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Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

may need to take the

may need to take the first author position yourself,especially if you are early in your career andbuilding your reputation. Generally, in multi-authorpapers the first and final names on the list are theones the reader will remember.This is a sticky problem, since often among themultiple authors there are more than two peoplewho have worked hard to generate the data andthe thinking necessary to tell the story, and whoneed the benefits that come from taking one ofthese positions. It will be important for the peopleyou train to get first authorships themselves.If someone above you at your institute alwaystakes one of the prestige spots and you needto take the other one, over time it will be veryhard for your students to advance. But as ayoung researcher, it may be dangerous for you toargue against this situation. As your own careeradvances and your reputation becomes solid, youmay be able to move yourself to second-to-lastauthorship, so that your trainees can shine. Overtime your international colleagues, funders, andjournal editors should come to view you as senior.Compliance with the authorship criteria of theInternational Committee of Medical JournalEditors and the implementation of a memorandumof initiation for each project, in which the rolesof participants and the principles for determiningorder of authorship are stated, can diminish theworry, hard feelings, and sense of inequality thatcan come when distributing authorship, which is afundamentally important and greatly coveted formof recognition. (See chapter 4, pages 63-65, formore discussion of authorship.)The author who has actually done the hands-onwork should be the person to prepare the figures,tables, and legends first, because a scientificpaper is best written with the final form of thedata in front of the writer. Then work with theauthor to get the paper into shape. Although thismay not be the most efficient way to write apaper—there will be times when you could do ityourself much faster—it is important for peopleyou have trained to gain experience and feedbackon writing papers.Once you have a good first draft, send it tocolleagues in your field and in your departmentfor review. Have it proofread by someone in yourlab with access to your data and the documentsyou have cited. The last thing you want to do isto appear careless; doing so will raise suspicionsabout the quality of all of your work. It is also agood idea to give the paper to someone outsideyour field to see whether they understand itsimportance. As mentioned in the section above, ifthe journal is not in your first language, it is a goodidea to ask a friend or colleague who is a nativeor near-native speaker of the language for help.If your speaking skills in that language are trulyexcellent but you struggle with the rules of itsgrammar, reading the paper aloud can make anywritten errors more obvious. This is true for nativespeakers as well.The “who writes the manuscript” problem isnot trivial. I personally like to write the draft ofevery graduate student’s first paper. For [thestudent’s] second paper, he or she writes thefirst draft. Postdocs always write their firstdrafts. Sometimes it is more difficult to edit orchange a draft written by someone else thanwriting the draft directly oneself.”Alberto Kornblihtt, ArgentinaIn terms of other principles I would commentthat because thesis research is by definitionthe original research of the student, thestudent should have the opportunity to be thefirst author of the publication of this work. Ifthe student is unable to draft the manuscriptwithin a reasonable and, ideally, pre-establishedperiod of time, then first authorship maycorrespond to the investigator who assumesthe writing of the paper.”Nancy Gore Saravia, Colombia128 excellence everywhere

Three particularly difficult parts of a paper to writeare the title, abstract, and cover letter.n Title and Abstract. Create these two elementsafter the manuscript is complete. The title shouldsummarize the take-home message of your paper.The abstract should briefly summarize the paperand should stand on its own. Describe the experimentalquestion, the methods, the main results,and the conclusion. Unless the main point of thepaper is description of a new technique, methodsin the abstract should be limited to a sentence or afew words. Keep in mind that the abstract willannounce the existence of your work to peoplewho may not have time to read your paper. If theabstract attracts their attention, they could beinduced to read your article rather than passing onto the next abstract. Also note that your title andabstract will be used as the basic tools for theretrieval of your paper from electronic and paperlibraries.n Cover Letter. The cover letter should explain whythe paper is significant and why you think it isappropriate for the journal to which you are submittingit. The letter should cite a major question inyour field and describe how your work helps answerit. You may want to cite other papers the journalhas published in this field, or provide other reasonswhy the journal’s readership would find your workof interest. The letter of introduction is the place tomention whether there is competition in the fieldthat could lead to your being “scooped.” You mayalso include a list of colleagues who have reviewedthe paper and any information necessary to ensurea fair review process. Most journals will give youan opportunity to suggest people who are qualifiedto comment on your work and to exclude one ortwo particular individuals who may be competitorsand should not be reading about your work beforeit is published.Many books and articles that explain how to writescientific papers are available in print and online.Some are listed in “Resources” at the end of thischapter.Submitting your paperMost major journals now require that manuscriptsbe submitted electronically through the journal’sWeb site. Each journal has its own requirements,such as preferred file formats for text and figuresand the procedures for uploading files. Consultthe journal’s Web site for specific instructions andbe sure to follow them. If you have poor internetconnectivity, it may be a good idea to burn thepaper to a CD or copy it onto a flash drive andtake it to a place where the connection is morereliable. If your available internet connections arevery unreliable, you should follow up with an emailto the editor enquiring whether the attachmentsarrived intact.Regardless of whether they receive a papermanuscript or an electronic version, most journaleditors will let you know that they have receivedyour manuscript and how long you can expect thereview process to be.Navigating the Review ProcessIf you submit your manuscript for publication ina peer-reviewed journal, the reviewers will bechosen by the journal’s editor, who will take intoaccount any names you have suggested, his orher own knowledge of the field, and a literaturesearch.Receiving the Reviewers’ Comments. A paperis rarely accepted after the first round of review.When you receive the editorial decision and thereviewers’ comments, you will have to decidehow to proceed. If the paper is rejected, printthe rejection notice and set it aside. Rejection isnever easy. A few hours later, after you have hada chance to adjust your thinking to the inevitableneed to clear a new hurdle, read the letter slowlyand carefully to see what it is saying. Ignore fora moment, if you can, the comments about thescience and look instead for the editor’s signalsabout what you should do next.increasing your impact: getting published129

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