How to write a world class paper

By Kevin Miller,2014-01-20 10:07
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How to write a world class paper

How to write a world class paper

    Dr. Daniel McGowan


    Dr. Daniel McGowan曾任 Nature Reviews Neuroscience 副编辑,负责约稿,管理和撰写期刊内容。

    2006年加入理文编辑?Edanz Group 并从2008年起担任学术总监。Dr. McGowan有超过十年的



    Making a good first impression: the importance of writing a good title

The title of your paper is a ―hook‖ that should be used to attract readers—it is your opportunity t

    o ―sell‖ your paper to readers browsing a table of contents or search results. A poor title will cau

    se potentially interested researchers to overlook your work and may attract the wrong audience. By contrast, a good title will attract the relevant researchers and increase the number of citations

     you receive. Therefore, it is important to get it right.

    A good title should be as brief as possible while still communicating the main finding(s) of the paper. Avoid excessive detail and unnecessary use of field-specific jargon and abbreviations. Your title must be understandable by a broad scientific audience, some of whom may not have a detailed knowledge of your particular field. How broad depends on the particular target journalconsi

    der the readership of your target journal and write a title that can be easily understood by all, not only those in your immediate field. The target journal’s instructions for authors should also be consulted to ensure that character limits are complied with and to identify whether a running (short) title is also required.

Good title checklist

- Specific

    - Concise

    - Communicates the main findings

- Will attract readers

    - Does not begin with the, a, or an

    - Avoids use of non-standard abbreviations


    例句!―The degeneration of neurons in the CA3 and DG following OA administration: involvement of a MAPK-dependent pathway in regional-specific neuronal degeneration‖

    分析1This title is too long, contains non-standard abbreviations and a redundancy, and is too specific in parts.

    分析2Further, many journals do not want titles that begin with the, a, or an. A better alternative would be: ―Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration‖.

    分析3―MAP kinase-dependent neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration‖ would probably also be acceptable, depending on the target journal, because the abbreviation MAP is widely used and understood.



    Suggest a good alternative title for the following using what you’ve learned about writing good titles.

    ―Carvedilol produces dose-related improvements in LV function and dose-related reductions in mor

tality and hospitalization rate in subjects with chronic heart failure from systolic dysfunction‖


    In addition to completing the exercise, you can send the title from your own manuscript so that the DXY community and I can help you improve it.

    Dr. McGowan论文写作系列第二讲

    The snapshot: abstract and keywords


    Your paper’s abstract is critical because many researchers will read that part only, rather than reading the entire paper. Therefore, it is critical that it provides an accurate and sufficiently detailed

     summary of your work so that those researchers can understand what you did, why you did it, what your findings are, and why your findings are useful and important. Your abstract must be able to stand alone, that is, to function as an overview of your study that can be understood without reading the entire text. Readers interested in learning details than could not be included in the abstract will inevitably proceed to the full text. Therefore, the abstract does not need to be overly detailed; for example, it does not need to include a detailed methods section.

    Even though the abstract is one of the first parts of your paper, it should actually be written last.

     You should write it soon after finishing the other sections, while the rest of the manuscript is fresh in your head, enabling you to write a concise but comprehensive summary of your study without overlooking anything important. Requirements for abstracts differ among journals, so the target journal’s instructions for authors should be consulted for specific details.


    Despite differences among journals, there are a few general rules that should be obeyed when w

riting an abstract:

     • The word limit should be observed; 250 words is probably about average and commonly a

    dopted as a word limit for abstracts, but many journals request shorter abstracts (for example, Nature Articles and BBRC both have a 150-word limit) while many others (for example, BioMed Central journals) allow longer ones. This is one very good reason why the target journal should be

     identified before you write your paper.

     • Technical jargon should be avoided so that the abstract is understandable for a broad readership, although what is considered ―technical‖ may vary depending on the target journal’s audience. For example, ―a test of anxiety‖ would generally be clearer than ―elevated plus-maze test‖ in

    an abstract, unless the journal was specifically targeted to behavioural researchers. Usually, there

     simply isn’t enough space in the abstract to define and explain technical terminology. If such terminology is unavoidable, it should be defined in simple terms where it is first used.

     • Like technical jargon, abbreviations should be limited as much as possible, although their a

    cceptability may again depend on the target journal. For example, HIV is likely to be acceptable in abbreviated form by most journals. By contrast, RT-PCR might be considered acceptable by a journal reporting molecular biology techniques, but it would need to be spelt in full (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) in most journals at first use. Many journals provide a list of acceptable abbreviations on their websites. Necessary abbreviations used three or more times should be defined at first use; however, abbreviations used only once or twice should be spelled out

     in full unless doing so causes the word limit to be exceeded. Abbreviations that are defined in the abstract will need to be defined again at first use in the main text.

     • Although some journals do allow references to be cited in the abstract, the vast majority do not. Therefore, unless you plan to submit to a journal that allows it, you should not cite references in your abstract.


    If we look at the instructions to authors for BBRC, we can see the following guidelines:

     • The Abstract should be on page 2, i.e., after the title page

     •The Abstract must be a single paragraph that summarizes the main findings of the paper in

     fewer than 150 words.

     • A list of up to 10 keywords useful for indexing or searching should be included after the Abstract.


    Some journals request structured abstracts divided into sections such as background, objectives, methods, results, and conclusions. Clinical journals may require additional or alternative sections. Therefore, it is again necessary to check the target journal’s instructions for authors to determine

     the particular formatting/outline requirements prior to writing.


    Abstracts are frequently followed by a list of keywords selected by the authors. The instructions for authors will state how many keywords are required and may even provide a list of recommended keywords. Choosing appropriate keywords is important, because these are used for indexing purposes. Well chosen keywords enable your manuscript to be more easily identified and cited. Thus, the keywords should be as specific to your manuscript as possible, and general terms, which could apply to an enormous number of studies, should be avoided.


    Let’s consider some appropriate keywords for the example title from the previous post:

    ― Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration‖ (note that this title is and one of two suggested alternatives for the poor title in the example in the previous post).


    Good keywords would be: okadoic acid, hippocampus, neuronal degeneration, MAP kinase signaling, and possibly mouse (or rat or whatever experimental animal was used).


    Poor keywords would be: neuron, brain, OA (as an abbreviation), regional-specific neuronal degeneration, and signaling



Suggest 35 suitable keywords to accompany the title in the exercise in the previous post: ―Carv

    edilol produces dose-related improvements in LV function and dose-related reductions in mortality

     and hospitalization rate in subjects with chronic heart failure from systolic dysfunction‖.

They don’t all have to relate to information contained in the title, so let your imagination run wild:

     it is the type of keyword rather than the content (the word itself) that is important to consider.


    iel的改进建议。您可以下载DanielElsevier共同撰写的How To Write A World Class Paper演讲稿,



In addition to completing the exercise, you can send the title from your own manuscript so that t

he DXY community and I can help you improve it.

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