or “Mastering the first 10 minutes of a review”
Doing a good review can take several hours. So reviewers will check whether a submitted paper is worth their time and effort. According to a checklist (by Electronical Journal of Knowlegde Management, EJKM), a reviewer should spend 10 to 20 minutes to decide whether a paper is worth the effort of a detailed review or not. Other journals have similar guidelines for their reviewers. So every reviewer will likely do this judgement by doing the following steps (whether this is done consciously or unconsciously).
- A reviewer will examine the title whether it is understandable
- A reviewer will read the abstract to figure out whether it is a clear and understandable summary
- A reviewer will skim-read the introduction to figure our whether the paper promises interesting aspects
- A reviewer will skip to the conclusion and summary to see what is the benefit of this paper
- A reviewer will scan the references to see that there is a reasonable amount of work behind the research
There exist several online sources helping you to outline convincing papers. E.g. the following:
- Writing a research paper
- A guide to writing scientific papers
- How to write your research papers
- Sample APA research paper
- Top-10 tips for writing a paper
- How to Write a Research Paper in 6 Steps: The Ultimate Guide
But I try to summarize some key findings and more detailed online sources how to convince a reviewer in his or her first 10 minutes reviewing your paper by paying special attention to a papers title, abstract, introduction and conclusion and summary.
How to write a convincing title
A title is a super summary of your paper. Although intended audience are undergraduate students, I find Howto write a Great Title useful to create interesting titles for paper submission.
I try to figure out some essential points. A good title should be composed of a hook, a set of key terms and a source (or location, domain).
- The hook is often a catchy, readable phrase that advertises the paper’s specific subject.
- Key terms are crucial words or phrases with a specific meaning in a particular domain. The use ofkey terms in a paper’s title will make the paper more searchable in research paper databases.
- The source (or “location”) is the domain where the concepts under discussion have a specific meaning (e.g. a process is something different for an operating system specialist and a product engineer).
The Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of Populations of the Bacterium 'Escherichia coli'
Explanation: The hook in a science paper is often simply a highly relevant but exciting and direct introduction of a new approach or discovery (in this case “The effect of … on …”). The hook is often combined using a catalog of key terms relevant to a domain. Here we see a number of key terms: “light”, “temperature”, “growth”, and the “bacterium”. Therefore, the title would be highly searchable and is very informative. The final part is the source which clearly identifies the bacterium under discussion (“Escheria coli”).
You may want to check following links as well.
- Howto write a great title
- How to write academic style titles
- Writing an effective title
- Writing a great title
Howto write a convincing abstract in six sentences
Because research databases contain only abstracts, it is vital to write a meaningful description of your paper to entice other researchers obtaining the full paper which could increase your citation rate. Writing a convincing abstract is the most challenging part of a paper for me. You should not simply copy your summary or conclusion. Maybe you want to write your abstract in six sentences, according to this very helpfull howto (in my eyes). It should cover backgorund, purpose, methods used, findings, conclusion.
Hopefully, I took the essentials from it (but you may want to check all the links provided below).
- Introduce your paper in one sentence
- Simply answer the question “What’s the topic?”
- State the problem you tackle in one sentence.
- What’s the key research question?
- Remember, your first sentence introduced the overall topic, so now you can build on that.
- Focus on one key question within that topic.
- Summarize (in one sentence) why nobody else has adequately answered the research question yet.
- The trick is to explain that there’s this one particular approach that nobody else tried yet.
- But here you’re phrasing it in such a way that it’s clear it’s a gap in the literature.
- So use a phrase such as “previous work did not address …”.
- Explain, in one sentence, how you tackled the research question.
- What’s your big new idea? What’s the new perspective you have adopted?
- What’s your overall view on the question you introduced in step 2?
- In one sentence, how did you go about doing the research that follows from your big idea.
- Did you run experiments? Build a piece of software? Carry out case studies?
- This is likely to be the longest sentence
- As a single sentence, what’s the key impact of your research?
- Here reader is not looking for the outcome of an experiment.
- Reader is looking for a summary of the implications.
- What’s it all mean? Why should other people care? What can they do with your research.
You may want to check following links:
Howto write a convincing introduction telling a story
According to these tips every paper should tell a story. So introduce the story by
- presenting new ideas
- giving new insights
- and answer the question why is it important or interesting (universal truth, hot topic, suprises, unexpected results)?
using the following general outline proposal for writing an introduction. It is like a micro structure, you likely find in a lot of introductions.
- Paragraph 1: What is the problem area and why it is important?
- Paragraph 2: What is the specific problem in the problem area.
- Paragraph 3: Tell the elevator pitch.
- Paragraph 4: How is your story different, better, relates to other work
- Paragraph 5: Explain your outline. The famous “The remainder of this paper is structured as follows …” Normally it covers related work, research methodology, evaluation, future work and conclusion (some of these sections can be combined)
You may want to check following links:
Howto write a convincing conclusion as take aways
Nobody is really interested in your research outcomes, if you are not willing to present the essential facts and outcomes in a take away form. Maybe it is a good strategy to conclude your article according to “Concluding the journal article”. I tried to figure out the essentials.
- Paragraph 1: Summarize your paper to remind the reader why the article was written. At the beginning you will have argued that there is a space in what is known, a puzzle that needs to be solved, a debate that is continuing, or an issue that deserves discussion. The writer will have promised to fill the space, solve the puzzle, contribute to the debate or participate in the discussion. The writer should use the argument made for the need for the article to present the case that this is what they’ve done.
- Paragraph 2: Reprise the argument that has been made in introduction without repeating it boringly. Try to keep your conclusion a déjà vu free zone.
- Paragraph 3: Deal with the So What, Now What and Who cares questions? You should not leave the answers to these questions to chance, assuming that any sensible reader will be able to work them out for themselves. The conclusion must tell the reader how and why the presented is significant for practice, policy or further research. It should be made obvious for the reader how the article provides a contribution to knowledge and what implications for further research or action can be derived.
- Paragraph 4: Conclude but avoid clichés. It’s pretty easy to round off an article with a few pious sentiments. While some tired phrases won’t cause your article to be rejected, it will leave the reader with almost no lasting impression. As the conclusion is the last thing that the reader will encounter, its important that they finish with the things that you want them to remember.
You may want to check following links: