5 Simple Tips for Getting Your Article Published

In a Prestigious Academic Journal

Mature student engages in online research in lecture hall

‘Publish or perish!’ Most academic scholars are all too familiar with this intimidating piece of advice. There are many reasons that we need to invest time and energy in ensuring our research is published: We all want to get our research ‘out there’, to impact our field, and to be read by a global audience. Of course, professional considerations are also constantly present: In order to receive tenure and advance professionally, publication in peer-reviewed journals is a must.

What can you do to maximize your chances of being published?

There are no shortcuts around quality research. Whether your field is in the humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences, you need to formulate challenging questions, employ respectable methodologies, and produce original insights.

But even the brightest scholars with the best material often struggle when it comes to getting their work published. Some simple steps, often overlooked, can go a long way toward helping you publish your next article:

  1. Choose an appropriate platform. When deciding on a journal to submit to, don’t just choose based on prestige or impact factor. Read past issues, browse articles that have been accepted previously. Make sure that your article ‘fits’ with the kind of material that they publish. If not – choose a different journal. Read more about how to choose a journal here.
  2. Make sure your article meets the journal’s technical requirements. Many good articles are rejected every year by journal editors before they are even passed on for review. Why? Because the authors did not ensure that their submissions adhered to journal requirements. Read the ‘author instructions’ carefully: Make sure your piece is within the word limit; that it uses the correct reference system (Chicago; APA; etc.); and that it is formatted according to the journal’s specified guidelines. And don’t forget an abstract!
  3. Make sure your conclusions are justified by your research and argument. Some scholars feel the (understandable!) need to present every piece of research as holding universal significance. But this is not always justified by the research or argument that they present in their paper. If your research leads to specific, local conclusions, stick to these claims and don’t stretch them beyond what is justified. Of course, your conclusions can still incorporate suggestions for future research and speculation about future insights!
  4. Take advantage of the review process! Most of us feel dejected when we receive critical feedback from anonymous reviewers. But feedback is what helps us grow and improve. Whether you received a ‘revise and resubmit’ or even an outright rejection, the comments of the reviewers can be extremely helpful for refining your writing and improving your work. Take it seriously, make changes, and resubmit your work – even if it is to a different journal.
  5. Make sure your article is written in clear, comprehensible language. Scholars sometimes forget that the medium is an important part of the message. You might have conducted rigorous research, attained brilliant insights, or reached powerful conclusions, but if these have not been communicated well, journal academic editors and reviewers may well miss them altogether. If this is an area in which you could use help, you might want to consider using professional editing or translating services – of course, you should make sure that these services are provided by professionals who are experts both in the relevant languages and in your particular area of scholarship.

Want to learn more about what journal editors are looking for?

Check out the podcast we did with Prof. Ruth Mazzo Karas from the University of Minnesota and Prof. Marc Brettler from Duke University who share the secrets to success publishing in top academic journals. 

Listen to the Podcast