How to write a foreign scientific journal

Select a journal publication

Increasingly, non-English researchers and scholars are thinking about publishing an article in a foreign journal publication. Increasing personal status, the requirement of the administration, the desire to receive an international grant or scholarship – there can be many reasons. In addition, publications in English are necessary for the protection of Ph.D. and often give an advantage when hiring.

1. Select a journal publication

The appearance of an article in a foreign journal is related to several aspects and does not always depend on the knowledge of the English language. First, it is important that research is of interest to a foreign reader, the essence of the work is important. If the research topic is uninteresting or the research is incorrect, the publication of such a text is unlikely. Most often, the researcher first writes an article and then tries to attach it to a particular journal. It is important to remember the well-known marketing rule: “We must produce what we can sell, and not sell what we can produce.” To facilitate life for yourself and co-authors before you start writing a text based on the results of a particular study, it is worth choosing several journals in which I would like to publish. This will help determine the style of the article and its focus. Moreover, it is better to contact the editor in advance and ask what he thinks about the research. Perhaps, a discussion will be tied up and the necessary accents will be placed.

Choosing a journal before working on the text will be a useful step for one more reason. The format of the article, including its structure and design, is largely dictated by the publication. And the sooner it becomes clear how many parts should be in the text, how many words it is necessary to write, how to write out references and footnotes, in which format to submit a list of used literature, the easier it will be to meet the formal requirements of the journal. In international practice, several styles of scientific texts have been fixed (English Reference Styles). The most popular of them are MLA , Chicago, APA and Harvard . Usually, the page of the journal on the Internet specifies the requirements for manuscripts, including what citation style should be used.

2. Observe the formal requirements

Now the need for a monotonous manual adjustment of the list of sources has disappeared. Firstly, you can use Google Scholar , where under each article found links are given in three formats – you just need to click on the button “Cite”. Also MS Word offers automated work with bibliography.

Finally, there are a number of applications, both paid and free, that allows you to save links to sources and easily convert one style to another. Such applications are called bibliographic managers: Zotero is embedded in the browser and synchronized with several computers, and the Cite This for Me application can find the necessary article through a general search and convert the link to the specified format, and for a small fee users are given a service of perpetual storage of data.

Usually, the structure of an article in an international peer-reviewed journal is: Introduction, Methodology, Results, Analysis and Discussion (IMRAD). There are even serious studies examining how generally academic texts fall under the IMRAD format. It should be noted that IMRAD is the “average temperature for the hospital”, and, of course, there is no single format suitable for all. For example, the literature review in some articles is singled out as a separate chapter, and in other works, it is part of the introduction. What determines the structure of the article? Mostly, from the subject and from the journal. That is why it is important to choose and thoroughly study the journal before starting work on the text. Otherwise, the manuscript will have to be changed seriously and adjusted to the requirements of this or that publication.

3. Write clearly and consider the difference between cultures

The researcher, who took up writing an article in a foreign language, needs to understand that the local academic culture is very different from the Western culture. Domestic approach to the text – with general phrases and intricate lexical constructions – should be discarded. Let’s take the introductory sentence: “The rapid development of the Asia-Pacific region has long attracted the attention of economists and political scientists.” Without specifying and referring to sources, it most likely does not appear in the Western scientific journal.

Another unfortunate example, already in English: “Individualized instruction is a fundamental question in teaching any subject and the English language in particular. It is recognized to be an essential response to a number of pedagogical challenges. These proposals are taken from the training work, not the published study. With all the variety of vocabulary and used constructions (“it is recognized”, “currently discussed”, “with regard to”) and the absence of grammatical errors, the text looks too general. In fact, this is a competent translation from local, but the national academic features in the translation were not taken into account.

What should the text look like in English? First, the paragraph usually starts with a “topic sentence” – the main idea – and is often accompanied by a link to an authoritative source. Especially this structure is typical for the introduction, for example: “A range of studies (eg Biber, 1988, 1995; Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, & Finegan, 1999; Halliday, 1985) expressed in speech and the way it is expressed in writing. Source: Parkinson, Jean, and Jill Musgrave. “Development of noun phrase complexity in the writing of English for Academic Purposes students.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 14 (2014): 48-59. ”

Secondly, in one paragraph, as a rule, there is only one idea, followed by explanations and examples. The same rule is fully respected at the proposal level. Also, it is necessary to avoid common phrases and what is called “water” in school essays.

4. Watch the language

In the scientific text, it is customary to avoid colloquial language, jargon (except professional), phrasal verbs and vernacular. Moreover, the academic style is characterized by the corresponding vocabulary. Based on the data of the corpus linguistics, the Academic word list was compiled, that is, the list of words most often encountered in the articles. You do not need to memorize the list from A to Z, but you can refer to specially selected patterns (is based on; focus on; is known for …). To learn this kind of vocabulary is better by phrases and by topics. It is important to understand that the presence of a word does not make the text better, so c “smart words” should not be zealous. In general, a beginning author or a person for whom the English language is not native, it is necessary to achieve clarity of presentation, and not to care about the lexical saturation of the text. In other words, the clarity of the presentation, rather than its complexity, should be the cornerstone. A great example of how you can deal with the rhetoric, is in the video lessons Writing in the Sciences.

One of the frequently asked questions: is it worthwhile to use the passive voice instead of the actual voice in academic texts?

For example, should I write “It has been discovered that …” instead of “We have discovered that …”. There is no unequivocal answer to this question – you need to be guided by two principles: the requirements of the journal and the general rule of clarity. Another stumbling block is the writing of the pronoun in the first person: should it be “We analyzed the results” or “I analyzed the results”? Both options are permissible, and one must first of all orient oneself to the traditions of one or another discipline and the requirements of a particular journal.

5. Structurize your work in detail

Writing an article in a foreign language is a laborious process. He is akin to running for long distances: it’s not enough to start a race, you have to finish it. It is unlikely that it will be possible to write a decent text for a week, even with a ready-made study. Experienced authors emphasize that the text constantly needs further development, and it is necessary to have the patience to master several versions of the same document. At the initial stage, you should discard perfectionism and simply write an article as it will. This may be a shorter version of the publication or a general description of the study.

In order to more effectively start working on the text, you can use specially designed questions. Also, it is worthwhile to consider in detail the structure of the future article, including determining the number of words in each of its parts. Thus, the work will be divided into stages, each of which will be fully implemented. Finally, before you send the final version to the editor, you need to subtract it from the proofreader. If there is no opportunity to ask an English-speaking friend or acquaintance – a native speaker, you can try to locate one of the international companies specializing in working with the translation services.

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