A single advice about publishing your first scientific paper…
I always wondered what would be the single, most important advice I could give a new graduate student who is looking forward to have his or her work published at some point.
Sure the usual work hard, pick cutting edge topics, chose your advisor carefully and so on are the obvious suspects. But what about a single advice that would put in motions the necessary behavior to essentially “groom” the graduate student in being ready to publish?
After many years of mentoring, mine is read! Read published scientific papers in your field as much as you can and from day 1 on the “job”. Read for journals you are expected to publish in, from journals at the periphery, from more difficult journals to publish in (higher impact factor). Read also outside your field.
Make an habit to scan the usually suspects (for your field at least) once a month and read.
Not only will you know what is state-of-the-art but this will provide you the structure of a scientific manuscript, the language, what is accepted or expected. Note the good to excellent manuscripts, those that are easy to read i.e. that flows and tell you a story. What make them better than others you’ve read?
By the time, you are ready to talk to your advisor about publishing your results, you should have read hundreds of previously published articles.
As theory is not practice, you will also need to write as often as possible. The more you write, the easier it gets. But that’s my second advice 😉