|Release date: March 12, 2020; Category: Online Training Series; Author: Joe Prieto|
Drawing Attention to Your Important Information
The use of summaries of key findings by many academic and scientific journals is well established. Once an article is accepted for publication the author is required to submit those key findings. What isn’t so widely established, but has undoubtedly spread in popularity is the use of highlights.
The purpose of highlights is to draw attention to important information in a paper. Highlights are 3 to 5 short sentences containing the core findings of the research. Effective highlights allow the reader to find and view in an extremely concise format the presented results, therefore providing the opportunity to quickly determine whether they want to read the paper or not.
When creating the highlights an effective method to keep in mind is to use the following key criteria:
■ Communicate the core findings
■ Convey the essence
■ Express the distinctiveness of the research
A good model to follow is to provide three to five highlights, with each one not exceeding 85 characters, including spaces.
Communicating the Core
In research, the details tend to be the focus of the writing. Yes, details are important, especially if they are challenging, much more so to allow a peer to reproduce the experience in the research. However, the details of the process or experiments are not the nature of the research. It is for this reason that the details shouldn’t be the highlights. The Nature is the WHY factor.
Why is the research taking place in the first place?
Having a clear view of the WHY factor is essential for writing the highlights.
Convey the essence
When communicating your findings, it is important to keep in mind the audience. A common flaw in writing highlights is the lack of thought for those readers who are not experts in the field. Highlights are the window to the world. If the content is not clear, your message is not understood. The essence of your research must be prepared with the idea that the audience knows little about the topic, and the highlights must express the complexity of the research in simple, clear, and concise words.
Evidence of distinctiveness
Typically, you have less than ten seconds before a reader decides it’s time to click away. Therefore, it’s imperative to make use of the highlights to provide evidence of the research contribution in a succinct point. The following are two examples ineffective and effective highlights:
“a hollow-cone spray is used in an impinging process occurring on a flat surface”
Consider that research in impinging sprays occurs on a surface, “Why is this a highlight?” The example does not explain the nature of the research, nor does it express any contribution in the field. However, the sentence can be structured to state the distinctiveness of the research and in turn create an effective highlight.
“Hollow-cone sprays in cooling processes address heterogeneities in the temperature field.”
The sentence meets the required 85 characters and contains the nature of the research. The effective example introduces the type of spray in a cooling process and states the impact, which is the cooling of the surface and addressing heterogeneities in a temperature field. A small change can make a difference between ineffective and effective highlights.
Concise and to the point
Regardless of the required format, highlights need to be concise to communicate complex information in a limited textual space. Shortening phrases, simplifying vocabulary, eliminating redundant words, and using the active voice will help with observing word and character limits, and replacing long words with shorter synonyms will also help with the latter.
Proofread your highlights
An important step that should never get overlooked in the process is the proof. Any error in spelling, grammar, or logic in the highlights reflects on the rest of the paper. The reader will expect the manuscript to be poorly written if there is an error staring at them in the face. Consider having a colleague review the section to catch any errors you may have missed. If you have your manuscript professionally edited, be sure to write the highlights before you submit the manuscript for editing so they are included in the professional revision.
The highlights will probably be the first thing after the title that a prospective reader will read, so you want the highlights to make a great first impression and draw attention to your important information.
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