Writing/Submitting Your Paper

An overview of our group's recommendations regarding paper submission to scientific journals.

Writing your paper

At some point in every project, you will have gotten far enough along and gathered enough results to be able to start the process of writing a paper. Assuming Kristin has given you the go-ahead, it is a good idea to start your writing process with an outline or a "skeleton" draft of what you anticipate the paper will look like. For a paper skeleton, it's helpful to have most of these things covered:

  1. An idea for a title

  2. A list of expected coauthors

  3. Sketches or first attempts at most of your figures

  4. Topic sentences for each paragraph in the paper

  5. Background ideas and key papers that you plan to reference

  6. Information about your methods (e.g., VASP parameters)

  7. Key discussion points

  8. Some conclusions and takeaways

  9. An idea of what will go into the Supplementary Information (SI)

  10. Ideas for which journal(s) you may want to submit to

Once you have a paper skeleton, you should contact Kristin for preliminary feedback before you undertake the process of writing the full draft. This step could save you a lot of time later down the road. It is important that you both agree on what the narrative of the paper will be before you start writing.

You may choose to write your draft in your preferred software, but we recommend using Microsoft Word or LaTeX to make it easier to collaboratively edit and format later for journal submission. Note that as a UC Berkeley student or LBL employee you can get free access to Overleaf Pro, an online LaTeX editor that allows for collaborative live editing and automatically tracks your changes.

Getting feedback on your draft

When your paper is nearing completion, and assuming you were already in agreement with Kristin about the paper skeleton, make sure to provide all coauthors with a significant amount of time to read through your paper and make edits. Ideally, you will provide at least a few weeks to do so. Depending on your coauthors' schedules, it may be possible to accelerate this step (e.g., 1 week), but you should not count on this. Always make sure to provide ample time for feedback -- your coauthors will thank you later! :)

Which journal(s) to submit to?

Before submitting to any journals, you should first speak with Kristin (and your coauthors) about their recommendations for where to submit your work. Journal selection can often be a matter of personal preference, but certain journals are often associated with different types of projects and different levels of impact. As you go throughout your career, you will gain intuition on the world of scientific publishing and which journal(s) make the most sense for your work. Kristin, as well as older members in the group, can help guide you in getting started.

A major point of consideration in selecting journals is whether or not that journal is open-access. As outlined in our Group Agreements (#10), we believe that science should be open and accessible to all. Journals that are open-access do not have paywalls and will allow anyone to access the published version of the article. Some journals which are normally behind paywalls may allow you to make your article open-access for an extra fee. You should discuss with Kristin if it would be feasible (and sensible) to pay extra for publishing in an open-access format. Note that it is still possible to share your work openly; please see the following section on preprints.

Here is a selection of scientific journals where some of our group's work has been published, in no particular order:

  • Chemistry of Materials

  • Nature Communications

  • Science Advances

  • Computational Materials Science

  • Inorganic Chemistry

  • ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

  • ACS Energy Letters

  • Journal of the American Chemical Society

  • Chemical Reviews

  • Chemical Science

  • Journal of the Electrochemical Society

  • npj Computational Materials

  • Journal of Materials Chemistry A

  • Phys. Rev. Materials

  • RSC Advances

  • Materials Today

  • Journal of Physical Chemistry C

  • Scientific Reports

  • Scientific Data

  • Nature Reviews Materials

  • Advanced Materials

  • Nature

Should you submit a preprint?

A preprint is a copy of your paper before it enters the peer-review process. A preprint may follow the style/format of a particular journal, but it will not contain any of the special formatting that occurs upon publishing in a journal (i.e., the publisher's version). As author of a paper, you own the copyright to your own preprint, but once the paper has entered the peer-review process at a journal, your work is subject to the copyright policy of that journal. Make sure to check out the specific copyright policies of the journal you are interested in publishing in!

Sharing a preprint to websites like ArXiv or ChemRxiv is a great way to quickly distribute your work to a wide audience, and helps contribute to our group's mission to make science accessible and open to all (Group Agreements #10).

Cover Art

For special (and potentially high-impact) papers, you may want to consider hiring a professional artist to create cover art illustration. Kristin recommends the following studio:

Ella Maru Studio

If you are interested, please contact Kristin to discuss art ideas/options for your paper.

After your article is published

Congratulations on successfully getting through this lengthy process! Now that your article is published, make sure to:

  1. Alert the group site Webmaster(s) about your recently published journal article (and provide them with a copy)

  2. Contact the group's Social Media Chair (currently John) so that we can share your work on Twitter!

  3. Feel free to share your article on your own social media, including retweeting the group and publisher

  4. Consider contacting the MSE department (or your specific department) about the publication if you think it is worth sharing on one of the departmental news websites

  5. Celebrate your success and pass on what you've learned to other group members as they go through this process themselves :)

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