50 Motivational quotes and tips, 1 for each week of 2019

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37 mins
50 Motivational quotes and tips, 1 for each week of 2019

A new year is all about fresh beginnings and resolutions. It is also about staying motivated so that you are able to keep all the promises you made to yourself. We know just what you need! We’re already into the second week of the new year and we have 50 weeks to go! Here are 50 quotable quotes and words of wisdom shared by our interviewees and guest contributors. Each of these presents a unique perspective and is bound to broaden your approach towards academic research and scholarly publishing.

We hope this helps you stay driven week after week and helps you achieve all your academic resolutions in 2019. Enjoy reading, stay motivated, and happy New Year!

Conducting research

1. Do your homework before writing your grant proposal

There is no one-size-fits-all template for writing a proposal. Every funding body has its own customised template which the applicant must adhere to in its totality. The first step of choosing the right fund to apply for is to understand the funding body’s thematic areas of interest and learn more about their funding limits, deadline, etc…Deadlines are sacred…Never submit your proposal on the last day of the deadline as there could be technical issues with the computer, internet connectivity, etc., or you may have less time to proofread the proposal before final submission. You might end up submitting a proposal full of errors that make a bad impression on the evaluators. Do your homework. You should do a detailed background study of the research topic you are interested in before writing a grant proposal for it. Think of points such as the current topics of interest in that subject area, how your research will align with the funder’s expectations in terms of requisite capital (grant) and deliverables, and so on.   

Yusuff Utieyineshola Adeleke, Senior Research Officer at the Science Policy and Innovation Studies (SPIS) Department, the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Nigeria

2. Choose a research question and break it down into smaller parts

Over the years, I have come to realize that the most difficult aspect of research is to find a good problem to work on. It’s really hard to find (a) an interesting problem, (b) an important problem, (c) a problem that people will be interested in knowing the answer to, and (d) a problem that can actually be solved. A researcher also has to be mindful of timelines. We are not talking about a trivial problem you could solve overnight nor are we talking about something that would go on forever, beyond your lifetime. In principle, you want to have larger problems that you can break down into smaller problems and solve those smaller issues during the period of a grant application of about 3 to 5 years.

Dr. Tim Hunt—Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

3. Get used to following a regular schedule as a researcher 

If you are involved in too many things and your attention is divided, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve much in scientific research. I have always considered scientists as a special group of people. The way regular people think when they tackle a difficult situation is by simplifying it. When they encounter a mountain too high, they will take a detour. However, scientists think differently. They like to look for trouble or problems that they can solve. When there is a problem people can’t solve, researchers and scientists will find the solution no matter how long that takes. I think scientists are persistent, even stubborn. And it is this single-mindedness that helps them concentrate on solving problems.


Linqi Zhang—Chair, Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Comprehensive Aids Research Center at Tsinghua University, China


4. Stay updated about the latest research in your field

To conduct scientific research, one must read a large amount of literature. First, you must read literature that is highly relevant to your research, and this should be part of your daily routine…Second, read literature that is somewhat relevant to your research topic, e.g., articles with a general approach or those that report any significant progress in the field…Finally, read up on trending research topics, such as the latest literature and technological news…Reading such literature will bring you up to speed with the current global trends in scientific research. You may likely get inspiration from some of these studies!

Dr. Xeujun Sun, Experienced researcher in Hydrogen and Hyperbaric Studies

5. Manage your data effectively

As far as possible, make sure that you store your data on cloud…This minimizes chances of data loss. Format data in easy-to-find and easy-to-use ways. This would increase searchability, especially when the data is open or shared. Standardized metadata has emerged as a key part of many funding contracts, drawing on international best practices. Make sure to draw on the benefits of software applications to store, segregate, and format your data. You can choose to provide open access to the managed data, as is increasingly being advocated, with special focus being given to data retention and curation. Make it a practice to store data that accumulates every day in an organized way. Categorize, format, and store them in recognizable and easy-to-access spaces.

Preeti Raghunath, PhD student; Researcher, Communication and Media

Writing a research paper for a journal

6. Plan your writing before you begin

Everyone has different writing habits. Personally my first step, after finishing an experiment, is reorganizing the findings. If I find important phenomena and outcome in the findings, I will draft the framework of an article in my mind. With this base, I will put the pictures and findings needed for the article in one folder. Based on these, I start planning my research report. I focus on reading 20 to 30 articles of relevant topics and make preliminary organization of them within a week or two. After that, I spend a Friday and Saturday night right after to finish my first draft. (I can finish the entire article in one go and catch up on sleep the next day.) Next, the draft is refined multiple times in the coming week. All the co-authors of the article will read it and share their opinions. After further modification, the article will be submitted.

Dr. Hailang Yu, Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, University of Wollongong, Australia

7. Think outside the box while writing your research paper

Researchers need to think outside of the box, change their style of writing and take this opportunity to be creative. Have fun with your writing and remember that elements of your paper like figures represent something entirely different to a younger audience so including the same figures found in your academic paper but in brighter colors or with larger fonts does not mean young readers will understand what they mean or find them compelling. Instead of using figures as a means to visualize data, think of them as a way to display meaning and solidify what it is that you have explained in the text.

Emma Clayton – Journal Manager, Frontiers for Young Minds

8. Stick to a writing schedule until it becomes a habit

The hardest part of writing is producing continuous text, because it requires attention to grammar and syntax—which is why it helps to create a framework, just as an architect prepares a blueprint before starting the construction of a building…What you see in front of you as you begin is a blank screen whereas what you see in your mind’s eye is a finished product: a crisply written and neatly formatted paper free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The difference between these two is wide and stark enough to freeze you into inaction. The solution? Do not think about the final product as a whole; break it down into bite-size chunks…Set writing targets in terms of number of words. Whenever you begin a writing session, set a target: say to yourself that you will not quit the session until you have written, say, 400 words…What also helps is assigning a regular slot for writing – Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings, for example – because you develop the habit of writing. By sitting down to write at a set time of the day, you are training your brain to adapt itself. Stick to the schedule until it becomes a habit.

Yateendra Joshi, Communicator, Published Author, BELS-certified editor with Diplomate status

9. Get the authorship details right

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends that authorship be based on…four criteria…So, in order to be listed as an author, a researcher must meet all of these four criteria - and conversely, a researcher who meets the four criteria must be listed as an author for the paper. It follows that listed authors must be able to identify their own contribution to the work and also identify the contributions of all the co-authors…By agreeing to include your name in the list of authors, you are accepting responsibility for the whole of the article - not just the section that you have written. This means that if the research is flawed, if one of your colleagues has made a mistake in their analysis or conclusions or worse, that part of the article is plagiarised, then you share the responsibility and it is your reputation that is damaged.

Nick Rushby, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Education and Self-Development journal

10. Get the IMRAD right

When writing a paper it is essential that you indicate in the introduction what the research question is; in the methods, why you are using those methods to determine what; in results, what were the main findings; and in discussion, what you set out to do and what you showed, plus give the limitations of the study.

Dr. J. Patrick Barron, Medical Communication Specialist

11. Analyze your findings sufficiently

Often when I review papers, I find that the paper is written like a report and not a manuscript. Authors should progress beyond describing the findings and should also provide the evidence that the findings are reliable. Moreover, they should explain the importance of the findings for their field which is vital because a good research paper relates the findings to those of previous studies and explains how the study adds to the previous knowledge. Thus, papers lacking sufficient depth might be rejected. As a rule of thumb, the discussion section should take up one third of a paper.’

Prof. Yu Hailiang, Professor, Central South University, China

12. Create graphs that make a great first impression

Graphs are an important aspect of a research paper. They help you present complex information in a visual way and enable your readers to process your findings. Consider this – great graphs will create a positive impression on journal editors, reviewers, and readers! It’s a win-win!...You shouldn't need to look at a graph, read 500 words of text and then look at the graph again to get the full story that you're trying to tell. The graph - and the data being visualized - should tell the complete story, or as close to "complete" as you can possibly get… Any visual design element that you choose to include should complement the story that is trying to be told - not take away from it. "Short, sweet, and to the point" are the three major qualities that you're always trying to hit. So long as you've taken care of those three things, try not to overthink everything else.  

Payman Taei, Founder of Visme, and HindSite Interactive. Entrepreneur, UI/UX Designer, Presentation, Data Viz, Visual Educator

13. Never be satisfied with the first version of your manuscript

An important tip is that you must never be satisfied with the first versions of your text, be it a report, a thesis, or an article. Writing a scientific text requires a lot of time and reflection. It is common for students to not understand the importance of revising and refining what they write. Scientific writing is one of the most important, if not the most important, stages of the scientific process. And when students’ lack of understanding about its significance is coupled with poor written communication skills, the situation worsens. I must add that poor written communication skills can usually be attributed to a lack of basic school education and the habit of fast and uncritical writing used in electronic media. By uncritical writing, I refer to output that has not been critiqued or reviewed by students or their peers.

Dr. Alvaro Migotto—Former Director, Marine Biology Center, Brazil

Journal selection and submission

14. Think about the readership of the journal

Familiarize yourself with the scopes of the journals you’re considering. Try to figure out how much weight they place on such factors as novelty and consider how your paper would measure up in this regard. If you want to make an impact among your colleagues, look especially at the journals that they’re reading and publishing in. If you’d like to reach a much wider audience, consider a multi-disciplinary journal that you may have not paid much attention to before. In other words, think about the readership of the journal and who you want to read your paper.

Dr. Helle Goldman, Chief Editor, Polar Research

15. Know what makes a manuscript publication-worthy

A good manuscript, first of all, should present new – thus not previously published – results, and should be well written, i.e.,  it should havea fluent narrative, be concise and at the same time complete, have good graphics, and also be correct in the citing of work of other scientists. Needless to say, a manuscript with typographical errors never is a good manuscript…Never write a manuscript in your mother language, and then translate it: the proper method is to write directly in English, and correct the syntax afterwards. Use a spell checker. Proofread your manuscript several times before submission, and ask a befriended colleague to read your paper(s) and vice versa.

Dr. Christian Sterken, Acclaimed Researcher, Journal Editor, and Author

16. Use the Think-Check-Submit checklist to find the right open access journal

Start with DOAJ that includes over 12,000 journals. Use the 'Think. Check. Submit' checklist to help you assess the quality of the journal you are considering. Only submit your article if you can answer ‘yes’ to most of the questions on the checklist. If you are still not sure about your choice, speak to your supervisor or manager about your publishing options. Librarians and colleagues who focus on scholarly communication issues in your field can also provide useful guidance and advice.  

Iryna Kuchma – Open Access Program Manager at EIFL

17. Don’t miss journal guidelines

Problem one is that authors don’t read the Guidelines. This wastes both their, and my, time. And it implies that they’re either lazy or negligent. But of all these errors, the most common is that, not having read the Guidelines (or at least not properly) they use the wrong referencing system. In these cases, I simply send the manuscripts back and ask that the authors read the Guidelines carefully! The second most common error: authors don’t have their English proofread. Those manuscripts also go back with a request that they sort the language out. That problem is so common that we have a standard Manuscript Central (MC) response for this!

Dr. John Butler-Adam, Editor-in-Chief, South African Journal of Science

18. Avoid plagiarism at all costs

All sources referred to for techniques and background for the study must be comprehensively and correctly referenced. If you feel that you would be unable to paraphrase another author’s work adequately, it is permissible to quote the author’s work verbatim. However, you have to enclose these sentences in quotation marks…When taking notes, write down material from other studies in your own words. Make sure you add quotation marks to any text you have copied from the source, so that you can identify any material you’ve directly copied when referring to your notes later on…Even when assuming that the facts or technique you are referring to is “common scientific knowledge,” it is always better to give a reference to the original author. Some readers of a broad based journal may not be experts in your subject area and would welcome the information.

Ashmita Das, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Cactus Communications

19. Do your own peer review before submission

Do your own peer review before you make your work openly available. Don’t expect the publisher to take care of everything. The truth is, no one will care as much about communicating your work as you do. And once you make it public, don’t be shy. Seek out a discussion; promote your work in social networks; post a PDF of your paper on your webpage, institutional repository, or any network you belong to. You never know what new ideas you might inspire!

Stephanie Dawson—Open Access Advocate and CEO at Science Open

20. Focus on HOW your scientific ideas are packaged

Focus on HOW your scientific ideas are packaged and don’t simply list the scientific details within those ideas …What matters the most in scientific writing is clarity. Strong scientists avoid fanciful and ornamental language. Rather, the focus should be on explaining yourself clearly, and the best way to do so is by using short, simple sentences…Don’t try to write and edit at the same time. These are separate tasks requiring different skills. Ask your most critical colleagues to check your work. Engage a native-speaker editor when you’re not writing in your mother tongue…Always follow the journal’s prescribed submission procedures diligently, completely, and without complaint!

Prof. Caven Mcloughlin—Professor, Kent State University, Ohio, USA; Fulbright Specialist; Academic Trainer

21. Respect your peer reviewers’ time

Peer review means that some of your peers, generally someone you do not know in person, is spending their time reading through your paper to see whether it merits publication, rather than spending time on their own research. Make sure that it is worthwhile. The paper doesn’t need to be perfect, it can never be, but as a referee I want to feel that you have really tried…Don’t use the referee as a proof reader…Respect my time as a referee. I am not reading the paper for me. I am reading it for you.  We do not publish to publish. To get our name on print. If that is important to you, start a blog. We publish because we have something to say. Because we honestly believe that our work is bringing mankind one step further. That we are adding a proper new brick to The Castle of Knowledge.

Dr. Jo Røislien. Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical Scinces, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

22. Be polite when replying to reviewers, even if you disagree

If authors feel that they have received an unfair review, they should politely and professionally write to the journal editor about it. They should clearly explain why the evaluation is being viewed as unfair. Polite and logical refutation will leave an impression on the journal editors and help authors deal with the situation in a smoother manner.

Dr. Tida Ge, Professor, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences

23. Choose your words carefully when responding to reviewers

Show the editor that you carefully considered the input you received about your original submission. Be comprehensive in your response (but don’t be slavish; for example, it isn’t necessary to note every suggestion for correcting grammar and punctuation.) Provide evidence for any issues related to accuracy of content. If something was misunderstood by reviewers, explain the issue. Don’t be afraid to admit that the original text may have been vague, but it is not necessary to be self-denigrating. Choose your words carefully. Be logical. Show how the revision is an improvement over the original, and how it is now a worthy contribution.     

Dr. Susan J. Henly, a passionate researcher with wide ranging experience in clinical research

Dealing with a PhD

24. Learn to embrace failure as a researcher

If failure is associated with self-efforts to achieve or improve the current performance then your future actions are likely to involve more efforts and to finding a new direction where you can avoid stressful outcomes. Alternatively, associating failure with others or anything above your control may lead to less efforts because your performance is subjected to the behaviour of others, which could lead to your belief that all self-efforts will be insignificant… If we persevere to deal with failure, make way for a growth-oriented mindset, and belief in self-efforts then our fear of failure in research can easily be converted to confidence about achieving success in due time.

Fouzia Nawaz, Senior Lecturer, Notre Dame Institute of Education, Pakistan

25. Inculcate a great work ethic and a few essential habits

Inculcate a great work ethic, and be patient. Ambitious and impatient people are not likely to succeed. Scientific researchers must be level-headed. Those who pursue only fame and fortune cannot be considered as real scientists. Think on your toes. Be quick and alert. Those who are too lazy to think or apply their knowledge are not fit to become researchers. Most situations in this line of work require researchers to think deeply and come up with ideas to solve problems. You can’t always expect instructions. Supervisors only point you to a general direction, and nurturing your talent is really up to you. Be receptive to new knowledge and information. Without knowledge you will find it difficult to innovate.

Dr. Jianwu Yan, Deputy Director, Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Nanchang Institute of Technology, China

26. Plan your schedule

Planning your schedule is important to work efficiently. Consider your work hours and your personal needs while creating your work schedule. Consider your own projects as well as other lab responsibilities you may have while planning. Try to fit as much as you can during your work hours. For example, if you are writing a manuscript, write down the methods section during an incubation period rather than waiting until the end of the day and increasing your work hours. Or if you have a long commute to work, consider using that time to start writing that grant due in a month. Use your time efficiently. Sometimes, sticking to routine may be difficult as some experiments may run into long hours or you may have additional deadlines to meet. If you have long experiments to do one week, try to offset the next week with a lighter schedule. If you have family commitments on certain weekday evenings, work on the weekends to make up. Try to find the right balance where you do not work, work, work or play, play, play.

Dr. Shivanee Shah, Senior Publications Manager, Publication Support Services, Editage

27. Use the resources that are freely available

Researchers need to take advantage of the multitude of free resources that are available to them as well as the mentoring schemes that help them along their publishing journey: I am referring to resources on topics such as tips for writing grant applications, knowing how to select the relevant target journals for submission, understanding the peer review process and related ethical requirements, getting more international collaborators, using the right keywords for their abstracts and summaries, using social media to post short videos, tweets, etc. to make their research stand out and garner citations, and so on. These are all handy tools and will go a long way in ensuring that researchers develop the best writing and publication practices.

Nitasha Devasar – Managing Director, Taylor and Francis, India and South Asia

28. Think about new ideas and have a vision

Never stop learning and enjoying in your research. Hard work and dedication always result in good publications, new collaborations, and well-deserved recognition. Don’t think, “How am I going to publish a paper in a good journal?” Think about new ideas and have a vision. And—get training in research methodology. This will ensure that your research will be of high quality and thus publishable in best journals. The language of your manuscript is the least important for journal editors. Language can be easily corrected, but methodologically rigorous and novel research always finds way into good journals.

Prof. Ana Marušić, Chair, Department of Research in Biomedicine and Health, University of Split School of Medicine, Croatia

29. There is no shorter route to success in academia – accept it

There is no shorter route to success in academia – hard work is everything, and so is smart work. Often, researchers bow to the pressure and look for short cuts, a sort of Aladdin’s lamp that will fulfill their wishes. If you work hard and do everything, you will reach your destination. Next, remember that academic success is incremental. Learn to celebrate your small achievements because they will all build up to the big one. Finally, being a successful researcher is not about being a famous researcher. In fact, the more experienced and successful you are, the greater is your responsibility – towards society, younger researchers who report or look up to you, journal editors, and fellow academics.

Prof. Zabta Khan Shinwari— UNESCO Laureate; Secretary General, Pakistan Academy of Sciences

30. Don’t become a victim of the “publish-or-perish” culture

"Publish or perish" has been the driving factor as well as pain point of Korean research. Most Korean researchers are victims of a competitive publishing system where the focus is on publishing a greater number of articles in high impact factor (IF) journals within a short time period. This is because the academic grading system is closely tied to publication output. In addition, most researchers want to publish their articles in SCI-indexed journals, and researchers in the pure/applied sciences are keen on publishing articles in prestigious journals like Nature and Science…It is important for Korean researchers to ensure that instead of blindly trying to publish a manuscript in high-IF journals or trying to publish as many papers as they can, they need to consider the quality of their manuscripts as well as publish their research with the aim of communicating their research to a wide audience. That is my advice to Korean researchers – don’t become a victim of the publish-or-perish culture.

Dr. Hyungsun Kim—Secretary General, Korean Council of Science Editors; Professor, School of Materials Engineering, Inha University, Korea

31. Be positive when taking up a new research position in a new institution and country

The first and immediate consequence of changing institutional affiliation is a dip in productivity, which occurs naturally because of the time researchers need to spend in doing paper work, adjusting to a new system, changing lifestyles, etc. It is difficult to make the time to write and publish new papers during such phases. I would advise researchers to stay in touch with their seniors/peers from their previous institution(s). Also, consider collaborating with your colleagues from your former institution. That will make the bump in productivity less pronounced when switching institutions. As for moving to another country, I would suggest you learn the local language, even if you plan to carry out and publish research in English. I did that. I learned a new language and that made the adaptation somewhat easier for me.

Dr. Edgar /Guevara, CONACYT Research Fellow, CIACYT-UASLP, Mexico

32. Get more hands-on experience in the lab

What I learned at the Koshiba Lab was that actual lab work and research at an institution are extremely important. For example, it is important, even for graduate students, to build an apparatus with other researchers or to participate in discussions with other researchers as their peers and collaborate with them in some way. To experience such interaction and collaboration at the place of research/a research lab is an important part of the training for upcoming researchers…I hope that young researchers can participate in this hands-on process gain rich experience, and grow as a result. That is what I think.

Dr. Takaaki Kajita—Winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

33. Find different means to communicate your research

Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote your research. Your network and beyond will potentially read your work if you self-promote effectively. Write a lay version of your article, i.e., your own ‘news and views’ so that it can be easily understood by non-scientists on a personal blog to make your research accessible by a large audience. Contact your university newspaper/magazine and have them report on your findings. If your study is interesting enough, it might be reported it in mainstream newspapers. You can directly e-mail people in your field about your new work asking for their perspective/thoughts. That will definitely increase the number of people reading your work.

Dr. Rishabh Jain, Entrepreneur; Trainer; Head of Product Solutions, LiveRamp

34. Develop skills beyond research

Push your horizons, talk with people beyond academia, and take on as much experience and perspective from others as you can. Listening is so much more valuable than speaking. Find something that is important to you, and dedicate your time to doing it. And if you love it, then give it your best! Also, no matter what you do in academia, you will always end up getting on someone’s bad side. Usually this means that you’re just challenging the status quo, so don’t be afraid of rising to challenges or meeting resistance, but always be as diplomatic as possible. Find existing networks who are working on similar things to your interests! Via social media, the power of communities within science has never been more visible, and there are always people out there for you to learn from, collaborate with, and help out if needed. Never be afraid to ask questions: this is how we learn and collectively progress… learn how to say “no,” and don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Jon Tennant—Founder, Open Science MOOC and paleoarXIV

35. Learn to celebrate small achievements, but be humble

It’s ok to celebrate even the smallest achievements in research (because as researchers, we deal with a lot of rejections, let’s be real!) but remember that you can’t get ahead of yourself. No matter how many accomplishments I have, I don’t know everything and there are many people who have achieved more than me. But this doesn’t mean that my achievements are meaningless! It just means that I should avoid boasting about them even to myself. Another reason why you shouldn’t boast too much is because chances are that your accomplishment was a team effort. You probably got feedback from a supervisor/colleague, or input from a colleague, editor, reviewer, etc. Be sure to always acknowledge them! Finally, be humble enough to recognize that you can learn from anyone, including your students, the laymen, or your colleagues.


Elodie Ekoka, PhD Student, Wits Research Institute for Malaria, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

36. Be open to non-traditional career paths

I left behind a well-recognized and highly structured traditional environment and moved to a very dynamic, emerging environment with many opportunities. In this broad sense, I took the same decision twice. While such decisions open up new windows of opportunity, you do pay a price for them, and sometimes you ask yourself whether a traditional career path would have been an easier choice. The truth is, while a traditional career path would certainly have its own challenges, it could hardly have been as rewarding or exciting as the unconventional path! A poem I love is “The road not taken”, by Robert Frost, which is about a traveler´s choice between two roads, each representing a path in life. It ends with the words “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” It does.

Klaus Capelle—President, Federal University of ABC, Brazil

37. Don’t be shy to approach senior researchers

Approaching senior researchers is the biggest challenge that one faces as a student. You have to push yourself to do it, even when the mere idea seems intimidating. My confidence-boost came from the first time I mustered up the courage to compliment a professor on his talk. His friendly response brought forth the obvious, yet forgotten, perspective: professors are only humans. In my opinion, the best way to have a decent chat with the most-sought-but-often-busy professors is to briefly introduce yourself and invite them to your poster/talk. This way, they can get acquainted with your work without you encroaching on their time. Even a brief chat will help you transition from a stranger to an acquaintance, opening doors for future follow-up lab visits.

Meenakshi Prabhune, Science Writer

38. Remember that social media platforms are open to everybody

A good piece of advice for any researcher using social media platforms is to remember that these platforms (most of them by default) are open to everybody, so anyone can see what you write or share. Although you can create closed groups or chose which of your connections sees what you write on some platforms, it might be difficult for you to constantly keep track of the selected groups you’re sharing your information with. For this reason, I keep my Facebook profile completely open to public viewing. When I know it’s open and never even try to share anything with a closed group, I always keep in mind that anyone can read what I write. This helps me choose what I am saying and ensure that I am communicating what I want to. This also increases the effectiveness of that platform for my purposes.

Dr. Kim Holmberg, postdoctoral researcher at the Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE) at the University of Turku, Finland

39. Choose the right mentor for your work

Communicativeness and open-mindedness are two characteristics frequently seen in great mentors. Generally, people who communicate their research well are more likely to attract more grants and establish a better interpersonal relationship with the coworkers. Also, an open-minded PI probably will encourage free thinking and the new ideas of yours. This will certainly contribute to a satisfying mentor-mentee relationship.

Dr. Dhriti Bhattacharya, Publications Manager, Publication Support Services, Editage

40. Learn the best way to communicate with your supervisor

Learning to manage communication with those who supervise you is a skill that will serve you well in any situation, so be sure to learn it… You must not hesitate to approach your professors/principal investigator/supervisor when you need. Look at it this way: given the increasing academic competition, most of all current research is happening under a new paradigm of significant resource crunch—which means that research professors have way less time now than they used to earlier. So, help them be better mentors by being proactive.

Nirupama Sridhar, PhD; Screening and Genetics Unit, Department of Health, Washington, US

41. Collaborate with other researchers

Usually 1-2 persons develop the initial concept of the manuscript and based on this, they involve appropriate collaborators specifying the contributions of each. Doing this will help you play on the strengths of each collaborator. Ensure that you are clear about the concept, extent, and type of contribution required from your coauthors, the timeframe that you expect them to follow, and their position in the author listing on the initial communication…Keep coauthors informed and give them the opportunity to view and comment on the manuscript at all stages of the preparation process from the manuscript drafts to the manuscript submission…Consider all suggestions made by your coauthors carefully, and respond appropriately. I treat all suggestions from coauthors as I would respond to a comment from a reviewer and take time to formulate clear and informed responses (as all coauthors are reviewers!).

Dr. Gail Schofield, Marine Ecologist, Center for integrative Ecology, Deakin University, Australia

42. Prioritize yourself and those you love

Taking care of myself has made me more focused when I do work, made me a better manager of my time, and given me new purpose in what I am doing…Prioritize yourself and those you love. It is so easy to become an island if you don’t put work into yourself. Stop working and do what you love, you will feel better and when you feel better you can focus more clearly and get more done…Reach out. The hardest thing to do is ask for help and support because we don’t want to feel like we have let ourselves or others down, there is nothing wrong with help and nothing gets done in a vacuum. There are SO many awesome people out there (in real life and our pocket friends) who are willing to listen, share support, and just be there for you when you need it.

Amanda L Glaze, Amanda L. Glaze, Assistant Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Science Education, Georgia Southern University, US

Tips for peer reviewers

43. Do not be offended if authors don’t accept your suggestions

Do not hesitate to criticize the manuscript, but be constructive and polite. Find the unclear, vague, and ambiguous parts of the manuscript, and the loose ends. Explain the shortcomings to the authors.  Check if the empirical support for the findings is correctly presented, if the authors' conclusions are consistent with the analysis results. Examine whether the statistical analysis is based on an adequate methodology. Examine if the analyzed data are clearly described, and if they are relevant with regard to the purpose of the study. When you detect problems and inconsistencies, explain these to the authors, suggest changes, and motivate your suggestions, but do not be offended if authors decline to comply with your suggestions.

Jonas Ranstam – Medical Statistician; Independent Statistical Consultant; Acclaimed Peer Reviewer

44. Be aware of your own limitations as a peer reviewer

[Reviewers]… should be aware of their own limitations and comment only on aspects that they are capable of evaluating. (I’m grateful that the journals I review for have more than one reviewer, typically with somewhat different strengths.) Further, reviewers should remain mindful that the manuscripts they review are by human beings. Even if a manuscript has major flaws, it probably represents a lot of work and emotional investment by the author. Reviewers should therefore be tactful and constructive in their criticism, and they should remember to note strengths of the manuscript in addition to identifying weaknesses. Not only is such an approach the decent way to behave. Also, it is likely to be more effective in motivating the author to improve the current manuscript and in educating the author to produce better manuscripts in the future.

Dr. Barbara Gastel—Professor, Integrative Biosciences, Humanities in Medicine, and Biotechnology; Texas A&M University, US

Tips for journal editors

45. As an editor you must be able to justify every decision you make

As an Editor-in-Chief, they need strategic skills – planning, management, overview, delegation, negotiation, vision, etc. As the editor having to deal with articles, they need the skill to read and comprehend quickly, critical appraisal skills, in-depth knowledge of the subject area, the ability to take advice (not always easy!), be objective, avoid bias and discrimination, undertake in-depth analysis of an article (as opposed to the wider view as an Editor-in-Chief), communicate clearly in writing, and be decisive. Good judgement is required by all editors, both in the practical decisions and in the ability to select good reviewers, editorial board members, etc. Communication is, of course, paramount, and the ability to appreciate different viewpoints is vital to avoid conflict (with the publisher, other editors, authors, etc.). The ability and willingness to make decisions (and abide by the consequences) is a key skill that is sometimes forgotten: the editor must be able to take advice and then make decisions – and be able to justify every one of them.

Pippa Smart—Independent Research Communication and Publishing Consultant

46. Communicate clearly with your authors

Use clear and easy-to-understand English when writing the Instruction for Authors, which makes it convenient for nonnative-English-speaking authors to know the requirements of the journal. (2) Clarify the detailed requirements of the editorial policy your journal has, such as regarding ethical issues, to help authors know what they have to do and what they should not do. (3) Suggest that authors use language polishing services, if the science is good but the English is not understandable.

Jing Duan, Ex-Managing Editor, Acta Ecologia Sinica

47. Think of things from the authors’ perspective

Researchers have many commitments; they are often overstretched, and their time is valuable. Many, quite understandably, feel considerable frustration when they have to spend more time than should be necessary trying to submit manuscripts or reviews because of inadequacies in journals’ system or instructions. All journals should regularly evaluate their processes and make sure they are fit for purpose. All the information and correspondence for authors and reviewers should also be checked regularly and updated as necessary, ensuring consistency across website pages, the online manuscript system, and correspondence. If this isn’t done, researchers may decide to go elsewhere next time to submit or review.

Dr. Irene Hames, Independent Specialist/Advisor in Research Publication, Peer Review, and Research Integrity

48. Know your authors and simplify things for them

Be aware of your target audience. 2. Make instructions to authors simple and understandable, and review them regularly. Ensure a fair peer review process (usually with 2-3 reviews, or more if necessary). Pay due attention to ethical issues: data fabrication or manipulation, plagiarism, authorship, conflict of interest, copyright, legislation, etc. Respect others; inform authors about progress and delays as soon as possible; do not overburden reviewers and authors. Do your best to ensure that publications are complete, concise, and clear, with appropriate methods and correct citations. Make sure that abstracts properly summarize essential information (usually: background, objectives, methods, results, and conclusions) and contain major keywords. Ensure safe long-term storage of publications and documentation of the editorial process. Develop your journal.

Sylvia Ufnalska, Independent Science Translator and Editor

49. Read good writing and have fun!

Read good writing: both classic authors such as George Orwell and well-written/edited publications such as The Economist. Keep up to date with developments in the field, through membership of an editors’ association. Attend meetings and workshops where possible. Always be open to new ideas but be critical: don’t follow every latest trend. Have fun!

Dr. Joan Marsh, The Lancet Psychiatry

50. Make your journal international

Transition your journal into an English-language journal if you want to promote your journal internationally. Recruit editorial board members from at least 10 countries. Include manuscripts from at least 10 countries…Do not change the editors frequently. The minimum term of an editor should be at least five years. Recruit a manuscript editor or hire the services of a professional manuscript editing company to keep with the style and format of the journal…English proofreading is mandatory if the author is not a native English speaker. Even if the author is a native English speaker, English proofreading is required at times. CrossCheck should be used routinely when any manuscripts arrives at the editorial office to avoid plagiarized or duplicated content. Enough budget is the necessary minimum condition to promote the journal; therefore, have a good relationship with publishers (Society). Participate in the editors’ association, for example, Korean Council of Science Editors that provides the latest information on journal editing and publishing. Also, attend the workshop course for editors at least once a year.

Dr. Sun Huh, Deputy Editor, Korean Journal of Medical Education

Those were some great words of advice! Aren’t these quotes motivating? So which one of this these quotes resonates with you most? Which of these are closely aligned to your resolutions for 2019? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Passionate about scholarly publishing, always looking to have memorable conversations with researchers and industry professionals across the globe
See more from Jayashree Rajagopalan


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