There are many factors that you need to get right before your article is accepted. It has to present the results of good research with good data analysis. It has to be well written, and well supported by appropriate references. However, when Editors-in-Chief are asked “What is the most important reason for deciding to accept an article for your journal?” the answer they give is “It has to present something new”.
That’s tough. There are so many articles published, how can you find something really new to get the attention of the journal Editor?
Don’t feel discouraged. Remember that scientific research is collaborative and incremental, in other words it builds on the research of others. If there are many people working in your subject area, that’s good news. It means that many of those people will be interested in your research, and so will many journals.
However, you must make it clear what is new in your research. Don’t hide it away in the last paragraph of the discussion section. Put it in the cover letter, the abstract, the introduction, and the first line of the discussion.
Can you state clearly what exactly was new about your research? It’s easy to get lost when writing about your methods, results etc. Think carefully: what problem or gap in the knowledge did your research aim to cover? Examples include:
- you expanded on existing knowledge, e.g. with a larger study group or different study design, or studied a different population group or species
- you tested a hypothesis, for example if you noticed that a condition was more common in men than women, and you followed up with a clinical trial
- you developed a new method, e.g. for testing drought resistance or measuring pollution
- you attempted to resolve areas of uncertainty, e.g. where current research reports are contradictory
If you are expanding on existing or contradictory research, try to remain polite about the previous research! Be factual in your statements. Similarly, avoid using “value judgments” on your own research, for example do not state “this study presents an outstanding breakthrough in pollution prevention”. Again, be factual in your statements.
You will also need to demonstrate how your research fits in with current knowledge, by citing appropriate references. Of course this means you must keep up to date with research in your area. Try also to be aware of developing trends, for example by reading blogs or attending conferences, (or reading conference abstracts). In English, we say “keep your ear to the ground”. Listen to what is being talked about in your research community. This will also help to identify new areas for you to research, to continue the process of building scientific knowledge, and increase your chances of getting published. At International Science Editing we provide a service to help you if you require assistance in editing your paper.