Making Your Career through Publishing Original Papers

The Steps Leading to Acceptance (Q&A about submission)

Although we have tried to explain the entire process from preparation for submission until after acceptance, we realize you will have more questions.

Please don't hesitate to send us your questions (in Japanese or English), and we will try to incorporate your comments in the future revisions.

STEP 1: Reference searches

When writing a paper, is it better to specify certain period within which to search for references?

It is important to develop a habit of reading a fixed journal or series of journals. For example, if you record certain keywords in PubMed, then when papers with appropriate keywords etc. appear, PubMed notifies you of the title and the link to the paper. It is also advantageous to read general interests journals with a very high quality of English writing such as the NEJM as standard references in addition to the specialist journals in your field. Some pharmaceutical manufacturers also make available reference paper information.

My hospital subscribes to very few journals and since annual subscriptions on a personal basis are very expensive, it is difficult to access the papers I need.

Annual personal subscriptions are indeed very expensive but by skillfully using PubMed for searches, it is possible to make use of pay per view at online reference services, usually for about 10-30 dollars per paper. If you collect papers indiscriminately a large volume can soon accumulate, but if you are paying for each paper by yourself this helps to keep your reference paper selection very focused.

In addition, you can also make use of open access journals. While most society journals require a fee for recent information, most journals make papers available for free after a certain period has passed since publication. Please see the link to the Stanford University platform.

I would like to know more about obtaining information about references.

Most journals have email or RSSfeed systems, even for persons who are non- subscribers to the journal. PudMed has a similar type service and this can be extremely useful in gathering information on a specific topic.

Do you have any suggestions regarding using PubMed most effectively?

PubMed is an extremely useful tool, if you learn how to use it properly. In addition to regular search keyword items, you can also focus on specific journals, chronological periods, research topics, and research designs. PubMed also has email alert and RSS feed functions. The varieties of options can expand your horizons and make your reference studies more thorough and enjoyable.

When I do an Internet search, I get a very mixed bunch of possibilities. Is there some way to use Google to obtain more effective search results?

Here we would like to introduce a couple of effective search technique.

(1) Searching by phrase:

If, for example, you are looking for information on "perinatal complications" if you take the usual approach and input "perinatal" and "complications" you will obtain an extremely diverse range of hits, most of which may not be related to the specific information for which you are seeking. In such situations, it would be better to use "diabetes of pregnancy" or "perinatal complications" as search phrases in order to obtain more of the specific information you need.

(2) Searching within domains:

If mainly personal blogs appear when you do a search, it can be difficult to determine how reliable the information is. In such cases, it can therefore be very useful to search to determine the exact nature of the website.

The latter half of the address of the website contains what is known as the domain name, and it indicates location of the person or institution creating the website. For example, S-1 will bring you to all the information concerning S-1 published by the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare etc.). indicates a Japanese academic institution or hospital when searching for information on sites.

STEP 2: Selecting a target journal

I've almost finished my research and writing up the paper which I would like to submit to as high an impact factor journal as possible.

Of course to be accepted by a journal like Science or Nature is extremely rewarding, however the rate of rejection, like many high-level journals is daunting and sometimes the time spent submitting to such journals is wasted. You therefore have to have a presubmission strategy for journal submission.

To decide what journal you should next submit to will require input and advice from superiors and colleagues and also judgment based on your reading of journals related to your specific research field. It is also important to be aware of other information that could affect your selection such as the fact that journals with high impact factors generally respond quickly although in more than 50% cases there may be no comments from reviewers.

Because the chance of acceptance at the journal with high impact factor correspondingly low, in order not to waste time, should I also submit to a lower impact factor journal, with greater likelihood of acceptance and in the case of acceptance of both journals, could I then withdraw the submission to the lower submission journal?

This type of activity is known as duplicate submission and is absolutely forbidden. It is generally specifically prohibited in the Instructions to Authors of various journals, but even if it is not particularly referred to it is morally unacceptable and, if detected, career damaging.
Furthermore if it should happen that both of these publications get published, it will cause serious problems in that field. Taking a concrete example, if one is accepted by one journal, and forgets to retract the paper from the second journal, then this can cause serious problems later on, and will have extremely serious consequences on your career. First of all, all journals and editorial boards and reviewers as well as readers have the right to assume what they are reading is being published for the first time. To publish or to attempt to publish in two journals or more is considered extremely unprofessional, and if there is no good reason for the retraction, the second journal from which one wants to retract will be very suspicious about such behavior and it could well be that this would negatively affect in the future attempt to submit to that journal.

It is also very important to establish a very well sort out plan of publications and from this point of view, also it is necessary to avoid even the suspicion of having submitted for publication manuscripts that a whole or partly duplicate of each other. For more information on duplicate publication, and also plagiarism and self-plagiarism, please go to the section on this site, in the section “Medical Writing Tips” from the journal of CHEST.

Please tell me the difference between Original Research papers, Short/Rapid communications and Letters to the Editor.

These various types of communications must fit specific rules as outlined in the Instructions to Authors. The basic method of distinguishing between them is the structure and content, and each generally has specified numbers of authors, words, figures and tables, and references. When you decide to submit in one of these formats, be sure to first confirm the rules concerning them in your target journal. The following points generally hold true for most general medical papers.

  • Original Research Papers:Emphasize the new findings and particularly new implications for clinical practice at both the beginning and the end of the discussion.
  • Case Reports:These are generally written about the diagnosis and treatment of one to several cases. Because case reports are not frequently cited in other journals, they tend to lower the impact factor of the journal in which they are published, and therefore are rarely welcomed. Only those case reports which have influence on clinical approaches will be considered by most journals. In other words, it is not sufficient that the case only be unusual, it must have clinical relevance.
  • Short/Rapid Communications:These are short reports concerning limited information which is, nevertheless important to publicize.
  • Review Papers:These are usually extensive papers including a wide area of research. If you have not been specifically invited to write a review paper, it is best to consider discussing the possibility of submission on the topic beforehand with the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Letters to the Editor:These are usually the short reports on the results of your latest research. They can also comment on papers that have appeared in the previous issue of the same journal.
A paper you have written in your local language, may attract considerably more attention than you have imagined. You have been encouraged to publish the findings in the international audience. However isn't this forbidden by the regulations concerning duplicate publication?

If the prescribed conditions for duplicate publication are satisfied, it can be possible to publish similar findings in another journal. In the ICMJE Recommendations for the submission on manuscript by biomedical journals, some of the conditions permitting the duplicate publication are specified. Because this permits you to introduce the result of your research work to the world, we would certainly advocate your following rules for acceptable secondary publication. Concerning translation of your paper, please see STEP 5.

If a paper has been rejected, what should I do in order to get it published?

First of all, you will have to think of submitting it to a lower impact factor journal. Since the IF of the journal will be lower, it is important to select a journal with a suitable readership in a field in which you wish to publish. If it is clear to you exactly what field you wish to publish in, you can go ahead, but if you are unsure it can be useful to input your keywords into PubMed and see what journals come out most frequently.
Please be sure to look at the section on choosing the journal most suitable for your paper in the English paper submission technique of this site.

If my paper is rejected, I know it is very difficult to rewrite it for another journal. It seems particularly difficult to reread the Instruction to Authors of a totally different journal. What's the best way to handle the situation?

Some letters from journals appear to be rejections when in fact they still leave room for possible rewriting and resubmission. Please be sure to be absolutely sure there is no possibility of resubmission to the same journal.

On the other hand, if the letter from the journal or the Editor- in-Chief, suggests your paper does not have sufficient "priority", or the "rank" is not sufficiently high, or that you would be better to submit to "another type of journal", then, even if comments from reviewers are supplied, there is no chance of being reconsidered by the same journal. If the Editor-in-Chief holds out the possibility of reevaluating the paper if certain conditions are met, for example, if the number of subjects or samples has increased, etc. then by all means try to fulfill those conditions and resubmit. However, if the letter from the journal contains the above "code" words or suggests your paper would be best submitted to another journal, then you should not waste your time, and that of the journal staff, in resubmitting to the same journal.

Reediting a paper in accordance with a new set of Instruction to Authors can be undertaken by a variety of professional editing services. You can either approach an editorial service with which you are familiar, or an editorial service relied on by your colleagues. Concerning making use of editorial services, please see STEP 5. When using a third party (editorial services company or medical rewriter), be sure to refer to them in the Acknowledgment. Personally, I believe that a medical rewriter with whom you develop continuous relationship might be best suited to understanding the situation of your study and how it needs to be rewritten.

STEP 3: Checking Instructions to Authors

What do the Instructions to Authors (ItA) contain and what points do they specifically address?

The ItA generally cover the following:-

  • ・The rights of the author(s) and journal (publisher(s))
  • ・Types of manuscript they will consider for publication
  • ・Manuscript formats and rules regarding style

One of the most distinctive, and important, features of the ItA is that they vary from journal to journal. Since the ItA can to some degree influence how you write your paper, it is best to read them thoroughly before composing your manuscript. Also, if your paper is rejected and you have to resubmit to another journal, be sure to read the ItA of the second journal and adjust (edit) your manuscript accordingly.

Not only are the ItA written in dense, difficult to understand English, sometimes they are difficult to find. How can I locate them for a specific journal?

Yes, various journals have differently constructed websites, and they can also be named differently (e.g. the NEJM has Information for Authors, etc, Nature has Formatting Guide, etc.) and thus can be difficult to locate. We recommend that you consult the "Submission and Links" section of our site. This section presents thumbnail outlines of the characteristics of the ItA of most of the major journals (in both English and Japanese).

Since it is difficult to totally rewrite the same manuscript on each resubmission to a different journal, how can I get by with the minimum of adjustments (corrections).

Even though it might be troublesome, it is essential to write the manuscript completely following the ItA of the journal you are resubmitting to.

One of the best approaches is to read papers published recently in that journal. For example, you should write the reference exactly in the style of the journal. (Programs such as EndNote can save time, but initial data input into your references database must be accurate. ) Try to show through your writing style that you understand the formatting process of the journal. Practicing rewriting previously published papers in your field that appeared in your target journal is tedious, but effective in learning the style of the journal.

It is really difficult to rewrite while constantly referring to the ItA.
What are the most effective ways to solve this problem?

To give a familiar example, when you buy a new phone, you can learn how to use it more quickly from someone who already uses it rather than referring to a lengthy User’s Manual. In the same way, you can learn a lot from papers in the same field already published in the journal. While you have to refer to the ItA to find out about the permissible word count for the abstract(s) and main text, you can quickly grasp the basic structure (Background, Objective {Research Question}, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion etc.) in addition to understanding how the references should be written. (Please remember that the references section is generally the section with the most mistakes.)

While I have no problem with reading medical English texts, I find it hard to understand the publishing-related descriptions in the ItA.

Please make full use of the many resources of this site. There are many explanations of the terms commonly appearing in the ItA in the terminology section. Step 6 of this section also introduces and explains topics related to situations like attaching figures and tables.

I always have trouble writing within the specified word limit.

It is extremely difficult to write while trying to constantly be aware of the word limit. It is better to write the whole paper and then make the reductions in the number of words later. The Abstract is the same, and should be written after you have completed the text. Last of all, choose the number of keywords employed by the target journal.

How should I choose the keywords?

Try to use words not included in the title, so that the combination of words in the title plus keywords maximizes the chance of selection by browsers.

STEP 4: Writing a scientific paper

I really have trouble because I am not very good at English and it is difficult to write papers.

It is very difficult to write a whole paper by oneself, even for somebody who has had a fair amount of experience in paper writing. However in the old days, when we only had a dictionary to rely on, it really was more difficult, but now there are many sources of information that can help you write. One of these is PubMed, from which you can download many papers and use these as references to study how to build up and write a paper. If you have the financial ability, you can always make use of translation or editorial companies, especially those that provide clearly transparent ethical guidelines and policies. Please check STEP 5 Translation and Qualified Native Speaker's Editing. Furthermore, keeping your cited references in good order, I recommend that you use EndNote after carefully copying citation material from the original and making sure that the input of your data is correct. We stress that you should input data from the original papers, not from how you seem them cited in other papers.

Although there are many books on how to write scientific papers in English. I don't know which book is best or how to judge such books. Any advice?

Probably referring to papers that are actually published in journals is your short cut to achieving ability in writing papers. However some writing books can provide information on how to employ information on writing. Possible books that may be of help usually contain many concrete tips on how to write, and such books generally do contain helpful information. One concrete example is the book entitled "How to Write, Publish, & Present in the Health Sciences" by Thomas A. Lang. It provides information on how to prepare for writing, how to write papers, how to present at international meetings, and various other kinds of information necessary for international medical communications.

This is the first time for me to write a paper in English. What should I use to rely on as a kind of model? What kind of methods can I use to educate myself?

First refer to the ICMJE Recommendations, then to the Instruction to Authors of your target journal. Of course during the course of your research you will naturally have read many papers. Since you have much latent information about writing, you should make use of the information that you have accumulated while you have been reading other papers. One effective, although time-taking method is to locate a paper that you are interested in a journal that you wish to target. After thoroughly reading it, then read each section separately, beginning with the Introduction, taking notes either in your own language or in English as you read the Introduction, then, without looking at the original, try to rewrite the Introduction as closely to the original as you can, while looking only at your notes. Do this for each section: Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion. Of course, the Discussion section is the most difficult and it will take the most time, but it will be most rewarding in the sense that you will learn how to organize a well-written discussion suitable for your target journal. If you do this several times for several papers, you will certainly acquire the knowledge necessary to write a manuscript that will not be rejected only for reasons of style by your target journal. This method, rewrite the journal, takes time and labor, but it does yield results and builds a solid foundation for your writing technique.

What kind of people should I include as authors?

First of all, please check the Instructions to Authors of your target journal concerning the qualifications for authorship. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine, like many other journals, follows the suggestions of the Recommendations (formerly Uniform Requirements) of the International Committees of Medical Journal Editors, i.e. all authors must have been involved in all of the following three steps in the production of the paper: A) the design, data, analysis and interpretation of the study, B) the writing or creation of the manuscript, and providing intellectual input into the content of the manuscript, C) the proof reading, reediting and rewriting of the paper, and agree with the entire content of the paper, D) to accept all responsibility for the entire contents of the document. Recently they have added a fourth criteria. As mentioned above, all three of these conditions must be satisfied. Moreover, it is necessary to obtain a document signed by each of the authors certifying this. It is therefore necessary for all of the authors to have contributed concretely to the content of the paper and to take full responsibility for all of the paper.

One point that requires care is that for those who do not satisfy all four of the above conditions, they should still be listed, but not as authors. They should be listed in the Acknowledgments, that is the section between the end of the main text and the references. It is important to mention all people who have contributed to the creation of the document, that is people who have edited it or rewritten it, or who have helped with the technical work or even with the secretarial work, in preparing the manuscript for submission. Please see the appropriate section in Medical Writing Tips from CHEST.

("Authorship" by William M. Vollmer Ph.D.)

How should I write cover letters?

Please look at the section on cover letter sample selection of this site. You will see a variety of sample letters with blanks that just need filling in.

Can I recommend reviewers?

You should definitely recommend reviewers, and our sample cover letters show examples of how you can suggest them. Most journals welcome such suggestions. You should mention 3-5 possible reviewers who know your work, possibly people whom you met at international meetings, and give not only their names, but also position, affiliation, phone, fax, and email . Famous people are usually too busy to take on extra review work, so it is best that you recommend younger active researchers in their 30s or 40s.

On the other hand, if there are individuals whom you definitely wish not to review your paper, you may say so in your cover letter, but in this case, you have to give the reason for not wishing them to review your paper, such as having had major disagreements with them at international meetings, and you doubt that you would obtain an objective review.

How can I master the technique of writing the abstract within the prescribed number of words?

Abstracts are difficult to write because they are so short. One method to use is to think of the basic structure of your paper, and to write that in as simple a manner as possible: why you did it, how you did it, and what you found. Another method is to write out your findings in as simple a style as possible, subject, verb, object, even if such a style is somewhat monotonous. This usually results in a minimum of words.

We recommend that you look at concrete examples in writing abstracts in our section on techniques of writing English papers.

(“Abstracts for Professional Meetings” by MaryAnn Foote Ph.D.)

What should I write in the Discussion? All the data that I have obtained have already been described in the Results. What do I need to add?

The main purpose of the Discussion section is to show what kind of results you have obtained regarding the solution of the research question which you have posed in the Introduction. Without undue repetition, you should compare your findings with those of other investigators in the field, making clear the significance of your paper. However you should avoid adding additional data from your research that you have not described in the results.

For descriptions on how to write the Discussion, please check Medical Writing Tips from CHEST, (“Proof of the Pudding” by MaryAnn Foote, Ph.D.)

Also in order to make the overall paper and Discussion easier for the reviewer to understand, you can simplify it if you begin the Discussion with what you have found out. For example, "We set out to determine whether …." You must remember that most reviewers do the reviewing late at night, when they are tired, and therefore things should be made as clear for them as possible. Thus the research question should be introduced not only in the Introduction but also at the beginning of the Discussion and also in the final sentence(s) in your Conclusion.

How should I make figures and tables?

What if you only had three minutes to digest a paper? Probably you would first look only at the abstract, figures and tables, so the rules of thumb that should guide you are,

  • 1. The figures and tables should fully reflect the content of the research.
  • 2. They should be able to stand alone, that is to be understood without reference to the text.
  • 3. There should be nothing in the tables or figures that is not included in the results.
  • 4. You should check the Instructions to Authors regarding numbers and size permissible for figures and tables as well as your text.
  • 5. Always have another person check your figures and tables.

For further information, please see the section on "Graphs" and "On the Table" of Medical Writing Tips of the Month, CHEST.

("Graphs" by Joseph Green DMSc)

("On the Table" by Cindy W. Hamilton, PharmD.)

What is the difference between "full square font" (oriental language-style double-width font) and "half square font" (regular rectangular alphabet font)?

The basic difference is that the full square spacing font was developed for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean primarily, whereas English fonts are usually half that size, i.e. rectangular. You may not notice much difference when you input the data, but when you align them side by side, you can see that there is quite a difference, compilation, alignment etc. Recently, even if you use full square font for English, there are relatively few garbage letters, but nevertheless it looks strange to the eye of a native speaker and it can be difficult to absorb for the reviewer or editor, thereby giving extra stress to the reviewers. In addition, if you are using the full square font, sometimes the MS Word spell check function does not work properly.

Therefore for English text it is better to use an English language alphabet font such as Times New Roman or Century, which is the rectangular half square font for orthodox writing (of course please check the Instructions to Authors of your target journal beforehand).

What are the rules of spelling out numerals?

In general, the following rules apply.

  • 1. If the number comes at the beginning of a sentence, then it is spelled out. However in the case of the Lancet, even at the beginning of a sentence, Arabian numerals are used.
  • 2. Usually single digit numbers in text are spelled out. (However in the present 10th edition AMA Manual of Style, it is stated that single digit numerals can be represented by Arabian numerals. As mentioned above, the Lancet prefers Arabian numerals no matter of what position they are in the sentence, and regardless of whether they are single or multiple digits.)
  • 3. For units of measurement, you should use Arabian numerals, but be careful to always place a space between the number and the unit, as in the example following, with the exception of the symbol for percent and degree. In the latter two cases, a space is not used. (30 mg, 25 ml, 5%, 37℃)
  • 4. Use Arabian numerals for figure and table numbers, for example, table 1, day 14. In the case of rule 1, very long numbers spelled out at the beginning of a sentence can be difficult to comprehend, and in order to avoid this, to be able to present the number in Arabic numerals, one technique is to precede the number with a phrase such as "A total of", for example "One thousand, three hundred and fifty four patients" becomes "A total of 1,354 patients".
Since I cannot even understand daily English conversation, I certainly cannot hope to write a high level text in an English language scientific paper.

The English level of scientific papers does not need to be high literary quality. In terms of grammar, the level of second year high school student is probably enough. What is more important is to write simply and understandably. In another words, the question is one of readability. You should use a simple structure using an active voice, (not "was performed" but "we performed") and a simple structure of subject, verb, object and you should not try to pack in too many ideas into one sentence. This is also the case for native speakers as well as non-native speakers. Furthermore it is important to keep in mind the injunction of William Strunk in 1918, almost a century ago, "Omit needless words".

Is it permissible to quote text from cited references?

As long as you make it clear that you are using an actual quotation, it is perfectly possible. However it is always better to try to express yourself with your own words. Probably many of the texts that you are thinking of citing are from the Introduction or Discussion sections of papers. It is therefore all the more advantageous if you can rearrange these thoughts according to logical pattern development in order to have a stronger impact on the reader. Of course, it is absolutely necessary to list papers that you have read and have given you the ideas into which you refer even if not directly in the list of references.

This is also the case for papers that you yourself have written and published before, even material that you have written yourself and published in a journal, because generally such material becomes the copyright of that journal, thus if you repeat it without reference, this can be considered as a form of self-plagiarism. In such cases, it is better to think of another means of expressing the same idea.

Particularly when you are recommending possible reviewers in the cover letter you should make sure that papers from those possible reviewers are included in your list of citations. It is therefore important to consider the cover letter as part of the whole submission package.

("Why References?" by MaryAnn Foote Ph.D.)

("All the Sourcing Not Fit To Print - Citing Electronic Material in Your Article" by Jean Rice BA)

STEP 5: Translation/editing services

I am reasonably confident that the meaning of my paper is clear to the reader. Having it edited by a qualified native-speaking editor takes time and money so it seems to me that it might be easier and quicker if I just submit the paper without the further editing.

Even if the meaning is relatively clear, simple mistakes such as misspelling, or spacing, which most native speakers know by age 5 or 6, can have a more negative effect than you would expect on the reviewer and can lead to a rejection. Papers with incorrect grammar or papers that require effort to understand, place extra stress on the reviewer and can very negatively affect the evaluation of your paper. In addition, sections and which require extra explanation can lead to rejection. Furthermore, if the scientific content of your paper is really good an is accepted it would be a pity if it were appear in a permanent form in which the grammar is incorrect and difficult to understand.

If I have my paper checked by a friend who is really good in English, is that enough to allow it to be submitted?

Even though somebody is good in English that does not necessarily mean that they are good enough to edit a scientific paper. Not only in the field of medicine, but in many other fields there are usually many fixed phrases or expressions that are used commonly, but not in other fields.

If the person correcting your paper has knowledge in these fields, then it might be sufficient, but in general, it is better to have an expert editor who is really aware of the field and the expressions used in the field look at your paper.

How should I find the companies or individuals that are really good at translation or editing. Furthermore how much will it cost me?

Various editorial companies have various areas of specialization. Medical papers and medical editing are considered very highly specialized areas and therefore it is better to request companies that have a good reputation in that field. Most companies advertise their costs on their homepage and they are fairly similar for similar quality of work. It is also possible to get an estimate of the overall cost based on your submission of one or two pages of samples of your work. The cost will depend on the extent to which you are requesting the work to be done, that is simple text editing, or checking of references, or redoing the layout of tables and figures. Some companies or freelance editors do not charge more for helping you through the entire peer-review process to publication. These factors all influence cost.

It is better not to judge the supposed finished quality based on the price alone. You should be careful to communicate exactly what services you want, and to obtain a clear itemized estimate of what that will cost. Furthermore, if you are satisfied with your results of one company and you are requesting them to edit another paper, you should specifically ask whether the same person who edited your previous paper is available to edit your new paper.

Since many conscientious editors usually have questions as to the content, you should find out exactly how the company handles questions from their editors to you concerning the contents of the paper. Remember, the overall quality is essential and if the editors of the company or the individuals that you are requesting to edit your paper have questions, then probably so would the journal reviewers of your paper have when you eventually submit it to a journal for consideration for publication.

Since my funds are limited, I would like to spend as little as possible on revision. What points are the most important to have revised?

First of all, it is essential you yourself to consider what your weakest points are and what are the most important points for you to have revised. Decide whether you need more strict grammatical review etc. Even if you are short of money, please do not use free or cheap mechanical translation services, e.g. on the internet, as there is no recommendable program available at present, and most machine translations are incomprehensible nonsense.

If I have just translated most of my paper, is it possible to take it to a translation company to finish it?

Basically, yes. If it is a company that places a lot of emphasis on its own English, they will probably look at the part you have already written in English in order to improve that English and make sure that it is of the same quality as that of the rest of the paper that they translate. Therefore even though you have translated two thirds, with only one third remaining that does not mean that the cost would only be that for one third of the original number of words or pages.

It is also very important to consider the time limit of the paper, and the quality or ability of the person who is available at that time to do the translation or editing. In addition, it might be necessary to have the paper checked by a qualified native speaker editor after the translation is finished. If you are using a single freelance, translator/editor, then it is probably easier to maintain control of the quality.

When I asked a translation company to translate one of my papers, I was asked if I could provide reference materials that would be of use in translation. What sort of things should I give them?

The main things that you should give them are papers in the field that you have read and you use in your research work as reference works. If the target journal and the topic of the paper are similar, that would be especially useful. Furthermore papers that you have previously written and have been accepted in the same field would help the translator or editor immensely. This will not only make the speed of the translation quicker, but it should also help improve the quality of the finished English. Therefore this approach has great merit in terms of the rapid communication of data.

Although I asked a translation company that there are several points in my paper, in their translation paper that I cannot quite agree with. At the same time, I don't feel comfortable in making changes to those phrases or parts of the paper myself.

The best thing is to immediately contact the translation company. You should make it clear that this part of the paper means such and such, and you would like them to use this a particular of phrase. Any translation company that wants to produce good results will probably then rewrite it as they know that an expert in the field will have greater knowledge of the terminology used in the particular field than they themselves might have. Of course the best thing is to have an in-house translation or editorial service in your institution where you can meet the people doing the translation or the editing directly and discuss with them about the best way of expressing the points that you wish to make. This symbiotic approach can be extremely effective.

STEP 6: Submission

Due to my poor PC skills, I usually ask somebody else upload my documents for me. But that cannot go on forever. So how should I learn how to do it myself?

The system for uploading text is usually not very difficult and just needs filling in the requisite boxes step by step. If there is a section requiring a password, please be careful to make a note of it when you put the password in the first time. It is then fairly easy to upload the file just by pressing a button and there is not much difficulty involved. However uploading graphs and tables can be a little more difficult and require more time. That is why we recommend you do this when you have a fair amount of time to do the uploading in, for example, at the end of the day.

Depending on the demands of the journal, this can take a fair amount of time. Please look at the sections on this site on how to upload English papers and how to avoid frequent problems in online submission.

("Preparing Manuscripts for Online Submission" by Stephen J. Welch)

("Avoiding Common Problems During Online Submission of Manuscripts" by Stephen J. Welch)

From journals which apparently only accept electronically uploaded texts, what points should I look out from beforehand?

First of all, you need to set out all of your material so that it can be readily uploaded in electronic form. Usually most texts that require uploading in MS Word present no difficulty. However for figures and tables, especially figures, can require special conditions for uploading and you need to understand what is required beforehand. It is also necessary to grasp the conditions that they require for uploading figures in order to ensure that your figures are uploaded to produce the best quality results.

How about resolution? What are TIFF files?

Resolution refers to the clarity of the image (details and smoothness of the figure and it is expressed as units such as dots per inch dpi. or in number of pixels). Most journals require a high quality of data in order to provide clear figure reproduction. The resolution can usually be fixed by doing a right click to obtain the properties in a Window's program.

TIFF files are not so commonly used, but jpg and bmp are commonly used. These refer to types of figures. The TIFF figures usually are relatively unchanged from the appearance on the PC, and so the problem of what appears on your screen as green appearing as blue in the reproduced product is not much of an issue. So this is commonly used for printing. Please look at the following question on "Figure, Quality and Format in Windows" concerning making TIFF files.

Is it necessary to fit the figure, quality and format to the figures in case of Windows.
(1) Figure format:

There are a variety of figures and formats that can be seen on the PC, and some are designed to save file space, others are designed to facilitate the manipulation. Most journals want high resolution figures, and also they want figures in which the PC figure quality is not unduly influenceable, and that is one of the reasons why TIFF files (.tif) or JPEG (.jpg) having been developed. For changing format in Windows, it is possible to use Windows Picture and Fax Viewer options. You can use "Save as…", and then choose the file type, it appears below the image, according to your needs. It must be stated here however that image enhancement is not considered an ethical form of publication, and if you feel that you may have unduly enhanced the image, you should contact the Editor-in-Chief before final publication.

(2) Image size:

In order to change the size of the figure, it may be necessary to employ a separate independent software program. However, for most applications, the “Image Viewer” keyword can be used to search for the functions on the Internet and very often, you will come across good and reliable free software. Please consult the Help function of each type of file. Usually the figure size is indicated by the number of pixels, but some journals use dots per centimeter or inch. So please carefully consult the Instructions to the Authors.

(3) Degree of image resolution:

Please look at the section on "Image resolution and TIFF" of this section. It is possible to change the degree of resolution according to the software you use, but if the original has extremely poor resolution their limits to which can be employed. Even if the file size is large, it is still necessary to employ a very good degree of resolution.

STEP 7: Communications with the journal

I submitted my paper to a UK journal one month ago, but I have not heard any reply. Should I contact them again?

Usually a notification of the reception of the document is sent immediately, but some journals do take up to 1 month. Peer review generally takes from about 6 weeks to 2 or 3 months, but if you have neither any acknowledgement of receipt of the document or any result of the peer review, then you should definitely follow up with a polite letter inquiring about the present status of the document at 4 to 6 weeks. Furthermore, after you have received notification of the receipt of the document, you can follow up with another inquiry, if you have not heard anything after further 4 to 6 weeks.

I received a letter from the reviewer saying "Good luck with your future submissions."Is this a rejection or is it an acceptance?

Even when a paper is rejected, sometimes it is not expressed as distinctly as one would wish, but if the terms "rank" or "priority" are used, for example, "its rank is not sufficient", or "its priority is not high enough", then you should interpret that to mean complete rejection. However if there is any hint in the letter from the Editor-in-Chief that a resubmission would be considered, then you should definitely proceed and try to resubmit after adjusting the document in any ways suggested by the reviewers.

What are the main points that tend to be focused on by reviewers?

Apart from stylistic points regarding the format of the paper, the most common focused on is the significance of the paper. You have to clearly make the point that you are trying to demonstrate with your data and also write with sufficient numbers of references and discussion. In other words, it is necessary to write defensively so that your data cannot be attacked from any directions.

As a concrete example, one of the most common faults pointed out by reviewers is that the limitations of the study were not sufficiently explained.

My paper was returned with reviewers' comments indicating changes that they wanted made. Can I interpret this to mean that the paper is accepted?

Since the paper has not been rejected, then it is not unreasonable to be quite hopeful as to its ultimate acceptance. However you cannot completely relax just because you have had a reply that they did not reject your paper, and you should realize that you have come to a very important point toward the end of the submission and acceptance process. Since your correspondence from this point on will greatly affect the acceptance or ultimate rejection of your paper, you have to be extremely careful with everything that you do until the final acceptance.

On the other hand, it also means that, even if there are fairly strict and difficult to answer comments, there is hope, and you should therefore do your very best to answer all the comments and make what adjustments you can to ensure that the importance of your paper is understood and your message is conveyed to the reviewers, and ultimately to the readers. Concerning knowhow to handle such correspondence, please look at the other questions and answers in this section.

The comments of the reviewers are very disparate, do I need to reply to each and every one of them individually?

Exactly. You have to reply to each and every comment, no matter how detailed, and to each and every reviewer. In order to reduce the amount of unnecessary correspondence, it is better to reply as completely as possible to the first set of comments from the peer reviewers.

How can I try to reduce the amount of correspondence with the reviewers?

First of all, you should try to reply as clearly as possible to the questions and requests from the reviewers. If your responses are sufficiently clear, it may be possible for your replies to be interpreted at the level of the secretariat to be sufficiently responsive to the reviewers’ questions, and in that case, it might be possible to have a rapid acceptance. Although it is very difficult to fully reply to questions in English, in order to reduce the overall amount of correspondence, the clearer you are on your initial response, the better.

Please see the following question on what to do when you are not sure what the reviewer really means. If you are really pressed for time, you could use a translation company, but that would cost money, and you must remember that the translation company or the translator will not have the background knowledge to your original paper and to the comments of the reviewer. It is therefore probably better to answer the comments yourself and then having your answer edited.

What do I do if I cannot understand what is meant by the comments of the reviewers?

You should try to guess as much as possible what the reviewer really means, you must also keep in mind that the reviewers themselves may not be native speakers of English. If you are really not sure of the meaning of the comments, you can respond in the following manner, "Although I am not sure what the comment fully means, I interpret it to mean such and such, and in which case, my answer is so and so". But never ignore a comment completely because you did not fully understand it. At least try to reply, otherwise it looks as if you are disregarding the professional comments of the reviewer.

STEP 8: After acceptance

How long does it take from acceptance to actual publication?

This depends on the journal and on the frequency of publication. Usually the publication is within four months of acceptance.

How many reprints should I request?

Usually, in addition to those that you will send to some close friends, you may want to order some extra just for future professional applications etc., however for people outside your institution, many of them will download the PDF document or you can inform them of the PDF document, so it is usually better not to order too many reprints as they will just lie and occupy space in your office.

I finally got accepted by my target journal, and since I had just had such a hard time writing it, I would like to do a small amount of publicizing it to let people know about my paper.

The easiest way to appeal to many people is through the Internet, so you should definitely make a list of your publications in both English and Japanese available on your website, and, if you have a blog, it is easy to include the titles of your publications in your blog. However if you have a department blog, it will have more reliability and be trusted more than an individual blog. However you should also be careful that if you upload your whole document that you are not breaking any regulations concerning copyright.