Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 4: Getting Started - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Mastering Scholarly Communication – Part 4: Getting Started

The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic handbook for scientific publication. But in 2020, it was revised and expanded as the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. The ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication not only provides students, researchers, educators, and librarians with professional guidance, it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers to respond to the evolving world of publishing.

This ACS Axial series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication. Parts of the original text be available for free for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read License. Specific sections will be indicated at the end of each post. 

Before you consider writing an article, ask yourself:

• Do my data tell a story that can appeal to my scientific community?
• What are the key findings of my scientific research story that advance the field?
• What data are needed to support the key findings?

How should you start writing a scientific paper? This video offers tips on how to get started with writing a scientific research article.

Get more information on organizing your thoughts into an outline in section 2.1.3 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

Before you start writing, it’s worth learning the elements that an excellent scientific paper should have. The journal you’re submitting to will have guidelines you can use to make sure your work is presented correctly.

The following checklist can be used to ensure that a paper has the right form, structure, and content to reflect the value of your research.


  • Has an engaging title with broad appeal
  • Engages the reader in an interesting research story
  • Avoids high text density
    • Breaks long paragraphs into shorter ones
    • Includes nontext features (e.g., tables, equations, well-drawn schemes, illustrations, other graphics) that are accurate, attractive, and understandable
    • Embeds legible, informative graphics in appropriate locations
    • Ensures that all labeling in graphics is legible when the images are viewed actual size (100%)
    • Includes paragraph headers or section headers


  • Explains the significance of the work in the abstract and throughout the article as a major theme of the scientific story
  • Expresses a clear, well-defined theme that is supported by the data
  • Presents well-organized information progressing from one topic to the next in a logical order
  • Includes sufficient background information and experimental detail to fully support the conclusions
  • Presents results and conclusions clearly
  • Omits redundant or irrelevant information, including only results required to support the key findings and essential to the story and the focus
    • Places supportive data (e.g., data files, experimental details) in the Supporting Information section
  • Concludes with a paragraph that not only presents the key findings but also suggests new ideas for extending the study

Get more information on organizing your thoughts into an outline in section 2.1.4 of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication.

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