No matter how big your scientific breakthrough, it won't do your career much good if you don't publish it in a scientific journal, preferably one with a high impact factor. Publication in peer-reviewed journals is how scientists communicate their results to the scientific community; it is also an enduring record of your small--or not-so-small--contribution to the vast pool of human knowledge.
From a career standpoint, however, what's most important about a scientific publication (along with the citations that follow, if the work is important) is its function as a proxy for scientific quality and attainment. Without good publications, you stand little chance of winning the fellowship, research grant, faculty job, or other scientific prize you're competing for.
"Without publishing, [it is as if] you haven't done anything, because scientific articles are the most important measure of scientific achievement," says Ana Marušić, editor-in-chief of the Croatian Medical Journal  and president-elect of the Council of Science Editors . "We don't measure ourselves by how efficient and skilled we are in the lab but by the number and quality of articles we publish in scientific journals."
"The essence of a good paper is good science; that is the most important thing," Marušić says. But good science alone doesn't guarantee prompt publication in a good journal. Sometimes "people do great things, but they manage to destroy [them] by very poor presentation," she says. Presenting data in a clear and accurate manner and putting them into context require skills you can only learn from experience--or from people with experience. Scientific writing is "a very important skill ... but very seldom taught," Marušić says. We agree--and that's why we've decided to take on the challenge.
In Tips for Publishing in Scientific Journals  , Science Deputy Editor Katrina Kelner takes a peek into the publishing process and offers nuts-and-bolts advice on how to get your research into print.
Roberta Ness, a widely published epidemiologist and a less widely published author of children's books, lets us in on a secret common to both types of writing in Writing Science: The Story's the Thing  .
Finally, Elisabeth Pain, our contributing editor for South and Western Europe, writes that the challenges of publishing for non-native English speakers  go well beyond struggles with a foreign tongue.
Elisabeth Pain is contributing editor for South and West Europe.
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