How to publish in JOPR

Be accepted among prominent contributors to MPOB’s Flagship Journal of Oil Palm Research (JOPR)

How to get your articles published
In order to maintain the high standards associated with JOPR, papers submitted are thoroughly scrutinised on their quality especially in their originality, context and universality of the findings. Of course they have to be readable.

Original or novel means having something new or unique to share. It is also about being different, unusual and better. A sure way to create impact. In science, any repetition of old methods to produce slightly different results each time is not considered original. For example, in soil studies, the description of a type of soil follows a standard pattern. If such descriptions are submitted one paper at a time, the journal would be flooded with low impact look-alike papers. Other areas which carry the risk of repetition include species composition of the oil palm environment, algorithms for biomass estimation, formulae for tissue culture, and studies of fertiliser, just to name a few. The proper place for such data is in manuals—manuals of oil palm planting materials, soil types and so on. Such repetitious work should be left to trained technicians while the scientists should always focus on the innovative aspects of research. Every paper published should preferably be at the cutting edge of science, or sharing something new and exciting.

Another yardstick used in evaluating submitted papers is universality. The findings must have universal appeal. Papers lacking in universal interest stand a good chance of being rejected. For example, a fertiliser trial carried out in a particular locality on a particular species. Such experiment is a classic textbook factorial experiment, carried out with full scientific rigour and analysed statistically. Such a trial would take a long time to carry out, and require much organisation. Nevertheless, it would be in the nature of a diagnostic service, like testing an oil palm trunk for its strength properties, determining the BOD content of a palm oil effluent from a specific mill, or identifying a soil type in a certain location. The findings are effectively a prescription for the particular locality which cannot be extended to other localities and definitely not to the rest of the world. Such a paper should preferably be published locally if at all.

The context of a paper may make it suitable for publication even if another, very similar-looking paper, may be rejected. For example, we would not welcome papers on the ecology of algae, one algae at a time, but if a particular species of algae happens to hold the most potential for energy generation, an exception would be made. A paper on soil anatomy would be welcome if the soil is very unique, e.g. representing a previously unknown types.

Every journal has a particular audience, and a range of technical terms and concepts that its audience would be used to. If a paper is written in such a way that only a chemist, physiologist, molecular biologist or economist can understand, it should be sent to an appropriate journal of chemistry, physiology, molecular biology, etc. However, there are cases where authors want to make their work known to an oil palm audience through publication in an oil palm journal. They are welcome. To do this, they must ‘walk’ the readers through unfamiliar terms and concepts. This is often not a problem to authors who understand their topic well. They are usually skilled in presenting their special topic to non-specialist audiences.

The role of reviewers
Scientific research is a unique discipline whereby all scientists perform on a world stage. It is not like business or sports where one can start at village level, and move up to higher levels before going international. Any paper published in a reputable journal immediately goes before a world audience.

The profession is unique also because it is a professional etiquette for scientists to review papers when invited to do so by editors. Review is the primary mechanism by which new scientists are brought up to international levels of performance. Editors always try to select reviewers who have a reputation in the topic to be reviewed.

The reviewers will check that the paper is of an acceptable technical standard for that particular topic. They may merely say yes or no. However, reviewers and editors will often go to the trouble of making detailed comments.

When the paper is returned to the author
If a paper has been accepted for publication, the author will usually be asked to make certain changes or to approve changes made by the editors. At this stage, the author may negotiate with the editor over the changes, or withdraw the paper. If a paper is firmly rejected by the journal, the author still has the option to submit it to other journals. All scientists understand the fact that responding with angry letters to the editors and reviewers is a serious breach of professional etiquette.

Our goal
Our goal for JOPR is to promote innovation and excellence in the science of the oil palm and its products. We would like to see the articles impacting on the global audience. Please help us realise this goal.

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