General considations

Publishing papers relies on being able to effectively communicate a story. Journals offer different types of papers for authors to communicate their story, such as standard research paper, review paper, method paper, technical note, essay, forum piece, commentary, and short communication. This delineates journal volumes into tailored content to improve access and readability. Publishing your work as different types of papers will expose your work to broader audiences, as some paper types are easier to read than others. Further, readers will sometimes prefer one type to another. Therefore, by choosing to write a paper in a specific form, you can tailor your message to target different audiences.

Journals will not always permit all paper types. Therefore, choosing the type of paper you want to publish can influence the type of journal you wish to target. It is a good idea to write papers in different forms to encompass a wider audience, which also helps you diversify the journals you publish in.

Practical example for Life Sciences

The most common types of papers within the life sciences are standard research, review or synthesis, Forum or Commentary or Opinions (sometimes called Spotlight or Notes), reports, and technical notes. While standard research papers are most common and likely to be more often cited, the other types of papers can be effective ways of communicating a particular idea, theory, or finding. For example, the journal Global Change Biology solicits research papers, technical advances, reviews, opinions, and reports, all of which is found under the ‘Author Guidelines’ section of the journal (

Practical example for Social Sciences

Within the social sciences there are opportunities to publish many of the reports outlined above; however, the most common types of reports are standard research papers, reviews, and short communications.

Further, because technical notes, forum pieces, commentaries, and short communications are generally shorter papers, they can also be less involved, include fewer co-authors, and quicker to write, thus potentially expediting the submission and publication process. The format of the paper, its message, and the audience you wish to reach are important trade-offs to consider when targeting a journal.

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