Submitting your manuscript to a scientific journal for review is a tremendous achievement in itself but is also incredibly stressful. The calibre of the journal that accepts your work will directly impact your career progression, and thus it is crucial that your submission is flawless. If you ensure that the formatting, structure, and presentation are perfect, the reviewers’ job is made far easier and they are more likely to review your work favourably. The journal will usually provide author guidelines and advice on their website, but for the final check, we have gathered together general journal requirements so that you can be confident that your work is perfect before submission. For more information, please read our advice on journal-specific requirements.
The following style points are crucial, yet quick and easy to apply:
- Only abbreviate a term if it appears more than four times in the text, in which case define it at first usage. Check the journal’s list of accepted abbreviations that require no definition.
- Numerals should be used for all numbers, except one and zero, and unless placed at the start of a sentence, in which case they should always be written out in full.
- The use of personal pronouns is widely discouraged and must be avoided in the methods and figure legends sections.
- The active voice should be chosen over the passive voice, unless the performer of the action cannot be specified. The past tense should be used to describe how you performed your study and the present tense when making general statements or discussing conclusions or context.
- Be sure to compose your manuscript using either British or American English spelling and date formats.
A manuscript will usually be required to be ordered as follows: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. To help the review process, all manuscripts should be double-spaced with generous margins and pages numbered consecutively, beginning with the title page. The title page should include an article title, details of the authors, sources of support, the word counts, and the running title. The Introduction must be succinct, introducing your study through its context or background, before stating the specific objective of the study or observation. Conclusions or data should be left out, as should any non-essential references. For more detailed information, please read the Introduction Advice at www.bioedit.co.uk/Journal-Styles/General-Authors-Guidelines.
The Methods should include only information known at the time of study and must describe the procedures used. All information should be sufficient to allow a knowledgeable reader to reproduce the results. All drugs and chemicals used should include the dose and route of administration, whilst apparatus should include the name and address of the manufacturer in parentheses. References to published lesser-known methods should be briefly described but only new methods explained in detail.
The Results should lead with the most important findings, and unimportant data should be placed in the supplementary information. Numerical results must be presented as both absolute numbers and their derivatives. The Discussion should emphasise the new aspects and major contributions of the study, followed by the main conclusions, and should also consider the implications of the findings for future research and practice, as well as evaluating the study’s limitations.
For the Appendix, the manuscript should be organised as follows: acknowledgements, references, figure legends, tables, and supplementary information. For more help with your submission, consider using an editing service, such as Bioedit, that can tailor your work to a specific journal format, and thus greatly improve your chances of being accepted for publication. Editing services, like www.bioedit.co.uk, work with authors to ensure that their work is clear, concise and comprehensible, without any grammatical or spelling errors. They offer a variety of services depending on the author’s needs. For authors who are comfortable writing in English, their Proofreading service ensures that all spelling and grammar mistakes are avoided, and that the text is well-presented and comprehensible. Proofreading is completed by their in-house proofreaders with First-class BA & MA English degrees. For authors who need more help writing in English, their Comprehensive Editing service adds another round of editing performed by their area-specific Scientific Editors. Unlike other editing services, Bioedit only uses subject-specific, experienced editors with doctorate degrees. Finally, for work that is destined for immediate publication, their Comprehensive Editing PLUS service provides three rounds of editing. Details of all these services and the different speeds they provide are available on their website, www.bioedit.co.uk, along with more hints and tips for successful publication.