Starting Your Paper: When Should You Start Writing?

ACS Author University

Writing your research paper is as important as the research itself. It’s what people see. It can also help outline subsequent avenues to explore before you’ve finished.

Stuart Rowan, Ph.D., Barry L MacLean Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Chicago and Editor-in-Chief of ACS Macro Letters puts it best by saying don’t wait until the research is completed. As you write the story, he says, more experiments may need to be highlighted. You should start once you begin to see where the story is, even though it isn’t complete because a draft will help guide you, he says.

Oleg V. Prezhdo, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at the University of Southern California and Senior Editor of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters says to start writing in the middle of the research process. Scientists should ideally have an outline in mind before even starting their research, he says.

A suggestion Prashant Kamat, Ph.D., John A. Zahm Professor of Science at the Unviersity of Notre Dame and Editor-in-Chief of ACS Energy Letters, gives his students is to write one page a day. It could be about what you did or about something you read a paper about, summarized in a single page. This way all your information is already condensed and ready to be formed into a paper. Regular practice and discipline are essential to writing a great research paper, he says.

For more publishing tips, visit the ACS Publishing Center, a centralized hub for researchers to prepare and track manuscripts. This website features centralization of information for ease of discovery of resources on submission, open access licensing, peer review education and more. Customized publishing information, including tracking of your published work, is available upon login. Log in today to discover how the ACS Publishing Center can help you advance your research.

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