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From Thesis to Journal Articles: Expert Tips on Publishing in PubMed

Soon after concluding a dissertation, researchers set their eyes on getting published! Publishing in top-notch, peer reviewed journals that are archived by PubMed is indeed a dream for every researcher. Articles published and hosted by PubMed serve as measurable touchstones that demonstrate scholarly accomplishments. However, heading into the world of journal publications immediately after authoring a thesis is not an easy feat! Right from determining what to publish, how many papers can be written from the thesis to deciding where to publish them, everything needs to be planned wisely.

How Does a Thesis Differ From a Manuscript?

One of the very first things to understand is that a thesis cannot be straightforwardly translated into an article. Here’s why there has to be a lot of rewriting. A thesis is drafted based on academic requirements. It has chapters, and can be lengthy with no word limit as such. Authors have to present all their results including raw data with complete description of designs, methods, and experimental protocols. On the other hand, authors have to write an article/manuscript according to the journal guidelines with strict adherence to the style and format. Every section has to be succinct and coherent. Authors should report only selective and most relevant findings to make the article impressive!

How to Adapt a Thesis Into a Manuscript

1. If your thesis focuses on diverse research objectives, narrow down the focus on a single question.

2. Based on your research topic, identify an appropriate target journal. Match your objectives with the aims and scope of the journal.

3. Pay attention to your writing style. Check the recommendations made by the journal including the suggested structure and reference style.

4. Journal articles are typically much shorter in length (4000 to 7000 words) and more concise than a thesis. Therefore, you have to trim the length and make them crisper. Instead of simply cutting and pasting pieces from your thesis, it is always better to rewrite every section. Repurpose selected segments of your thesis while focusing on the main findings you want to convey to your readers.

5. Use your thesis introduction to write the abstract. Clearly state the aim of your study, the relevance of your research, methodologies used, the main findings, and a short concluding statement as to whether your objective were met.

6. Your introduction must provide the rationale and context for your research keeping in mind the scope of the target journal. Cite the most important and recent literature. Select references that directly focus on the research findings you plan to present. Blend in your literature together by grouping and citing similar studies with a common description. For example: Several studies have reported enhanced signaling and neuroprotection in association with blackberry supplementation [12-18].

7. While writing your methods section, remember that editors or reviewers may not require every detail for methods that have been validated and used in previously published papers. Keep this section brief while ensuring that there is sufficient description for methods that are novel. This helps in avoiding any concerns related to research reproducibility. Affirm that you provide the most pertinent information. For instance your sampling method, selection criteria for inclusion or exclusion for participants, data analysis methods etc.

8. Include only those results that are most specific to your research question. Present and exclusively discuss findings that are most interesting and relevant to the research objectives stated in the introduction section. Use tables and figures to display your results in a more effective manner. Club literature based on whether they support or refute your claims and findings.

9. Summarize your key findings. Briefly mention any limitations or shortcomings of the study. Emphasize what your study means in line with the aims of the journal.

10. Cite the most relevant and recent references in the correct format. Reference managers come in handy when you want to quickly reformat them according to the journal style guide. Watch out for inconsistencies with references while editing your thesis.

Step-by-Step Guide to Submitting and Publishing in PubMed

Once your article is ready the next logical step is publishing the article in the target journal. Furthermore, for several researchers and authors getting their articles indexed in PubMed is a high-priority goal. There are several ways in which articles are submitted and published in PubMed. PubMed-indexed journals may submit and deposit all their articles directly to PubMed without any author involvement. In certain cases, the journals may become selective and publish only a subset of articles. In this scenario, the authors may request the publisher to submit their articles on their behalf. If the journals fail to do so within a span of one month after publication, authors may upload their final peer-reviewed manuscripts via the NIHMS system. Let us have a step-by-step run through of the submission process to PubMed as an individual author.

Contact Your Publisher to Address Any Copyright Issues

Before proceeding with submission to PubMed, it is important to inform and take inputs from the publisher. You can email the publisher mentioning the citation of your published article, NIH grant number/information, and requesting the following:

  • Ask whether the journal is willing to submit the publication or you can proceed with the same.
  • Ask if there is any embargo period.
  • Enquire about the version (usually it is the final peer reviewed manuscript) of the manuscript that can be submitted.
  • Ask if there any revisions or edits that need to be done prior to its submission to PubMed.

Submit Your Article

Confirm your applicability for submission with regard to the NIH public access policy.

Ensure you have all the information before proceeding for the submission. This includes grant information, citation for publication (publication date, title, journal name etc.), final peer reviewed version of the manuscript, supplementary files and the embargo period as mentioned by the publisher.

Create or sign in to your NCBI account. Enter information in all the required fields and upload your files. Carefully review the summary to cross-check if all the information you have entered is accurate. Deposit your submission.

The Post-Submission Process

NIH assigns a NIHMSID to the deposited file and converts the submission to the PMC format. NIH then sends it to the reviewing author. The reviewing author approves the submission, links funding, and finalizes the public release date. Following this, NIH converts the submission to the final PMC format. NIH assigns the article a PMCID as soon as the reviewer approves PMC-ready file in NIHMS. The full text version of the manuscript is now freely accessible in PMC as per the public release date.

Still have more questions about publishing your article in PubMed ? Post your queries here and our experts will be happy to answer them! You can also visit our Q&A forum for frequently asked questions related to research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.


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