When the research results are ready to share with colleagues and the scientific community, Duke has many resources and support tools to utilize. See the sections below for various resources and tools.
Preparing for the publication
- Authorship should be determined early. Deciding authorship has the potential to impact careers, funding for future research, and intellectual credit for a body of work.
- Communicate with research team members early to clarify roles, ensure motivation, and minimize the chance of disappointment or disputes.
- Recognize inherent power imbalances to ensure that attribution within publications is equitable and transparent.
- Refer to the “Guidelines for Authorship and Authorship Dispute Resolution” policy to understand the recommended principles of authorship, and what to do if resolution is needed.
- Before preparing for publication the investigator should determine whether working with the Duke Office for Translation and Commercialization to submit an Invention Disclosure Form is appropriate. This is particularly important if a patent will be sought, or the protection of intellectual property, and potential commercialization of research needs discussion.
- An appropriate venue for publication should be selected:
- See publication guidance hosted by the Duke University Medical Center, to access tools, checklists, and best practice guides to aid in the decision of “where” to submit.
- If solicitations from unrecognized journals are received, caution should be taken. Such solicitations may be from potentially predatory publishers, those who do not take part in peer review processes, or may engage in other fraudulent practices. Publishing with an untrusted journal can harm investigators and their discipline. To assess the legitimacy of a journal, review the Be iNFORMEd checklist or the website Think, Check, Submit.
- Investigators should be aware of costs. Some journals may levy submission fees or page charges, and others may have article processing charges that enable the journal to make articles open access, so even those without subscription access can read it. Some funding agencies allow investigators to build these costs into grants, and the university has some limited set-aside funds to support faculty, postdocs and graduate students in cases where other funding is not available.
- Investigators should ensure that there are no restrictions on their ability to publish results. They should work with their research contracting office and review relevant IRB protocols and agreements that may affect the ability to publish. Funding agency guidelines should also be reviewed, as they may require that research is published open access.
Writing and revising the publication
Finding time, getting motivated, and knowing available resources are important steps for investigators engaged in the writing process. Investigators have some key tools available to them; writing groups and access to virtual coaches (included in Duke's subscription to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity), the Thompson Writing Program, and much more, are included in the "Related Resources" section of this page.
Publication writing best practices
- Use a template or formula for writing manuscripts. Include sections the manuscript will cover (ex: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Abstract) and use studies with similar approaches and/or methods for guidance.
- In the beginning, write without worrying about wording or references. Those items can be fixed after words are on paper.
- Begin with the end in mind – use results (tables and figures) to outline and start the writing process. Investigators should think about the story being told from the results.
- Review the figures and tables, make sure the data support the story being told. In addition, make sure the order of the figures aligns with the order in which the story is being told.
- Write from the reader’s perspective.
Citations and acknowledgements
- Avoid plagiarism. In general, plagiarism is the act of knowingly or unknowingly claiming someone’s work to be one's own. Investigators should see "Related Resources" for tools, such as iThenticate, to help reduce their risk for plagiarizing others’ work.
- Works should be appropriately cited and references managed.
- Researchers will amass a portfolio of references as they build their career. Duke offers several tools to help effectively manage citations, including EndNote.
- Librarians are available across the university to assist with questions regarding citations.
- Funding should be appropriately cited, too! Citing sponsors for articles resulting from grant funding is sometimes required, and always important.
- Sponsors should be appropriately acknowledged.
- Sponsors should only be acknowledged in publications in which the research is directly related to the specific aims of the funded grant/contract.
- If multiple awards are cited in a single publication, it could be taken as an indicator of scientific overlap among the acknowledged projects.
- Many funders provide additional guidance and suggested wording related to acknowledgements.
- Submission requirements and author guidelines should be double-checked to ensure that the article adheres to them.
- A trusted colleague can be asked to review an article. They can help find areas of the publication needing more clarity.
- A cover letter to the journal should be written that speaks to why the submission meets the aims and mission of their journal.
- Prior to peer review, the investigator may get access to a full draft of their article in the form of a “preprint.” New grant applications may allow the citing of preprints (the funder’s policy should be checked first). Many journals allow investigators to make the preprint openly available via an institutional repository or a personal web site. This information should be within the publication contract, and investigators are encouraged to ask about this if it’s not already addressed there.
- If an investigator is invited to resubmit an article after handling reviewer comments, they should list each comment, and calmly answer each in turn. Investigators should ensure that all comments have been addressed and, when possible, reviewer requests have been met.
Maximize and track impact
When a paper has been accepted for publication, in order to optimize the reach and impact of the work, there are a few important things to consider.
- Duke University Press has developed this comprehensive checklist for ensuring that an article reaches a wide audience.
- University Communications, or the appropriate unit communicator should be contacted at acceptance, and asked to consider a press release. After the paper is published, they will be less likely to be interested.
- Information about research and author impact should be reviewed.
- Learn more about publication metrics.
- Investigators should make sure they have an ORCID iD, and that it is registered with Duke.
- Scholarly work should be made Open Access by depositing it in one of Duke’s repositories. Duke has an open access policy for faculty authors that makes it possible to share peer reviewed articles via the University. Duke’s repositories will also link publications from investigator's Scholars@Duke profile.
- Persistent access to data, and appropriate accreditation can be made more likely by putting papers in the Duke Research Data Repository which assigns a digital object identifier (DOI).
- Think outside the box for maximizing impact – consider whether journal findings are appropriate for public outreach.
Reporting a publication
Oftentimes, reporting a publication is a requirement of the funder. For more information on reporting requirements, see this page's "Related Resources", or contact a Duke librarian.