Tips for publishing a paper

July 26, 2010

I’m writing from Denver, which is a really nice city! In a couple of days I will be flying back to Europe, finishing my semester in the U.S.

I’m here in Denver because the AAEA Conference. It’s the first time I’m attending. It’s not highly pertinent to my research, but it has some interesting issues, like rural policy or regional development. Some quantitative research atmosphere is always good.

This morning I went to a session  in which they gave some tips to young researchers to publish a paper. They gave many ideas, following there are a few that I found interesting. Some I have tried to do, other I have to improve. I also mix some other ideas I heard in the past. I’d like to share to the ones who read my blog.

  1. What’s your story? The punch line.
  2. Show the hook early in the first paragraphs.
  3. Be careful to beat the dead horse (how novel is to criticize X?)
  4. When you think the paper is finished. Wait a week, and come back to it.
  5. When you think the paper is ready to send. Read it twice.
  6. Listen to reviewers advice (after a few days when you’re not mad)
  7. Do take intellectual risks
  8. Find out the interest of the literature (especially of the journal chosen), but not be uncritical.
  9. Have a journal on mind before start writing.
  10. Less effective approach “I found this cool methodology, and I want to try with a different database”.
  11. More effective approach: “Find a good research question. You don’t need a hard model, simple things that are interesting, like the Freakonomic guys”.
  12. Cover letters: if you want to make one, 3 sentences are fine.
  13. As an editor I will give a paper a second opportunity. Only in two occasions, one, if the problem they’re trying to solve is very interesting, and two, if there is a famous name.
  14. Different journals. Simple blind: only reviewers see your name. Double blind: neither the reviewers or you see their names.
  15. The second reviewer “bad cop” it’s a myth. If one says the paper is good, and the other one trashes it, that should be a coincidence.

At the end I gathered with some PhD students (or grad students how they call them in the US) we were joking that the funny thing was that the main idea was: “guys, you need to make a good paper”… Which is of course… more than obvious.

I hope some of these things work, for the papers I have in the pipeline.

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