Writing scientific papers: structure, phases, and publication [open access report]

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In this report we propose to present in some detail the complete arc that begins with the writing and ends with the publication and dissemination of a scientific article. However, we will also deal with some aspects of the research of which the article constitutes a report, and on the other, the way to send a manuscript to the academic journal that we consider most appropriate. In the form of a diagram, the arc that we are going to contemplate is the following, in which we have highlighted in blue the parts on which we will focus more:

Figure 1: phases covered in this guide (emphasis on the parts in blue). Source: the authors.

We intend to provide keys that can ensure success in each of the mentioned phases. It is not only necessary for a scientific article to have good research behind it. Publishing in prestigious academic journals when there is good research is not difficult, but it is not easy. In addition to having good research behind it, it is necessary to be successful in each phase of the aforementioned chain, which goes from the writing of the article itself to the choice of the journal and, of course, the correct response to the objections that will surely the reviewers of the journals will present.

The proof that it is not difficult, or if we are allowed, that it is not extremely difficult to publish, are the thousands or tens of thousands of articles that good level academic journals publish every year throughout the world. But the proof that it is not easy is constituted by the return ratios of the journals, which can reach 90 percent of the manuscripts they receive, or, seen in another way, the number of university professors who have given up publish articles after experiencing failures in their first attempts. Failures that led them, because they did not fully understand the foundations of the process, to renounce this dimension of science, which is its communication through scientific articles.

Another expression of the real difficulty in publishing articles is that it is almost impossible for a new author to get published in scientific journals if they do not have the help of a mentor, their thesis director, for example.

From this double verification, namely that it is not difficult (or at least, it is not very difficult) to publish scientific articles, but it is not easy, and even less without a good guide or prior training, this work is born. It is a work expressly oriented for new researchers. For example, pre-doctoral researchers who are doing their doctoral thesis in the compendium of publications modality.

But we hope that this guide can also be useful to any researcher who for some reason still does not feel confident in this field of academic activity. Either because he is a recent postdoctoral researcher, or because up to now he has had bad experiences in this activity.

In what follows, we will begin with some necessary terminological clarifications, but immediately we will present the elements that help the publication arc to have the success that all good research deserves: to be reported in an academic/scientific journal of quality and impact.


In many works, the terms scientific article and academic article are treated as equivalent, and we ourselves will use them as interchangeable terms in contexts where the level of generalization allows it. However, there is a difference that sometimes it is convenient for us to identify.

Now, in addition to the previous pair, we also have the terms manuscript and article , which refer to the same object, but at different moments in its life cycle. The following table attempts to clarify these two pairs of terms:

Pair of termsClarification
article vs
Academic article
Academic article is a general term to refer to various kinds of papers published by academic journals. At the same time, these journals are called that (academic) because they deal with topics specific to the academy or group of people (professors, researchers and students) who carry out their work in centers such as universities.
Scientific article is a class of academic work that reports on an investigation. While all academic journals publish scientific articles, some also publish other types of work. APA standards, for example, mention theoretical and methodological articles, among others. Some journals also publish letters as well as editorials or editorials. So, the term academic article makes it possible to refer to all these genres at the same time, while the term scientific article refers to one of them in particular; surely the most significant, but not the only one.
Manuscript vs
The work that the corresponding author submits to a journal is often referred to as a manuscript. When the work has been reviewed, modified and adapted to the journal format, and finally published, then it is an

Source: Codina, 2021

From the first pair of terms, we retain the important idea that a scientific article, as indicated by the APA (2019) standards, is the report of an investigation . Then, before trying to write a scientific article (or an academic article -we have already indicated that we can consider both things equivalent-), it is necessary to carry out an investigation.

It is such a basic element that many recommendations on the subject ignore it. We believe that it is very important to emphasize it. In such a case, before asking ourselves what a scientific article is, we must ask ourselves what makes an investigation an investigation? The answer is: the existence of a new data extraction process that has been guided by a methodology. This leads us to the next point intended to present the components of the first phase. Now, as this report is focused on the writing of scientific articles, we will see the research phase from a thousand meters high.




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