Welcome to our new series on constructing a successful submission
Your Writing Toolbox
Welcome to the PLOS Writing Toolbox, your source for best practices and practical tips to build your scientific writing skillset. Delivered to your inbox every two weeks, each issue is a new addition to your personal store of writing and publishing know-how.
The Writing Series
In many fields, a statistical analysis forms the heart of both the methods and results sections of a manuscript. A well-planned, clearly described and faithfully executed statistical analysis can improve the chances of acceptance and ensure the long term reproducibility of your study.
Your Discussion Section (sometimes called the Conclusions or Results) describes the implications of your findings and widens the manuscript’s scope beyond the immediate results.
Though the caliber of your science is of primary importance, writing does matter. Clear and effective language makes it easier for editors and reviewers to understand and evaluate your work, minimizing delays in the publication of your research. Later, strong writing will increase the accessibility of your published article.
Copy editing matters, both during peer review and after publication. Typographical errors, grammar mistakes, and translation inconsistencies can make your manuscript difficult to understand and slow down peer review and publication. A clean and correct manuscript can do the opposite, minimizing delays throughout the process. But copy editing isn’t always easy.
The Publishing Series
Gaining insight into the conventional journal process can help ease anxieties about what is happening with your paper. Here, you’ll find details of how journals approach new submissions and bring them to the first decision.
Beyond the scientific experts that oversee peer review, policy specialists must also confirm manuscript content before a journal puts their "stamp of approval" on your paper. Read this guide on how journals help transform a revised submission into a permanent publication.
Identifying a journal that fits your study and attracts a relevant audience can be more complex that it seems. Determining your needs, identifying potential journals, and vetting the best options helps you publish more efficiently while staying true to your principles.
How you store data matters. There’s nothing worse than coming to the end of a long study and realizing that you can’t readily identify or understand the data you’ve gathered. Even after you publish the research, reliable public data helps demonstrate the validity of your work and increase trust in your results.
Reputable journals have stringent checks to ensure that the research they publish has been conducted ethically. Inability to pass journal ethics checks is one of the most common reasons for desk rejection. Fortunately, you can set yourself up for future publication success by meeting three simple requirements early in your research process.
There’s more to science than can be conveyed in a standard research article. Open Science options help researchers showcase their work beyond the article, claiming credit, demonstrating validity, ensuring reproducibility and accelerating progress.
Feedback can be hard to hear—especially when you’ve spent months conducting a research investigation, writing up the results, and submitting your manuscript. A thoughtful, thorough response to reviewer feedback and revisions help your manuscript succeed, and save on future rounds of review.
After you submit to a journal your manuscript undergoes a series of checks to ensure that it is complete, meets all journal requirements, and is suitable for the journal. We asked the PLOS journal teams about the most common mistakes they see during the initial technical check...and how to avoid them.