accurately describe the core content of your paper.

Writing an effective abstract
The abstract gives a sneak peek into the full text of your paper. It conveys to the reader the basic idea about the content of the paper. Usually, the abstract is free to access and can be viewed by anyone. Therefore, it gives readers the chance to first understand the gist of your paper and then decide whether they want to continue reading or purchase a full copy of the paper. In a sense, the abstract is a marketing document for the full paper.
If you have submitted your paper for publication, the abstract assumes an even greater importance. Since it is the first section of the paper that journal editors and reviewers read, it plays a crucial role in the acceptance of the paper for publication. Sometimes the journal editors are very busy and prefer going through the abstract to determine whether the paper should be sent for peer review or rejected outright. Thus, reviewers form their first impressions about the paper from the abstract.
The abstract should be written in a way that captures the reader’s interest and attention and engages their mental abilities. It should give a brief overview of the main content.
The abstract should basically contain answers to the following questions:
• What is the objective or purpose?
• What is your methodology for accomplishing the objective?
• What are the findings or results?
• What are the implications for future research?
All these points are sequential and need to follow one another in the same order.

How to use keywords effectively
Keywords are used to classify papers by journals and search engines. Therefore, the visibility of your paper to the target group depends greatly on the keywords. An accurate list of keywords will ensure a higher citation count for the paper.
Words and phrases that occur repetitively in the main text and describe the content comprehensively should be among your keywords. Besides, you could also use some other words that are related to the topic and could potentially increase the visibility of your paper.

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.

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.

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.