I am an early-career scientist within the applied physical sciences. I have got good ideas that I want to explore, but it is really difficult for me to decide how much analysis is needed for a decent academic article.

How long does it take to get full confidence in submitting a paper or at least in writing a good draft?

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    I would disagree with your premise that you "don't need" mentoring. If you do not now know how to write a good paper or even what a good paper looks like, you would benefit from either a formal advisor or informal mentor to help you with writing. – Richard Erickson Jan 16 '18 at 18:08
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    "Let's forget about my advisors and other possible collaborators... I don't need them": yes, you do. You don't just flail around without knowing what you are doing and without accepting guidance until you are magically able to write decent papers. – Morgan Rodgers Jan 16 '18 at 23:15
  • I sincerely don't understand this question. You don't want to use advisors and collaborators and yet, you said "it is really difficult for me to decide how much analysis is needed for a decent academic article" Then you want to have full confidence in submitting a paper. I had to vote to close as "unclear what you're asking". – scaaahu Jan 24 '18 at 3:36

When you have 0 data but can sketch out what every figure should look like, that is when you can author a manuscript confidently. For me getting to this level took high-level authorship contributions to 8 published manuscripts.

This is what Whitesides means when he says to do experiments according to an outline -- the earliest stage in the project when you know it "works" is when you make some sort of outline or figure list describing in complete detail what data are needed to finish the paper. Then you actually write the paper while you collect your data. Before people reach this level, what they end up doing is just working really hard at doing "every possible" experiment and only publishing the ones that fit into the PI's desired narrative. They only start writing once 100% of the data is collected. This way is less productive than Whitesides way. If you have a data outline you can start writing with only 0-25% of the data already collected. That way the timelines for experiments and writing actually coincide.

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    I feel like I am missing something here: Who is this Whitesides guy and why are you talking about him? – Wrzlprmft Jan 17 '18 at 11:21
  • George Whitesides wrote "how to write a paper" which professors give their students to read to learn how to write a paper www.ee.ucr.edu/~rlake/Whitesides_writing_res_paper.pdf – DBB Jan 18 '18 at 2:40

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