5 Things to Know About Research Papers

Research paper

We all work so hard in the area of expertise and innovate many things world should know but why we all do not publish research papers ??

Might be not well aware of various things associated with this.

Before I start we all must know this.

1. What is a Research Paper ?

A research paper is scientific/academic writing based on scholar’s original research on a particular topic, and critical analysis and interpretation of the research findings, and comparison of the proposed approach with other existing/similar methods (if any), explanation of the trends observed with logical/ convincing arguments with proper scientific basis/justifications, suggestions for the best methodologies, suggestions to fill up the major gaps in both existing experimental work/ theoretical & computational models/technologies, and cost economics, identifying unbeaten tracks and promising paths for further developments/ modifications for better understanding of the topic chosen.

Research paper types: 

We can enlist them as following :

  • Short article
  • Full-length article
  • Review article
  • Communication
  • Short communication
  • Comments on already published work
  • Response to comments
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Editorial article
  • Guest editor article
  • Invited article
  • Article on scientific discussion
  • Scientific interview
  • Theme meeting
  • Symposium
  • Seminar
  • Conference etc.

Research paper size: Depending on the type, the research paper size may vary from less than half a page to several tens of pages.


Research papers (before published, usually it’s called ‘manuscript’) will be submitted to scientific journals/magazines, usually online or hard copies by post. 

Usually, as per the journal guidelines, the editorial office will do initial checks for word count limit, page limit, plagiarism/ similarity index etc.

After passing the editorial office checks, the research paper will be assigned to appropriate and available Editor/ Associate Editor of the journal to handle it.

They will invite the scholar reviewers in the field, compile and analyze the reviews, and based on the reviews, decide to accept as it is, accept with minor/major modifications or reject the paper. 

 Once accepted, a manuscript called a research paper.

 2. Challenges Faced by Researcher During  Submission

Major challenges any researcher faced during paper submission are

a. Finding a suitable journal

b. The requirement of different formats by different publishers

c. The Time Range for decision

d. Overcoming the un-written and un-proved bias (regional/ institutional etc.) and creating impact among peers/ editors so the submitted work at least will not be rejected without review (point (4) will not be discussed in this article).

a. Finding a suitable journal

Many experienced/ established researchers submit their work to an appropriate journal based on the scope and audience of the journal.

However, in spite of not falling under the major scope and audience of the journal, often young and emerging researchers would like to try to publish their work in journals with high reputation and high impact factor; mainly due to peer pressure and competition for job/ better job/ promotion/ awards/ recognition etc.

b. The requirement of different formats by different publishers

Every publisher has their own format for a research paper, maybe for their uniqueness or policy or else. But often these formats substantially vary from publisher to publisher or sometimes among the journals of the same publisher. 

This means researcher should plan for the specific journal before starting the writing of the research paper. Once paper rejected from a first submitted journal format needs to be changed before submitting to another journal. Especially, changing the reference style takes significant time. 

There are softwares available (Mendeley, RefWorks, EndNote etc) for instant change of references of any style but for many researchers, economically, they are not affordable to subscribe. 

Happy to know that nowadays, many publishers allowing initial submissions in any format; asking for revised submission (after the first review) only within their format.

c. The time range for decision

Once submitted, decision time range from a few hours to a few months, depending on the journal/ publisher/ handling editor.

This time uncertainty makes frustrate many young researchers, especially who are waiting for thesis submission and looking for the next position, promotion, awards etc. 

Many researchers are of the opinion that more than the outcome (whether accept or reject), time taken is important.

About two decades ago, the average time for the final decision was about 3 to 4 months, nowadays, most of the researchers expect for final decision within 3 to 4 weeks.

3. Impact Factor: A Must-Know

It’s also called a journal citation report. And, there are various kinds of impact factors. 

One of the most common and well-known Impact Factors are Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and Journal Impact Factor (JIF) from Calarivate Analytics

It’s a web of science group and their impact factors are well known all over the world. And these impact factors will only be prefered for a promotion or for a job.

However, there are many other agencies come with Scientometrics, SCImago Journal Rank, InCites, varies kinds of Altmetrics, Eigen factor, five years index etc. 

There are so many other things like Median Impact Factor, Aggregate Impact Factor, Aggregate Immediacy Index, Aggregate Cited Half-Life, Aggregate Citing Half-Life etc.which are not so popular. Only a few people know about these. 

Although, some people have come up with this theory that on the field, the factor cannot be generated/judged within the same equation. So, it is called Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI). But many people are not aware of this factor. 

It has a very high kind of ranking.  

Let’s say when it is an institutional ranking,

NIRF ranking or where you are judging the institutions with various fields of science, commerce, arts, and humanities; you can’t judge all types of researches in the same number. 

Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how to convert quality into quantity for a comparison. It’s not often easy to convert quality into quantity, but quality we can’t compare. It becomes so qualitative.

Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is coming to big chairs to compare among the various discipline and various institutions, which is not known to many people, but the industry or the overall academic industry, they are aware of that.

So, coming to the common people, very young researchers know about the impact factor. 

To calculate the impact factor for a particular year, we have to wait until the year over, i.e. in 2019, we cannot have impact factor for 2019 (latest is the previous year 2018 impact factor). 

So, to define what is impact factor, it is the ratio of total citations received in particular single year for papers published in previous two years to the total of the number of papers published in previous two years.

For Example,

2018 Journal Impact Factor of Journal of Molecular Liquids =

(Total citations received in 2018 to papers published in 2016 and 2017) / (Number of total paper published in 2016 and 2017) = (6583+6506) / (1281+1589) = 4.561

For any journals current year impact, let’s say the journal’s 2019 impact factor means, they are talking about the journal’s previous two years performance; the articles of 2019 will not be considered at all. 

To be kept in mind

There are some common aspects amongst many researchers including experienced researchers and well-established researchers. 

Generally, in high impact factor journals, one impact factor means every research paper cited once. When the total number of research papers and citations are the same, the impact factor is one. Hence, if any journal’s impact factor is high it means that the citation of those research papers is high. 

This does not mean that all papers in high impact journal are of high impact and received more citations. So, this is just a kind of scientific bias. Though most of the time it will turn out to be the right way. 

You may be thinking Why so..? 

Because your research papers are reviewed by peers and cited by a peer; then only the journal impact factor is going high. 

This means that the publishers and editors are very careful before accepting any other research paper because they want to maintain a high impact.

But, once any researcher gets into the high impact journal pool, it is automatically understood that the researcher’s every work is likely to be of high impact. Although this is often not true.

4. Lower Impact Factors can be good 

If some journal have low impact factors but from the publisher with a good reputation. Also, it fits into the scope of your topic and the audience, its good to go with that.

As it happens very often that everybody tries to go for a high impact factor and just submit the journal and once, the time gets delayed and they receive the rejection, leading to their frustration. 

5. How to Start Writing a Research Paper?

Make an outline before starting to write a paper, which is a rough sketch of your research paper. 

It should consist of headings, subheading and important points and figures/ tables/ schemes that you will illustrate later. 

The whole paper will revolve around this outline, so it is important to have a better outline and clarity about the findings on what your paper is about. Often easy if you make it into questions that your paper will answer. 

For example, what are the main objectives, methodologies adopted to achieve the claims, how better to compare with existing findings and how beneficial to the scientific community/ society, etc.

Even if you have conducted excellent research, developed a scientifically convincing argument and determined who your audience is, you must make sure you write straightforward and clear without any grammar or syntax error and don’t include any information that isn’t absolutely necessary to support your argument.

A picture is worth a thousand words” – so to minimize the text, include a good number of figures/ tables/ schemes/ charts/plots/ schematic diagrams etc.

The motive of this article is to motivate people to write research papers of their work.

“It is a win-win situation for the people and me, if I can give the maximum benefit to the people of the knowledge I possess.”

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Ramesh Gardas

Ramesh Gardas

Professor – Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Madras. He is a co-author of 4 patents, 2 book chapters and 160 research papers.

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