Submitting the article
Finalising the article
Before publication, your article will be reviewed by other academic experts in the field. They will judge whether or not your article is worthy of publication. To increase your chances of acceptance, ensure that your work:
- Has a clearly articulated argument that reflects or engages with current academic discourse.
- Reflects the expectations for academic writing and is in a formal tone.
- Is grammatically correct, and without spelling errors and typos (see online guide).
- Follows the journal's submission guidelines and/or style guide carefully. You need to show the journal editors that you have followed the journal’s requirements and guidelines; After all, they determine whether or not your work is worth publishing. Check the journal’s website for information regarding fonts, spacing, margins, referencing styles, title conventions and document templates.
Submitting the article
Once you have an article ready to submit and have selected a journal, the submission process is as simple as finding the contact details for the journal and following their 'submission guidelines'. For best practice, follow these tips:
- Don't submit to multiple journals. Most journals will not consider a submission while it is under consideration elsewhere and the attempt to improve your chances through multiple submissions is considered unethical (Sadler, 2009).
- Be patient. You may need to wait weeks or months between submitting your article and being notified that the review process is complete. Journal editors rely on the goodwill of academic experts with other high-priority commitments. If there is no word after several months, you may choose to send a polite query to the journal editor.
- When the review of your article is complete, the outcome is likely to be fall into one of the three following categories:
Acceptance without amendment
Congratulations! Even seasoned writers cherish an acceptance without further work. Sit back and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Acceptance with revisions
Well done! Your work has been read by at least two experts and they consider it worthy of publication. Normally, the editor will forward review reports outlining how to improve the article. This might include suggested references that you have overlooked, non-fatal flaws in your argument, or minor details like vocabulary and/or spelling mistakes.
Sometimes it can be disheartening to read through a critique of your work. It also helps to put the article aside for just a few days and then you can consider the recommendations with a clearer mind.
When you resubmit, send a short statement explaining or summarising the changes you have made. In some cases your revised article will be 'reviewed' again, but often the editor of the journal will determine whether you have responded sufficiently to the referees' requests.
Feel proud of yourself that these experts thought enough about your article to contribute to its improvement.
The thought of having your article rejected is tough, but keep in mind, it is not you they are rejecting. They do not know you and are responding to an anonymous piece of writing. Even established and successful academics have had to deal with some rejections. Consider it a learning experience.
Even with a rejection, there is likely to be feedback from the editor on how the article can be improved. It is therefore worthwhile not deleting all your files. Take time, pause and allow a few days or weeks before looking at the reports in detail. With distance, you might be able to see the path more clearly to a better and improved article. Then you can consider sending it to another journal. Remember that all that work was not futile. It might even lead to a better, well-thought out and clearly articulated piece of work.
Hartley, J. (2007). There's more to the title than meets the eye: Exploring the possibilities. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 37(1), 95-101. https://doi.org/10.2190/BJ16-8385-7Q73-1162
Mewburn, I. (n.d.). Write that journal article (in seven days). [PowerPoint slides]. Google Docs. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ZsY680ToDwh3m7ShaVvvNSx4JrPpMUB9jQkvoXQWmVk/
Murray, R. E. G. (2013). Writing for academic journals. Open University Press.
Sadler, D. R. (2009). Up the publication road: A guide to publishing in scholarly journals for academics, researchers, and graduate students. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia.
Silyn-Roberts, H. (2013). Writing for science and engineering: Papers, presentations and reports (2nd ed.). Elsevier.
Thomson, P. & Kamler, B. (2013). Writing for peer reviewed journals. Routledge.