• 3-minute read
  • 25th October 2019

How to Prepare a Journal Article for Publication

The pressure to publish is high for early-career academics. But once your paper is written, getting a journal article published is easier said than done. Here, then, are five tips on how to get a journal article published.

1. Picking a Journal

To get a journal article published, you first need to work out where you will submit your work. You can do this by researching journals in your subject area. Look for the publications that feature articles similar to your own, especially in terms of your research approach.

It’s also a good idea to go for a journal with a narrow scope.

If you have a paper about mating behavior in lobsters, for example, you could submit it to the multidisciplinary science journal Nature. However, unless you have a strong history of publishing, you may be better off submitting your work to the Journal of Crustacean Biology, which focuses specifically on the subject you’ve written about.

A niche topic, admittedly, but someone needs to write about it.

Keep in mind that you can only submit to one journal at a time. This makes researching your options before submitting a paper vital.

2. Follow Journal Guidelines

All journals have publication guidelines. These will be on the journal’s website and called something like “Author Guidelines” or “Submission Procedures.”

In this document, you will find complete instructions for how a paper should be written, formatted, and referenced. It will also tell you how to submit a paper and any supplemental materials required (e.g., whether you need to write an abstract and come up with key words).

Follow these instructions as closely as possible. If you are unsure about anything, contact the journal.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

3. Editing Your Journal Article

Before you submit anything, you should get your work edited and proofread. If the article is accepted, you may need to make further edits. But getting it as perfect as possible before submitting is vital.

This will ensure that your arguments come across clearly, increasing your chances of impressing the reviewer. It will also show the reviewer that you are serious about your work.

4. Contextualize Your Journal Article

When you are ready to submit your work, you will need to write a cover letter. But while you should say what your paper is about (a snappy title helps), this shouldn’t be your main focus.

After all, the reviewer will read your paper, so including your argument in the cover letter is unnecessary. Instead, give some context about your work: e.g., what your interests and academic history are, what you’re responding to or building upon, and what it contributes to the field of study.

5. Revise and Resubmit

You need thick skin to be an academic since it is rare to get a journal article published on your first go. Even if you don’t get an outright rejection, you will probably receive a list of criticisms and suggested revisions. This can sting a bit if you’ve put a lot of work into your paper.

But you can’t let it get to you. Instead, remember that the criticisms are designed to help you. Read and absorb them, and once you’ve calmed down, get back to work! If you can address the criticisms in your next draft, you will stand a much better chance of getting published.

Comments (2)
22nd April 2020 at 05:33
Very helpful, however, i was thinking you will deal with the whole publishing thing
    22nd April 2020 at 09:39
    Hi, Enoch. Thanks for your comment. The post is mostly about preparing a manuscript for submission, but if there's something specifically you'd like to see covered here, let us know and we may be able to write something on the topic.

Got content that needs a quick turnaround?

Let us polish your work.

Explore our editorial business services.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading
institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.