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HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE
RESEARCH PAPER
• Getting ready with data
• First draft
• Structure of a scientific paper
• Selecting a journal
• Submission
• Revision and galley proof
Disclaimer: The suggestions and remarks in this presentation are based on personal research experience. Research practices and approaches vary.
Exercise your own judgment regarding the suitability of the content.
–P. Kamat

Getting ready with data
Gather all important data, analyses, plots and tables
Organize results so that they follow a logical sequence (this may or may not be in the order of experiments conducted)
Consolidate data plots and create figures for the manuscript
(Limit the number of total figures (6-8 is usually a good number).
Include additional data, multimedia in the Supporting Information.)
Discuss the data with your advisor and note down important points Important: KNOW the focus of your paper
It takes a wise man to know whether he has found a ROPE or LOST A MULE.
- Anonymous quote

?

First draft
Identify two or three important findings emerging from the experiments. Make them the central theme of the article.
Note good and bad writing styles in the literature. Some are simple and easy to follow, some are just too complex.
Note the readership of the journal that you are considering to publish your work
Prepare figures, schemes and tables in a professional manner
(Pay attention to quantification of data accuracy, significant digits, error bars,)
0.001
0.00100

1x10-3 -- one sig fig
1.00x10-3 -- three sig figs

Structure of a scientific paper
Title
Abstract
TOC Graphics

Introduction
Experimental Section
(Some papers require this section to be at the end)

Results and Discussion
Conclusions
Acknowledgments
References
Supporting Information

Title
Compose a title that is simple, attractive and accurately reflects the investigation -Phrases to avoid: Investigation, Study, Novel, Facile etc.
- Avoid Acronyms that are known only to specialized community

Which of these two titles make you read the paper?

Also try to get it right

Abstract
First couple of sentences should focus on what the study is about. Include major findings in a style that a general readership can read and understand
(i.e., avoid detailed experimental procedures and data.) Keep it short and effective. -Be creative in generating curiosity
Large Aggregated Ions Found in Some Protic Ionic Liquids
Danielle F. Kennedy and Calum J. Drummond
J. Phys. Chem. B, 2009, 113 (17), pp 5690–5693

Large aggregated parent ions, for example, C8A7+ (C = cation and A = anion), have been observed within some protic ionic liquids (PILs) using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). We have shown that the formation and size of aggregates is dependent on the nature of the anion and cation. Solvent structuring in select PILs through aggregation can contribute to their classification as “poor ionic liquids” and can also strongly influence the entropic component to the free energy of amphiphile selfassembly in select PILs.

Keep it simple and informative

TOC Graphics
A scheme or figure to convey the theme of paper

Graph
Make use of TOC Graphics to convey the theme

versus
Scheme

Structure of a scientific paper
Introduction
• Start the section with a general background of the topic.
• Add 2-3 paragraphs that discuss previous work.
• Point out issues that are being addressed in the present work.

Experimental Section
• Divide this section into Materials & Methods, Characterization,
Measurements and Data analysis

Results and Discussion
(These two sections can be combined or separate)
• Describe the results in detail and include a healthy, detailed discussion • The order of figures should follow the discussion themes and not the sequence they were conducted
• Discuss how your data compare or contrast with previous results.
• Include schemes, photographs to enhance the scope of discussion
Avoid
• Excessive presentation of data/results without any discussion
• Citing every argument with a published work

Structure of a scientific paper
Conclusions
Include major findings followed by brief discussion on future perspectives and/or application of present work to other disciplines.
Important: Do not rewrite the abstract.
Statements with “Investigated” or “Studied” are not conclusions!

Acknowledgments
Remember to thank the funding agency and
Colleagues/scientists/technicians who might have provided assistance

References
The styles vary for different journals. (Use ENDNOTE, RefWorks)
Some journals require complete titles of the cited references
Please check for the accuracy of all citations
Supporting Information
Include methods, analysis, blank experiments, additional data

Selecting a journal
Each journal specializes in a specific area of research. Hence its readership varies. A proper choice of journal can make a larger impact of your research.
Get to know the focus and readership of the journal that you are considering. - general vs. specialized area journal
Select 2 or 3 journals in the chosen area with relatively high impact factors. Discuss with your advisor and decide on the journal
Find out the journal’s submission criteria and format

Tip: Does your references cite journals in the appropriate area?

2008 IMPACT FACTORS OF POPULAR JOURNALS
Angew.Chem. 10.879
NanoLett 10.371
Adv.Mater. 8.191
JACS 8.091
PRL 7.180
Small 6.525
AdvFunctMat 6.808
ACSNano 5.472
Chem.EuroJ 5.454
ChemCom 5.340
ChemMater 5.046
JPCB 4.189
Langmuir 4.097
JMatChm 4.646
PCCP 4.064
APL 3.726
ChmPhyChm 3.636
JPCC 3.378
PRB 3.322
JChmPhys 3.149
JPCA 2.871
JEchmSoc 2.437
CPL 2.169

08

0

2

4

6

8

10

Impact Factor
IF(2008) =

No. of 2006&2007 citations in 2008
No of papers published in 2006&2007

2008 EIGENFACTORS OF TOP 11 PHYS CHEM JOURNALS
(PLUS JACS AND ANGEW CHEM)

JACS 0.951
AngewChem 0.513
JPCB 0.438
Langmuir 0.253
AdvMater 0.213
NatMater 0.185
JPCA 0.181
ChemMater 0.161
ChemPhysLet 0.140
JMaterChem 0.099
PhysChemPhy 0.088
JCollInterf 0.081
AdvFunctMat 0.080

2008

0.0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

Impact Factor
Eigenfactor Score:
•Impact factor based on citations of past 5 years.
•Eliminates self-citations.
•Weighs each reference according to a stochastic measure

Submission
Read the finalized paper carefully. Check for accuracy of figures and captions. Are the figures correctly referred to in the text?
Get feedback from advisor and colleagues.
Make sure the paper is read by at least one or two colleagues who is not familiar with the specific work.
Provide a cover letter to the editor along with a brief paragraph highlighting the importance of this work and names of possible reviewers. Have all coauthors approve the finalized version of the paper
Submit the paper online along with copyright form.

Revision and galley proof
• The manuscript is usually reviewed by 2-3 reviewers
• Reviewers point out deficiencies and/or suggestions to improve the scientific content
• Read their comments carefully. (If reviewer misunderstands a point, the point probably needs revision or additional support.)
-Do not blame the reviewer for his/her misunderstanding!
• Be polite and respectful when disagreeing a reviewer’s comment
• Include a point-by-point explanation of changes made in the text in response to reviewers’ comments
• Once again, carefully read the paper for its accuracy in presenting the data
• Submit the revised version
• Once accepted for publication you should receive the galley proof within a month. This is one last chance to make any final corrections. What to do if a paper gets rejected……
Do not get discouraged. Read editorial comments and discuss with advisor/students/collaborators. Find out how you can make this study stronger and acceptable for publication.
Do not just turn around and submit the paper to another journal.
Read carefully the comments and find ways to improve the scientific quality of the papers
Carry out additional experiments and improve the quality of scientific discussions. (Journals often look for papers with quantitative and mechanistic information that represent new physical insights )
Rejected papers can be resubmitted if and only the concerns of the reviewers are adequately addressed and new results are included. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the editorial office.

What to Avoid?
• Data without scientific discussion, applications of data, or reviews of the literature are not sufficient.
• Routine synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials or studies that report incremental advance are not considered suitable for publication.
• Use of the phrase “Novel” or “First-time” in the title or abstract. Such descriptions do not impress the reader or the reviewer.
(Other over used phrases “One-pot synthesis”, “Facile” )
• Names of flowers, fruits and vegetables to describe the nanoparticle/nanostructure shapes/morphology

To do even better ….
The authors should make every effort to make a good presentation with proper usage of English grammar. Ask a colleague to comment on your paper before sending it for publication.
“English is not my Native Language” is not a valid justification for reviewer who cannot comprehend.
Reviewers do not wish to review papers that are not readable. Badly written papers are often recommended as “REJECT” by the Reviewers
ACS Publication office helps to edit the language for accepted manuscripts, but this only happens if the
English was good enough to be reviewed.

Ten characteristics of an incredibly dull paper
Sand-Jenson in Oikos 2007, 116 723 (C&E News Sept 10, 2007)

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Avoid Focus
Avoid originality and personality
Make the article really really long
Do not indicate any potential implications
Leave out illustrations (…too much effort to draw a sensible drawing)
6. Omit necessary steps of reasoning
7. Use abbreviations and technical terms that only specialists in the field can understand
8. Make it sound too serious with no significant discussion 9. Focus only on statistics
10. Support every statement with a reference

For more research tips
See http://www.nd.edu/~pkamat

Good Luck!

Do not ever give up!

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