Abisko, Sweden - photo courtesy of Scott D. Wilson

Concise manuscripts are essential

 

Authors can achieve more concise manuscripts by shortening and focusing the Introduction and Discussion. Introductions are not review papers. Eliminate overlap between the Introduction and Discussion.

Reduce the numbers of figures, tables, citations, and/or secondary parts of the methods wherever possible. The target (combined) number of tables and figures for a Report is 3; for an Article in Ecology, 5; a few more in most Ecological Monographs. Tables and figures intended for print should be pertinent to the text, highly relevant to your findings, and interesting. Such tables and figures are usually referred to multiple times in the text. Additional figures and tables may be placed in digital appendices. Note that condensed tables and figures can be expanded to larger size and number in the digital appendices (e.g., "see Appendix A for the full MANOVA table"; and Appendix A of Ecological Archives E082-011). The most pertinent data, means, error estimates, effect sizes, summary lists of important taxa, and similar things are often placed into the ink tables and figures. Condensed tables of results and complicated statistical designs that are carefully dealt with in the text are appropriate for ink, with expanded versions in digital appendices. However, many tables of no more than p values, sums of squares, degrees of freedom and statistical tests should be placed in the digital appendices. Concisely summarize the most important results of statistical tests in the text and discuss their design in the Methods. Figures should highlight distinctive patterns of results. Long series of similar figures should go in digital appendices; summarize the process in a single figure in ink.

Tables and figures that have appeared in dissertations and are published in University Microfilms may not be necessary at all, or they can be included in digital appendices. A principle to follow is that tables and figures of biological information (not merely of statistical test results) referred to multiple times should be in ink, in the manuscript. Other tabular and graphical material can be put in the archives.

Examine some digital appendices to get a feel for the ways in which authors have used Ecological Archives to shorten the print portions of their publications.

Use citations frugally.

It is your responsibility as an author to make careful decisions before submission. Submissions are greatly improved by the advice of colleagues, informed about your need to be concise.

rev 4/5/11

 

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