Get published in ‘NATURE’: Valuable experience pairing with a group of outstanding scientists

By Mr. Mohd Safuan Che Din, PhD Candidate

Getting publish in a NATURE journal is a dream of many academician. It is something that I never thought to achieve during my postgraduate study. Being part of the co-author with top researchers from around the world and publishing in a well-known and high impact journal, is an experience that must be shared. I am hoping that this story will encourage other postgraduate to publish his/her research.

In brief, I am a postgraduate student in Institute of Oceanography and Environment (INOS), doing a PhD in coral ecology. I was grateful to be a postgraduate in INOS as I can proactively engaged in many research activities and get to know many researchers. Through this, I also got the opportunities to do some data collection related to coral reefs.

Back in 2015, Dr James Tan Chun Hong introduce me to Emily Darling (main author) from Wildlife Conservation Society which interested to compile the coral community database from the Indo-Pacific reefs. We decided to be part of the team and with other scientists from international universities, NGOs and government agencies from 51 countries to compile the data.

Working with researchers from all around the world is the first experience in my life. Email and ‘Google document’ were the medium used to connect each other. Reviewing the manuscript is like going to ‘night market’ as all 81 co-authors put their efforts in refining the manuscript. Working together with the top scientists that you commonly cite their papers were something quite extraordinary to me. Their ideals is totally mind blowing and I learnt a lot from them.

I believed having the largest dataset of coral community in the world would be an easy job to get publish in a high impact journal. But, things not going smoothly as expected. Our paper got rejected twice by the other high impact journal. But, we did not stop here. By using the criteria suggested by the previous journal and refinement of the manuscript, finally, the manuscript got accepted and published in the Nature Ecology and Evolution. It took us almost four years to publish this paper. The manuscript entitled “Social-environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene”, describing the coral abundance data in 2584 Indo-Pacific reefs and evaluate the impact of climate, social and environmental drivers to the ecology of coral reefs.

“Alone we can do little but together we can do more!” Making a publishable paper especially in a high-impact journal is not a one-man show. Opportunity to collaborate with other researchers is something that we should grab in order to learn new things beyond our expertise and knowledge. Apart from that, support from others especially supervisor will encourage you to keep on digging your research and make it publishable. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thanks to Prof. Dr Zainudin Bachok who is the backbone of my research and special thanks goes to my beloved wife, families, as well as friends for their endless support. THANK YOU!