Monday, September 7, 2009

Key Factors in Research Publication

Since there is no maximum number of words required, I’ll keep my answer short and straight to the point. Very Happy

Based on a conference of OOPSLA (Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications), a successful research paper emphasizes significance, clarity, novelty, and correctness. The significance must motivate why the research is important or useful and explain what problem it addresses. For a research to demonstrate clarity, the paper must be well-organized and clearly written. All claims made should be supported. Novelty involves extending the frontier of knowledge and explicitly relating your research to previous work. Finally, correctness requires you to critically evaluate and support your claims with proofs, an implementation, examples or experiments.

There is a policy against submitting a research paper to multiple venues. In the OOPSLA specification, a paper may be rejected unless it satisfies all three of the following conditions:
1. The submission sites the other paper
2. The submission contains a substantial result worthy of publication that the other paper does not, and
3. The overlapping material is primarily background material.

More generally, if you want to submit your paper to a publication, you have to know what kind of publication you are submitting it to. Before submitting, try to read several of the papers they publish so that you will know if your paper will fit into their requirements. Papers must be written for a specific audience.

First, you, as the author/researcher, have to ask yourself some preliminary questions to make sure that the studies are designed to answer precisely the research question under examination, that the experiments meet accepted standards, and that the process of record-keeping of the research is agreed-upon by the research community. Subsequently, the research has to be assessed constantly in order to decide whether it is suitable for submission. A paper that “records significant experimental, theoretical or observational extensions of knowledge, or advances in the practical application of known principles” is worth publishing.

ACM and IEEE are two of the most prestigious journal publications and they tend to have the highest standards for a research paper to be published. Submitting a research paper for publication to journals like ACM and IEEE can be very exhausting. There are two major obstacles that your paper has to go through: the editors and the reviewers.

An essential factor in publishing your paper is the Peer Review Process. The peer review process ensures publishable quality of research papers. During this time, the reviewers may recommend to continue the paper, while others may be a little skeptical.

Below is a UML activity diagram which depicts the main actors and activities in the publishing process:

The first step is taken by the author, which is submitting the paper to a journal. Of course, before he submits the journal, it is assumed that he has already checked and complied with the requirements of the publication he’s submitting it to. During submission, the author has to specifically follow the submission guidelines of the publication because most editors will automatically reject papers that do not follow their guidelines even without looking into the actual content of the paper.

If the paper passes the step above, then reviewers for the paper are selected. These are usually the people who are experts in the particular topic discussed by the paper under review. In this stage, the following items are taken into the most consideration:
1. Thematic relevance to the journal’s scope of subjects
2. Significance of contribution
3. Originality of the work
4. Coverage of related literature

In terms of the writing style, the following items are reviewed:
1. Clarity of writing
2. Appropriate title and abstract
3. Appropriate use of well-designed figures and tables
4. Sound conclusion and discussion
5. Length of the paper relative to its usefulness

Some additional factors that may affect the reviews for a paper are:
1. Strong reputation of the author
2. Successful test of the proposed theory
3. Different content than usually published in the journal

When the reviewers finished reviewing and making recommendations, the next step will be done by the editor. He will make the decision whether to accept the paper as is, accept conditionally, or reject and the author will also be notified of this decision.

Upon receiving the decision, if the paper still needs revisions before it can be published, then the author will have to make the revisions and resubmit it to the editor for another review. If found satisfactory, the paper will finally be forwarded to the publisher for publishing.


Michael Derntl, 2009. Basics of Paper Writing and Publishing.
ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on OOPSLA, October 2006.

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