Publishing experts coach Chinese authors

By Jennifer Cobb
SEG Manager, Geophysics and Books

Photo courtesy of Charlesworth China.

BEIJING — The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and the Geological Society of America (GSA) sponsored a seminar 21–22 October to help teach Chinese geoscientists how to publish in geoscience journals. The seminar was created and coordinated by The Charlesworth Group.

Best Practices for High-impact Publishing in the Geosciences drew more than 300 attendees to the two-day seminar at the China University of Geosciences Conference Centre.

Session topics included choosing the right journal for your research, using references and citations and avoiding plagiarism, understanding requirements for graphics, preparing your manuscript for submission, understanding peer review, presenting your work, writing key sections, using strategies of writing, deciding who should be an author, understanding scientific misconduct and ethical issues, and finding resources to help when writing your paper.

The seminar was led by Philippa Benson, director of Education and Author Services for The Charlesworth Group. Speakers included Yonghe Sun, senior staff geophysicist with Chevron Energy Technology Company and former SEG Editor (2005–2007) and SEG Publications Committee Chairman (2007–2011); Lyne Yohe, Managing Editor of Geology, GSA; Brendan Murphy, Department of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University and GSA Bulletin Editor (2007–2010); and Jennifer Cobb, SEG's manager of Geophysics and books.

"The desired outcome of the seminar was an increase in the number of papers being accepted for publication in the journals of SEG and GSA, enabling more of the work going on in China to be shared with geophysicists worldwide," said Ted Bakamjian, SEG Publications Director.

The students interacted with the speakers through question-and-answer periods at the end of each topic session and during breaks in the program.

Photo courtesy of Petroleum Industry Press.

Students asked several questions about ethical issues. Among those were questions on submitting to multiple journals at once and submitting a paper in English after it has been published in Chinese. SEG and GSA have ethical guidelines posted on their Web sites. Authors should review those guidelines, read Instructions to Authors, and include in their cover letters any information regarding ethical issues. Murphy told the students that they must "lay their cards on the table" to avoid any appearance of deception.


Benson shared with the attendees that the major reason journals reject papers without review is not poor use of English but because of author failure to select the proper journal for the depicted work. Students worked an exercise during which they tried to match abstracts with journal scope statements. Benson encouraged students to study the journal, its scope statement, and past issues to make sure their papers are right for that journal. Benson said authors might find papers in their topic area and check the reference lists to see which journals are cited there.

Sun urged students to use their oral presentations to form the foundations of papers they write and to improve their presentation skills to further their careers. He said during their careers, they will give 30-minute presentations to report on six months of hard work. He said they should use that time to shine.

Yohe and Cobb work in the editorial offices of their respective journals and both stressed the importance of reading and following the Instructions to Authors for the journals they target with their submissions. The science and writing might be good in a paper, but if the paper is written in an incorrect format, the paper could be sent back to the author for corrections.

The seminar was supported in part by China University of Geosciences, China University of Mining and Technology, Beijing Petroleum Industry Press, and Chevron Energy Technology Company.

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