Have you ever struggled to write up your results into a publishable paper only to get it rejected? Richard Threlfall, Managing Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, gives some insider tips on how to improve each section of your article and increase your chances of getting published.
Possibly the easiest section of the whole manuscript to write—write down what you did, how much you used, and how long you left it to stir, then hey presto! You have your experimental section. Easy though it may be to write, there are still things you can do to make your experimental section an easy read. Don’t forget, this is the evidence for all of your ideas presented in the paper and there are people who will use or try to reproduce your methods. Therefore, clarity and good presentation really helps.
Two good tips are to avoid repetition and to be consistent in the way you present your data. Repeatedly stating reaction conditions, amounts used, or analytical techniques doesn’t add very much to the paper and makes the important things harder to find. A summary of general procedures, analytical techniques, and other relevant details in a “general” section at the beginning of the experimental is a great tool for avoiding unnecessary repetition.
Consistency in data presentation makes the experimental section easier to use when it comes to peer review. Check the author guidelines (AJOC’s can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)2193-5815/homepage/2157_notice.html) and previous issues of the journal you are submitting to for how to format your data. Remember that most journals only require the analytical data for compounds that are new to be disclosed in the experimental section, but check the author guidelines first.
Reviewers will often highlight or question inconsistencies in experimental data as things that should be examined further, when in reality it is just a typo or something left over from a previous version of your manuscript. Therefore, presenting your data clearly and checking it thoroughly before submission is well worth it to avoid unnecessary rounds of revision and review.
- Next month: References – Like the experimental, the reference section is very easy to compile, but there are some small things you can do to make it user friendly.
- See all Tips for Writing Better Science Papers