One of the most useful classes during my PhD course was on growth economics. Not so much because of the content (which was fascinating!), but rather because our professor (who later became my PhD supervisor and co-author) had one important objective
for this course – teach us how to write a paper! He even provided us with an outline for how to write up the Introduction of a paper – something I still use and happily pass on to my own PhD students (with full acknowledgements!).
Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday at a workshop in Bonn (organized by Ruediger Fahlenbrach and Henrik Hakenes) taking this approach one step further; an intensive and interactive meeting of junior researchers (post-doc and assistant
professor level) and more senior researchers (always relative, obviously!), where the latter shared with the former their experience with the publication process. This included not only discussions on how to have appropriate expectations (50% desk reject
at top journals, and a Revise and Resubmit almost as rare as a black swan) and to deal with frustrations, but also very practical consideration, such as how to package best your message. The four most important messages (motivation, research question,
methodology and contribution) have to be clearly presented in the Introduction, be mentioned on the first page of the paper and summarized in the abstract (where you often face a space constraint). A challenge, but a feasible one! And a skill that can
be acquired with practice. Finally, the elevator pitch: how to bring across the main ideas of your research in two minutes (or less if the other person gets off on the third floor!). Bottom line: original, innovative and frontier research
is necessary but not sufficient for success in the academic world! The good news: packaging can be learned!