Scientific publishing

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Things to keep in mind before and while you are trying to publish. Please extend with your advice.

Open access

  • Open access means not only free to read but also free to reuse under certain conditions (this will be beneficial not only for the reader but also for you - the author - when you reuse figures for presentations, reviews,..)
  • Open access articles are read and consequently cited more often [we need a reference here]
  • If open access is not an option, you may be able to publish a pre-print version of your article which will be freely accessible.

Costs of publishing

Most journals charge scientists for publishing their data. The exact amount is often a complicated composite of page charges, fees for colour figures, and cost of reprint which many authors like to have to give to colleagues, especially those that cannot access the journal because of restricted, subscription-based access.

See this dedicated page for more: Publication fees

Text formatting

  • Most journals will force you to submit a Word document :-/ Some are more progressive and allow other word processors like LaTeX, OpenOffice,..
  • Special characters like the Greek letters α, β,.. often cause problem when moving text between computers. Journals may require you to convert them to alpha, beta,.. Unicode is probably the best way to encode you text.
  • The references need to be formatted according to the journal requirements. Let your bibliography software (EndNote, BibTeX) do the job for you. EndNote comes with many bibliography styles and additional ones can be downloaded. Many authors before you and some journals have prepared BibTeX styles which you can reuse.
  • In case you are wondering how number of words and characters converts to pages in the typical print: An average two-column page with only text is about 1000 words. This is reduced by several hundred words if there are figures on the page. 1000 words is about 4000 characters without spaces counted and 5000 characters (+20%) with spaces counted.

Image formatting

  • JPEG gives the best compression of images of natural objects like cells, tissues, fluorescence, and EM. However, it is often not allowed since it employs a lossy compression algorithm. A lossless JPEG format exists but is not widely used and therefore incompatible with some pieces of image software.
  • Physical representation of images uses the concept of DPI (dots per inch) which is not relevant when displaying your images on screen. Most journals will require 300, 600 (typical laser printer), or even more.
  • The following rules of thumb may be helpful to you when preparing figures for a two-column article:
single column / half page 8 cm 300 DPI ~1000 pixels (945)
two columns / full page 16 cm 300 DPI ~2000 pixels (1890)

External links

See also