10 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Chance of Being Published

Pre-Submission Checklist

Pensive academic scholar engages in research online

Having your work accepted by a respected academic journal or publisher requires much more than just conducting quality research. Based on our experience with clients specializing in many different scholarly fields, we prepared the following checklist to help you address some of the most common issues that scholars encounter when submitting their research. The better you can answer the questions below, the better the chances your paper will be received favorably.

  • Have you picked the journal which best matches the content of your article?

While impact factor, acceptance percentage and prestige are important, your first priority should be to find a journal or publisher whose scope covers your article. Learn more about how to choose the right journal.

  • Have you checked the word count to make sure it is within the journal’s requirements?

Some journals specify a minimum length, some specify a maximum, and some both. Be sure to check whether the journal’s specified word counts include references or not. When you use Microsoft Word’s ‘word count’ feature to see how long your text is, make sure the checkbox for footnotes, text boxes and endnotes is checked or unchecked, as appropriate. Be aware that if you send your article for translation it may be much longer or shorter in the target language than it was in the original.

  • Have you had the manuscript reviewed for language, including grammar, style, and syntax?

Polished and coherent language is critical to journal editors in every field. Consider academic translation and academic editing services to help ensure your text is ready for submission.

  • Did you check that all of the citations in the body of the article or the footnotes are listed in the bibliography and vice versa?

If you quote a source in your article, make sure it is brought in full in your bibliography. If you have a reference in your bibliography, make sure you cite it in the paper itself.

  • Did you review the manuscript to make sure the style sheet requirements are met?

Check the publisher’s style requirements carefully to see which style guide and what edition are called for. Writing the article with the style guide in mind can save you a lot of time in the long run. Reference software such as Endnote or Zotero can help you do this automatically.

  • Did you check if the journal calls for an abstract?

If the journal calls for an abstract be sure to spend more time on writing the abstract than any other part of your paper. Many journal academic editors read the abstract alone and only then decide if it is worth their time to read the full article. Check if there is a length requirement for the abstract and make sure you keep within it. Be aware that if you send your abstract for translation it may be much longer or shorter in the target language than it was in the original.

  • Did you have a few colleagues review the manuscript and provide you with feedback?

Make sure you can find colleagues or an advisor that you trust to review your manuscript and give you ideas for improvement and feedback. The feedback you receive at this stage will help prevent endless back-and-forth with the journal later on.

  • Did you familiarize yourself with the online submission process and make sure you have all of the necessary materials prepared?

Think about preparing a template CV, cover letter, and research abstract which you can then adapt for each submission.

  • Did you check if the journal calls for anonymous submission and remove all of the identifying references in the paper itself?

Look through the title page, abstract and body of the article itself to make sure the anonymity of the review process is not compromised (specifically for journals with a blind review process). 

  • Have you written a respectable cover letter and had it edited?

You only have one chance to make a first impression. A polite, sincere, and concise cover letter can go a long way toward leaving a positive initial impression with the editor.

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