I have already written my master thesis. My professor encouraged me to publish the results in a journal. He said I should orient me on some of the articles published in there.

Nonetheless I am curious if more seasoned vets on here could give me some first hand advice on e.g. pitfalls to avoid?

I have never came close to publishing anything. I've also never intended to go into academia so this is quite a new situation to me.

  • I would recommend reading Steven Pinker's "the sense of style" Mar 24 at 17:41

3 Answers 3


He said I should orient me on some of the articles published in there.

This is good advice. You hopefully read a lot of papers to prepare your master's thesis. Pay attention to how they are constructed, and use that to know what a paper should look like and therefore what your paper should look like.

Papers in different fields look quite different, so general advice isn't as helpful as looking at other papers in your field.

Generally, unlike a thesis, papers are more focused on the result at hand. While they may include some background information, they aren't for demonstrating everything you know about the topic. You still want to be informative, but also concise.

Once you have a draft, ask your advisor to help you revise it. Do not take it personally if they have a lot of suggestions for changes.

  • 2
    The penultimate paragraph is very important. Write for your audience.
    – Buffy
    Mar 25 at 18:36

Besides reading a lot of papers to develop your style/vocabulary, make sure when writing that all of your sentences appear in logical order and make sense for a reader outside of the field. It is much harder to write 2 pages than 5 on a topic that you are familiar with. Focus writing concisely and read (and re-read) your paragraphs again and again. Make sure you express and follow a clear line of thoughts with your arguments. Do not be afraid to restructure and rewrite larger parts of your first draft(s).


Before taking pen to paper, ask yourself what your intended readership should be. For whom are you writing?

A very terse paper providing minimal introduction and using highly specialised knowledge will be understandable only to a narrow circle of the anointed. To broaden your audience, show respect to an average (not super-knowledgeable) reader. That is to say, provide a sufficiently detailed introduction.

On the other hand, if you extend the introduction beyond reasonable, and try to include there all you know about the subject, the editor may rightly remind to you that a research paper is not a review.

So you have to navigate between the two extremities. Ideally, a research paper must be understandable (a) to graduate student working in this field, and (b) to experts working in closely adjacent areas. The latter is needed for cross-pollination.

One possible strategy is to write a very extended, textbook-like introduction -- and then to squeeze it by deleting too trivial things, and by moving some of the remaining stuff to appendices or supplementary electronic materials to be cited in the main text.

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