What do Editors and Reviewers look for in a Research Paper?
What Do Editors Keep An Eye Out For In A Manuscript?
It is apparent to everybody within academia and those interested in it that research is nothing without publication and writing a paper is the inevitable grand finale of any good research project. Still, Manuscript editing is competitive and challenging and getting that acceptance letter isn’t always as easy as we’d like.
The good news is that a rejection is not the be-all and end-all of publication and by simply changing the way they write and research authors can convince even the most critical editor to consider their manuscript. Therefore, detailed below are all the most important things that editors of high-profile journals look for in a good manuscript.
First, the editors check a few vital technical aspects related to a research author’s manuscript. If these are not correct, they will have a hard time convincing an editor to publish their article. One crucial tip to bear in mind is that the purpose of a research article is to report new findings to the scientific community.
A research author needs to choose the right journal for the scope of their research. Reviews can be so specific that part of their work will be accepted in one review, while another part of the very same project will be more suitable for another review. This is precisely why journals have a very clear description of their scope and why authors should study them intensely before putting in the effort to submit their work. Another useful tip is, in addition to reading the journal’s focus, to browse publications from the previous year or two to get an idea of what editors like to publish.
This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it’s something a lot of authors get wrong. No matter how many articles an author may have published, spending the extra time formatting their writing to match journal specifications is something that makes a world of difference. An article that isn’t formatted correctly has a high chance of getting rejected by editors.
As soon as an editor is done checking for relevance and format, the next thing they will ensure is that the research that has been submitted is new. This is not only to avoid plagiarism but also to ensure that there is no unnecessary duplication. Innovative research is what attracts readers and readers can influence impact factors, which in turn influence journal submissions and revenue.
Just as soon as the basics have been covered and an editor has ensured that the work is valid, unique and suitable for the journal, the next thing they move on to involves checking the more “aesthetic” qualities of the manuscript in question.
Any well-written article is bound to have a professional tone, with short sentences that go straight to the point. The use of words should suit the style of the journal and the field of research without using too many acronyms or too much jargon.
Spelling and Grammar
If a researcher isn’t proud of their work to make sure the spelling and grammar are correct, chances are the quality of their work has also suffered and that can leave an editor wondering if publishing the work is worth it. At best, the work will be returned with many revisions, which is never a fun thing to do.
Conciseness and Coherence
Most journals have word limits for research papers, limiting the author to only necessary information. The reason for this is to ensure that the message gets through without having to publish a full journal article each time. This way, journals can maximize the amount of research they publish without compromising the content too much.
Although research articles should be brief, they should not lack clarity. This is where the proper use of words comes into play, as discussed earlier and it may be necessary to coin the words of your work to optimize the content-to-information ratio. Simply put – better to keep it short and sweet.
What Do Reviewers Look For In Manuscripts?
When reviewing an article, a reviewer will typically look for –
- Scientific Rigor
- Are the methods clear and robust?
- Are the conclusions supported by the results?
- Is the work relevant and original?
- What is the probability that it will be cited by other researchers?
- What kind of impact will the research have on the ground?
- Is it timely?
Reviewers usually don’t correct grammatical or typographical errors. As long as the meaning implied is clear and understandable, these issues will be addressed at the post-acceptance stage.
Research authors who understand the objectives of the typical peer-review processes followed by journals are bound to better understand what these processes cannot do.
Peer reviewers, in general:
- Determine if a manuscript will interest readers
- Determine whether a study is new, either through new findings or by supplementing existing findings
- Determine the impact of a submission
- Seek to identify plagiarism
- Try to identify false or fabricated data and results
- Review the scientific basis for findings, conclusions and recommendations to ensure they are valid
- Check the quality of the writing in terms of readability, clarity and appropriateness of tone
Peer review assignments are a lot to ask of academics and they can take a while to complete. How well they do it, how much time they spend on it and whether it “succeeds” depends on factors such as the time and effort they put into it, their familiarity with the subject and unfortunately, their personal biases. Imperfection is inherent to humans and peer reviewers are humans, after all.
What Peer Reviewers Don’t Do?
As indicated above, much is expected of peer reviewers. Having to abide by a lengthy step-by-step guide to reviewing a manuscript (provided by the journals they work for), there are many things peer reviewers cannot do. These are the limits of peer review. They include the following –
- Check Statistics
Peer reviewers are just that – an author’s peers. As a result, peer reviewers are not experts in all types of statistical analyses. They probably know the common and appropriate tests for the types of data generated in their field. They will usually only be able to identify obvious errors in choices or test results. Peer reviewers don’t re-run calculations (unless there’s a glaring error and they know how to check it quickly) and they’re not supposed to.
- Examining Of Raw Data
Peer reviewers also do not check the raw data. Or, at least, they usually don’t expect to. Doing so would make the review process very cumbersome and take even longer than it already is. And it may take some time. Thus, any problems with the original data collected may not be apparent in the draft that manuscript reviewers see.
If they find problems with the statistical analysis, their suggestions for correction may be limited and it is the sole responsibility of an author to go back and correct the problem(s) using the original data. And then write a comprehensive and persuasive response letter to the request for revisions.
- Redo Experiments and Test Reproducibility
Just as checking all the raw data would be unrealistic to ask a reviewer, so is redoing experiments. Reviewers check that a manuscript provides enough detail to be able to recreate the experiment if they wish. However, concrete (thorough) verification of this is well beyond the scope of the typical peer-review process.
- Check Author Details
Defining and identifying appropriate authorship is a constant concern in scholarly publishing. Some manuscripts listed false authors and affiliations or authors who did not even know they were included in the document. Peer reviewers might be familiar with the researchers featured on a manuscript, but more often than not, they are not, or they review a manuscript blindly (they don’t know who wrote it).
Verifying that all the authors listed are real and that the affiliations are correct would be a very difficult task and one that would waste the expertise offered by the reviewers. So as it stands, it’s up to the authors, to be honest.
- Check For Potential Conflicts Of Interest
Conflicts of interest (COI) have significant effects on people’s perceived biases in a study. It, therefore, goes without saying that the declaration of potential COIs is essential for each manuscript. That said, it would be nearly impossible for peer reviewers to verify and research the validity of an author’s statements or find COIs that they may have omitted.
Reviewers will automatically verify that statements have been made and point out any related bias in the manuscript they find, but that is the extent of their expected role in this area.
Contact ARDA To Ensure Your Manuscript Ticks All The Above Boxes
If you’re a research author who has and is struggling with getting your research paper published in the journals of your choice, all you need to do is enlist the help of professionals such as ARDA. Our world-class review article writing services and review article editing services will take away all the stress of ensuring that your manuscript meets the global standards of academic research publication. Hurry, reach out to us today!