Supplementary Materials in Research: 5 Tips for Authors

by Elizabeth Oommen George
Supplementary materials in research: What it is and 5 tips for authors

Supplementary material in research is an essential component of scientific publishing and can greatly enhance the impact of a research paper. It provides additional information, technical data, and results that are not included in the main text of a paper but are important to understanding the study. With the growing importance of digital publishing, supplementary materials in research have become an increasingly popular way for authors to provide readers with a more comprehensive overview of their research. Some of the more common forms of research supplementary materials include charts and graphs describing different aspect of the research, multimedia files like video or audio files, visuals used to analyze results from imaging systems, supplementary datasets and large complicated data that is not practical to include in the original manuscript itself.

Reasons for submitting research supplementary materials

Supplementary materials in research help peer reviewers assess the submitted manuscript more effectively and, therefore, most leading journals require authors to submit research supplementary materials to support their findings. Peer reviewers use supplementary material to evaluate the validity and reliability of the methods used in a study, as well as the quality of the data and results. This information can be especially useful in fields that rely on complex data sets, such as genetics or engineering, where research supplementary material provides a more complete picture of the study.

Supplementary materials in research also make a paper more discoverable for readers. It provides a platform for authors to share their raw data and methods, making it easier for other researchers to verify their results and build upon their work. This can lead to increased visibility and impact for the paper and open up new opportunities for collaboration between scientists.

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5 Tips on how to prepare supplementary materials

Undertaking research and writing a manuscript that is error-free and ready for submission is a hugely challenging task, not only for early career researchers but even seasoned academics. Many tend to slack off when it comes to collating and submitting research supplementary material to support their work. However this is an important element of a research paper and must be prepared, written, and presented effectively to maximize your chance of publication success. We’ve listed below some simple guidelines for submitting research supplementary material to journals.

Know the journal’s requirements

Before preparing to share supplementary material in research, it is important to check the target journal’s guidelines for submitting research supplementary material. Different journals may have different requirements for the type and format of the supplementary material being included, so it is important to know and understand the rules so you can ensure your research supplementary material meets all the journal requirements.

Make the supplementary material accessible

Supplementary material in research should be easily accessible and understandable to the reader. This means that it should be well-organized, clearly labelled, and presented in a format that is easy to read and navigate. Additionally, authors should consider including a detailed but brief explanation of the research supplementary material in the main text of their research paper to help readers understand its relevance to the study.

Use appropriate file formats

Research supplementary material should be submitted in file formats that are widely used and easily accessible. This may include PDF, Excel, or R data sets. Authors should also consider using software that can convert their data sets into interactive formats, such as heat maps or network graphs, to help readers explore the data more easily. As always, check with your target journal for the file formats it accepts.

Consider the size of the files

Large or heavy files can be difficult to download and view, so it is important to keep the file size of supplementary material in research to a minimum. This may involve compressing large data sets or using image compression techniques to reduce the file size. While this may be an extra step, it will go a long way in ensuring your data is accessible, read, and understood, which will add to your research impact.

Ensure discoverability

Authors should ensure that their research supplementary material is easily discoverable by including the appropriate keywords and descriptions that are relevant to their study. This will help make the study more visible in online search engines, improving the chances of the research paper being found, read, and even cited by peers in other research work.

By following these five simple tips, researchers and academics can prepare and submit relevant supplementary materials in research in an organized, effective manner. By taking the time to prepare and submit high-quality research supplementary material, authors can increase the visibility and impact of their research and help make a significant contribution to the scientific community.

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