Webinar Review: Debunking Publishing Myths: 10 Tips for Publishing in ACS Journals

Our trainees review webinars in their given fields and share abstracts to help colleagues outside their discipline make an informed choice about watching them. As our program bridges diverse disciplines, these abstracts are beneficial for our own group in helping one another gain key knowledge in each other’s fields. We are happy to share these here for anyone else who may find them helpful.

Debunking Publishing Myths: 10 Tips for Publishing in ACS Journals

Thomas Holme, Iowa State University, Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Chemical Education
Kelly Chibale, University of Cape Town, Associate Editor for the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry

October 13, 2022

American Chemical Society

View on the ACS website >>

Analysis by Sara Bell:

Sara BellThe American Chemical Society (ACS) strives to make the publishing process less daunting by providing guidance to authors at every step of the process. In addition to their publishing center, ACS recently hosted a webinar tackling common publishing myths and providing authors with their top 10 tips for a successful publishing experience. In this webinar, Professors Thomas Holme and Kelly Chibale provide their insight into the publishing process based on their experience as both authors and editors for ACS journals. While ACS has over 60 journals in their portfolio, the tips provided in this webinar are applicable to all of them. Additionally, these tips can easily be generalized to help with submissions to many journals outside of the ACS portfolio, making this a useful seminar to more than just chemists!

To best utilize these tips, a good understanding of the anatomy of a manuscript is required. Professor Holme walks us through the eight key components of a manuscript and their purpose within the manuscript. From the title, abstract, and TOC graphics which serve to capture attention and pull in readership; to the figures, results, and conclusions that explain and support the discoveries you want to share with others. Their top ten tips, briefly discussed below, focus on how to expertly craft your manuscript.

To begin, they suggest creating a useful outline to pose important questions along with the relevant data and figures you will use to answer those questions. They further suggest sharing this outline with co-authors as early as possible to get critical feedback before the manuscript is deep in development. Often, reviewers struggle to understand the flow of the data and ideas presented, so having a clear and well-structured outline will make it easier to tell your scientific story.  Additionally, targeting a specific journal will help to refine the contents of your manuscript. To determine which journal is most appropriate, the scope, impact, and need for other accommodations such as open access should be considered. Once you chose a journal, you should use their specific guidelines to make formatting and submission a breeze.

Now you’re ready to present your findings and the best way to do so is to tell a story. Identify a main theme and explain the importance of the problem or gap in knowledge that you are tackling. Provide context throughout by citing relevant literature and then summarize your main message in the conclusion. To support your story, draw clear, precise, and colorful graphics using real data with error analysis. Make sure to present this data in an order based on importance to the story rather than the order in which you collected it. This will further help to define the direction of your story. Last, choose a title using key words easily recognized by search engines and draw an intriguing table of contents graphic that will visually attract attention.

ACS’s last 4 tips are critical to polishing up your manuscript for submission. After the main text and figures are done you may think your manuscript is ready for submission; however, now is the time to revise, revise, and revise again! Remember, fresh eyes are the most helpful to catch any mistakes and ask clarifying questions. This is also an important time to make sure plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, is avoided. In addition to the main text, the supplemental information needs to be prepared with care to include supporting data, photos, & movies and to include relevant call outs in the main text. Once the text is revised and ready for submission, you need to write an accurate and concise cover letter explaining how your work would benefit the readership of your target journal.

To close out the webinar, Professor Chibale explains the most common reasons for manuscript rejection. Often, the manuscript does not match the scope or audience of the targeted journal and may be redirected to another more appropriate journal. Other times, the conclusions are not supported by the presented data or are not backed up by control experiments. Manuscripts may also be rejected based on a lack of novelty or because they are missing a key component such as relevant cited literature. These common mistakes leading to rejection can be avoided by closely following the 10 tips provided within this seminar. Furthermore, because of the widely applicable nature of these 10 tips this seminar would be useful for any scientists looking to learn more about the publishing process.