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Tips for publishing with impact

Journal publishing

Here are three tips for generating impact for your work through publication in international, top-tier journals:

1. Find the wow in your research

Research findings published in top journals usually represent a considerable advance in the field, but also have an effect beyond the field and on wider society — a quality often described as the wow factor. There is no avoiding the fact that such astonishing discoveries are few and far between. Meanwhile, creating a plan to achieve such research goals is no easy task given that most researchers lack a magic drawer filled with Nobel Prize-worthy ideas.

A step you can take towards finding the wow factor is learning about the important challenges in and needs of your field, related fields and society. Knowing what has already been achieved is essential. However, understanding what hasn’t been achieved, and why, can be equally powerful. Put simply, make sure that you know what is important in your field!

Practicing big-picture thinking will allow you to generate a research proposal that has broad interest and considerable impact. This could include becoming aware of potential collaborators outside your field, being open to using alternative techniques, or even deciding to follow a completely different research avenue. Always ask how your proposed research could be of use beyond an academic setting.

2. Gather robust data

Data is everything, and the bigger the claim that you make in your paper, the more convincing the data needs to be. This includes reaching accurate and appropriate conclusions from data. The author should use logic, background knowledge and study design with the appropriate use of values and other metrics to reach a conclusion and consider its certainty.

Furthermore, recognize that there is a clear distinction between clean data and convincing data; in reality, convincing data rarely looks pretty. Show the data as it is. Avoid tools that improve the appearance of your data or that could lead readers away from the true story. Let the data speak for itself.

Having a robust study is crucial to extracting useful and powerful data. Try not to fall victim to the benefit of hindsight. Design a study that optimizes your productivity, and do your best to anticipate human error and issues with logistics.

3. Remember to be brave

Although it’s true that scientists stand on the shoulders of giants, monumental discoveries are rarely derivative. In reality, this means that a publishable discovery with the wow factor will not have a precedent in the literature.

Designing a type of study that has not yet been attempted, or developing an innovative proposal, could help you to obtain a result that was considered unachievable. Throwing away the textbook and conventional assumptions might free you to generate ground-breaking ideas that could only come about from your unique combination of knowledge and experiences in the lab. No scientist can ever have enough freedom to explore research that has a high chance of failure but that might also lead to a seminal discovery.


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Journal publishing