You’ve got no clue to writing your article for a scientific journal?

That’s it, your proposal of communication is accepted and you will be able to write an article! This is an important step in your journey: you must make it a habit to broadcast your results (and here you will find a video on the previous step: how to find a magazine to publish our article?).

So, how are you going to do it now? The first reflex is often to find out what form the article should have; which rubrics it should be, because of course you do not want to be in default.

But beware, the quality of your article will not only respect the “standards” of writing but even more relevant to the results you expose and the pleasure that we will take to read you. How to achieve writing a useful article for others and exciting?

Which format to adopt?
If you did a little tour on the net before arriving here, you may have noticed that we usually advise to respect a certain plan with well defined parts in a scientific article ( here a detailed example ).

It is usual to say that an article must contain:

  • An introduction that sets out the problem, explains why it is interesting / innovative, and announces the plan of the article.
  • A part of theoretical context (or state of the art) where you stand in relation to the main currents of analysis concerning the precise question that you treat. Here you summarize the latest advancements in knowledge in your field and indicate what concepts you rely on. And all in a few paragraphs, yes!
  • Methodology: this is a part where you explain what your data is and how you go about collecting it.
  • The results you have obtained
  • The discussion of these results with regard to the concepts mobilized: finally, what do you have to say again on the studied phenomenon?
  • However, this list is not a cooking recipe: it is neither mandatory nor exhaustive.

Not exhaustive, because some journals are even more specific about the architecture of their articles and claim other points (“ethical considerations”, “objectives” etc.).

And not mandatory because other publishing committees, on the contrary, do not force their contributors to follow such a pattern. This is particularly the case in some disciplines with a more “literary” tradition, where journals publish articles with plans that delineate an argument in a thematic way and where the presentation of the method and context are reduced, usually referred to intro. I myself wrote articles in this way “freer”, the thematic discussion taking precedence over the rest (and it was in socio / anthropo).

So how do you find it and avoid missteps?

Well, you must go and see for yourself what is expected of you! A review accepted your contribution? Look for previous issues of this review and do your investigation. Look at several articles. How are they built? All the same ? So do the same. Or are they all different? You will then have the freedom to leave more room for the discussion of results, for example.

Choose the right topic for your article

An article is between 10 and 15 pages, most of the time; this leaves you little space to develop a logical argument, while presenting the data on which it is based. To write a good article is first to find a subject that has the right dimension. How to do ?

First of all, you should not conceive of the article as an excerpt from your thesis (except in the case of theses by articles, as can sometimes be done in economics for example). It is difficult to extract a small piece of a long argument; this can produce an impression of incompleteness, the feeling that one does not have all the elements to draw a conclusion.

The article can not be either a summary of your entire dissertation or much of it. If you try to tell your whole thesis, you will fly over it and fall into the generalities.

You will choose a specific theme, present in your thesis (centrally or peripherally) and which sticks to the call for contributions if necessary. Indeed, often the journal that launched the call for contributions imposes themes; it can sometimes take you away from your thesis, get you to another point of view, but that’s just what’s rewarding.

But beware ! If your theme is too precise, if it is about a detail, you will fall in the anecdote, we will hardly see what you can demonstrate from that.

In short, finding the right focus is a puzzle … It’s the exercise of asking a research question (a problem) that can get you out of trouble.

The problem

The problematic serves two purposes: to give a logical and unified character to your argument and to limit the subject. An issue has the form of a question. It is to this question that you will try to answer during the whole article, until the final conclusion, without scattering you: what does not serve to answer the question is thus put aside. Indeed, you can not show “all your science” in your article (you can not be exhaustive), but you can show your ability to argue precisely.