Over the years, I’ve been asked about the more effective way of writing peer-reviewed articles for scientific journals.
My response is always the same: Think like a referee/editor. Here is a list of items that they want to see accomplished:
Referees/editors like to see that the content and format of the title, abstract, document body, tables, images, graphics, appendices, and references follow their journal guidelines.
In general, referees/editors like to see in the first page of the printed version of an article:
1. Statement of the problem – what is the problem to be solved.
2. Purpose of the article – how the present research solves the problem.
3. Organization – how the article is organized and what is covered in each section.
This is a general practice across scientific journals. So, whenever possible, I try to accomplish 1 – 3 in the first three paragraphs of the first page of the printed article. To do this, you need to avoid lengthy introductions and wordiness. Be concise and ‘go the point’.
Referees/editors also like to see the article as a whole semantic unit. So they like to see:
Transitional statements; i.e., sections ending as an introduction to the next section.
1. One paragraph, one idea; i.e., each paragraph discussing one main idea.
2. Short paragraphs; i.e., each paragraph of about five sentences or less, where sentences are of appropriate length. This provides a natural stop to the reading. In general, short paragraphs and sentences are easier to read than the long ones. Use compound sentences with caution.
3. Facts supported by pertinent references.
4. Opinion written as opinions, not as facts.
Of course, there are other tips to think about, but in my opinion, the above can make a difference… well, in my opinion :)