How to impress the Journal Editor with Your Cover Letter

In research and academia, it is extremely important to publish your data and results in international English journals of high-impact factor. All researchers have to submit a cover letter along with their manuscript to the journal editor. Usually, a cover letter is addressed to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

A journal editor forms a first impression of your work by reading your cover letter. Based on the cover letter, a journal editor gets a glimpse of the main ideas presented in your study. A journal editor then decides whether the manuscript is relevant for publication in the journal. In other words, a cover letter is a mirror to the quality of a research study.

A journal editor may either forward the manuscript to the team of peer reviewers or may reject it outright. In some cases, a journal editor may be so impressed with the cover letter that they may publish the manuscript as it is. Now, let’s discuss how you can write a cover letter that is concise yet persuasive in its tone.

Typically, a cover letter is written in professional English and should not exceed more than 2 pages in length. A cover letter is mostly written to sell a research study to a journal editor. In this article, we present 11 tips for cover letter development.

  1. Always include important fundamentals of a cover letter: It is always preferable to use a letterhead from your affiliated institution. If letterhead can’t be availed, then make it a point to furnish the following details at the top left corner of the page: the names of all authors, including corresponding authors, the email address for correspondence, and the physical address of the institutions affiliated to the authors.

In case of a standardized letterhead, the author must include his or her contact information at the end of the letter, just below the signature. The journal editor would always need your contact information for further correspondence. To increase the credibility of the cover letter, the author should include the hand-written signature and not just the mere name in typed format.

In some journals, different editors are assigned to review manuscripts of different regions: American, European, Asian, African, and Middle-eastern regions. Many prestigious journals have global coverage, so authors should make sure that they are contacting the right editor in their region.

Address the editor with their proper title, such as Dr. or Prof. before mentioning their correct name. A journal’s website usually displays the names of its editors. If the names of editors are not available on a journal’s webpage, then you may address them as “Dear Editor” or “Dear Editor-in-Chief”. Always refrain from using the following salutation: “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”

Authors should always make it a point to write the cover letter in a unique way. Remember that originality is the keyword here, so an author cannot simply copy the wordings from their manuscript. They need to paraphrase their results and findings in a succinct way. Only native English authors are capable of rewording their findings and data. Take the help of a native English speaker if you are not comfortable with rewording. Before developing ideas for your cover letter, make sure that your research completely aligns with the theme, scope, and objective of the journal.

2. How to present the main content in the cover letter of a journal: The tone of the cover letter should be positive and constructive; the English language usage should be professional. The “title of the manuscript” should be presented as it is in the cover letter. Make sure you present the correct title as there may be instances where you have changed the title in the final draft of the manuscript. Then, clearly mention the type of article presented in the manuscript.

For example, it could be a short summary, a meta-analysis, full article, a systematic review, etc. Remember, an ethical author never submits a paper to more than one journal simultaneously. There could be instances of an author submitting their manuscript to another journal after facing outright rejection from a prestigious journal. Then, such an author should write a new cover letter to the different journal editor.

This cover letter should address the theme, requirements, and objectives of the second journal. There could be instances where you are addressing the editor for the second time. In this case, the cover letter should clearly indicate how you have modified the manuscript by taking into account the constructive feedback of the peer reviewers.

All the reasons of rejection should be clarified in the second cover letter. A journal editor is always keen to publish papers that have novelty of content. Therefore, the main content of the cover letter should be just one or two paragraphs explaining the novelty of a research study. This section should cover all the important points presented in your manuscript. This section cannot be very long or short; it should be of medium length.

The author should present the best results of the experiments and mention all the novel techniques used in the study. All significant results of previous related studies may be included in a concise manner, if necessary. However, the author must be careful enough to ensure that the results presented in the cover letter match with those presented in the main manuscript and in the supplementary information.

Finally, the author should explain the significance of the rationale behind submitting to a particular journal. This is the most important aspect of a cover letter. A journal editor should be convinced that your research study addresses the scope of the journal. The author must explain how their research study addresses an important issue and how it can attract the attention of the journal’s readers. A journal editor must be convinced that the research study contains path-breaking results.

3. How to conclude your cover letter: Make a list of the other supporting documents that you are including with the cover letter: the main manuscript, the supporting information, author information forms, feedback to the comments provided by reviewers (This is included in revised cover letter.).

However, it is important to keep the cover letter concise, so some authors may do away with this information as it simply lengthens the cover letter. Remember a cover letter is like a sales pitch for a research study. The author has to convince the editor how a research study is relevant to the scope of the journal.

In the final paragraph, the authors should thank the editor for considering their manuscript, and they should be open to constructive feedback thereafter. The authors should refrain from using abbreviations in the cover letter. Before submission, they should make sure that the content does not have any errors related to grammar, punctuation, and style. There should be no spelling errors in the cover letter.

Most researchers in Korea think that cover letter development is a daunting task. Harrisco is a leading academic editing company that provides complete publication support to Korean researchers. The native English editors of Harrisco are retired professors who can draft perfect copies in immaculate English. Being scientifically strong with PhD degrees, Korean researchers are assured of high-quality work.



How can researchers benefit from academic conferences

Academic conferences often help researchers in boosting the prospects of their career. Well, conferences often serve as a platform to showcase talent of the researcher community. There are posters, presentations of hundreds of researchers who have gathered under one roof. With a lot of stress on innovation and impact, young budding researchers can definitely learn a lot at academic conferences. Here, we offer ten tips on how researchers can maximize their benefits through academic conferences.

1) Plan ahead of the academic conference: Researchers should take a look at the abstracts ahead of the conference. This will certainly help them in managing their schedule, especially when they are hard-pressed for time.

2) Spend time with researchers outside your network: Although it is nice to spend time with scientists at the lab, researchers should always make an effort to reach out to researchers who are outside their network. This can help them foster long-lasting relations for foreign collaborations. This may be difficult for researchers who are in their early stage of career, like first year graduate students. For example, students can find it easy to connect with a professor who appears at the same academic conference.

3) Request the principal investigator for introduction to their colleagues: Students in grad school and young post-doc researchers may not really be comfortable to start a conversation with senior colleagues in their research network. In such cases, the help offered by principal investigators would be really useful as they are indeed aware of your research interests and work. They can introduce you to senior colleagues working in your related field of study.

4) Always keep a copy of the conference schedule with you: Researchers should always avoid attending conferences behind the schedule. Arriving late at a conference means that you miss important presentations and talks of keynote speakers. Having a copy of the conference schedule in our pocket definitely helps!

5) Network and learn during the conference: One of the best things that a conference offers is the opportunity to build relationships professionally. While working in a laboratory, researchers can easily build relationships through daily conversations. However, the scope of your professional network need not be limited to a lab. At a conference, you can simply introduce yourself to strangers sitting next to you. Remember having small conversations with researchers from different cities and countries can definitely take you miles in your career.

6) Enquire about the work of other researchers: Many presentations are shown in academic conferences. There may be instances where these presenters could be sitting just beside you in the conference. Do not miss an opportunity to strike a conversation about their work. Remember that your first question should always be related to their presentation. There’s no need to blabber about your own work. It will surely show up in the course of the conversation.

7) Researchers should take notes in the conference: There will be many opportunities to listen to conversations and sessions at conferences. Although most researchers are brilliant and have a sharp memory, it is easy to forget the nuances of the exchanged conversations.

Therefore, we recommend researchers to make small notes through their day as they are busy listening to talks and engaged in serious conversations with people in their new professional network. By taking notes, researchers can retain their level of alertness throughout the conference.

8) Share contact information with other researchers: While you try to connect with someone having the same research interest, it is always preferable to share your contact information with them and develop a long-lasting relationship.

9) Act on what you learned in the conference: Researchers will definitely some time to process the information received in a conference. This is because a lot of innovative ideas and concepts are impinged into your mind within a short span of one day. To avoid an overload of information, researchers should refer to the short notes that they compiled during the conference. They can then recollect the ideas meant to be implemented in their laboratory.

10) Establish contact with new connections: Although a researcher makes many connections with new people at a conference, it is always important to reach out to them after the conference is over and you are back to working at the lab. One of the easiest ways to reconnect with new people would be through email. A relationship can be built up simply by having a conversation through email. Remember, recommendations given by these connections would be useful in gaining a new research grant or to overcome the hurdles faced in your current research study.

So, are you ready to face the next academic conference?

Now that we have presented you a blue-print for being successful at an academic conference, do you really feel ready to take up the challenge of the next conference? Conference planning and organization involves a lot of effort, both in terms of money and time. These two things are precious to any researcher. By following our strategy, researchers can really make conferences beneficial to their career and laboratory.

Nevertheless, researchers should always plan ahead of the conference and should attend only those that add value to their research. They should what to really expect in an academic conference. With this approach, researchers can gain useful opportunities and connections meant to make a breakthrough in their work and life.

Harrisco is a top academic editing company that is organizing the 3rd IKNC conference in August. The conference is based on various topics of humanities, civilization, public health, nanotechnology, and chemistry. Take a look at the conference website The last date for Abstract submission is 10th July. The conference would be held in South Korea, but overseas researchers can attend the conference virtually through our webinar. We fully understand the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

How to create awesome illustrations in a scientific manuscript


There is a famous quote “A picture is worth a thousand words…” This saying is true even in the field of scientific research. Although a scientific paper may have a lot of data to validate the results, but most academics are drawn to a manuscript filled with innovative illustrations. These scientific illustrations are used by authors to communicate their research in a very succinct tone.

Although many scientists present their results and data in a way that is acceptable to reviewers, they do not often pay attention to scientific illustrations. Many a times, they show disinterest as they lack artistic skills needed to render scientific illustrations. Although a researcher need not be an artist to render illustrations, some tips will definitely help them improve their artistic bent of mind.

  1. Authors must consider the context of a scientific study and their target audience

A scientific illustration may be rendered beautifully in a paper, but it must be aligned with the scope and objectives of the paper. Before making a scientific illustration, authors must take into account the target audience of the paper. A scientific illustration must be rendered professionally and accurately. It should be well understood by scholars related to your field of study. In academic conferences and symposiums, most managers want to see illustrations that captivate the attention of the audience. This is because the audience usually consists of students and potential investors.

The authors must also pay attention to the destination of scientific illustrations. For example, scientific illustrations presented in papers and books are such that they act as supporting material. In general, they do not replace the text or content presented in the manuscript. Illustrations are supporting material and not substitutes in this context. However, the purpose of illustrations is more visual in conferences. Preference is given to articles with visual abstract and videos. So, in this context, the illustrations can be used as a substitute for text.

Conference posters must contain visuals that capture the attention of viewers who pass by the panels. The participants should be able to comprehend the visuals with respect to the results presented in the poster. In science communications, it is vital to capture the attention of academics through various types of scientific illustrations: visual abstracts, poster figures, and TOC images. These illustrations are deeply examined by researchers in academia.

2. First make a rough sketch of the illustration

Most authors prepare a rough draft of the manuscript. The same approach applies to scientific illustrations. Authors must be clear about the information they wish to convey through the illustration. Some of the most widely seen illustrations are infographics, experimental layouts, and workflows. All these illustrations can only be rendered after the authors provide a rough sketch to the graphic artist.

The main purpose here is to organize various sections that are intended to be displayed in the illustration. Experimental data is usually reported in the form of technical graphs, which can be created with a suitable software like Microsoft Excel and Word. A graphical representation of result is often used for clear presentation and to prevent instances of confusion among the researchers.

3. Authors should make clear and simple illustrations that are not superficial

A scientific illustration has to be rendered in a simple and clear layout. Authors should avoid unnecessary aesthetic features. To avoid possible confusion, the experimental results may be presented in the illustrations. The audience would definitely find it useful in understanding the scientific concept associated with the data. Nevertheless, simplicity should not be confused with superficiality. The illustrations rendered should be detail-oriented.

Scientific accuracy should never be compromised to incorporate aesthetics. The illustrations should be created in simple colors and should not be excessively gaudy in appearance. In most cases, authors can make use of black and white colors to render their illustrations. However, there may be instances where complex data has to be represented in different colors. Authors should take note of colors that can be easily distinguished by people who are color-blind.

4. Authors should make use of proper software

Just like any other activity, a proper software must be used for graphic designing. In olden times, a simple hand-written sketch was enough for submission in biology papers. Today, scientific journals will not accept a paper that has hand-written graphics. All scientific illustrations must be digitized with proper graphic design software.

If the paper contains only simple infographics or workflows, a presentation software or a vector diagram is enough to render the scientific illustrations. However, a 3D layout is required to effectively present the layout of the instrumentation used in the experiment. Authors should always check the journal’s guidelines before capturing the resolution of an image.

5. Authors must provide supplementary text to support the figures

A scientific illustration is incomplete without supporting text. It is extremely important to include figure legends in academic papers and books. The figure’s caption must be presented clearly in the manuscript. The placement of the figure and the text should be systematic in the manuscript.

In scientific conferences, authors are often required to explain the illustration to the audience. Therefore, all scientific illustrations must be accompanied with suitable oral presentations. A speaker cannot just stand mute in front of an awesome illustration during a conference. The visuals have to be explained creatively to the audience. The authors must be clear about what they wish to communicate through their scientific illustrations.

 Harrisco is the no. 1 academic editing company for researchers in Seoul, South Korea. They provide complete publication support to authors who wish publish their work in top-rated peer reviewed scientific journals. Seek the help of Harrisco in case you have difficulties in rendering your scientific illustrations.





How to avoid plagiarism in a manuscript


Most researchers are hard-pressed for time, and ESL (English as Second Language) or EFL (English as Foreign Language) researchers may have a difficult time expressing their views in English. These researchers may unintentionally be caught in plagiarism issues, which violate publication ethics of international English journals.

A plagiarized paper is always rejected by the peer-reviewed journal’s editor. This not only damages the reputation of the author but also raises a question mark on the credibility of the research carried out by scientists in academia.  This situation is particularly grim among researchers in Korea, China, and Japan.

What is the definition of plagiarism?

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, plagiarism is defined as “an act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.” Most Chinese, Korean, and Japanese researchers have a problem paraphrasing the findings of related studies in their manuscript. They often use the research findings of published authors in their paper but fail to acknowledge the sources. This is what causes plagiarism in their document.

In this article, we restrain ourselves to discussing academic plagiarism and we also suggest ways of avoiding it. In the “introduction” and “discussion” sections of a manuscript, it is very important to present information from previously published studies. However, this information should be cited from credible sources. Authors who fail to acknowledge the work of other researchers are accused of plagiarism by journal editors.

Types of plagiarism in academia

Intentional plagiarism

Some authors intentionally plagiarize in academia. There have been instances where authors have entirely copied the findings of a related study and claimed authorship of the plagiarized work. Authors are found guilty of plagiarism when they copy the text of another related study without citing the source in the reference list. In a systematic review, authors have to gather data from various related studies and then work on this data and present them as their own. This is a tricky and cumbersome task that often leads to “mosaic plagiarism.”

Accidental Plagiarism

Most students pursuing master’s and doctorate degree are caught in plagiarism issues. Most ESL and EFL researchers have issues paraphrasing the content of related studies. More often, they may use quotation marks inappropriately in their paper. They may also fail to cite papers correctly. While paraphrasing the content, ESL and EFL authors often retain the sentence structure and this leads to plagiarism. While authors may cite the content correctly, the authors must paraphrase in their words.


Some authors include information from their previously published papers, but they do not cite these papers in their manuscript. This is known as self-plagiarism. All journals look out for novelty of content, so it is very important to maintain originality of a manuscript. Authors should always cite their previously published papers in their manuscript.

How to avoid plagiarism in an academic manuscript?

All researchers including Issac Newton and Albert Einstein have referred to the work of previously published papers and come up with innovative concepts. Therefore, an author must always be careful to acknowledge the work of previously published authors in their manuscript. The following tips would be useful in avoiding plagiarism issues:

1. Authors may use quotation marks in their manuscript

In some fields of study, authors may quote the work of previous authors in “verbatim” style. In such situations, the authors must use “quotation marks” to highlight the “verbatim” text in the document. The source from which the quoted text was obtained must also be cited in the document.

2. Authors must paraphrase the content in their words

To paraphrase the content of previously published studies, authors should have a grasp of academic writing skills and English language proficiency. Although the paraphrased content may be included in a new manuscript, it should clearly relate with an original concept in the study.

While paraphrasing the content, the authors should change the sentence structure and wordings but strive to retain the original meaning. The sources used for obtaining the content must be cited in the reference list of the document. Footnotes may also be used for citations.

3. All the components of a sentence may have references

Very often, sentences may include ideas from related studies. Therefore, each idea presented in the sentence must be appropriately cited with the matching source. For example, authors may be using different protocols for testing different animals in a study. These protocols may be mentioned in a single sentence.

Authors should ensure that these protocols are cited with their appropriate references. For example, an author may construct a sentence as follows: Protocol X has been used previously in bovine and murine cells. In this case, the author should cite the study that used bovine cells and the study that used murine cells separately in the reference list.

4. Authors must maintain the accuracy of all references

While writing an academic manuscript, the authors must ensure that all the cited references are accurate. Famous authors have many published papers, so authors should make sure that they have cited the correct paper. An author may be caught in plagiarism issues if they have cited papers inaccurately in the manuscript.

5. Authors should use reference management software and plagiarism checker software

Endnote is the most widely used reference management software that enables authors to create a reference list easily. There are many online companies providing plagiarism checker software. Some companies offer it for free and some offer paid versions. Among them, iThenticate and PlagScan are most commonly used by academics. Authors may check the originality of their work with any of these software programs.

Harrisco is an academic editing company that offers complete publication support to authors in Korea, China, and Japan. Harrisco offers plagiarism check and extensive editing services to ESL and EFL authors, thereby bridging the gap between academia and publishing. Harrisco has been in operations since 1997 and successfully established its brand in Korea. Welcome to Global Harrisco, let us take care of your publication needs!

How to Select the Best Journal for Manuscript Publication


In academia, it is absolutely essential for a researcher to publish papers in different peer-reviewed journals of a particular field of study. In this way, researchers present their work to the scientific community. “Publish or Perish” is the mantra of scientific publishing.

In fact, a researcher is considered to be productive only when he or she publishes a decent number of papers in high quality journals.The scientific publishing process is exhaustive for any researcher. A researcher has to select an appropriate journal for publishing his or her paper. The researcher has to then go through the comprehensive review process of the journal.

Finally, the paper is published in the journal after undergoing minor or major revisions. Nevertheless, papers published in peer-reviewed journals are seen as stepping stones towards a successful career in academia. These papers are considered by authorities approving research grants and funding.

Most international researchers find it difficult to select a suitable journal for manuscript publication. Remember, even if the paper includes some path-breaking results, it may not get adequate recognition in the scientific community if it is published in an unsuitable journal.

Moreover, a paper that does not fit within the scope and objectives of a journal is often rejected by editors. Due to these reasons, journal selection is the most important step after manuscript preparation. In this article, we recommend five points for selecting an appropriate journal for manuscript publication.

1.  Take a look at the reference list to know the journals recommended by experts      

In an academic paper, authors usually cite a large number of references. The authors must take a look at the journals in which the cited articles are published. There may be instances wherein many papers have been published in the same journal. In such cases, authors must find out if the published papers have content that is related to their manuscript. If the answer is yes, then they may consider the journal suitable for publishing their manuscript.

2. Compare the scope and objective of the journal with the aim of the study

Authors must determine whether the aim of their study matches with the scope of a journal in their field. In general, a journal’s website will always provide the scope of the journal. The journal’s website also provides a significant list of criteria that must be satisfied by an article submitted to the journal.

Thus, authors can get a clear picture of whether their manuscript is suitable for publication in a specific journal. Let’s understand better with an example: the Journal of Molecular Biology only publishes articles that describe various topics of molecular biology, which includes gene expression, cell signaling, and DNA replication.

3. Cautiously consider SCImago Journal Rank and Journal Impact Factor

The journal impact factor is a metric that reflects the quality of a journal. This metric indicates the average number of citations received by published articles of a journal over a period of one year. The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is based on a specific algorithm that measures the ranking of a journal. Thus, the metric SJR can be considered to be a good alternative to the journal impact factor.

In general, the impact factor and SJR of a journal are published on the journal’s website. The quality of a journal can be assessed from these metrics. It is prestigious to publish in journals with high impact factor. Researchers find it easy to get recognition and funding when they have a list of publications in journals with high impact factor. Nevertheless, the rejection rate of these journals is very high, and the quality of a journal is not solely determined by its impact factor.

Some scientific publishers display on their website a list of journals and their impact factor. The most widely-known list is the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which is published by Thomson Reuters. In general, a researcher has to be affiliated to an institution or university to access this report. The publisher Elsevier has come up with Scopus database, which freely provides the list of international journals with SCImago Journal Rank (SJR).

4. Consider the turnaround time of the academic journal

In general, the process of peer review governs the turnaround time of an academic journal. The peer review process directly determines the quality of published articles. The journal’s website will usually display the date of submission and the date of publication of an article. Based on this information, authors can fairly estimate the journal’s turnaround time.

Alternatively, researchers can determine the journal’s turnaround time by counting the number of articles published by the journal in a particular year. Academic journals may be published monthly, quarterly, or annually. However, the peer review process is accelerated by journals that use an online submission system for accepting manuscripts.

5. Consider the journal’s constraints

Before submitting their manuscript to a journal, authors must thoroughly read through the “instructions to authors” webpage. They can thus avoid situations where they have not complied with manuscript preparation guidelines of a journal. For example, most journals have set a wordcount limit for their articles. In case an article does not fulfill the wordcount limit, it is rejected outright by the journal’s editors.

Another cause of concern is the cost of publication. Researchers from developing countries do not really have the budget to fulfill the high cost of publishing in high impact journals. They should consider publishing in less-known journals that do not charge publication fees from authors.There are thousands of academic journals, so selecting the right journal for manuscript publication can be an intimidating task.

Harrisco is an academic editing company that offers “journal selection help” to authors. Remember that submission to a wrong journal not only attracts rejection but also wastes precious time and resources. It is not easy to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals, but Harrisco guides the authors through the complete publication process and ensures that their work gets published in high-quality journals.

Besides, Harrisco also offers academic editing, peer review, and translation services. Moreover, it regularly holds academic writing workshops for international researchers, thereby bridging the barrier between academia and publishing.











Why Researchers should use Credible Citations in their Manuscript

A scientist has to cite the findings of previous studies while writing a manuscript. These sources should be checked thoroughly for their authenticity. However, there are instances where the sources have been incorrectly cited and not brought to the notice of the reviewer and editor. In this article, I present all the reasons for citing credible sources in a manuscript.

In the year 1675, Isaac Newton was a famous scientist who conceded to the fact that his work was a development of previously related studies in classical physics. Thus, even reputed scientists referred to the findings of previously published studies. However, Sir Issac Newton did not mention the names of other illustrious scientists in his field of work.

A well-written manuscript will always include citations from credible sources. This ensures academic honesty and prevents authors from getting caught in plagiarism issues. The in-text references have to be presented in the form of a list at the end of the article. Although these are some of the valid reasons for citations, there are other less-known reasons for citing references in a manuscript.

A scientist has to be meticulous enough for citing the findings of previous studies in their manuscript. A well-cited manuscript is enough to gain respect in the scientific community. The other compelling reasons for citing references from credible sources are as follows:

1. Citations from credible sources are used for fact-checking purposes

Scientists have to be accurate enough while writing their research study. A cited reference is used to verify the accuracy of the content. For example, the findings of a related study must be cited with a credible reference. It can also be used to establish the authenticity of the content in a passage.

2. Citations are used to improve the quality of a research paper

A good research study contains detail-oriented work; the researcher should comprehend patterns and establish connections between different results of the study. A researcher who provides a good number of citations is able to achieve this feat.

To properly attribute the content to its related sources, a researcher has to pay attention to many terms. This includes page numbers, the names of authors, and the accuracy with which the author is presenting facts in the document.

A detail-oriented approach is really required to write a good research paper. A well-written bibliography is required for scientific analysis. By compiling a bibliography, an author can condense immense amount of information. Thus, the author gains the ability to foresee patterns and identify trends in a research field. 

3. An author can become a better writer by following good practices of citations

Journal editors really look forward to a paper in which the content and language are of high standards. To achieve this goal, authors should have the good habit of attributing the content to credible sources. Phrases such as “everyone knows” should be clearly replaced with credible sources. This ensures clarity of thought and eliminates the possibility of an intellectual goof-up. Remember, there is no room for false claims in an academic document.

A reader does not have any questions about the facts presented in a manuscript when they are properly cited from specific sources. Moreover, active voice can be easily used while citing facts from previous studies. Journal editors often give authors a red flag for using passive voice in an article. Phrases like “it has been reported” should be clearly eliminated from an academic manuscript.

4. An excellent bibliography proves the scientific expertise of an author

In a manuscript, a well-read author will present a comprehensive bibliography of citations. In this case, a bibliography is simply the reference list that is presented at the end of the article. It enlists all the citations that have been included in the manuscript. Compared to the content in the article, an impressive bibliography usually receives more compliments from peer reviewers.

In case of a double-blinded peer review, the authors are often reprimanded when they do not provide adequate citations in their manuscript.  In such cases, the peer reviewers would consider the authors to be amateurs in their field because they failed to cite a prestigious research study that was related to their piece of work.

5. Authors gain credibility as scholars when they follow good citation practices

To gain credibility in the eyes of the scientific community, authors should provide a good bibliography. An article that is well-cited attracts the attention of peers. Moreover, it also proves that the authors of that manuscript are indeed scholars in their field of study. A well-documented research work always attracts more credibility from colleagues in the academic community.

6. A research work can be easily verified from citations

In academia, a research paper is reviewed by several people before being published in the print media or on a journal’s website. The peer review process of science citation index (SCI) journals is very strict and rigorous. The editorial process is also very exhaustive.

The peer reviewers and journal editors accurately peruse through the bibliography and ensure that the citations are genuine. In other words, a paper is more likely to be considered for publication when the authors have taken the efforts to include all attributions to previous studies correctly.

There are different styles of referencing citations in a manuscript. The most prominent among them are the Harvard style and the Vancouver style of referencing. These reference styles shall be explained in detail in the next article.




The Significance of Journal Impact Factor in Academic Publishing

Most academics who have published papers in scientific journals are familiar with the term “impact factor.” So, what exactly is impact factor of a journal? Scientific journals are ranked by a metric known as “impact factor.” Thomson Reuters is an academic publisher that has come up with a database of impact factors of journals. Although it is primarily used a library resource, it is also very good to attract papers for publications.

Impact factor is a crucial yet controversial metric in scientific publishing. Based on the impact factor of a journal, scientists decide whether it is suitable to publish their work. The impact factor of a journal is a metric that describes the visibility range of a journal. In general, journals with high impact factor are considered to be prestigious in a particular field.

How did journal impact factor gain significance in academic publishing?  

Academic publishers felt that journals should be ranked according to their impact or significance. To address this concern, they devised a metric known as “journal impact factor.” The impact factor of a journal indicates the patterns and frequency of citations of a journal.

The origins of “Impact Factor” can be dated back to the year 1955. In an issue of the journal Science, Eugene Garfield first expressed the need for a metric that ranks journals on the basis of their impact on research. Eugene Garfield was an information scientist who came up with this idea in 1955.Eugene Garfield worked with Irving Scher, who was her colleague in the field of information sciences. Together, they introduced the metric “impact factor” in the year 1960.

The “journal impact factor” ranked all scientific journals after comparing the difference between their sizes and their network of circulation.  The impact factors of all scientific journals were presented in the form of a database, which was termed as the “Science Citation Index (SCI).” This database was first published by the Institute for Scientific Information. Eugene Garfield was the founder of this institute. Later on, the database was rechristened as “Journal Citation Reports (JCR)” and was published by Thomson Reuters, a well-known academic publisher.

How to determine the impact of a journal, and which journals are associated with it

Eugene Garfield determined the number of citations received by papers published in a scientific journal over a span of two years. Then, Eugene Garfield divided this number with the total number of papers that were published in that particular journal over a time period of two years.

As research is carried out at a different pace in different fields of study, Eugene Garfield compared a journal with other journals of the same field. In other words, a medical journal was compared with other medical journals. Similarly, a journal on ecology was grouped with other journals of ecology.

Although impact factor largely depends on a journal, it is also affected by the research conducted in a field of study. In the year 2009, the impact factor 87.925 was the highest for a scientific journal. However, the next highest impact factor was only 50. Thus, the field of study and the related research work significantly affects the impact factor of a journal.

Every two years, JCR is published by Thomson Reuters in the month of June. For example, the database published in 2016 presents the journal impact factors for the time period of 2014-2015. About 9000 journals were included in the JCR database of 2009. However, this database includes only 25% of all the published journals. Moreover, it mainly comprises of journals in English language.

Why it is necessary to know about a journal’s impact factor

According to Eugene Garfield, impact factor is a metric that reflects a journal’s prestige in the scientific community. Scientists often see the journal’s impact factor to decide whether it is suitable for publication. By publishing their papers in scientific journals of high impact factor, scientists can gain more respect in their community. Moreover, they also gain other benefits, such as better access to research funding, an extension of tenure, recruitment to prestigious institutions, and promotions at universities. Nevertheless, journal impact factor cannot be considered as a sole criterion for the integrity of a journal or a research study.

The editors of journals always make an effort to increase the impact factor of their journals. Sometimes, these editors request authors to increase citations in the papers submitted for publication in their journal. This is an unethical practice and should not be conceded at all costs. The impact factor of a journal is a metric used in information sciences: it does not govern the quality of a research work.

The controversies and problems of journal impact factor 

The journal impact factor’s indiscriminate use in academic employment industry has been severely criticized by many information scientists, including Garfield. The significance of an author’s research work cannot be solely estimated from the journal’s impact factor. Impact factor should always be considered along with other parameters of evaluation, such as the peer review process.

It should be noted that smaller fields of study attract lesser citations, so the journals of these niche fields have lower impact factor. These journals may contain papers of path-breaking research work. The impact factor of a journal should always be compared with that of a journal in the same field of study. The impact factor of a journal is not really an indication of the significance of a research work.

At this stage, it is also necessary to point out the problem associated with prestigious journals. Because these journals have a high impact factor, it is really very difficult to publish papers. This is because the rejection rate of such journals can be as high as 75%. Remember, the main aim of a researcher is to get their work published in a peer reviewed journal. Therefore, researchers must not just limit their efforts to high impact journals. They should consider all other factors while deciding which journal is most suitable for their work.

Which metrics can be considered as good alternatives to journal impact factor?

Since the significance of impact factor has been very controversial, researchers are advised to use other alternative metrics, such as SCImago Journal & Country Rank, the h index, Scopus, and the Eigenfactor. In the year 2005, Jorge Hirsch was a physicist who developed the h index. This metric compared the author’s total number of published papers with the number of citations received by those published papers. In other words, it evaluated the productivity of an author in academia.

The Web of Science is an index that uses the metric Eigenfactor. This metric measures the frequency of citation of a published paper over a period of five years. It thus determines how influential the article is in a particular field of study.In the metric The SCImago Journal & Country Rank, a database of journals was provided. This database was based on the rankings and the visibility received by journals, which were further organized according to their types. It comprehensively covered all international publications. Scopus is a database based on abstracts and citations. This database is published by the noted scientific publisher, namely, Elsevier.

 How should journal impact factor be used by researchers in academia?

Although journal impact factor is an important metric to be considered before publishing a paper in a scientific journal, it should never be considered as the sole criterion for evaluating the quality of a journal. The decision to submit and publish a paper should never be made on the basis of the journal’s impact factor. It is always essential to assess the scope and objectives of a journal and then determine the possibility of your paper getting published in that journal. Harrisco is a company that provides complete publication support to authors and can help authors in journal selection, peer review, language editing, and translation. Harrisco is a name to reckon with in the academic publishing industry as it has been in business since 1997.


Tips for being a good peer reviewer

Peer review is an integral part of scholarly communications. It is a matter of pride for a researcher to receive an invitation of peer review. This process of peer review is carried out for every manuscript intended to be published in a journal or a book.

To perform the peer review of an article, journal editors only invite researchers who have done valuable and commendable work in their field of expertise. These distinguished academics are entrusted with the job of evaluating the manuscript of another researcher in the same field.

What is peer review in scholarly publishing?

Although it is honorable to be a peer reviewer, there are a lot of responsibilities associated with this position. The main goal of peer review is to determine whether the work of another researcher is good enough to be published in a scientific journal.

According to the editor of the journal Biochemia Medica, a peer reviewer is expected to objectively analyze the manuscript of another researcher.After thoroughly examining the manuscript, the peer reviewer has to provide constructive feedback to the author in the form of comments.

Depending upon the quality of research work, peer reviewers may consider it to be commendable enough for publication or they may reject a manuscript for poor presentation of scientific facts.

Tips for being a good peer reviewer of journal articles

1. Acceptance or rejection of invitation: A peer reviewer has to consider many factors while deciding whether to accept or reject the invitation sent by a journal editor. Among these factors, subject matter expertise is of prime importance.

A peer reviewer must first go through the abstract of the article to surmise his or her expertise in the given subject. Although journal editors extend their invitation to distinguished academics, there are chances of a researcher not being an expert in that particular topic. In such instances, a peer reviewer may reject the invitation of the journal.

Another important factor is time constraints. Researchers are normally busy people working for about 50 hours in a week. They have to carry out experiments, collaborate with other laboratories, and work on their own manuscripts.

However, they may spend some hours on weekends exploring the work of other researchers. In general, journal editors provide them about three weeks to complete a peer review. If a researcher is pressed for time, they should politely decline the invitation.

2. Academic misconduct: In a manuscript, researchers have to often cite the work of other related studies. In such cases, ESL authors find it hard to paraphrase the findings of previous research studies. They are often accused of plagiarism by journal editors.

Although the academic community may trust their peers, that is, colleagues, peer reviewers should always check the manuscript for plagiarism issues. They can thus detect academic misconduct of authors. Peer reviewers have the authority to reject a paper on issues of plagiarism.

Sometimes, authors may present exemplary results in their manuscript. However, a peer reviewer should double check such results by repeating the experiment in his or her laboratory and with the same equipment. In this way, peer reviewers can catch hold of authors presenting false data.

3. Scope and objective of the journal: A peer reviewer should always look for the scope and objective of the journal. The target audience of the journal should also be considered. If a researcher has received a journal editor’s invitation for the first time, the researcher should make it a point to read few of the published papers from that journal. Moreover, the author information presented on the journal’s website should also be considered.

4.Title of the article: A peer reviewer should thoroughly judge the suitability of the article’s title. The title should be presented in a lucid language and should not contain unnecessary jargon. It should clearly reflect the content of the article. Although a peer reviewer may suggest improvements in the title, the author should not be compelled to have a style that super-imposes the style of the reviewer.

5. Review the article’s content: The main objective of the peer review process is to determine the novelty factor of the results presented in the manuscript. A reviewer has to peruse through the document to understand whether the content adds something new to their area of expertise.

The view-points of the peer reviewers may be subjective, but they can certainly make the process more transparent. For this purpose, they must check whether the manuscript is concisely summarized in the abstract. Moreover, the references presented in the bibliography must be precise, reliable, and sufficient to support the claims made in the literature.

A peer reviewer should thoroughly check whether there are any omissions of citations in the reference list. They should then point out this error in their feedback to the author. A peer reviewer should also check whether the author has justified all the claims with adequate data and results. If not, the peer reviewer must suggest ways to justify all the arguments and claims.

The author has to provide sufficient data for the reproducibility of results. A peer reviewer is not required to point out English language errors or inconsistencies in citation styles. However, a peer reviewer must mention the need for copy-editing in their comments to the author.

6.Accept or Reject Decision: A peer reviewer will rarely come across a paper that does not need any suggestions for improvement. If there are some issues that need to be corrected in a paper, the peer reviewer has to give the following decision: “Accept with minor revisions”. This is a favorable outcome for most authors, and the job of the peer reviewer is completed.

If the author has presented novel results but has not provided sufficient evidence, a peer reviewer may suggest major rewriting of the paper. The decision of the peer reviewer would thus be “Accept with major revision.” Some journals may prefer calling the decision as “Revise and resubmit.” In such cases, the paper may be again submitted for a second round of peer review.

If the paper is poorly written and offers no novelty factor, the reviewer would not recommend it for publication. In such cases, the decision of the reviewer would be outright “Reject.” There are instances where the content of the paper does not match with the scope and objectives of the journal.

In such cases, the authors must carefully consider another journal to avoid instances of mismatch. To tackle cases of journal mismatch, peer reviewers must not “reject” the paper outright but suggest the names of appropriate peer reviewed journals



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How ESL researchers can overcome the obstacles of English journal publishing

Today, most scientific research papers are authored by scientists who are not native speakers of English. For example, China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, France, and Germany are aggressively promoting scientific research in their countries. These researchers have to publish their work in international peer-reviewed English journals, because English is the lingua franca of scientific publishing. However, these researchers face a lot of difficulties while writing their manuscripts in English as they are not native speakers of English. Besides, they also face tremendous obstacles in publication process.

Obstacles that ESL researchers face in English journal publishing

Linguistic issues: Most scholars of ESL (English as second language) countries face problems related to English language. For example, the researchers who are non-native speakers of English tend to translate their manuscript from their native language into English. In this case, they always need the help of an English researcher to polish their manuscript. Thus, the process of writing a manuscript becomes more tedious, lengthy, and costly. All these efforts are done to tackle the rigorous demands of the peer-review process.

Plagiarism issue: In a manuscript, researchers have to often cite the work of previous studies. These citations involve summarizing the work of related studies. However, ESL researchers are often caught in plagiarism issues as they find it difficult to express these statements in their own words. Moreover, ESL researchers are not really familiar with the style guides of English journals.

Publication bias, scarcity of funding, and lack of international collaborations: Most ESL researchers do not have any connections with the key members of a journal. Most journal editors are biased while reviewing the work of ESL researchers. Moreover, researchers from developing countries do not have sufficient research funding; therefore, their work is often limited to research in their own countries. Sometimes, they may collaborate with neighboring countries. However, we rarely come across international collaborations in such studies.

Non-conducive environment in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent: most scholarly communications have to face tremendous challenges in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent: the environment is just not conducive to scholarly publications. Besides facing an economic crunch, they also have to overcome socio-political barriers and technological issues. Academic conferences are hardly held in this region. The problem of “brain-drain” is also acute in these countries.

Lack of internet access: Internet access is not possible in some African countries; therefore, it is difficult for researchers to access the work of related studies electronically. Moreover, this causes hassles in electronic submission of manuscripts. They also cannot access the electronic systems that provide a list of peer-reviewers. Owing to these difficulties, the articles published by African authors are very few in number.

Solutions to the obstacles faced by ESL researchers

Although ESL researchers face many obstacles in publishing their work, there is always a silver lining in dark clouds. In this section, we discuss all the efforts undertaken to overcome the linguistic barriers of ESL authors. Some of the steps used for improving their publication success are as follows:

1) Be persistent and calm: ESL researchers should not feel hopeless and dejected when their paper is rejected by a peer-reviewed English journal. The editors and reviewers certainly point out the flaws in their manuscript, and these flaws can be surely corrected. Thus, the quality of the rejected paper can be definitely improved.

2) Collaborate with senior researchers: Young researchers should always explore possibilities of a collaboration with researchers who are more experienced in their field of study. By developing contacts with senior researchers, they can certainly improve the quality of their manuscripts.

3) Familiarize with English journal styles: researchers must often read published papers of internationally acclaimed English journals. In this way, they would be able to emulate the rhetorical style of the journal. They should strive to paraphrase the work of previous studies in their own words. They would thus overcome the issue of plagiarism, an obstacle that is faced by most ESL researchers.

4) Comply with journal guidelines: before submitting their work to journals, researchers must read the guidelines of journal submission very carefully. They can thus prepare their manuscript in strict adherence to journal guidelines.

(5) English editing: The linguistic nuances of English language are seldom understood by ESL researchers. It is very important for them to get their work checked by a native English speaker before submitting it to an internationally acclaimed English journal. Although English editing services are offered by many companies all across the world, they are usually expensive and do not fit into the budget of ESL authors from poor countries. In such situations, they should seek the help of a colleague who is a native speaker of English.

(6) Identify the right journal: Some journals do not have any bias against authors who are not native speakers of English. Check out the websites of many English journals and identify the journal that is appropriate for your work. In this case, ESL researchers are advised to peruse through articles that are already published in these journals. With this strategy, ESL researchers can certainly improve their chances of getting published in English journals.

(7) Make your work more visible: Open Access journals are generally more visible as their articles can be freely read by everyone. Before submitting a paper to an open access journal, ESL researchers must try to make their research findings more visible to the masses. They can develop a website for their research team and use social media to propagate their work. They can also publish their research findings on authoritative blogs.


A promising clinical trial developed a novel immunotherapy for lung cancer

A recent clinical trial of lung cancer has shown promising results, which could be considered as groundbreaking developments. In this clinical trial, a novel immunotherapy combination was very effective in controlling the progression and development of lung cancer. The results of this innovative study were published in the journal The Lancet Oncology. The clinical trial focused on combating non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common form of lung cancer.

This clinical trial was conducted under the supervision of John Wrangle, M.D. He is a prominent immunologist at the Hollings Cancer Center, which is affiliated to the Medical University of South Carolina. According to Dr. John Wrangle, the clinical trial’s results are promising enough to confirm that the novel therapy can be delivered effectively in an outpatient setting.

In general, metastatic lung cancer is “incurable” in patients till date. But the results of immunotherapy have been promising enough to offer a ray of hope to these patients. . The disease-free survival rate of these patients was drastically improved when they treated with novel immunotherapy.

In the very least of terms, metastatic lung cancer patients cannot be “cured” presently but this novel immunotherapy has certainly increased their chances of survival. .Dr. John Wrangle designed this clinical trial with the help of his colleague Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D. John Wrangle and Mark Rubinstein work together at the Hollings Cancer Center. The clinical trial was started in the year 2016.

Despite receiving chemotherapy at regular intervals, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer always shows signs of progression in most patients. Therefore, these patients are also treated with immunotherapy to combat their deteriorating situation.

Immunotherapy is a recent development in cancer treatment. The principle of immunotherapy is as follows: the immune system of the human body is programmed to fight cancer cells. “Checkpoint inhibitor” is the most common class of immunotherapeutic drugs: white blood cells constitute the most important component of natural defenses in the human body.

White blood cells can effectively target cancer cells when “checkpoint inhibitor drugs” target the checkpoints associated with the regulation of immune system. According to Rubinsetin, the pathophysiology of checkpoint inhibitor drugs is as follows: the drugs cut off the brake cables of white blood cells, which are very effective in killing cancerous cells.

Tumor cells also have their own mechanism for proliferation and progression: Suppressive factors are produced by tumor cells, turning the brakes of white blood cells and preventing them from effecting the apoptosis of tumor cells.

Rubinstein further states the novel immunotherapy is more effective in killing lung cancer cells because it is based on the following principle: apart from cutting the brakes cables of white blood cells, the novel immunotherapy provides fuel so that cancer cells can be killed very effectively.

The novel immunotherapy developed by Wrangle and Rubinstein was based on the following principle: the checkpoint drug nivolumab was combined with ALT-803, which is a novel and powerful drug for stimulating the immune system.

The clinical trial was path-breaking because although the drugs were completely different from each other, they were effectively combined and administered to humans for the first time. Moreover, the results of the clinical trial indicate that these drugs can be administered safely. The evidence is compelling enough to prove that this immunotherapy can also be successful on patients who did not respond well to checkpoint therapy.

Rubinstein and Wrangle reiterate the significance of this novel immunotherapy: checkpoint therapy is not provided to lung cancer patients when they stop responding positively; however, the survival period of these patients can be improved significantly with the addition of ALT-803 drug.

This is because many studies have established that the immune system in the human body is activated by ALT-803 drug. Consequently, the lymphocytes of the immune system may be effectively coaxed to combat tumor cells. In such a scenario, combination treatments may be good enough provided they include the drug ALT-803.

In their clinical trial, they had carefully monitored the condition of 21 patients with metastatic lung cancer. Out of them, 9 patients had become resistant to single-agent immunotherapy after a certain period of time. All the nine patients either had stable disease or they responded partially to the single-agent immunotherapy. Therefore, novel combination therapy is the right step in combating cancer.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the conventional modes of treating cancer since several decades. However, the last decade has shown prominent strides in cancer treatment, with promising results shown by targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The balance of power between cancer and human immune system has been tilted with these innovative approaches.