How can I get an article published in an academic journal?

Getting published in a journal might not be the difficult part. Getting published in a journal with good impact factor is.

Even though there are some academics with multiple published articles, getting published at least once is still a mammoth task for most of the researchers. Even though there is no easy hack to get published, there are some basics you have to follow and challenges you have to tackle to get there.

Based on the conversations with hundreds of research scholars, professors and independent researchers, below are few steps I observed that could increase your chances in getting published –

  1. Choose the journal carefully – Your article should fall within the scope of the journal you are submitting to. Read recently published articles in the journal to ensure this. Not doing this ground work would mean that you will be submitting your article to a journal that would not even consider your paper to begin with.
  2. Build research of impact – If you are looking for a high impact journal, to get published your content’s impact should be in line with what has been published so far in the journal. You will have to explain clearly what are the gaps in knowledge your paper is addressing and how does it stand in the context of research in the space you are writing on. There is a basic necessity to explain the theoretical implications and the practical applications of the concept you are proposing.
  3. Follow author guidelines specified by the journal – Now there are journals which are not that strict enough with authoring guidelines but still majority of journals insist that you follow the rules and specifications to the tee. Ensure your manuscript has all the mandatory sections of the journal and follows the formatting rules. Using tools such as LaTeX or Typeset- Auto-format your paper to any journal in a click can help you achieve journal compliance easily.
  4. Construct a strong argument – Clearly present your idea and validate them with sufficient data. Properly arrive from the data to conclusions without any invalid or un-validated assumptions. Use clear, recognizable procedures and methodology to present your data and arrive at conclusions. Ensure that the results are statistically valid. Talk to a reviewer or mentor to validate if your research can be concluded as complete.
  5. Use good references – Use latest and good references – references from sources which have good impact factor. Avoid too many self-citations.
  6. Communicate effectively – ensure good choice of words and language quality. Arguments should be clear, valid and logical. Present the story in the order of logic, not in the chronological order of experiments. Ensure that language, structure and figures presented are all clear.
  7. Write review pieces  Research paper reviews and responses have a better chance of getting published, especially if you have just started your career as a researcher. And you will get a better idea of the publishing eco-system. Publishers and journals like pieces which stimulate discussion on a recently published article.
  8. Writing vs editing – To begin with, try to convey your knowledge in simple words. Plan all the different sections that needs to be written and start writing in your own words. Once you have written all the arguments, you can then proceed to edit/format.
  9. Keep the core idea clear – Don’t try to cram everything you know about the topic in one single paper. Write the basic argument of your research paper and build supporting evidence around it. If you feel that you have multiple ideas, you can split them into separate papers than confuse the readers on what is the research you are advancing.
  10. Getting good co-authors – Even though majority of research sounds solitary, it need not be. Having good co-authors could actually improve your chances – you can split the work, be more effective and efficient, and authors having complimentary skills that contribute to the research could help improve the final output.

These are some basics I have seen help researchers get published. Below are some more info on the same topic –

How do academics publish hundreds of articles and books, e.g., how did some professors manage to build a CV that exceeds one hundred pages in length?

7 steps to publishing in a scientific journal

All the best with your research!


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