Writing that Shines

Not every journal article has groundbreaking technical content. Some articles barely move the needle or don’t move the needle at all, while others move the needle backward. As an author, you should know when the manuscript you’re about to submit is (might be) groundbreaking as opposed to a needle nudger.

Regardless, if the manuscript is well written, has nice figures, and makes a clear point, you will have a better than 50% chance of not getting rejected from your first choice journal–not the safety journals three tiers down the depth chart.

In peer reviews, I’ve rarely written something like “although it makes no sense and has no point, this manuscript is well written”. And I’ve rarely received that comment from a reviewer–actually, I consider it a minor victory when I receive the “well written” comment in a negative review.

To write a manuscript that will impress reviewers, you have to polish the turd.

  1. Write some stuff down.
  2. Edit that stuff.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

Repeat these three steps until your manuscript shines.

I’ve reviewed manuscripts where the authors clearly stopped after step 1. You gotta hit step 3 at least a few, maybe a half dozen, times–even if you think the manuscript will be groundbreaking and reviewers will overlook lackluster writing.

Visit Jack Baker’s website for writing advice that is actually actionable.

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