Writing A Paper For Publication In A Journal

Writing A Paper For Publication In A Journal-5
I see it as a tit-for-tat duty: Since I am an active researcher and I submit papers, hoping for really helpful, constructive comments, it just makes sense that I do the same for others.

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I always read the paper sequentially, from start to finish, making comments on the PDF as I go along.

I look for specific indicators of research quality, asking myself questions such as: Are the background literature and study rationale clearly articulated? (I usually pay close attention to the use—and misuse—of frequentist statistics.) Is the presentation of results clear and accessible? That usually becomes apparent by the Methods section.

Unless it’s for a journal I know well, the first thing I do is check what format the journal prefers the review to be in.

Some journals have structured review criteria; others just ask for general and specific comments. I almost never print out papers for review; I prefer to work with the electronic version.

The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

I consider four factors: whether I'm sufficiently knowledgeable about the topic to offer an intelligent assessment, how interesting I find the research topic, whether I’m free of any conflict of interest, and whether I have the time.

Writing a good review requires expertise in the field, an intimate knowledge of research methods, a critical mind, the ability to give fair and constructive feedback, and sensitivity to the feelings of authors on the receiving end.

As a range of institutions and organizations around the world celebrate the essential role of peer review in upholding the quality of published research this week, Careers shares collected insights and advice about how to review papers from researchers across the spectrum.

Do the hypotheses follow logically from previous work? To what extent does the Discussion place the findings in a wider context and achieve a balance between interpretation and useful speculation versus tedious waffling? (Then, throughout, if what I am reading is only partly comprehensible, I do not spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of it, but in my review I will relay the ambiguities to the author.) I should also have a good idea of the hypothesis and context within the first few pages, and it matters whether the hypothesis makes sense or is interesting. I do not focus so much on the statistics—a quality journal should have professional statistics review for any accepted manuscript—but I consider all the other logistics of study design where it’s easy to hide a fatal flaw.

Mostly I am concerned with credibility: Could this methodology have answered their question?


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