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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