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Advice for Authors of Technical Publications

How to select a journal for your paper.

Click on the image to be redirected to a YouTube video describing one perspective on how an author should approach journal selection. The rest of the post provides some advice to English-speaking authors and non-native English speakers who wish to submit their studies for publication. Both groups have the same objectives, but may experience different challenges.

Once all research contributors have finalized their inputs, the corresponding author of any manuscript must embark on the arduous road to publication. While his or her co-authors may have ideas, it is usually up to the corresponding author to collate and guide final decisions. First, a determination must be made as to who the co-authors will be on any given manuscript. The International Committee on Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has developed guidelines for defining authors. Those criteria are reproduced here for ease of reference:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND

  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

While ghost writing memoirs/biographies may be a thing, it is not encouraged when analyzing medical or other types of technical data. Therefore, non-author contributions (including those of individuals/agencies that assisted in manuscript preparation), are listed in the acknowledgement section.

A corresponding author also needs to have an idea of the target audience. If a study falls outside the scope of a journal, there is no point in wasting time on a submission. Lack of novelty, no focus, irrelevance, methodological flaws, inappropriate statistics, and lack of interpretation are among the reasons for instant rejection of up to 30% of submitted manuscripts in the pharmaceutical sciences. According to Elsevier, language quality also ranks among the top reasons for instant rejection.

Non-Native English Speakers

The pressure to publish in high-impact-factor journals has extended to the developing world. Because English is a universal language of communication, this trend has led to a proliferation in editing services or “language-polishing” companies who assist the non-native English speaker in avoiding manuscript rejection based on language quality. These consultants must break through the belief that following an IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) cookbook will guarantee acceptance. Many authors tend to focus on IMRAD, to the extent that they miss specific online Instructions to Authors for their chosen journals. While attention to detail forms part of the mission of these services, it may also be helpful to the non-native English speaker to partner with a mentor, as he or she embarks on an initial publication journey.

AuthorAID is a global network, supporting more than 17,000 researchers in developing countries to publish and communicate their work. According to their site, they work to embed research writing skills directly with universities and research institutions. In addition, they focus on the development of women researchers.


1. Ali J. Manuscript Rejection: Causes and Remedies. JYP. 2010;2(1):3-6.

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