Research Tips & Stories for Everyone
Finally, this is the last post on a journey to publish a paper. Let’s assume that you just hear the good news that you have waited for so long time – the editorial decision of acceptance! Well, what should be the first thing to say? Congratulations and congratulations! It’s the moment that you can forget all the ups and downs during the publication process and just celebrate. I sometimes think that I can endure all those hard and lengthy publication processes in every paper just to enjoy the short burst of joy when I see the acceptance decision. We should not be addicted to it as our driving enthusiasm to do research is doing good science and make a positive impact on our society, not publishing papers, but we still can sometimes be less serious on our scientific mind when we have to celebrate time to time.
While varying in different journals, the following items/steps would be a list of things you can expect after acceptance to the publication of your paper:
This post is very short because there are not many things left once you finally reached the acceptance of your paper through all the hard journey toward publication. However, there are several post-acceptance activities you can consider.
Cover image suggestion
Many journals ask/allow the suggestion of potential cover images from the authors along with their acceptance decision. While it is completely optional, sometimes you may have really cool ideas on potential cover images. Cover image selection by the journal may reflect more on artistic aspects than scientific aspects but it is still a very nice way to publicly introduce your research work in a more graphically visible way. Typically, you can consider a cover image suggestion based on illustration (for example, left one below) or photography (for example, right one below).
In my opinion, both illustration and photography have their merit, and probably the suitability of each approach may depend a lot on the characteristics of your research. To prepare potential cover image candidate(s), you can do it yourself if you are familiar with illustration/photography, but you can seek some professional help/service as well. There are several very helpful books and resources on scientific photography and other techniques (for example, book and MIT OCW lecture from Felice Frankel). There are several scientific illustration service companies out there (for example, this company I sometimes use; just as an example & not advertisement purpose). Also, your school/department media offices might have professional illustrators or photographs to whom you can ask for help.
Press release (PR)
While publicity endeavors in the form of a press release (or more commonly called PR) and media coverages are not a major goal of research as well as publication, they are kind of nice by-products. I think that the rapid rise of active PR of academic research in the recent decade is rather controversial considering it brings both positive and negative aspects. So, I wish to be cautious on this subject, strictly limiting to my personal views from experience which should not be generalizable. Given that we do not chase publicity via PR and media highlights as the primary/major goal of our research, I see them as nice outreach opportunities for researchers to disseminate their work beyond the traditional academic audiences (which can be very narrow for certain fields) as positive by-products of good science. Since the majority of research projects are somehow funded by the general public (via taxpayers’ money in the form of governmental or public grants), it might probably make sense to give some effort to share our good and hard-done science to the general public with help of the journalists.
There are two major ways for PR or medial highlight of the accepted papers upon or soon after their publication. The first way does not involve your effort as journalists who are interested in your work cover it themselves. Many journals post the accepted paper near its publication in the journalist-accessible platform with the paper, associated media resources, and embargo information (the date/time after which the press release can happen – typically on the same day of the publication). In this case, some journalists might find your paper interesting and cover it in their media outlet themselves (potentially with a request for a short explanation or interview with you if they have questions about your work). The second way may need your active input – asking your school/department news office to cover it. Many schools have their own media office and news outlet to cover various things happening on their campus including research activities (for example, MIT News website in the below image which I have worked with many times during my time there). PR through your school/department’s media office can have various benefits as they
Archiving of project/paper
The last tip but probably the most helpful in the long-term is archiving your finished project/paper in a well-organized form. Like many things in our life, our memory on each paper would eventually face fading and erosion of time. However, many things involved in the research project and paper such as lab notes, raw and analyzed experimental data, experimental setup and parameters, and original figure files should stay organized and preserved for the sake of good science and their continued value in your research group or beyond. In my experience, right after the acceptance of a paper is the best time to do this due diligence for archiving and organizing stuff on each research project/paper as your memory and understanding are the freshest & you may have some room and willingness to do after enduring all the hard processes of publication journey so far. But, because it is the moment of releasing our accumulated stress and pressure on each project/paper, it is also the most vulnerable moment to ignore the job too. Despite all those tempting laziness, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND giving some time to do good archiving of your finished project/paper right after the acceptance – I am sure that you will be thankful for yourself in the long-term.
With this, the tip posts on the publication journey are done. I may continue with more tip posts on other topics.
Part I: Overview
Part II: Presubmission Inquiry & Initial Submission
Part III: Desk Rejected, What Can be Next Step?
Part IV: Revision, Art of Rebuttal
Part V: Rejected After Review, End of World?
Part VI: Acceptance & Post-Acceptance Jobs (this post)
Disclaimer. The contents are my personal opinion and do not represent the view of any institution or company I am affiliated/employed. If you find any incorrect information, please feel free to let me know via my email.