Author tutorials

Writing a journal manuscript

Publishing your results is a vital step in the research lifecycle and in your career as a scientist. When you publish your results as a journal article, you make it possible for the scientific community to see it. Publishing your work allows you to get recognition for your results, and to exchange your ideas with the global scientific community. 

We have designed this tutorial to help you write the best article possible by providing you with points to consider, from your background reading and study design to manuscript structuring and figure preparation.

By the end of the tutorial you should know on how to:

  • Prepare prior to starting your research
  • Structure your manuscript and what to include in each section
  • Get the most out of your tables and figures so that they clearly represent your most important results.

You will also have the opportunity to test your learning by completing a quiz at the end.

Before you begin writing

If possible, communicate with some of the authors of these manuscripts mentioned in the tips to the right via email or in person. Going to conferences if possible is a great way to meet some of these authors. Often, talking with the author of an important work in your research area will give you more ideas than just reading the manuscript would.

Study design

You must have a good study design to get publishable results. When designing an experiment or structuring an argument you will need to decide:

  • What is your hypothesis or research question?
  • What are the aim(s) of your study?
  • What are the best methods for achieving your aims?
  • Do you have the necessary resources to carry out your methods?
  • Which positive and negative controls will you use?

Do you have the required ethics and regulatory permissions? For example, if your experiment will have animal subjects, you will probably need approval from your institution’s review board. If you are publishing a clinical trial then you need to register it in a clinical trials registry. Not getting the correct permissions will stop you from publishing your work in reputable journals.

If your research uses statistics, will your experiment have enough statistical power to give useful results? Is your sample size large enough to draw valid conclusions? Which statistical tests will you use for your analysis? If you are not sure, consult a statistician; they can provide you with expert advice that you may need, and save you a lot of time.

Next: Structuring your manuscript

For further support

We hope that with this tutorial you have a clearer idea of how the publication process works and feel confident in responding to editor and reviewers. Good luck with publishing your work!

If you feel that you would like some further support with writing your paper and understanding the peer review process, Springer Nature offer some services which may be of help.

  • Nature Research Editing Service offers high quality  English language and scientific editing. During language editing, Editors will improve the English in your manuscript to ensure the meaning is clear and identify problems that require your review. With Scientific Editing experienced development editors will improve the scientific presentation of your research in your manuscript and cover letter, if supplied. They will also provide you with a report containing feedback on the most important issues identified during the edit, as well as journal recommendations.
  • Our affiliates American Journal Experts also provide English language editing* as well as other author services that may support you in preparing your manuscript.
  • We provide both online and face-to-face training for researchers on all aspects of the manuscript writing process.

* Please note, using an editing service is neither a requirement nor a guarantee of acceptance for publication.