How to Write a World Class Paper

These are my notes from a lecture given by Gerrit Borchard in Hautepierre, France, on 7 December 2010. The ideas are, I suppose mostly his, but the expression and selection of the ideas is mine.

Mr. Borchard is an editor, author and reviewer and hence qualified to expound on the process from submission to revision.

The lecture was sponsored by Elsevier, and concluded (was followed by) information about citation indexes they prepare and can provide. I also acquired a nice, round SciVerse mouse pad.


There has been major quantitative growth in submission of scientific articles since 1999, especially from China (and India). However, there is a need for quality (70% rejection!)

Reviewers are not paid.

Problems much too frequent:

  • out of scope – aim for scope, not prestige
  • failure to format
  • inappropriate (or no) suggested reviewers
  • inadequate response to reviewers
  • inadequate English

Avoid “salami” articles: to be continued…

Respect requirements,…etc.

You (author) have your motivation (success) but that is not the editor's problem.

Advice -- what to strive toward

  1. Define journal scope
  2. avoid too preliminary work
  3. novelty: req'd
  4. worthless if no one reads & uses it
  5. meaningful if
    1. clearly described
    2. useable
    3. arouses interest
    4. allows others to reproduce results
  6. ⇒ like a “job application”

Reduce share of uncited articles : as I recall, that means try to write an article that will be cited

Paper is your “cred” in your community basis of your reputation

Make readers (esp. reviewers and editors) grasp scientific significance as easily as possible
Content is essential
Presentation is critical
→ persuasive argument
→ clear

Advice -- getting ready

  1. WHY: Check originality of idea
    1. new?
    2. anything challenging?
    3. related to current hot topic?
    4. provide solutions to difficult problems?
    5. must track latest results
  2. WHAT: decide on type of manuscript
    1. full/original articles
    2. letters / rapid / short
    3. review papers / perspectives
  3. WHO: identify potential (target) audience
    1. identify interest of your audience
    2. local or international interest?
  4. WHERE: choose right journal
    1. get advice (supervisor, colleagues)
    2. articles in reference are a good indication
  5. HOW: READ guide for authors!


work : general → particular → general
a) figures and tables
b) methods, results, discussion
c) conclusions & introduction
d) abstract & title

⇒ could/should be title(s) first


  • get attention (they should)
  • specific and true
  • informative and concise
  • avoid jargon, abreviations
  • get feed-back


Show readers you know why your work is useful

  • don't use “very promising”
  • not too many references or self-citations


  • only representative results should be presented
  • don't hoard data for re-use later
  • photos must have a scale marker of professional quality
  • Disagreement: don't ignore, discuss/debate

Cover letter

  • Do not summarize article nor repeat abstract
  • Do say what makes it special


Take 3-4 months to prepare manuscript. Get first decisions after 4 mos.


Typically only 1-2 people read an article in full!

23k peer-reviewed journals

elsevier.txt · Dernière modification: 2011/07/26 09:44 par suitable
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