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Getting your research published

Getting your Research Published

When you engage in research, part of your work involves disseminating your research findings. Making these findings publicly available is generally the ultimate goal of most researchers, and getting published in the right publication can often make you a full-fledged “member” of the scientific world.

Publishing your work can be a challenge though, especially if you are aiming for one of the more established, prestigious journals. The challenge can be extremely rewarding if successful, and acceptance of a paper for publication is a satisfying feeling that holds many  benefits.

1. What is your contribution to the field?

Chances are that during a (larger) quantitative and/or qualitative study you get to gather enough data to spread them over several publications. So, before you start with your writing, decide which part of your research holds the biggest potential and tells something previously untold. You might want to work on this set of data first and ensure that it is polished. The rest of the findings should be kept and worked on for subsequent publications.

2.Work on your manuscript diligently.

If you are serious about getting your article published, do not take any shortcuts. Writing your manuscript requires time and precision. Sometimes it might take you a whole morning to get the wording of a single paragraph just right. You need to commit to your writing endeavor and act as a perfectionist.

3. Do it as a team.

Generally, it is easier if more than one person works on a single manuscript. There is little room for one-upmanship in academia. Every text needs to be critiqued and revised numerous times by numerous people before it is ready to be submitted. Your mentor will always be named as a co-author and since he or she has a lot of experience, it is a good idea to learn from them and ask for guidance.

4. Decide on the journal that is most appropriate for your submission.

Selecting the right journal might be a critical component in your quest for a publication. Here, the guidance from your mentor and other members of your network comes in very handy. Also, you need to be realistic about the quality of your findings. Your first research attempt might not be up to the standards of Nature, so be realistic.

Look through the journals you are aiming for to get an idea of what type of articles they are more likely to publish. Some journals publish almost exclusively quantitative studies, so if your study is a qualitative one, go for a more qualitative-friendly journal. If quantitative… you get the idea.

5. Check all the journal’s requirements and guidelines for submission.

Make sure to read carefully through the journal’s instructions and guidelines to get all the relevant information on how to organize your paper and it’s findings, including which citation style to use. Most journals now have an online submission process, so it is a good idea to get familiar with it before submitting.

6. Prepare your manuscript according to the journal’s instructions for authors.

After you learn the protocol of your journal of choice, ensure you apply all of your selected journal’s guidelines to your manuscript. Don’t exceed their word count and organize your paper according to directives. Also, generally you must omit your name from the front page (and any other parts of the text) as the reviewers need to be blinded to the authorship when making their comments and decisions regarding the quality of the article.

7. Be patient.

After you submit your paper, it is all about waiting. It can take a few months to hear back from the journal and receive comments.

8. Work on revisions.

Most likely, your manuscript will be returned to you with some comments from the reviewers. Let that not dishearten or upset you. It is completely normal and expected that you will have to work a bit more before your article is ready to be published.

Take the comments from the reviewers seriously and address them carefully. Sometimes, that will require making a case for a certain decision you have made or including additional information. Be prepared to be questioned and see it as an opportunity to improve your work.

9. Why not try another journal?

In some cases, your article may not get accepted for publication by your first choice or the reviewers’ comments are too all-encompassing to address. If that happens, do not get too discouraged, you can always try submitting to another journal.

10. Attending a conference.

Once your article has been published, you can start eyeing conferences in your field and submitting your abstract. Presence at a conference is another great way to get immersed into an academic community.

Moreover, if you did not manage to get your article accepted in any of your chosen journals, you can always present your research at a smaller conference and learn from that experience so you can get your next paper published another time.