10 REASONS WHY PAPERS GET ACCEPTED
Have you ever wondered why some papers are accepted straight away (or with straightforward minor revisions), while others are simply rejected or face an ongoing process of rewriting and additional data analysis that will take months before publication?
Sure, there are many reasons, but here are ten that all papers have in common:
1. Your study provides insight into an important issue
Did you manage to find an explanation for something that has been missing an explanation before, or that had one that simply wasn’t satisfying? Does this new explanation affect many researchers in many different fields and has it been a pressing and much-debated problem? If so, you ticked one of the most important items that (if played well) can also land you one of the elusive publications in a high-impact journal!
2. The insight you found is useful for people who have to make important decisions
Now this one is often overlooked by academics, but your results might just affect the decision-making strategy of someone you have never before considered. If your insights can guide the behavior of key decision-makers on a global level (think of climate change, energy conservation, and health-related topics), make sure to point this out in your introduction and discussion and you are well on your way to publication.
3. Your specific insight can be used to develop a universal theory
This is probably the most wanted item in every scientist’s career: If you either developed a novel theory, a framework for useful thinking, or expanded existing theories, then this is a very good thing for your publication. The key is that this theory has to have implications beyond your (sometimes very narrow) field. Make sure to point this out in your cover letter to the journal, as journal editors are keen on publishing such papers.
4. Your insight stimulates novel and important questions
Every single one of your readers loves the idea of stumbling upon an idea that he or she could pursue and that (one day) will lead to a publication. Think of your discussion section, where you outline new directions for research that have become possible due to your findings. If these directions are important beyond your field, then readers and journal editors will love your manuscript and want to see it published.
5. Your utilized methods were appropriate to generate your findings
Probably a no-brainer, but did you use the best possible methods to address your research question? This does not necessarily mean the most up-to-date methods, but surely, it excludes those methods that are really out-of-date! Your supervisor might love the idea, that you could just spend the next six months in the basement with this old machine that surely has some use left in it, but your publication success will definitely not like this move.
6. The methods you used were applied correctly and explain how the data supports your conclusions
This brings us straight to the next important point: Even if you used the most up-to-date and appropriate methods, always ask yourself whether your utilized methods support your conclusions! Sometimes we all get carried away and start discussing great connections that simply cannot be made with the applied methods. Journal editors will look for this.
7. You have linked your study to previous reports in your field
Of course, these linked studies help your readers understand why your results are an important contribution to your field (what was missing and has now been added). However, your peer reviewers, who all love to be thoroughly and favorably discussed, will also keenly check your list of references. Citing their work in your paper will increase their citation record and consequently, they are very interested to find their names. If they do, they will just love your paper and will try to help publication.
8. Your figures are appealing and tell a clear story
This is important: your figures need to tell the whole story in an easy to understand and attractive way. Most readers will look at them first, maybe after quickly screening your abstract, but next, almost everybody looks at your figures and tries to understand what they are showing. If they find it hard to grasp the meaning of your depicted results, chances are high that most of them won’t read on.
9. Your paper tells a great story
Your writing style has to be really captivating and the story you are telling leads your readers along an interesting narrative, leaving them satisfied after the read. They have learned something worthwhile and have enjoyed their reading time and were interested in your story. A good story will ensure that your readers stay the course and read through the whole paper – it will also ensure that your peer reviewers and journal editors do the same.
10. Your paper is a flawless example of academic writing
Of course, this must not be overlooked! Flawless academic writing includes everything you have ever learned about writing, including formatting, presentation, structure, and of course your writing style. If readers or editors get caught up in recurring grammar mistakes, they will not exactly love your paper.