In this article I have compiled a few critical points that I have learnt in writing professional research papers. This post will be updated as I find/learn new tricks in future.
These points are particularly useful for the researchers in computer science/engineering area. However, some of these points can be broadly applied to any scientific paper in any research area.
- Pay particular attention to references. Keep them as complete and consistent as possible. Reviewer care about references. They would like to see their papers have been cited neatly. Readers also care about it. They sometimes judge the quality of the paper based on the quality of the organization in the paper.
- Writing is so important. there are many points regarding writing. However, the minimum is that be consistent across the paper about the terms and tenses you use. Be specific! avoid general terms such as “some” or “in this situation” instead be more specific and clearly say what is “some” and what is the situation.
- Care about organization of the paper. Consider a nice flow in the Section titles so that a reviewer/skimmer can easily track the paper by reading the titles.
- Also be careful about paragraphing each section. Do not just use paragraphs randomly or just to breaking a long column of text. Each paragraph should convey a main message. The message usually appear in the beginning of the paragraph. The rest of the paragraph just “support” that main message. Avoid one-sentence-long paragraphs. Avoid sections with one paragraph.
- Figures are effective. It makes the paper less boring and easier to understand. The organization of the figures should be in a way that a reviewer/reader can understand an abstract of the paper by just going across figures in a paper. Do not reserve in writing long caption (description) for the figures. Again, the reviewer should understand the story by looking at the pictures and reading their descriptions.
- Conclusion should have a “take-away” message. That is, the reader/reviewer should understand the main message of the work by just going over the conclusion (and possibly abstract).
- Write down clearly the list of contributions somewhere at the end of the Introduction section. Remember that no reviewer would have time to go over the whole text. They just look for particular points in particular spots…If you miss addressing the right thing at the right spot, it would be hard to convince the reviewer to accept your paper.
- Try to be clear as much as possible. This is a common illusion to make the paper vague so that the reviewer do not understand it and “accept” it. This is rare! reviewers commonly enjoy and accept, when they read something in a short time and understand it clearly.