Friday, November 8, 2013

Six Tips for Publishing in Research Journals for the Novice

So You Need to Publish: Six Tips for Publishing in Research Journals 

I knew I needed to publish, but I didn’t how to approach the process. It was up to me to move forward. I had questions. Some questions emerged as I went through the process of trying to publish. How do you publish in a research journal? Where do you begin? What should you look for? How do you do it? How do you figure out if you want your academic reputation connected with a research journal?

As a newbie to the academic research front, having completed my doctorate and seeking to publish in peer review journals, I’ve had some successes and made some mistakes. I wasn’t sure how to decide which journal to submit my work for publication. At first I had little advice to go on and I wasn’t sure where to start. Along the way, in some instances I had little guidance about how to do this, and in other cases I’ve either successfully sought out advice or a kind-hearted academic supplied information he or she noticed I was lacking. How I appreciate these people! This was in addition to much searching on the internet, reading, and reviewing. Sometime the people you’d expect to prepare and advise you sometimes are too busy, fall short, think you know, or don’t have the time, or there a plethora of other reasons. The following are the tips from what I learned and that I received that helped me. 

1)      Look at the journals that you utilized for your literature reviews. Which journals did authors publish in that you hold in high regard? Do internet searches. Input key words that reflect your investigations, your dissertation work, or the paper you’re writing. Use scholarly search engines. Compile a list of these journals. 

2)      Look up the journals and find the criteria for submission. Look for a page that provides information for Authors, Editors, and Reviewers. Each journal sets forth criteria for format requirements that can easily be located under author information. You will find information that about the scope of the journal, and the publishing process including how to prepare your paper, how to submit your paper, and checking the status of your submission.

3)      You may want to check on the academic credibility and integrity of the journal. Who publishes in the journal? What are they publishing? Does the journal republish articles from their journal or other journals? A quick check on Google or Bing can provide you with some insight. If there are questionable posts about the journal, this is an indicator. Some journals solicit, in a predatory fashion, post-docs or faculty for editorial board positions, which may first seem enticing, until you do a little checking. *Be aware of predatory (a helpful resource - Retraction Watch).

4)       “Try, try, try again.” …and other sayings my mom repeated to me from her army of unending words such as, “The art of writing is rewriting.”  We may not want to hear advice along these lines. These are old adages, but some advice is timeless. The reality - if you want to publish, you may need to try different journals, but make sure you use a fresh approach with each new paper submission. If you don’t change it up, you enter the world of questionable ethics in your approach to research publications, and if you submit the same paper to more than one journal you risk damaging your academic reputation. Keep your standards high, both for the journals you choose to publish in and for yourself as a researcher.

5)      A practical tip: Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you have, dare I say grammar or language issues, consider a hiring an editor, or adding an amazing additional author who is artful in word choice and proficient in the language in which you publish. Furthermore, be encouraged - if you were able to defend your dissertation, you are able to organize the information to present your results according to the journal criteria. Search the journal’s website. Read articles published in the journal and find a couple that you can use as an exemplar. Consider key factors to identify reasons that your article may not be accepted for publication.

6)      Let say you have successfully submitted your first paper, and, oh glory, the first time, the first journal, and they’ve accepted the paper (with major revisions), but you’re not phased. You address all the feedback and your paper is published. Success! Then, feeling more confident, you submit the paper to the same journal within a years’ time…and you receive the paper back in 2 days, NOT ACCEPTED. What went wrong? The first was well-received and you know the second one has more depth; the world needs to know! It doesn’t make sense, or does it? You may have guessed this happened to me! At a national researcher’s conference (I had a paper accepted) a session was provided with journal editors. There were several that didn’t seem to have anyone to talk to. I felt badly for them, and, more importantly, I wanted to get some information. It turns out (keep in mind this is general advice) that editors don’t want to see anything from you again for a year, and when you do submit something, submit a paper with fresh, new research and new ideas. Yes, this means that, to borrow from Shari Lewis Lamb Chop’ famous theme song, “This is the [degree] that doesn’t end/It goes on and on my friend/Some people started [pursuing] it, not knowing what it was, and they continue [researching] forever just because….This is the [degree] that doesn’t end….”

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. I am certain that I have yet to experience all the possible challenges with publishing – I hope I don’t have to! I hope you find these six tips useful, helpful, and/or affirming. Happy publishing! Let me know how it goes.

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