Guidelines to write a Journal Paper or Thesis

The do’s and dont’s for writing a manuscript.  Hope these good practices will come in handy.

  1. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. If you do not know how to phrase it beautifully or in press form, write the “ugly” version first and rewrite parts of it.
  2. Be consistent. Keep your terms consistent from beginning until the end.
  3. Never reused published data as part of the core data. Cite the papers instead. You may add published data (with permission and for the benefit of the readers) but not part of your paper’s claim.
  4. Use google scholar search to find for common phrases, words, etc. Higher hits, limiting to good journals and rely on native English authors e.g. limiting it to “Physical Review *”
  5. It is not recommended to split a paper into two papers, just to increase the number of publication. Better to have 1 good paper than 2 lesser papers.
  6. Be Brief:
    1. Unimportant sentences in your article makes important sentences seems unimportant [M.N.]
    2. Do not have too much description for one part [M.N.]
    3. Write direct and short sentences [Elsevier].
    4. Avoid multiple statements in one sentence [Elsevier].
    5. One Idea or piece of information per sentences is sufficient [Elsevier].
    6. Use active voice to shorten sentences (if permitted) [Elsevier].
  7. When mentioning about a product, do not focus on the maker. Instead focus on the method. Example, instead of saying that you use C++ (Fourier Transformation) to analyze your data, stress that Fourier Transformation (C++) was using to analyze the data. [M.K.]
  8. Highlight the merit of your work and what is superior compared to your competitors but do not attack your competitors’ weakness. [M.K.]
  9. Minimize the use of adverbs (e.g. however, in addition, moreover, etc.)  [Elsevier] (arguable. Use when necessary and not excessively.)
  10. Tenses:
    1. Abstract: Present simple or past simple tense
    2. Introduction: Simple Present (what is known), Perfect Present (previous approach/solutions)
    3. Facts and hypotheses: simple present tense
    4. Literature: present perfect tense
    5. Description about your work in your paper: simple present tense
    6. Experiments and results: simple past tense
    7. Discussion: ??
    8. Facts and hypotheses: simple present tense
    9. Conclusion
  11. Double check unfamiliar words/terms. Use common terms [M.K.]
  12. Do not use jargons
  13. In writing form, never use abbreviations (e.g. weren’t, haven’t, didn’t) except for units or scientific abbreviations.
  14. Use other (good) papers as reference to phrase generic sentences.
  15. Find a good book and read it! If you have an e-book, use Ctrl-F.
  16. Find for synonyms.
  17. Reduce weasel words e.g. probably, maybe, “it has been claimed that…” (by whom, where, when?), etc.
  18. When citing multiple sources in one sentence, arrange them chronologically.
  19. Be specific when referring to table/figures/chapter with locations. Do not use “below”, “above”, etc.
  20. For every correction, use Ctrl+F to locate and repair it.
  21. Captions for figures and tables must standalone. It is perfectly fine to write a paragraph for a figure instead of a short, single sentence, which is unable to convey much.  If you do not believe me, try to check out Nature, Science or even PRL papers.