Editors Answer: Researchers’ Questions About Publishing in India

On March 24, 2016, ACS Publications held a webinar on publishing tips for researchers in India, hosted by Associate Editor of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Kankan Bhattacharyya and inaugural Editor-in-Chief of ACS Energy Letters Prashant Kamat. After the session, Bhattacharyya and Kamat answered hundreds of questions from webinar listeners. Here are a few of the highlights.

Preparing a Manuscript

Should I write papers in active or passive voice?

Active voice. Instead of saying, “In this work, it has been shown…” say, “In this work, we show…” Active voice makes your writing clearer and easier to understand.

What should I know about figures and graphics?

Don’t overlook figures—they are essential to a good paper. They catch readers’ eyes and can make the science easier to understand. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many figures you should include. A good number to aim for is 5 or 6, with the rest included in your paper’s supporting information.

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What format should I use for supplementary information?

PDF is usually the best format to use. It makes data most easily accessible while preserving your document’s appearance.

What is the difference between an abstract and a conclusion?

Your abstract summarizes and explains the highlights of your work. Your conclusion answers, “Where should we go from here?”

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is copying or duplicating someone else’s work, including text or figures. This includes copying your own work that has been previously published. Plagiarism is a serious offense and is not tolerated by ACS journals.

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How can I improve the quality of my English writing?

Language skills don’t happen automatically. Practice makes perfect. Start by writing every day, even if you can only write a paragraph or half a page. Read famous or frequently cited papers to learn what constitutes high-quality writing.

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Can ACS help me prepare my manuscript?

Yes. ACS ChemWorx offers offer English editing services, translation, document formatting, and figure services. We review manuscripts according to the guidelines of the journals you want to submit to.

Getting Accepted

How do I know whether my manuscript is appropriate for a particular journal?

Start by reading the journal’s scope and see whether your manuscript fits. Read recent papers published in the journal. This will help you understand the journal’s standards and general audience. Then, look at the citations listed in your own manuscript. If you cite many papers from a particular journal, it’s probably a good fit for your work.

Does an author’s affiliation affect whether research will be accepted?

Research papers are judged solely on merit. No consideration is given to the age, endowment, or prestige of the author’s institution.

Why can’t reviews be completely blind?

Knowing an author’s name helps reviewers determine whether the same author has published similar work in the past. Also, if a reviewer already knows an author, he or she may be a better judge of the author’s work. Furthermore, even when reviewers try to conduct a blind review, articles’ experimental sections often reveal authors’ origins.

How should I go about choosing reviewers for my paper?

Think about people who can best evaluate your work. The authors cited in your paper are a good place to start.

It seems like my paper was rejected for no reason. Why?

We try to give reasons for every paper we reject. Common reasons for rejection include lack of fit with a journal’s focus, poor composition, or failure to present new advances in the field. In rare cases, journals receiving high volumes of submissions will reject papers without review. If you write to the editor of a journal, you can often get a more in-depth explanation of why your paper may have been rejected.

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How long after submitting an article can I expect to hear back from a journal?

Most ACS journals respond to a submission in 2 to 4 weeks. If you don’t get a response in this time-frame, contact the journal’s editor for a status update.

Work similar to mine was published just as I was preparing my manuscript for submission. What should I do?

Submit your paper to a journal like ACS Omega. The journal publishes scientifically-valid, hypothesis-driven research covering all aspects of chemistry and related fields..

Funding and Careers

How important is my CV in securing grant funding?

Your CV presents your background, productivity, and ability to carry out proposed research. That’s why it’s an important piece of a grant proposal. Be sure to keep your CV up to date.

What are some major agencies for research funding?

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has many exchange programs for short-term international projects. The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) also funds international collaborative projects. Both of these organizations, as well as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), support research scholars interested in attending international conferences.

What tips do you have for transitioning between a Ph.D. program and postdoctoral research?

As you search for a postdoctoral position, be sure you are able to propose new research ideas, write proposals, and demonstrate leadership skills. Also keep in mind that you can switch fields to broaden your research expertise.

Focus on India

Are editors biased toward papers written by Indian scientists?

India is now one of the top producers of chemistry papers. There is no bias against Indian authors. If your paper is rejected, it is because it fails to meet one or more of the journal’s criteria. If you believe a particular scientist is biased against you due to a conflict of interest, you may ask a journal’s editors not to include him or her as a reviewer.

Why doesn’t more Indian research become commercialized?

This has long been a problem in India, but one that is beginning to turn around. For example, the “Make in India” program was launched in 2014 to promote local development and innovation. CSIR was founded to support industrial research. Scientists, engineers, and companies must work together to increase commercialization. The most important thing individual researchers can do is to file patents for their work.

With more than one-fifth of the world’s population living in India, it’s surprising that there are no journals publishing work in Hindi or Bengali. Why do you think this is?

English is the language that scientists around the world read and follow. Researchers who want to reach the international community must publish in English.

Learn more about publishing in India. Download our latest white paper or listen to our webinar.

If you have comments or questions for the author of this post, please e-mail: Axial@acs.org.