In this post, Professor Peter Hopkins of Newcastle University outlines his top ten tips for getting published in an international peer-reviewed journal.
1. Check journal mission statement/aims
Before submitting a paper to a journal, read through the mission statement and aims to ensure that your paper is an appropriate fit.
2. Read through previous issues
Read through previous issues to see if there are papers on topics related to yours. This can help to ensure you are contributing to a debate that is ongoing in the journal and/or help you to articulate what it is that is innovative about your contribution.
3. Consider the standing of the journal
Check out the standing and ranking of the journal you plan to submit to; supervisors or colleagues may have useful advice about this. You may also consider the impact factor, whether or not the journal is open access, and any recent changes or developments related to the journal.
4. Check turnaround time
Some journals publish papers relatively quickly whilst others have a backlog of papers (although most publish quickly online). Many journals note the submission and acceptance dates on published papers so you can see how long the process takes. It can be useful to take this into consideration and weigh up the importance of speed of publication vis-à-vis standing of the journal.
5. Use correct house style
Make sure you format your article and reference list according to the guidelines.
6. Be open and transparent with co-authors
Co-authorship can be a useful way of getting published but can also lead to challenges due to different expectations and motivations of authors. It can be useful to be open and transparent with your co-authors in order to try to minimise any tension and to manage expectations.
7. Take care with the title, abstract and keywords
The title, abstract and keywords are three of the most important parts of an article. However, there can be a tendency to leave these to the last minute and to write them when you realise you need to include them on the journal submission system. Remember, these are the first parts of a paper that the Editor and any reviewers will read; they are therefore very important.
8. Routinize rejection
Everyone gets a paper rejected at some point; even the most established and brilliant researchers have papers rejected by journals. By routinizing rejection, you can help build the resilience needed to get your work published.
9. Have a back-up journal in mind
One strategy for routinizing rejection is to have a back-up journal in mind. This means you have a plan should your paper get rejected. This can also help if you are submitting a paper to a journal that you find intimidating. I often say to myself “okay, this will get rejected by Journal A but I’ll get some useful feedback and then improve and send it to Journal B”. Then, take a deep breath and submit!
10. Take time and care with revisions
Be careful to respond to all of the reviewers’ comments and any remarks made by the Editor. Write a polite and professional letter to the Editor to explain and justify your revisions (especially where you disagree with a reviewer).