The 7 Most Common Mistakes First Time Publishers Make
When you are about to publish your first article, it is not uncommon to make a couple of mistakes, no matter how many articles you have read and how many thesis you have written. This is primarily because research articles fall within a class of their own.
Although the facts may be the same as your thesis or reports, the writing style is different, and so is the aim. So if you are taking on your first publishable article, this list of the most common mistakes made by first-time publishers will help you avoid much of the negative feedback and unnecessary corrections seen by so many editors.
- Grammar and spelling mistakes
This may seem like an easily avoidable mistake, but common spelling and grammatical mistakes is a huge problem with first-time publishers. This is partly because students believe that Word’s spelling checker picks up every mistake. If you are about to publish an article, save yourself the effort and humiliation of a thousand corrections and use an additional spelling and grammar checker such as Grammarly, or better yet, employ a professional scientific proofreader to check your work. They will not only pick up on spelling and grammatical mistakes but can highlight potentially incorrect scientific phrases and facts too.
- Incorrect format
There is a reason why journals specify the format that they wish their submissions to be in. It provides uniformity and an easy to read article that their readers have become accustomed to. Make sure to read the journal specifications carefully, and double-check them before submission. Getting this wrong sends a very negative message to the journal editor, and does not instill much confidence in you as a writer. Professional proofreaders can also help with this and it is a great idea to employ one if the journal you are submitting to is very competitive.
- Too much detail
Articles serve one purpose – to convey new information with adequate proof. Anything that is not new and has been said before serves purely as support for your conclusions and does not need to be discussed in detail. Keep it short, professional and to the point. The only exception to this rule is review articles, which serve the purpose of summarizing and reviewing past work to create a subject history.
- Too little detail
This point may seem to conflict with point 3 above, but it is a real problem. It happens quite often that first-time publishers spend so much word space on creating a background for their work, and then they leave out critical details in the methodology, statistics and results sections.
A helpful fact to remember is that your results section should follow your methodology section in the sequence your results are reported. Each task you performed in your methodology section needs to be addressed in the results section but should be short, factual and without interpretation. Interpretation should be left for the discussion section.
- Not properly referencing facts
As a budding scientist, you have to remember that most of the time the scientific reviewers of your work will be experts in the exact field you are working in. Not referencing facts properly is easy to pick up, and follow up on if you are an expert in the field, and it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Even though it may not purposefully be plagiarism, it will be labeled as that and will follow you around like a bad stench. Facts pertaining to your work but that are not your own, should be referenced.
- A vague abstract
Writing a good abstract is a skill that can improve with practice. It should be able to highlight, in one or two sentences, the key points from each section of your article. Its purpose is to serve as a perfect summary of your work for anyone wanting to find out if reading the whole article is worthwhile. A vague abstract is confusing and does not entice anyone to read your work.
- Submitting to the wrong journal
This is a very important consideration, as the wrong journal will most likely reject you, and if they do accept your work, it most likely will not be read by the right people. Consider the scope of the journal and their past publications carefully before considering submitting your article. The journal impact factor is not the be-all and end-all of publication – and should not solely determine your journal choice.
If you are a first time publisher, you definitely must consider seeking help from a professional editor and proofreader who would not just make your first publication a smooth journey but you will learn a lot for your future publications as well.
For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org