Write Science Blog / Oili Kiikkilä

I write this blog with the aim to help researchers to write and publish scientific articles. The issues arise mostly from my experience in reading articles that I have got to edit. Secondly, they arise from researchers' efforts to publish articles.

I use real cases as examples, but I change the text so that the authors cannot be recognized.

These are my personal opinions, and anyone is free to disagree. We can discuss all aspects related to scientific writing and publishing.

I encourage researchers to share their experiences about review process in different journals. How long did it take, did you feel the review fare? Feel free to comment here.

I also encourage everyone to write their experience about the journal to SciRev sites https://scirev.org/.
Within these free and non-commercial sites, you can share your experience with the scientific review process and select an efficient journal for submitting your manuscripts.

I'm pleased to hear if you find these posts useful or interesting. If you have any ideas you would like me to share my experience, please contact.

If you would like to subscribe to my mailing list to get the blog posts, please send me a mail.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 17:53 | No Comments »

If you do not have any statistical analysis in the article, it is an easy task for a reviewer to reject the article. You should have thought of the analysis before you started to do the research, but in case you did not, now it is the time to think.

The basis of the scientific research is that you should be able to say how probable it is that your results are true also elsewhere or maybe in the next year. This means that the result is not random, but it is real and reliable.

Although statistical analyses may not be so extremely important in the development of ecological sciences, you still, in practice, must do some analyses. Although you think that the results can be seen without any analysis, in practice, you must do at least one analysis.

Because the peer-review system is many times arbitrary, you cannot know in forehand what the reaction of the reviewer will be. However, one thing is almost sure. The reviewers want to see at least one statistical analysis. It does not need to be any complicated analysis, most often reviewers are satisfied with a simple analysis of variance, correlation analysis or principal component analysis.

Researchers in ecology are often not extremely interested in statistics, and they accept any statistics they see. However, they know that the scientific style is that some analysis should be done. That is why you better have at least one statistical analysis or some kind of a data-analysis in the article. Presenting the variation around the treatment means with SD or SE is a must, but it is not enough.

You really can improve the possibilities to get the article accepted with a statistical analysis – even if the statistics really do not improve the research nor its presentation. I know many examples, where the value of an article has been managed to be increased with complicatedly looking statistics. It certainly is possible to get a poor data accepted with complicated statistics. However, I am not recommending it here. I recommend that you plan and perform experiments with care and get good data and finally, do simple and common analyses that most people can understand.

In general, the statistical analyses are performed to show if the values observed are statistically significant. In many cases, in practice, the significance test helps readers to see the result easily without reading and comparing all values so carefully. The statistical significance tests help to write the results, in practice.

The tests also help authors to assess if the values or differences matter. However, the significance test itself does not tell about the ecological importance. The ecological meaning and relevance should be done separately from the statistical testing, but as a complex issue, it is a theme of another post.


Friday, August 10, 2018, 11:10 | No Comments »

There are many essay writing services available. First of all, I want to say that we in EcoSciEdit and essay writing services are not competitors. We have different tasks and aims. Essay writing services promise to write the whole stories, from research articles to the thesis, by themselves. Using this kind of a service may fit to students or other persons not aiming to be researchers themselves. However, it is not any good system for students or anyone aiming to achieve a researcher career, in my opinion.

This is because by writing the articles yourself, you can develop yourself to be a better researcher. By reading what the other researchers have been doing, you will learn to do better research yourself. Only by knowing what is going on in the science of your research area, you can find out the research questions that would be interesting to the international audience.

When you build your next study around this novel question, you will get it easier accepted by higher-quality journals. Although good writing helps in publishing, doing science is not only writing. Science is, of course, having relevant research questions and answers to them. It is really several years of hard work to be on that high level in science. I believe that almost no one is at that level after finishing a PhD.

So, our EcoSciEdit editing and writing service is not competing with essay writing services. We aim to teach you writing. Our aim is that you do not need our service for ever. By using an essay writing service, you will need this service for ever. And most importantly, without reading a lot of articles already published, you will never find out the correct research questions that the international scientific journals are eager to publish.

In fact, I do not understand how someone not familiar to the research area in question is able to write a Discussion. An editor can write something, of course, but I do not believe that it is of reasonable scientific quality. Or it can be of reasonable quality, but in that situation, it needs much work. Writing even a short discussion needs many days of work, because you must search for articles and read many of them and compare your results to previously published. Therefore, I do not understand, how a Discussion is possible to be written by someone outsider with a cheap price. Anyone knowing that, please tell me.

I think that the system where someone else than the researchers themselves write the articles does not fit to the science, and that is why I do not act as a 'ghost writer'. I want to develop the manuscripts together with the authors. I believe that the authors can learn to write themselves in the long run and start to write better articles in the future.


Monday, May 14, 2018, 12:55 | 1 Comment »

A PlosOne review process of one article is worth of sharing. I do not remember the times taken correctly, but all this took very long, several months regardless of continuous asking about the process.

The editor told to each inquiry that he had not found any reviewers. It is good to mention that the manuscript dealt with a rare subject. Even so rare that during the writing, it had been difficult to find ‘enough’ relevant articles to be referred. However, on the other hand, the subject was pretty general and the methods were relatively simple microbiology and, in my understanding, it should not have been so extremely difficult to find any reviewers.

Finally, the reviews came. There were three of those, and none of them suggested rejection. Each of them suggested revision, one minor, and the two other reviewers wrote that the topic is important and emerging. Two latter reviews were of high quality and the reviewers seemed to know about the subject. However, the editor rejected the manuscript. The editor required additional experiments, although he should have understood that this was a field study and not possible to make any new experiments. None of the reviewers suggested more experiments, they suggested minor-moderate changes in writing.

The oddest thing to happen was still to come. It appeared later, that there had been one more review that had been very positive. We came to know about this review, because the reviewer in question contacted the author and told about it. This reviewer had been studying the same research subject. We had no reason to believe that this positive review would not have been on the editor’s table.

The only explanation I can imagine for this is that because the subject was really rare, it could have been presumed that it will gain only few citations in the near future. PlosOne is a journal wanting to increase its impact factor (although all journals want, of course) and therefore, it may keep the possibility to gain citations as one important principle to assess the manuscripts.

Finally, the manuscript was pretty fast accepted elsewhere.

If you want to share your review experiences, go to SciRev sites and write them there. You can also compare different journals on the sites and read experiences. 


Thursday, April 19, 2018, 14:11 | No Comments »

The best practical advice for choosing the journal is: take a look at your reference list and choose the journal from there. Assess the aspects I wrote earlier: whether the article fits better to an applied or to a basic science journal, and whether your data fit to the quality of the journal.

After you have chosen the journal, read the current and previous year titles article by article ˗ do not trust on any searches, they may not find the most recent articles. Add a couple of relevant and recent references into the text. It is good to show that you have followed the journal in question. Like this, you can show that you know the recent literature. Of course, you should know the relevant articles in other journals as well. However, you possibly make a fatal mistake by ignoring the articles just recently published in the journal in question. Let’s say there was a special issue about your subject in the journal lately. If you do not refer to any of those, the editor will not trust on your literature knowledge.

Read the scope of the journal and be sure that your subject fits within the scope. It may take months before the editor tells you that your subject is out of the journal’s scope.

 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 12:34 | No Comments »

After choosing between applied and basic science journals, your choice is between low- and high-quality journals. Try to assess the quality of your data realistically and take a look at articles published. If you have time, you can first try a higher-quality journal. The acceptance is also much in luck - although no editor would admit it.

I have limited experience about the lowest-quality journals, but I have come to a conclusion that it is best not to submit anything to them, unless they are new or open access. The journals in quartile 4 (in any science ranking), of which I have any experience, have been very slow with a very low-quality and random review.

It's best to check the dates submitted and accepted. An additional aspect to check in advance, is the speed for giving the page numbers. At some universities, it is possible that you would need the final page numbers, for some reason. Getting the final page numbers may take a year or so.

The quality of the review may be low. I have seen reviews that come after several months and only say something about a need to correct the poor English language, written with very poor English language. Of course, if that is the case, it would be simple to order an English proofreading, if you hadn’t it already. However, the next step might take several more months in the journal, which probably sends the revision to a new review-round. And, after all, it is possible that you get a rejection.

These journals also want to reject some articles, and when the review is low-quality, the rejection or acceptance is as much random as in any other journal. Therefore, my advice is: try first any other journal than the one in the lowest quartile. You should be able to get any reasonable-quality data (even relatively poor data) accepted in a quartile-3 journal, if the writing is of reasonable quality, and the structure of the article is good and follows usual instructions.


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