If you’re preparing to write a scientific report for a peer-reviewed journal, it’s critical to have a detailed plan before beginning the first draft of your manuscript.
Following the correct format and general guidance for manuscript writing is a good start, but there are many more factors to consider to ensure your work is published in your journal of choice. Here, you’ll learn the main reasons why many manuscripts get rejected. We’ll also guide you though the steps to follow when researching your publication of choice, so you can increase your probability of getting published.
What could happen if you don’t plan?
Countless manuscripts get rejected for a host of reasons:
- They contain content that falls outside the journal’s scope.
- They fail to address the target audience.
- They deviate from the journal’s set of criteria.
- They are based on weak research.
- They present poorly compiled information.
Without a clear plan that considers a journal’s target audience, publishing criteria, or areas of focus, your manuscript can land in the rejection pile, too. Conversely, planning and organizing your manuscript based on these key considerations can boost your chances of getting published.
Planning includes a thorough analysis of your research content and your target journal. Understanding the types of articles your journal publishes can help you tailor your manuscript content accordingly. Here are five steps to take during the research phase.
Step 1: Relevance
Understand the scope of your chosen journal and analyze whether your manuscript is a good fit. Read through a selection of the journal’s articles to see if any are relevant to your research topic. If you don’t find relevant articles, modify your search to find similar methodologies or study designs. Your chances of acceptance may be slim if the journal doesn’t have any recent articles on topics relevant to your study.
Step 2: Initial Contact
Contact the journal’s editor and share your abstract to see if your manuscript aligns with what the editor looks for in new content. If your abstract does align, this still does not guarantee your manuscript will be published, but it does minimize the risk of rejection.
Step 3: Abstract
Before sharing your abstract, make sure it displays a logical flow of information throughout each section. To assess your work, the editor should be able to understand the relevance of the topic, need for the research, methodological approach, applied analytical strategy, and key results.
Step 4: Attention to Detail
Once you select your journal, assess its author instructions and plan your content accordingly. A majority of manuscripts get rejected for failing to follow instructions, so this is one of the most important things to keep in mind.
Step 5: Formatting
Plan the format of your manuscript. Based on your study design, follow instructions from guides such as the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) checklist for randomized clinical trials (RCTs), Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist.
Knowing the common pitfalls of authorship can help you develop a carefully planned, well-written manuscript that has a strong chance of publication. For a more in-depth guide to planning your next scientific manuscript, check out our white paper.
If you need help writing your manuscript or preparing it for global access, contact us today.