Writing a Highly Citable Scientific Journal Article
Earning citations is an important goal when publishing scientific Journal articles, and for more than one reason. Primary is the fact that citations are a simple and obvious measure of influence: if an article is being cited by other scientists, it is being read and having an influence on their thinking and research, whether it is cited positively as support or negatively as contradiction in relation to their work. Secondary but incredibly important for sustaining a successful publishing career are the rewards of being highly cited, which can include employment, promotion, funding and intellectual recognition.

Research excellence is the most obvious and certain route to producing an article that other researchers will find informative and useful, but even the most excellent research can be obscured from readers or simply ignored when scientists cite sources if it is not reported in an accessible, engaging and memorable way. Your language should always be clear and concise, with descriptions of complex material worded in as simple a manner as possible, and your evidence and argument should be presented in a logical and convincing fashion. Writing that is confusing, definitions that are ambiguous or inconsistent and conclusions that are illogical are not only unconvincing, but also difficult to cite and nearly impossible to quote. Concise information-rich sentences that pack a punch, precise descriptions of innovative methods and revealing results, carefully considered implications and useful recommendations of both a practical and theoretical nature are, on the other hand, eminently citable and often very effective as quotations in the writing of others. Clear and attractive tables and figures that present complicated information in immediately discernible visual forms also tend to receive positive attention, and if they are good enough, some researchers will refer to or reproduce them instead of providing their own.

Searchable parts of an article such as titles and abstracts should receive special attention from the author. These may not be the material actually cited by readers, but they will serve as the means through which potentially interested readers find your article, and they will also be the first parts of that article they read. If your title and abstract set a poor stage by being inaccurate, awkward, packed with too much or too little information or simply dull, it is unlikely that those who find your article will read on and ultimately cite it, so it is impossible to dedicate too much thought and time to these elements of a scientific paper.

To determine whether your article is captivating and communicating with readers in the memorable ways you intend, there is no substitute for having colleagues, a professional proofreader and even more general readers read through it and offer you feedback before you submit it for publication. This will only be successful, however, if you are willing to turn critical eyes on your own writing and accommodate their suggestions in revisions.