If you’d like to boost your chances of getting your research published in the right journal, it’s worth knowing some of the habits of successful authors. Bernd Pulverer, head of scientific publications at the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), shared some insights with attendees at last week’s Naturejobs Career Expo in Heidelberg, Germany.
Consider the final paper when you first plan your project
Pulverer advises authors to “plan carefully and think holistically”.
Choose your journal with care
“There are many good journals out there,” Pulverer says. Study what kind of papers the journal publishes to see if its scope is suitable.
Don’t hold back data
“I can’t emphasise this enough,” Pulverer says, adding that the “cat and mouse game” between authors and referees is a huge problem. Don’t hold back data that you think the referees will ask for later in order to please them — include it with your initial submission.
Write a cover letter
Pulverer says a cover letter allows you to explain the importance of your research to editors and referees in a less formalised manner than in your paper. “It’s not essential, but it provides a good opportunity to give a different flavour to the results,” he says.
Tell a story, but avoid spin
Think about the ‘story’ of your paper, but don’t over-labour it — and don’t oversell your findings.
Be thorough when responding to referees
If you make it to peer review and get recommended changes from referees, “make sure you address every single point raised”, says Pulverer. If you don’t agree with something, write a thorough, point-by-point rebuttal.
Respond well to rejection
If your paper is rejected, don’t simply resubmit it to the same journal with a different title and list of authors. “It sounds trivial, but we see this quite a lot,” says Pulverer. “There are many other good journals at the same level.”
Have your say
Do you have any other tips or advice to share? Let us know below.