Ways to Grow Your Publication List: an Early Researcher’s Career Guide

Journal Submissions

Academic Journals Article Types

As academics, our careers revolve around the number of papers that we publish. Although the length of someone’s publication list does not necessarily reflect that person’s intelligence or contribution to the scientific community, research institutes, companies, and even nonprofit organizations use publication lists to compare the candidates’ merits. However, research projects can take a long time to complete, and studies can last for decades! How, then, can we increase our publication count if we can’t speed up the investigative process?

The answer to this question is quite simple: look for other ways to become published. Original research articles are not the only type of manuscripts that people use to measure your accomplishments. The following is a quick overview that we’ve prepared of various publishable manuscripts that you can create to successfully launch your budding academic career! The infographic provides a brief description of each type of writing, its unique content features (if any), whether the works are generally solicited by editors, and statistics about the number of authors, cited references in the paper, and word count. We also list a few examples for you to peruse.

As always, when you draft a manuscript with a journal in mind, please make sure to review the most recent articles from that publication for stylistic preferences. In addition, read through the journal’s guide for authors to confirm the editors’ requirements.

 

Literature Type Description Example
Original Research Papers, including Clinical Cases Studies 

 

 

 

 

 

An article that discusses the details of recent original projects, including their data, results, and findings. This type of work includes references and figures.

  • Word count: ~3,000 words
  • Abstract: Yes
  • References: many journals have a cap of 50-60 references
  • Figures/Tables: ~5-8 [many journals have a cap at 5]
  • Solicited: Usually unsolicited
  • No. of Authors: ~5, though usually no limit
Common genetic variation drives molecular heterogeneity in human iPSCsStatin and rottlerin small-molecule inhibitors restrict colon cancer progression and metastasis via MACC1

Water scarcity hotspots travel downstream due to human interventions in the 20th and 21st century

The association between Western and Prudent dietary patterns and fasting blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes and normal glucose metabolism in older Australian adults

A Trial of Itraconazole or Amphotericin B for HIV-Associated Talaromycosis

Hubble Law: Measure and Interpretation

Brief Reports/ Case Reports A short manuscript that shares recent, validated findings by focusing on a single, novel concept such as a new approach to therapy or first-time reports of clinical cases. For example, a case report can discuss one to three patients or a single family.

  • Word count: ~1,000-2,000
  • Abstract: Yes (shorter summary than original research paper abstract)
  • References: <20
  • Figures/Tables: ~2-3
  • Solicited: Usually unsolicited
  • No. of Authors: ~5
Buprenorphine for the Treatment of the Neonatal Abstinence SyndromeCase 13-2017 — A 41-Year-Old Man with Hearing Loss, Seizures, Weakness, and Cognitive Decline

 

 

Review Articles A paper that summarizes recently published developments on a topic without adding new data. Typically, the explored studies must be no older than six to twelve months, and the authors use an objective approach to providing new insight on the topic.

  • Word count: ~4,000 words
  • Abstract: Yes
  • References: <60-100 (usually contains more references than an original research article)
  • Figures/Tables: ~5
  • Solicited: Generally solicited, but editors often accept unsolicited materials. Propose a topic to the editors before drafting.
  • No. of Authors: 1-3
Chemical recycling of waste plastics for new materials production 

Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Their Recurrence

 

Making the Case for Causal Dynamical Triangulations

Systematic Reviews/ Meta-Analyses As a comprehensive review of a highly relevant topic, this type of manuscript frequently covers the history of the subject and a survey of approaches and strategies. This exhaustive literature review uses explicit methods and analyzes data from other studies. Statistical methods (meta-analysis) may be used to assign varying weights to the studies analyzed. In essence, a systematic review can be a cost-effective way to answer your research question without launching a new investigation.

  • Word count: <5,000
  • Abstract: Yes
  • PRISMA statement: Yes
  • References: <100
    Figures/Tables: ~5-8
  • Solicited: Unsolicited
  • No. of Authors: 1-3
A Systematic Review of the Prevalence of SchizophreniaImpact of searching clinical trial registries in systematic reviews of pharmaceutical treatments: methodological systematic review and reanalysis of meta-analyses

Vitamin C and the common cold

For additional examples, see “Systematic reviews. Some examples.

Research Letters to the Editor Concise presentation of original, validated findings.

  • Word count: up to ~700 words
  • Abstract: No
  • References: <6
    Figures/Tables: 1-2
  • Solicited: Can be unsolicited
  • No. of Authors: ~3-5
Slush-like polar structures in single-crystal relaxorsTrial of Transplantation of HCV-Infected Kidneys into Uninfected Recipients

Conservation: Pay countries to stop whaling

Letters to the Editor regarding Recently Published Articles A short, reactionary letter regarding an article recently published by the journal. References are generally used to rebut, clarify or concur with claims presented in the published article, and the authors of the study being challenged can respond to the letter. The commenters sometimes use the letters to suggest other implications of a paper’s findings.

  • Word count: ~300-500 words
  • Abstract: No
  • References: <5
    Figures/Tables: 0-1
  • Solicited: Unsolicited
  • No. of Authors: ~3 (some journals allow up to 10)
Correspondence: Analytical flaws in a continental-scale forest soil microbial diversity studyCase 8-2017: A Zimbabwean Man with a Severe Headache

Junior scientists: Senior scientists as allies for equity

Conservation: Pay countries to stop whaling

Editorials: Opinions and Other Commentaries Various journals have different types of editorials. Clinical journals may focus on policies, ethical issues, and other current global issues that can affect clinical studies. These articles can also suggest new methods (e.g., new technologies and software) and policies that affect the practical aspects of being a researcher. Since these manuscripts aim to enrich the scientific knowledge by providing insights into matters that can affect the readership community, these articles are often solicited by editors.

  • Word count: up to ~2,000 words
  • Abstract: None
  • References: <10
    Figures/Tables: 0
  • Solicited: A journal may have several categories of editorial content, some of which are solicited, while others are not. Even when generally solicited, editors may accept proposals.
  • No. of Authors: 1-3
Reassess dam building in the AmazonEmpty rhetoric over data sharing slows science

A Tale of Two Doctors — Structural Inequalities and the Culture of Medicine

Perspectives/ Theoretical Papers Survey articles that assess theories, models, concepts and their controversies from a more subjective approach.

  • Word count: a wide range of 1,000-7,000
  • Abstract: Yes
  • References: <10-100 (depending on the article length)
  • Figures/Tables: <1-2
  • Solicited: Unsolicited but proposals may be accepted
  • No. of Authors: <3
Replication Catastrophe: When a Checkpoint Fails because of ExhaustionDamming the rivers of the Amazon basin

The Waiting Game — Why Providers May Fail to Reduce Wait Times

Specialized Articles regarding Protocols, Data Sharing and other Methodology-Related Content Research Elements is the trademarked name for Elsevier’s line of specialized short papers on sharing data, software code, developed materials and methods, and video articles. Other publishers carry similar articles, such as Nature‘s “Protocols.” This type of manuscript is short and usually peer-reviewed; however, some journals such as Protocols have more robust requirements, which are similar to those for full original research articles. The purpose of these documents is to promote the transparency, reproducibility, and collaboration and may or may not have open access.

  • Word count: <3,000
  • Abstract: Yes
  • References: depends on the length but can range from 1 to ~50. A minimum requirement may be 1: the study that demonstrates the method or protocol featured in this manuscript.
  • Figures/Tables: <5
  • Solicited: Varies. Research Elements are unsolicited. Journals such as Protocols publish solicited works. Even if solicited, proposals may be accepted.
  • No. of Authors: <3; one of the authors may need to be an author of the original research paper that applies the method discussed in the protocol paper (e.g., see Nature Protocols requirements)
Biological and chemical strategies for exploring inter- and intra-kingdom communication mediated via bacterial volatile signalsmRNA quantification using single-molecule FISH in Drosophila embryos

Generation of iPSC line HEL47.2 from healthy human adult fibroblasts

Data on blueberry peroxidase kinetic characterization and stability towards thermal and high pressure processing

Book Reviews As the category title suggests, this article type focuses on examining relevant books of interest to the journal’s readership. A manuscript may cover a single book or several based on a theme.

  • Word count: 500-700 words
  • Abstract: No
  • References: No
    Figures/Tables: No
  • Solicited: Solicited, but proposals may be accepted. Some editors have a specific list of books they may have slated for review, so you can ask them if you can participate in the book review process.
  • No. of Authors: 1
Natural history: Thoreau’s debt to DarwinAstronomy: An all-American eclipse

 

Conference Papers/ Conference Proceedings Although conference papers are based on research, they can focus solely on preliminary findings. Additionally, some fields such as computer science highly value conference paper publications. In addition, many universities and institutions may value journal publications more, but the academic community still finds merit in conference papers. In any case, publishing conference papers with organizations can help generate momentum for you as you continue your research. For example, some publications under the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated (IEEE) allow the conversion of conference papers into more substantial journal paper IEEE is also respected for its published conference proceedings.

  • Length: <6 pages
  • Abstract: Yes
  • References <50
    Figures/Tables: <5
  • Solicited: Unsolicited; submissions made in advance of the conference (~6 months minimum)
  • of Authors: Varies but generally <3
  • May need to be present at conference to present your article
A distributed cloud resource management framework for High-Performance Computing (HPC) applicationsDoes Gamification Work? — A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification

Estimation of coal consumption rate based on operating parameters

For a list of IEEE conferences that accept publications, click here.

 

Additional reading

The following list offers sites (other than those linked in the article above) that provide additional definitions and examples of manuscripts published in academic journals:

 

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