Editorial Comment: In defense of intellectual property integrity
In the publishing business, a key editorial responsibility is ensuring the integrity of all articles that are chosen for publication. This column elaborates on additional ways that prospective authors can help ensure that readers trust what we print.
In the publishing business, a key editorial responsibility is ensuring the integrity of all articles that are chosen for publication. At Gulf Publishing Company, this ethic has been a bedrock of our editorial principles for a century. We ensure editorial integrity by providing authors with editorial guidelines, which are also available on the websites for each publication. This column elaborates on additional ways that prospective authors can help ensure that readers trust what we print.
- Article has a tight focus. Manuscripts should not read like a textbook chapter! We encourage authors to decide on a single topic, to think carefully about the title of their article and to stay within the scope of that title. These objectives should be accomplished in a few thousand words, with accompanying visual schematics, photos and/or tables to help readers navigate the text.
- Article is complete. The reader must understand why the article is deemed worthy of publication. It should not be merely a collection of facts; it should arrive at a conclusion. This structure includes striking the balance of presenting enough data to support the article without overwhelming the reader. (For example, using tables or citing detailed information in the references can help comprehension).
- Thorough citations. The data supporting the article’s claims should be referenced. Not all of the details must be provided—it is usually sufficient to state where and when and by whom the facts were derived, with a link to this information if it has been published. However, authors do have the right to not reveal all of the details; it is sufficient to simply verify that they do exist. Readers can always contact authors later with questions.
- Effective use of imagery. Photos must have balanced lighting and high resolution. Also, schematics should be uncluttered and without extraneous text—weave explanatory text into the article, or in the figure caption. The same applies to graphs and tables; simplicity reduces confusion.
- Prior review. We do not insist on rigorous, independent, third-party reviews. However, we do strongly recommend having colleagues in your organization (who were not involved in writing the article) review it for clarity and gaps in flow. Our technical review can spot concerns, but it is better for all if an article comes with internal alignment from the author’s organization.
- Approval to publish. In their eagerness to be published, some potential authors have not first checked with their employer for approval. If not secured prior to submitting the abstract, approval from an author’s employer should be obtained before the full article is submitted. This action, we find, often improves the final article. These improvements may be in the form of a broader view of the applicability of the article, or changes to make it more useful to plant operations and maintenance staff—not just to engineers.
- Approval to name. This is important. If an author names another company in their article, they should seek prior approval. This action is particularly important if the article is authored by a supplier about something that was completed for the company site. Articles do not require that a company be named; they can choose to remain anonymous. A good technical article can communicate well without naming the site featured in the article. We encourage authors to seek prior approval, even if a company or site chooses to remain unnamed but is willing for an article to be published with details on projects or processes carried out at that site.
- Submit your own work. Unless clearly stated that an article is written on behalf of a company, readers expect that an article is the author’s own work. Good technical writers are available in the marketplace to help companies tell their story well. The use of a technical writer can be clarified in published works, such as in co-authored biographies.
- Technical emphasis. Finally, in full-length articles, authors should present information in a brand-generic and technical way—not a commercial one. Maintaining a generic point of reference for processes and equipment discussed in technical articles is key to preserving our editorial integrity. The overarching purpose of technical articles in Hydrocarbon Processing is to address challenges or improvement opportunities at hydrocarbon processing plants. We believe authors can best achieve this objective by speaking to readers in practical, not promotional, terms. This also lends credibility to your ideas and experience—an assurance that readers expect from the transmission of critical information in the hydrocarbon processing industry. HP
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