Scientists whose native language is not English often want to publish the outcomes of their research in journals in English, because English has become the predominant international language of science (Drubin and Kellogg, 2012; Garfield, 1967; Meneghini and Packer, 2007). Writing scientific manuscripts is difficult for almost everyone, but the structure of scientific manuscripts in English can be particularly difficult for non-native English speakers (Benson et al., 2010; Moreno et al., 2012). The summary presented here addresses normal expectations for the structure of scientific journal manuscripts and specific problems encountered by non-native English speakers based on our experience gained as reviewers. Some of the items covered here apply to the writing of any scientific manuscript. Many points are specific to writing in English. In addition to providing guidance to authors, this summary report may be helpful to advisers, mentors, and reviewers in knowing what to look for in evaluating a paper, and in giving constructive criticism for its improvement.
Publishing research does not begin once a project is complete and authors start to consider whether and where they will publish the work. Many of the essential tasks necessary to publish research occur before a research project is initiated. Prospective authors must focus their research projects on unresolved questions in the scientific and practical world and read the pertinent literature in that scientific field. A prospective author learns what others hypothesize to be answers to a scientific question and what methods have been considered to be adequate approaches to the research question. Then a prospective author can generate a new hypothesis and adopt statistically valid methods to address the question. The work of other researchers helps to provide ideas about valid methods in the field of science. If the author wishes to publish in English, the pertinent literature to review in research planning before initiating a new project should include relevant journal articles in English. The effort of writing the introduction and discussion of a manuscript is simplified by prior familiarity with the pertinent work, the procedures, the use of specialized terms in English, and the findings of others.
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