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Library Research Support


There are many aspects of writing for publication and practices vary for different formats, publishers, disciplines, etc. This page does not, therefore, aim to advise you how to write you manuscript but directs you to useful sources and helpful tips.

To help ensure you are acting ethically and following the University’s guidelines, please read the University’s principles of good research practice for publication and authorship.

Writing your manuscript

Seek help from your colleagues

If you are working with co-authors, they may be more experienced at writing and be able to help you.  You could also talk to your supervisor or other senior staff – they may be willing to act as a mentor to support and advise you with your writing.

There may be colleagues in a similar situation who will be happy to be a writing buddy.  This can be great for motivation and support while you both write your own separate work.

A critical friend may be willing to read a draft of your manuscript and offer constructive criticism to help you to improve your work.

Look at publisher guides

If you understand the publishing process and know what to expect, it can be a little less daunting. Publishers often provide an introduction to their processes and offer helpful tips for preparing your paper. 

For example, the publisher Taylor & Francis provide a step-by-step guide to getting published and a guide on how to write and structure a journal article.

Look at the guidance provided by publishers you are considering.

Follow your journal’s guidelines

If you have chosen a journal that you intend to submit to, write your article for that journal. Read the information for authors on the journal’s web page for guidance on length of the article, style, referencing format, etc. and make sure you follow this guidance. Have a look at similar articles in the journal for further ideas on what might be expected.

If your article is rejected you will probably need to rework the article to fit the style of your second choice journal, but you are more likely to be accepted with your first journal if your article follows their guidelines.

 Avoid common mistakes

In an article from Editage Insights (2013), the most common reasons for journal rejection are described and some of them relate to “poor writing and organization” and “inadequate preparation of the manuscript”.  There are some useful tips on what to avoid!

Make use of Library resources about writing

The library has a wealth of books on academic writing, writing journal articles, scientific writing, effective writing in various disciplines, etc. Use Library Search to find books and other materials which will be helpful to you.  There may be book for your particular discipline.

Some examples are below:

Gastel, B., & Day, R. (2016). How to write and publish a scientific paper (8th ed.). Santa Barbara: Greenwood.

Silvia, P. (2015). Write it up : Practical strategies for writing and publishing journal articles. Washington: American Psychological Association.

 Have a look at a tutorial on Epigeum

There is a series of Epigeum online courses for researchers which includes a course on ‘Getting published'.   For information on how to access this, please see this page on How to create an Epigeum account.

Reference management software could help

You may find using reference management software helpful. This software is designed to make adding formatted citations and references to your manuscript easier. It will also enable you to automatically reformat your references to suit another publication should you need to do so.

The Library Research Support Team (Email: can help you with choosing which program to use and with using the software.

Remember copyright!

If you use third-party material in your manuscript, you must make sure that you are complying with copyright and that you have appropriate permission to do so. Contact the Library Research Support Team if you would like more information.


Your title, abstract and keywords

Your title, abstract, and keywords are the ways of helping potential readers find your work and assess whether the full document will be of interest to them.

Consider if your title and abstract describe your work appropriately, will be attractive to potential readers and will result in search engines retrieving your work:

  • They should clearly describe your work and contain the most important and relevant keywords.
  • Remember that the first few words of your title is often what a potential reader sees when your paper is retrieved by a search engine. It may therefore be advisable to avoid a literary or cultural allusion or humorous phrase etc. at the beginning of your title. However, what is appropriate, can depend on your discipline and audience.
  • Your abstract should summarise your publication and describe the significance and rigour of your research.

If you are asked to provide keywords, consider terms that describe what your article is about and also terms that potential readers are likely to use to search for articles. Think about the vocabularies used in the various disciplines that may be interested in your work.  Looking at similar articles on library databases may be useful to give you ideas for keywords that are commonly used in your area.  If you would like help with this, please get in touch.

Plain language summaries

Providing a plain language summary with your work, makes your research more accessible to a lay or public audience, by presenting it in a clear and jargon free way.

Some research funders ask for plain language summaries and some journals host and promote lay summaries. Even when a plain English summary is not required, it is a useful thing to do.

You may find this paper interesting. Bredbenner, K. & Simon, S. M. (2019). Video abstracts and plain language summaries are more effective than graphical abstracts and published abstracts. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0224697.

Add a plain language summary to your work on SHURA

You can provide a plain language summary to accompany an accepted or published journal article or conference paper which you are depositing on Elements and SHURA.  Please see: Adding a plain language summary on Elements/SHURA

Writing a plain language summary

Below are some examples of guidance on writing a plain language or lay summary.

Elsevier provide this brief guide: In a nutshell: how to write a lay summary

You can also find guidance on how to write an effective plain English summary on the NIHR Involve site.

Identifying yourself as the author

Think about the ways you can help ensure that you are easily identified as the author of your work.

For example, add your affiliation to your research outputs to help distinguish you from other authors with a similar name and create an ORCID iD that uniquely identifies you

Have a look at our page on identity and impact for more detailed advice on these and more.

Including a data statement

A data availability statement tells readers where they can find the data underpinning your work. Best practice requires that you include a data availability statement even where there is no data associated with the research. 

Find out more about Data statements.

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