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Tips for Writing and Publishing a Paper

Posted on October 19, 2007

Harold Pincus (bio) stresses the necessity of understanding your audience and getting your work critiqued.


One of the most important things to do in developing a paper is to do your homework, and to do your homework on a number of different levels. Number one is figure out who your audience, intended audience, is. That's critical, because everything flows from that: The kind of question that you want to present in your paper, the level of sophistication and specificity. The journals that you're - the journal that you're going to be submitting it to has a specific set of instructions and requirements for submission.

So all that flows from having a basic understanding of who you want to reach and what you want to say, and then doing the homework necessary to put that together. The other important thing is to make sure that you write regularly; that you don't procrastinate and put it off, but that you do something every day to sort of get it on paper. I find it very important - I can't write without doing a fairly detailed outline beforehand that helps to lay out and organize your thoughts.

It's often helpful to actually develop a writing group so that there's a group of people that are working on papers of different types and it doesn't actually have to be among the same topics, but where it forces you to get together and present product at a regular time so that you can get feedback on it, and also just again, enhances whatever self-discipline you have. The other thing is to make sure that you get feedback. Both, if you don't have a writing group, from your mentor or from colleagues, and to make use of that feedback.

Another thing is that once you get it to the journal, again to make sure that it's in the form that the journal requires, and that you've dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, because that's critical. And then when you get the paper back with the reviews, it will not be accepted without revision. It is extremely rare. But when you do get it back for revision, again, get some advice from colleagues, senior mentors. Don't be defensive about the reviews. Accept them, try to understand them, and make the necessary adjustments. And then when you send it back in to the editor, to make sure that you specify how and where you made those changes to reflect the reviewer’s comments.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2006 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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