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What is a perfect research paper?

已有 3568 次阅读 2013-11-3 18:29 |个人分类:科技写作|系统分类:论文交流| paper

In Researchgate,  Evgeny Karpushkin from Lomonosov Moscow State University put forward  a question "What is a perfect research paper? "

I think no perfect research paper but there are good papers.

To this question, Ian Kennedy wrote his comments. I aslo wrote a brief answer!


 The follow is Evgeny Karpushkin's statement about his question.


Hello everybody,
I have got a somewhat general question about scientific writing to discuss.

I think, everybody agrees that the paper is the major output of a scientist's work, so producing perfect papers is the primary goal of a research fellow. But what is a perfect paper, and how can we judge about the quality?

There are various criteria, like number of citations, number of downloads, etc, but they all refer to already published and discussed papers. Imagine the paper is newly born. How can a scientist write a nice paper? How it is recognized by the editor? How it is graded by the scientific community?

Thinking of this, I have come to a naive conclusion that a "perfect" paper means different things for different people.

First, the author as a paper producer. He/she wants to present own striking results in an interesting, attractive, and clear manner. From this point of view, writing a perfect paper is a matter of collecting proper data, analyzing it, and presenting it in the logical, properly illustrated and conclusive manner. This is more or less clear, and has been discussed in a number of lectures, books, and publisher workshops.

An author as a member of research department wants to advertize the institution and to get a huge number of citations: good or bad, but now the quality of a researcher and thus the future funding are getting more and more dependent on the formal citation criteria.

Then, an editor wants basically the only thing - to maximize the impact factor of the journal while keeping the scope within preset frames - this means merely less papers and more citations needed. An additional attitude might be to minimize the paper length at the same time, however, with Supplementary material available online this gets minor issue, I think.

As most of the scientists may play different roles (author of the own papers, reviewer of the others' papers, research fellow using the results of others' papers as inspiration, or even editor accepting or declining papers), at different mometns he has to analyze the papers quality from different points of view.

So, my questions are as follows:
- When you are writing your own paper, you are the best expert in your particular field, and likely you know well some broader context. How do you make your research appealing and exciting to others? How to provoke the widest possible discussion of your work? How to make the paper interesting even to people outside you particular area (which may lead to fruitful multidisciplinary work)?
- Staying in the frame of the certain scope of the paper (it is more or less fixed by your work already done), how can you inspire more citations of your paper? Imagine that your work is not worth publishing in the TOP journal at the moment, and it will appear as one of the tens or hundreds of papers published this month in your field. How can you attract more attention from your colleagues?
- Imagine that you are a journal editor (again, not of Cell of Nature, but of a middle-class journal), and you receive a paper submitted. The paper is not directly related to your own research field, and the broad context may be unclear. How can you estimate whether the paper will be hot and well cited, or it will be hardly noticed in spite of the properly done research? (Assume for a moment that you don't have idear peers, or their opinion is unclear, and you should decide about the acceptance yourself).

Sorry for maybe too long posting. I would be glad to hear your opinions (especially the point of view of practicing editors is interesting for me). If the topic has already been discussed elsewhere, could you please give me a reference?

PS I have got some ideas on the subject, but I would prefer to share them after I get some feedback from others.


The follows is Ian Kennedy's answers
Ian Kennedy ·  Independent Researcher 1. Are the results new?
2. Are they important?
3. Does it overturn our previous thinking?
4. Is the research trustworthy?
5. Is it reported clearly?

Citations and impact factors are poor proxy measures of the above.

To make the paper appealing, use photographs, graphs, equations, text and tables to get the point across as painlessly as is possible.
Obviously hold as many seminars as you can on your work, whenever you can.
Do not be afraid of "marketing" your paper through popular magazines and newspapers, but this will not gather citations.

I am not in favour of "trying to get people to cite your work". You can take a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink. Asking people to cite you is unprofessional.
Nevertheless, the greater the exposure your paper has, the more likely you are to garner a citation. So publish it on the Web. Give out free physical reprints at every occasion. {Pretend that you only have a few copies left, and you are doing the person a big personal favour in giving them your 'last copy'!}

To gain the attention of the journal editor your research should be revolutionary rather than evolutionary. This goes back to my question 3 above.

Yes, there is a "game" being played, but the ethical rules are strict.
My answers


1. Does the research have any value?
2. Is it interesting to most people or to a particular group of people?
3. Are the research methods or experimental procedures trustable?
4. Does it have a concise, accurate, and attractive title?
5. Does the author present it in an easy understanding and logical way?
6. Does the author illustrate the major contents in vivid and beautiful figures (pictures, graphs, and diagrams) or clear tables?
There are many ways to increase the value, readability and its impact of a scientific paper .


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