Workshop on Scientific Paper Writing and Publishing

BACKGROUND

A workshop was conducted to provide skills in technical aspects of scientific writing, communication, and publishing for Nepalese researchers. The purpose of the workshop was to facilitate an increase in the number of scientific manuscripts submitted by faculty, PhD students and researchers from various institutions in Nepal. To recruit participants for the workshop, an email with a letter of announcement was sent to the listserv of PSD-Nepal, which includes emails of researchers, faculty and PhD students of different universities of Nepal. The same email was also forwarded to colleges and institutions affiliated with Tribhuvan University (TU) including hospitals, research centers and laboratories.  

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

Major objectives of the workshop were to introduce participants to:  

        ·    Fundamentals of scientific writing with an emphasis on clear presentation of    
     ideas

        ·   Peer review process and responding to reviewer’s comments          

        ·   Ethical issues to consider including plagiarism and copyright issues

        ·    Selection of the right journal

        ·    Structure of a manuscript –IMRAD structure

PROGRAM  COVERAGE

The workshop was held at the Hotel Orchid located at Tripureshwor of Kathmandu city, Nepal from Monday 3rd to Tuesday 4th November 2014. Participants from out of Kathmandu Valley arrived on Sunday 2nd November.  Of the 145 total applicants, 25 representing 13 districts of Nepal (figure 1), consisting of faculty members, researchers and PhD candidates were selected for the 2-day workshop. Mr. Raju Babu Pudasaini from Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE), Government of Nepal (GoN) participated as an observer in the workshop. The workshop was interactive and participants engaged in individual and group activities to enhance their learning. Participants also worked on their manuscripts-in-preparation during the workshop.

OPENING SESSION

The workshop commenced with the welcome note by Mr. Hemendra Chaudhary of PSD Nepal. He welcomed Ms. Banalata Sen, Program Coordinator, NIEHS, GEH Program, USA and AuthorAID mentor and Mr. Govinda Bhnadari, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Environment (IJE), Nepal and President, PSD-Nepal as workshop facilitators. Thenceforward, the participant introduced themselves in the workshop. 

WORKSHOP SESSION

Day-1, Monday, November 3rd 2014

On the first day of the workshop, Ms. Banalata Sen introduced the workshop participants about steps in publication from research to submission. She highlighted over the importance of having clear understanding of the subject matter that is being studied and to obtain early feedback. She presented writing journal article is a process which goes through series of steps from writing, to revising, editing and getting it published. She presented that coauthors should be decided early and their roles and responsibilities should be cleared beforehand.

She argued that the main reason for journals to reject a paper is due to it being outside the scope of the journal. She emphasized over selecting right journal for their research and basic about writing a journal paper. She suggested the writers not to target the high impact factor only while opting for publishing their paper. She suggested going through the “Instruction to Author” properly as different journals have different style and requirements. She suggested consulting the author’s guidelines during preparation & before submission. 

Ms. Banalata argued to prepare the paper to communicate (enjoyable to read) rather than to impress other. She highlighted over the importance of 3C’s i.e. clear, concise and correct; using correct grammar, and phrase. She suggested using simple words, active voice, avoiding jargons, using verbs to noun and cutting unnecessary words. She insisted on communicating with the journal editors in case of any confusion. She presented the reviewing process, how it is performed and who are involved.

Usually a review process involves number of people including; 

           ·      Editor in Chief who makes the final decision,

           ·      Associated editors who make recommendations to EiC and editorial review
      board.

           ·     Peer reviewers who are expert of their field.

She argued that one should not do everything reviewer’s suggests but need to providing proper justification for not complying to do so. She presented that reviewing is entirely a voluntary act and one should respect the feedback obtained. If one feels that the feedback obtained are not practically applicable, he/she should converse about it in “positive manner” and use of aggressive words need to be avoided.

In the later part of the day, Ms. Banalata highlighted the importance of a good cover letter and techniques to make it effective. She insisted to provide all necessary information but to avoid technical details and exaggerated statements. 

Practical Activities

On the first day of the workshop, participants were asked to perform couple of hand-on exercise on scientific writing.

                                                     i.       Reviewing Instruction to Author (ITA’s).

                                                    ii.     Writing a paragraph description on one thing they feel proud about.

                      i         ii.      Rewriting the phrase, use of active voice, cut unnecessary words, short
              sentences and subject verb agreement exercises. 

                                                   iv.     Drafting a cover letter.

Day-2, Tuesday, November 4th 2014

Final day of the workshop began with the review of the activities of day 1.              Ms. Banalata discussed over the ethical issue in publishing. She explained on the topic of copyright declarations and cultural differences across the world regarding plagiarism. She explained different type of plagiarism and duplicate publication as a form of self-plagiarism. She recommended on reducing plagiarism in one’s publication and insisted on rephrasing as the best approach.  She presented various reasons for retraction and misconduct being its prime factor. She presented on the ways to present the results effectively and approach to write the discussion. She encouraged the participants to make their abstract and develop a concise title.

Ms. Banalata focused on steps in review process starting from self-revision, external peer review, editor’s decision to revisions. If one’s paper gets rejected by a journal editor, she insisted on revising the paper in response to reviewers comment before submitting it elsewhere. Finally she presented the publication process like page proofs, press release, embargo and ahead of print (AOP) publication. At the end she provided list of various websites and internet resources that would be helpful for participants.    

Practical Activities

                            i.     Group work on following topics and presentation;

·         Conflict of interest

·         Discovering an error

·         Selection of data

·         Who gets credit

                          ii.        Writing a title activity.

Mr. Govinda Bhattarai, Editor in Chief of IJE presented his views on publication process. He emphasized on the publishing process, peer review method which includes double blind, single blind, open, public, cascading and public discosure. He suggested that one should not be disheartened by getting his/her paper rejected. The paper might not be rejected due to low quality of the paper but also due to inappropriate subject for the journal or inappropriate selcetion of the target journal. He stated after a paper is accepted then proofreading of paper need to be performed before finally publishing it. He suggested not to make major corrections to original article during this step rather to make technical, spelling and grammatical errors  corrections only.  He presented the IJE peer review process via online environment showing the participants a review form and the suggestion that the reviewer made for a paper.  

SPECIAL SESSIONS

On the second day of the workshop, Prakash Bhave of ICIMOD gave his views over the essential of getting one’s paper published. He discussed the need of writing a journal paper with the participants. He expressed his own experience of his first paper review. He insisted on doing own marketing of the paper. And the simplest way to do so it to forward the paper to the author whose paper is cited, all individual consulted during the research and peers.  

Mr. Anup K.C. of PSD-Nepal shared his experience of publishing a paper. He displayed his effort from getting rejected in a high impact journal, getting reviewed from another journal and getting rejected again and finally getting it published in a low impact factor journal. He presented an example to participants not to give up easily but keep trying harder and consider the reviews seriously as it will ultimately help to improve the content of the paper.

WRAP UP OF THE WORKSHOP

Mr. Govinda Bhandari acknowledged all the participants for their enthusiastic participation and the workshop partners Global Environmental Health (GEH), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), US for providing financial support.

During the end of the session, participants were asked to write and present 3 things that they plan to do differently, based on what they learned in the workshop. To which the participants replied as;

 

On analyzing the evaluation form submitted by the participants it was found that more than 90 percent of them found the workshop very useful and majority of them found content like scientific writing style and structure of a scientific paper extremely useful. Many participants planned to conduct such trainings in their respective institutions and departments while other suggested making such training more frequent and widening the coverage to other parts of the country too.