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How to publish an article in Science?

The article should be innovative, and may be of interest to researchers from other fields as well and most of all - it is well written and tells an interesting story, explains Mark Levin, an editor at Science, who spoke about the process at a workshop on behalf of the Russell Berry Institute for Nanotechnology at the Technion (RBNI)

Mark Levin, editor at Science. Photo: Technion spokespeople
Mark Levin, editor at Science. Photo: Technion spokespeople

Publishing an article in Science (or you could say in Nature) is one of every scientist's wet dreams. Recently Mark Levin, an editor at Science, was a guest at the Technion, who held a workshop at the Russell Berry Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI). Levin explained in the lecture what is the uniqueness of Science, and what needs to be done to write a scientific article that will be published in Science and affect the development of his scientific field and possibly other fields.

Science reaches the members of the AAAS - the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is distributed in about 130 thousand copies. However, certain issues are passed from hand to hand and may reach the eyes of 500 readers or more.

The printed version is divided into two, the section we call 'opinions' which includes science news, editor's choice, policy forum, articles, web review, perspective and retrospective. In this section we also report on important articles that appeared in other journals or on topics that we do not cover often.

"The idea in part of the scientific articles is to be one step ahead of your core field things that may interest you, or important topics, and that you want to read outside your field you should read it in an important journal."

He then explains how to write a good science paper in three steps: 1. Do good science. 2. Write the article really well. 3. The rest is easy.'. Any stinginess in one of the first two steps will result in 3 not being valid, for example if the science is a lot of science, we try to disqualify the article even if it is well written.

Should I publish the article in Science or a specialized newspaper? To answer this question the researcher should ask himself four questions: Will the article have an impact? Is it of interest to scientists in other fields? Does he change the conventional wisdom? And finally, is this the best article I've ever written?

Reasons for rejection from Science

Levin listed main reasons for rejection from Science. The article belongs to a specialized journal. For a journal with a high profile and especially in active fields, it is sometimes a moving target. Another reason is that the progress described in the article is too small compared to previous published articles - the Salami method should not be encouraged. Additional reasons: data not convincing, observations without interpretation or interpretation without data.

The filtering process

After that, the editors approach the craft. Each editor has to go through about 750 articles a year in their areas of expertise, after a double screening process. First, the really bad articles are rejected by the editor, and those that pass this hurdle are called by external editors to be members of the editorial board, which includes about 140 scientists and emeritus, who volunteer to go through articles and determine within 48 hours whether they are worthy of publication and propose peer reviewers for them. In the next step, an internal discussion was held.

If the article passes these hurdles, it is forwarded to two or more referees (peers). After that, another discussion takes place, after which it is decided whether it is necessary to postpone or ask the researcher to correct or edit. If the article survives these requests, it is accepted.

As mentioned, the main criterion of Science is that the articles will have added value to the entire community of scientists and that they will enable scientists to learn things outside their narrow field. About 60% of the articles published in Science are largely in the fields of biology and the rest in the fields of physics and materials, where in the field of materials there is a division between micro and macro. There may be "seasonal" changes depending on the materials that reach the system (which he added in a side note that it depends on the preferences of the funders of the studies).

If in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy, material sciences, geophysics) the situation is complicated when there is a lot of diversity, in biology the situation is even more serious because the rate of specialization is much greater. This has important consequences when thinking about research that crosses the border between physics and biology (for example, researchers in the field of nanotechnology). More scientists from the field of physics tend to dive into biology than vice versa, but on the other hand they tend to oversimplify biology and think they have proved something significant.

What are the physical sciences? By and large, these are all the sciences that study the interrelationships between the structure and properties of matter. Trying to understand articles in the field is an uphill battle because the topics are one level more complicated than the other branches of science. It is also a relatively new field that is divided between many scientific disciplines, which gives it strength but also commitment. It doesn't take long for the language to become specialized and charged with certain meanings. There are many examples of such scientists, such as bio-geo-chemistry, or try to explain the difference between physical chemistry and chemical physics.

And if all these are complicated, try to understand and explain to the general public what nanotechnology is. For example units used by researchers in the field and occasionally reach the general public ns, nN, nA, nV, nJ, nW, nK, and more.

"Nanotechnology is not a branch of science, but a broad collection of a number of extraordinary phenomena that take place on a certain scale. In order to explain nano to an audience that is not versed in the physical sciences, it is necessary to explain to them about the phenomena on a macroscopic scale. The problem is that people are excited about nanotechnology becoming the new norm but shy away because intuition is no longer reliable. Unfortunately, there is a clumsy connection between nanoscience and nanotechnology."

And here we enter all kinds of analogies such as the analog of a hair, there are a billion nanometers in a meter, each nanometer is 3-5 atoms wide, really small, 40 thousand times smaller than a human hair, and there are those who add up and say 50 thousand times or even 80 thousand times. Another analogy is the width of a coin. The thinnest coin in the US - the dime, its thickness is about 1.2 millimeters. The difference between this length and walking a kilometer is like comparing the width of a coin to one nanometer (in the opposite direction).

Levin later expanded on issues related to the way a scientific article goes from the researcher's desk to publication. There are issues related to research funding and issues related to university promotion that also play a role in why articles come out when they are not mature. "Selling" groundbreaking works (and only a few of the works are such) is also a difficult craft.

According to him, most specialized scientists write vaguely because they are already at least one applied step away from basic science or are involved in many scientific disciplines. Each such discipline has its own dictionary of terms - something that needs to be thought about when using language.

The difference between science and nature

According to Levin, there are differences between the two respected newspapers. Nature is part of Macmillan Publishing - a large commercial publisher. Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The association's goals are to promote science and serve society through initiatives such as science policy, international programs and science education.

Nature is also characterized by a multitude of specialized journals for every field from materials to scientific methods, in Science they insist on the line that includes many fields, but despite this two specialized journals were opened in the last decade, one is Science Signaling which deals with intercellular communication which is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to research Intercellular signaling, specifically the process by which cells and organisms respond and adapt to the internal or external environment.

The second journal is Science Translational Medicine designed to promote human health by providing a forum for fruitful and cross-border communication between basic, applied and clinical researchers from all old and new disciplines.

The art of a good scientific paper according to Mark Levin:

  • Started with the data
  • Relate your work to a wider context
  • Don't lose readers using terminology or skipping steps
  • It is better to bore readers than to lose them.
  • Recognize that the judges' comments are intended for your benefit and are not an attempt to attack your work.
  • Good articles tell a story, and encourage the audience to read on.
  • Start with the core results and go back and forth – back to insert the desired background, forward to reach the correct conclusions.
  • Prepare a good summary, which you always write at the end.
  • Spend time making pictures and illustrations as well as analogies from everyday life.

In addition to articles, another way to promote the scientific agenda of researchers is lectures: he calls on scientists: spend time at conferences promoting your science. "Most of the speakers don't know how to give a lecture, the students need to learn presentation skills from day one. Even if they leave science and become management consultants, this is one of the few things they will learn and be useful to them.”

13 תגובות

  1. Hello to you all
    Religious or secular who believes more or who is more opinionated is right. Einstein argued about God (smallness) and it will take us a long time to understand what the poet meant, and the Rambam claims, greatness, who is right, it all depends on faith friends and we are all wise.

    There are more and there are less, each a genius in his field until a new genius comes along who rejects the conclusion of an old genius by proving in the field,
    And if we're dealing with the Hokkots, then according to the Torah the commentators of that time retired for that period and according to the perspective of the time,

    A secular does not believe or believes in a little, a religious believes in a little or an extremist. Everything is fine depends on the commentators and proofs,
    In philosophy even the option has several options in fact there is no unequivocal answer in the end so why complain
    Or say they published it because it is religious, someone will always have something to say about something, an endless loop

  2. Student, Technion:
    Suppose you chose some crooked interpretation of my words and managed to disprove it.
    What is the obvious conclusion?
    This is not the interpretation I meant.
    First of all - science and religion don't go together at all and they probably don't go together either, but even though this is an interpretation that fits with my words and for which your words are not an answer - I admit that I didn't mean it either.

    In general - people live with contradictions and therefore there are people who claim to accept science and claim to accept religion and do so at the same time.
    This does not mean that their words do not include an internal contradiction so that your words do not contradict anything.

    Apart from that - in general all my words were brought as an interpretation of Hanan's words - not as a claim about science and religion but as a claim about Hanan's opinion about science and religion.
    It's hard for me to believe that you didn't understand this, but as you said once - there are those who respond only to argue and I add that if he has no one to argue with then he invents him.

  3. The anti-religious messages you present on the site are also harassment to some people, yet they appear to every passer-by.

    There is no logical fallacy in what I claimed, it is pure formal logic: the claim is that science and religion do not go together. If I present a counter example, i.e. a person who is considered an authority in science and yet is religious, this is a contradiction to the claim, since he lives with religion and science, and thus the claim is hidden.
    I don't know what exactly he meant when he said "religion and science do not go together", but the tone of the claim is negative and implies many faces, one of which can be easily contradicted, as I did.

  4. …so I thought too. I don't know where, but I remember the following sentence 'The strong gene will never let the weak gene take over'.
    Like truth and lies. or reality and imagination or logic and irrationality.
    And what the hell is the connection between the comments here and the topic of the article?

  5. Hanan:
    Did you want to demonstrate to us that the over-inclusion problem also exists with you?
    Even if you didn't want to - that's what you did in your previous comment.
    You ask "Is there a situation in which scientists change their skin and behave like members of a sect or religion?" And thus you say yourself that in order for a scientist to become a religious man he has to change his skin or - in other words - that science and religion do not really go together.

    Food for thought…

  6. To Michael:

    I meant in general.

    There is a phenomenon, in which a person is immediately hit, if he is wearing a kippah. I have already seen delusional arguments, according to which religious people cannot be true scientists.

    And I ask - is there a situation in which scientists change their skin and behave like members of a cult or religion? Is there a situation where science becomes a religion? Will there be situations in which scientists will respond and base their arguments not on research but on whims and private beliefs???

    Food for thought…

  7. Hanan Sabat:
    I'm always resentful that blame is cast on someone who is blameless - whether he is religious or not.
    David, for example, reproached all the readers here.
    Is the statement a general statement that does not relate to the discussion or did you mean to claim that someone in this discussion or elsewhere was looking for fault in a religious scientist?

  8. Although I am completely secular and an atheist, I always resent it when people find fault with religious scientists.

    Let's not forget that we have a religious Nobel Prize winner and let's not forget the late Prof. Leibevich, who also wore a kippah.

    To come and say that as if anyone wearing a kippah is immediately attributed to the age of ignorance, it is an abysmal ignorance in itself.

  9. Student - Technion:
    Have you heard of Dr. Avital?
    Wasn't his scientific judgment compromised because of religion?
    There are indeed many kippah wearers among the scientists, but it is recommended to listen to the honest among them.
    For example here:

    Therefore - whoever says what you said is just looking for a reason to argue.

    There is justification for the stereotype, but honest people simply do not judge others according to stereotypes and do not distort the facts for propaganda purposes.

  10. Advertising is not our wet dream. Discover new things yes. Sneaker is a profitable magazine, as mentioned, so the publishing decision is populist. I have often seen a different publication route than what is described in which the writer shouts several times on the phone at the editor, he bends down and publishes. The editors are not professionals and therefore their judgment is questionable. This is in contrast to other professional journalists (P.R.L. Jacques)

    Beyond that, it is very true that many members of the academy do not know how to express themselves properly in writing or face to face. The whole issue of presenting information should be emphasized in high school as well.

  11. Uncle,

    These stereotypes only exist in lay society. Those who are in the academy know that there are many wearers of kippahs and believers, and that their faith does not interfere with or contradict their excellence in science. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just looking for a topic to argue about.

  12. In short, they wanted to say - build a good story, with a lot of gimmicks and tricks and as in the usual written press, it's not the content that matters but the pictures, the pictures and the ratings...

    Hanan Sabat

    My heart is with all those scientists who, because of their poor writing and formulation skills, were not allowed to set foot in the holy of holies of science and their articles were not published, even though they may have been much more important and much more groundbreaking than those that were published...

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