Publications, Review

Publish in Best Journals, Get out of Mediocrity: A Reviewer’s Perspective

40th Day of 2020 Lockdown. An email notification popped up on my phone- a renowned journal inviting me to volunteer as a peer reviewer for a manuscript. As I accepted it, I had a sudden flashback to my conversation with a young researcher a few days back. Recently, her article got rejected from one of the best journals. She was extremely worried as she had no clue that despite having a strong technical content why her paper got rejected! My experience as a reviewer for many quality engineering journals (Science Citation Index Expanded & Scopus Indexed) and conferences of international repute helped me to guide her on this aspect. However, just like her, many budding researchers of our country struggle to write a paper even if they are great at their technical domains. With a dream of quality publication, after several attempts of submitting manuscripts to different good journals due to successive rejections, they get frustrated and they finally give up. Unfortunately, all their efforts end up with a publication in a mediocre journal that does not allow them to be recognized as good researchers. So, it is important for them to know the exact evaluation metrics used by the reviewers to judge the quality of a manuscript.

Quality Journal Review Metrics

I summarize eleven crucial metrics that are commonly used by the reviewers for evaluating the quality of a manuscript.

  1. Complete Originality: The work must not be previously published by the authors elsewhere. The manuscript must be free from plagiarism.
  2. Clear Novelty: The manuscript must contain new and substantial information. Therefore, the authors need to explain the novelty very clearly.
  3. Proper Title: The title is the banner-element of your manuscript. It should contain the fewest possible words but should describe the work in the fullest possible way.
  4. Good Abstract: The abstract should clearly and correctly describe the content of the manuscript.
  5. Meaningful Problem Statement: The problem addressed must be significant and concisely stated.
  6. Comprehensive Research Method: The theoretical and/or experimental methods must be described comprehensively.
  7. Well-justified Interpretation: The interpretations and conclusions must be justified by the results. The article must be free from potentially serious errors which may invalidate the results.
  8. Adequate reference cited from the best journals: Sufficient reference from the best journals must be added in the literature review of the Introduction section. Also, a tabular comparison must indicate the superiority of the proposed method/technique/design over other 5-6 techniques published in the best journals in the last 2-3 years.
  9. Well-indicated Application: The manuscript must contain a precise note regarding the application of the proposed method/technique/design.
  10. Acceptable Quality of Language: The manuscript must be free from all grammatical errors. It is very crucial as it may lead to direct rejection. Also, the language should be clear, interesting and engaging for the reviewers.
  11. Correct Format & Typesetting: The template given in the journal website must be followed. All font types as prescribed by the journal must be maintained. The reference format should not deviate from the journal requirements. No plots, diagrams and illustrations should be given in .jpg format as it blurs the detailing. The graphic content should be of either .png and .tiff (with 300 dpi resolution) or .eps (most acceptable vector image) format.

How to Measure the Manuscript Quality?

The quality of your manuscript must be ‘measured’ quantitatively. Here I give a score-card template that may help you begin the quantitative assessment of your manuscript.

Manuscript Quality Assessment

Manuscript Title:

Authors:

Date of Assessment:

Assessed by:

Score Card

Sl. No.

Manuscript Assessment Metrics

Score

(Out of 10)

Remarks

1

Originality

 

 

2

Novelty

 

 

3

Title

 

 

4

Abstract

 

 

5

Problem Statement Clarity

 

 

6

Description of Research Method

 

 

7

Interpretation of Results

 

 

8

Adequacy of Quality of References Cited

 

 

9

Description of Possible Application

 

 

10

Grammar & Quality of Language

 

 

11

Format & Typesetting

 

 

Average Score

 

 

     

 

Your manuscript must not score less than 7 at any of the eleven assessment-metrics of scale 10. If it scores less in any metric, please improve and re-evaluate until number 7 comes at your end. This systematic self-assessment before submission will lead to fewer rejections by good journals. 

Four Tips for Future Engineering Researchers

For any research work, it is essential to set a specific goal for achieving significant outcomes which in turn will increase your paper publication frequency. In this regard, I would like to share four tips that may help reduce the “Inception to Publication” time.  

Tip 1: Grab the current trends

All research works done at the primary level of any technological development have a higher acceptance rate. So, you need to start early. The researchers must refer to The Hype Cycle, yearly published by Gartner, Inc. It predicts the trending technologies yearly that are going to impact Worldwide trades and community for the next 5 to 10 years. As per Gartner Hype Cycle 2019, I enlist some of the technologies that are in the rising stage- for example, Cultured or Artificial Tissue, Decentralized Autonomous Organization, Nanoscale 3D Printing, Flying Autonomous Vehicles, Light Cargo Delivery Drones, etc. There are some other tools like- MIT Technology Review & IDC Predictions that may also be helpful.

Tip 2: Link your research to the current trends

It is important to find all possible ways to link your research area to the current trends to be an early-contributor. My suggestion is that even if you don’t find the topics in Gartner’s list that you might be working on currently, try to bridge your topic with Gartner’s list in all possible ways. For example, if my research area is “Antenna Design”, I can bridge it to the trending technology in the following way: “High-Performance Antenna Design for Flying Autonomous Vehicles”.

Tip 3: Pick the right journal

Before submitting your manuscript to any journal, it is important to verify whether your research topic meets the journal’s focus area. I would like to mention three online tools that help in finding the most suitable journal out of the crowd for an engineering research article.

  1. IEEE Publication Recommender™
  2. Elsevier JournalFinder
  3. Springer Nature Journal Suggester

In these tools, once the Title or Abstract is given, a possible list of journals under their publication group is generated. The authors can select their best-fit journals based on several parameters like- Publication Type, Impact Factor, Indexing, Acceptance Rate, Submission-to-Publication-time, etc. As per my opinion, the journals showing Impact factor greater than 1, Indexed in SCIE, with moderate publication time & medium acceptance rate are highly preferable for a quality publication in optimum time.

Tip 4: Use the Power of Collaboration

It’s a reality that an academic institution might not have all the research facilities. But still, you can have if you look out for. After getting some initial success in your domain, simply find out the active researchers of the same domain who are working in different research laboratories of the country or abroad. You need to create a stable professional network with them. Discussing a current research topic or sharing ideas will help you get many potential research collaborators across the globe.

A Promise

I believe that the review metrics and tips discussed so far will help all promising researchers of different engineering backgrounds to get out of all mediocrity in publication quality. The post-pandemic world will bring several opportunities for new humanitarian technologies. Let’s contribute together in making a pool of research findings through publication in best journals for sustainable development of humanity.

Further Readings

  1. SCIE journal search

https://mjl.clarivate.com/search-results

  1. Scopus-indexed journal search

https://www.scimagojr.com/journalrank.php

  1. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2019

https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3956015/hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2019

  1. MIT Technology Review

https://www.technologyreview.com/

  1. IDC Predictions

https://www.idc.com/cee/events/66895-idc-predictions-2020

  1. IEEE Publication Recommender™

https://publication-recommender.ieee.org/

  1. Elsevier JournalFinder

https://journalfinder.elsevier.com/

  1. Springer Nature Journal Suggester

https://journalsuggester.springer.com/

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