When we think of research articles, most of the time we think of articles that present the results of studies that took a long time to complete. Generally, these articles contain theories, testable hypotheses and extensive methodological justifications for conducting analyses. There are, however, many other types of research articles that are published in scientific journals. One of them, a perspective article, presents an important topic, groundbreaking research, or a different view of an existing issue by an expert in that field of research.
How It All Fits Together
Most of the research articles published by academic journals are original research articles. Journal editors tend to prefer this type of article, especially if it presents important advancements in a research field, or counterintuitive results. Other types of research articles include book reviews, case reports, editorials, interviews, commentaries, profiles, and interviews, and perspectives. Each journal ultimately decides, based on their field specialty, what types of research articles they wish to publish. For example, some social science journals (Comparative Political Studies) do not accept perspective research articles, while others refer to them as letters.
Perspective research articles have an important role in the academic research portfolio. They stimulate further interest about presented topics within the reader audience. They are different from other types of articles because they present a different take on an existing issue, tackle new and trending issues, or emphasize topics that are important, but have been neglected, in the scholarly literature. In some scientific fields they bridge different areas of research that the journal publishes, while in others they bring new issues and ideas to the forefront. In general, their role is to enlighten a general audience about important issues.
Why Write a Perspective?
While the incentive system of academic tenure and promotion emphasizes publication of original research, writing other types of articles is also beneficial for the researchers in the long run. It gives researchers the opportunity to contribute to their discipline in different ways, while at the same time enhancing their own professional work.
A perspective article is a way for young researchers to gain experience in the publications process that can be often arduous and time consuming. It can be a way in which they learn from the publication process while they are working on their original research articles that often take years to complete.
In the case of experienced researchers, writing a perspective article provides them at least two distinct benefits: first, it allows them to step back and reflect on a significant issue that they may know a lot about, but that they have never had the time to address. The second benefit is that the researcher gets the opportunity to give their own authorial voice to a published article that will reach a wide audience.
Pay Attention to Detail
Before one decides to write and submit a perspective research article to an academic journal, it is important to become familiar with the article expectations of the target journal.
Although academic journals hold a similar definition and purpose of a perspective article, there are differences in the technical requirements each journal has. When it comes to the length of the perspective article, some journals have strict limitations while others allow articles to vary the length within a given range. For example, some academic journals in the field of biological sciences and medicine have a limitation of 1,500 and 1,200 words respectively, with defined reference and figure limits. Another journal in the same field has a less restrictive limit of 2,000-4,000 words and a more generous reference limit.
With respect to the structure of the perspective article, journals define their expectations in different terms. Some journals place an emphasis on the structure of the article, requiring sections such as the abstract, introduction, topics and conclusion. Other journals make suggestions on the nature of the title and the specific conceptual connections in the assigned field. Some journals take the time to explain their view and expectation in writing perspective articles, make suggestions and provide lists of things to include and avoid in the perspective article.
Writing a perspective article can have many benefits to authors. Although writing one is less demanding than an original research article, it is recommended that an aspiring author consult the targeted journal for requirements. This will ensure that the journal expectations are met, and that the author has a positive first experience in the writing of this type of research article.