Submitting your research to academic journals is a critical milestone in your academic or scientific career. It is a means of sharing your findings, contributing to the body of knowledge in your field, and establishing your reputation as a researcher. In this article, we will walk you through 5 straightforward steps to help you successfully submit your research to academic journals.
Step 1: Prepare Your Manuscript
Before you even think about submitting your research, make sure your manuscript is in top shape. This involves adhering to the specific formatting and citation style required by your target journal. Carefully organize your paper with a clear title, abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion sections. Ensure that your manuscript is free of grammatical and typographical errors.
Step 2: Select the Right Journal
Choosing the appropriate journal for your research is crucial. Different journals specialize in various fields and topics, so it’s essential to match your work with a journal that aligns with your research area. You can do this by researching journals, reading their published articles, and identifying the best fit for your research. When selecting a journal, keep these two things in mind:
- Publishing model: There are two major types of journals: Open Access or Traditional Publishing. The difference between Traditional Publishing model and Open Access publishing model in one word is visibility. Open access articles are freely available online, increasing the visibility, reach and potential citations by a wider audience, while traditional publishing offers greater prestige and credibility through established journal titles (source). Data shows that since 2018, there are more than 42,000 active, scholarly peer-reviewed journals publishing content worldwide, a number that has been growing at over 5% in recent years (source). Also, in open access publishing, authors retain the copyright of their work but need to align with the principles of scientific openness, transparency, and accessibility. On the other hand, in traditional publishing, authors pass on the copyright to journals, who put curbs on how this research is used (source).
- Journal’s scope: “Scope,” simply stated, is the journal’s purpose or objective. This is what the publication wants to achieve by delivering its content to its readers. (source)
- Reputation of the journal: The reputation of a journal includes the publisher of the journal, the societal organization that sponsors the journal, aim and scope, mission statement, among other criteria. (source) To assess the credential of a journal or a publisher you can check websites such as Think. Check. Submit. This website helps you to identify trusted journals and publishers for your research through a range of tools and practical resources (source).
- Indexing: Indexing is the process of listing journals, organized by discipline, type of publication, region, etc. Journal indexes are also known as bibliographic or citation indexes. (source) In this case, you should check whether the journal is indexed in the major online databases such as Web of Science or Scopus. Why is this important? Because it increases the visibility and discoverability of your work.
- Language requirements: Most journals publish papers in English. You should think about the journal’s language criteria and whether you’ll need to have a native English speaker proofread your work to make sure it reads well.
- Cost: Regarding the cost of publishing, it all depends on the journal. They normally indicate this on their introduction page. In terms of cost, Open access publishing often requires authors to pay APCs, while traditional publishing may have lower publishing costs or no fees at all. Researchers should consider the potential return on investment when weighing these costs when choosing between open access vs traditional publishing options.
Step 3: Review the Journal’s Guidelines
Once you’ve identified a suitable journal, visit its website and review the specific submission guidelines. What are journal guidelines? A journal guideline is to assure the continued availability of top-quality publications, there are a set of procedures that describe the subject matter of interest to the journal, the audience for the publications, the proposal process, the criteria used to evaluate manuscripts and publications, and more. These guidelines will include information on manuscript formatting, citation style, word count limits, and any other requirements. Adhering to these guidelines is essential to avoid potential rejection at the outset.
Step 4: Create an Author Account and Submit
Many journals require authors to create an online account or profile through their submission management systems. This account will be used to submit your manuscript, track its progress, and receive notifications regarding the submission process. Ensure that your account information is accurate and up to date. Once you have an account, you can start the submission process. Typically, this involves uploading your prepared manuscript in a compatible file format, such as PDF or Word. Be sure to follow the journal’s guidelines closely. Some journals may also ask for supplementary files, such as data sets, figures, or tables, which should be included in your submission. During the submission process, you may be required to provide additional information, such as author details, conflicts of interest, or a cover letter. Be thorough and accurate in providing this information, as it may influence the peer-review process. A well-crafted cover letter can help introduce your work and highlight its significance.
Step 5: Track Your Submission and Respond to Feedback
After you’ve submitted your research, be prepared to wait. The peer-review process can take several weeks to several months. Monitor your email for updates from the journal regarding the status of your submission. You may receive feedback from peer reviewers if they assume your paper is worth publishing (otherwise they will reject it), which you can use to make necessary revisions to your manuscript. Understanding reviewer feedback is an important step in finalizing your paper. A constructive feedback according to Blair, et al., 2013 is defined as information that specifies one’s performance on a task. Here is an example of a feedback:
Thank you for submitting “Title” to The Peer Review, which we are pleased to “Accept for Publication.” According to the reviewers, your manuscript makes an important contribution to ______. To continue with the publication process, please review the enclosed comments and reply with your decision to proceed with the publication process. (source)
In this step, if you receive a Revise and Resubmit, it means that your manuscript needs revision. This status is given to most researchers, and it should not be thought of as a failure. These are done to help you improve your work and you have to accept them with an open mind. Issues may include organization, structure, or idea development. The reviewer most probably will comment on specific areas in your manuscript for more clarification.
Submitting your research to academic journals is a rigorous but rewarding process. By following these 5 steps, you can navigate the submission process with confidence. Remember that the journey from submission to publication may require patience and persistence. Nonetheless, your contribution to the academic world is invaluable, and your research may ultimately shape the discourse in your field. Good luck with your submissions, and may your work enrich the world of academic literature.