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Why Consider Academic Publication?

Two aims of academic publication are to exchange ideas and to disseminate research findings. So, as a researcher, do you feel that you have a contribution to make to the literature? Something original or novel to reveal to the world? Or perhaps you have solved a current problem in your field or want to discuss a new development on a ‘hot’ topic?

Whatever the case, ask yourself the following before you consider publishing: How significant is your work? Does it add to the current knowledge on the topic? How certain are you of your theories and findings? Unless you can answer these questions, your work may come across as being trivial, or worse, irrelevant.

Their career goals also motivate researchers to get published. As an academic, getting your name in print can help you to build a glowing reputation as an authority in your subject. Further, a common perception is that successful publication helps academics build their careers and continue their research. Regardless of the reason you want to get published, you will need to find something to contribute to the literature, so make sure your answers to many of the above questions are an unambiguous ‘yes’!

Choosing the right journal

A strategic choice that you must make is the journal to which you will submit your paper. This choice can not only affect your chances of being published but can also make a huge difference to the overall reception your work receives. Today, there are hundreds of journals to choose from and new journals and sub-specialities are emerging rapidly in this era of open access. Moreover, journals have wide-ranging criteria for publication and vastly different audiences. So, here’s another question you must know the answer to: Who is your target audience? Don’t forget that the whole point of being published is to reach an audience that will be interested in, and take note of, what you have to say. One more question you can ask yourself is whether you would read that journal. That is, if you are part of its readership, then it’s probably right for your work, provided you have something relevant to contribute.

So, the first thing to consider when choosing your target journal is its aims and scope. Does your work fit into the journal’s niche? There is no point submitting your new theory on neurophysiology to a medical journal that focuses on pharmaceutical drugs. You can also check recent issues to ensure that your target journal is publishing articles on the same topic or in the same broad research area. Next, you might be tempted to submit your paper to the top-ranked journals in your field, but if you are a student or a new academic, remember that the competition for space in these journals is intense and these journals generally prefer pioneering studies that are highly significant!

Students, in particular, can begin with submissions to student journals—this will improve their chances of getting published while also giving them useful insights into the publication process, including receiving and responding to reviewers’ feedback on their research. Further, the journal rank matters less after the first few ranks, and currently, many mid-tier or newer journals offer academics the option of early release and also publish accepted research immediately. However, the journal’s reputation is another important factor you must consider. Publishing your work in a journal that has a poor reputation will probably do more harm than good, and there are many predatory journals out there that are best avoided.

Once you have identified your target journal, ensure your manuscript complies with its submission guidelines, as there may be something in the small print that excludes your work or makes it necessary for you to edit your paper to meet the journal’s standards. For example, some journals do not accept thought pieces, or they may require you to follow a certain formatting style. Check the guidelines carefully so that you are certain your paper fits the standards required. Moreover, look at the acceptance/rejection rate of the journal. If it has a super-high rejection rate, then you may be better off avoiding it for the time being. Finally, after you submit your paper, be prepared to wait to hear back from the journal. Typically, this period can vary from a couple of weeks to a couple of months or more. Don’t lose heart if there’s a delay—just stay focused and begin working on your next paper!

Updated: 27 May 2020

Frequency Asked Questions

What should I take into account before thinking of publishing?

Two important goals of academic publication are to exchange ideas and to disseminate research findings. So, here are some questions that you could answer before you consider publishing: How significant is your work? Does it add to current knowledge? How certain are you of your theories and findings? Also, a common perception is that successful publication helps academics build their careers and continue their research. Regardless of the reason you want to publish, your paper needs to make a worthwhile contribution to the literature to come across as relevant.

Why is choosing the right journal for my article important?

Your journal choice can affect your chances of being published and also make a huge difference to the overall reception of your work. Today, there are hundreds of journals to choose from in this era of open access, and they have wide-ranging publication criteria and vastly different audiences. So, here’s another important question: Who is your target audience? Knowing the answer to this is critical because the whole point of being published is to reach an audience that will be interested in what you have to say.

How can I choose the ‘right journal’?

Begin by considering the journal aims and scope. Check recent issues to ensure that your target journal publishes articles on the same topic or in the same broad research area. Next, if you are a student or a new academic, remember that the competition for space in the top-ranked journals is intense. Students can begin with submissions to student journals—they will get useful insights into the publication process. Further, mid-tier or newer journals offer academics the option of early release and also publish accepted research immediately. Finally, avoid predatory journals.

OK, I’ve identified my target journal. How can I increase my chances of getting published?

Ensure your manuscript complies with its submission guidelines—there just may be something in the small print that excludes your work or makes it necessary for you to edit your paper to meet the journal’s standards. Moreover, look at the acceptance/rejection rate of the journal. If it has a super-high rejection rate, then you may be better off avoiding it for the time being