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PE and RS PUBLIC May 2011 : Page-445

Writing a Scientific Journal Paper: Preparation through Publication By Russell G. Congalton, John R. Jensen, and Jie Shan Introduction Successful publication of your GIScience research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal such as Photogram-metric Engineering & Remote Sensing may be one of the most important things you do in your career. However, the publication process is not for the faint of heart. There are many steps that must be taken into consideration before your paper can be published. It is naïve to think that most of the work has been completed when you finish writing the initial draft of your paper. In fact, the work has just begun. In order to be a successful author, you must understand all the components that go into having your paper published, including adequate prepara-tion, high-quality writing, proper submission, and appro-priate revision. This paper will provide you with an overview of the steps and many issues to consider when submitting and revising your work for publication as a peer-reviewed paper. Writing the Paper There are a number of important issues to consider as you begin the process of writing a scientific, peer-reviewed, journal paper. First, before you even begin writing, you should consider and carefully select the appropriate journal for your paper. Second, you must understand the various components of a scientific paper and avoid the common pitfalls that many novice authors encounter. Finally, there are other considerations, including: co-authors, professional ethics, and internal review. Which Journal? The selection of the appropriate journal is one of the most important decisions made in the publication process. Not all journals are the same even though they publish papers on similar topics. For example, some journals publish mainly theoretical papers rather than applied science. Some journals prefer very brief papers (e.g., less than 3 pages) while others publish longer papers (although the author(s) may incur page charges). Some journals have moderate review standards, while other journals, such as Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing , have very rigorous review standards. It is very important that you evaluate your topic and select a journal that is appropriate for the scope and caliber of the paper you are writing. Failure to submit your paper to the most appropriate journal can lead to frustration and difficulty in having your paper published or losing the deserved popularity and recognition of your work. Once an appropriate journal has been selected, it is important that you become familiar with that journal. Read a number of papers, especially those that cover topics that are similar to your research results. Note the style and organization of the published papers. Observe how references are cited. Review the standard format for abstracts and concluding remarks. The more you understand about journal content and format, the easier it will be for you to create a paper that has a higher probability of publication in the journal. Components of a Scientific Paper A scientific paper is not written like a magazine, a newspaper article, or a novel. Scientific papers are unique and must be written in a special way. One of the best ways to become proficient at writing scientific papers is to read a lot of them. The more scientific papers you read, the easier it will be to determine the good papers from the bad papers. The well-constructed papers have certain components that are common to all scientific papers, including: an abstract, introduction, hypothesis/objectives, methods, results, conclusions, and references. The abstract is a key component of the paper. Even many experienced authors have trouble writ ing a good abstract. The abstract is usually limited to 150-300 words yet must provide a complete synopsis of your paper including the problem being solved, the approach to the problem, the major finding(s) including quantitative results, and the conclusions. A good abstract causes the reader to want to read the rest of the paper. Many abstracts lack sufficient results and conclusions and spend too much time describing the nature of the problem. The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper. It must provide a clear description of the problem along with its significance (i.e., why the topic is important). The introduction also contains a short review of the relevant literature on the subject and points out any limitations or shortcomings. Most importantly, it identifies where you intend to make an important contribution to the state-of-the-art. continued on page 446 Photogrammetric engineering & remote SenSing Ma y 2011 445

Writing A Scientific Journal Paper: Preparation Through Publication

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