The Comprehensive Journal Submission Checklist

An Updated Guide to Submit Your Research
By Nikki Borgel on Oct 30, 2020
eContent Pro

It can be impossible to grow your career and reach tenure as a professor without having your name on multiple published research works. The necessity to publish or otherwise expire as an academic is referred to as the “publish or perish” mentality, and this is the anxiety that drives academics to take on huge research projects for the hopeful advancement of their careers. When stressed, it can be impossible to keep track of all of the things required to publish a paper, from writing and perfecting your manuscript, finding an appropriate journal, formatting your paper appropriately, preparing all of the complementary materials, and still maintaining your usual workflow as an academic. Forgetting one small piece of the submission process can cost you valuable time and increase the likelihood of your manuscript (which contains months of your research) being rejected.

Understanding the current anxiety surrounding academic publishing and to assist researchers in submitting to a journal, eContent Pro has interviewed their experienced researchers, editors, and publishers to create a comprehensive submission checklist.

Step 1: Write Your Paper

Writing is the most time-consuming portion of the publication process. Once all experiments are finished, data is collected, and sources are found, it is time to begin writing and establishing your argument in a publish-worthy way. Below are the key things to keep in mind while writing your manuscript.

  • Beware of copyright and plagiarism of yourself and other sources
    • Reusing large portions of your research may require copyright permissions from your original publisher.
    • Some journals also require you to seek copyright permissions for all quotes used.
  • Use an easy-to-follow structure and state your ideas clearly
    • One of the top reasons articles get rejected from journals is their structure. It can help to write as if the audience is completely unfamiliar with your subject. This will make sure you explain every step in the process for ultimate clarity.
  • Utilize headers to break up long sections
    • Presenting all your research into a single section can make it cumbersome and unmanageable to the reader. Most journals/style guides have standards for headings and formats within their author guidelines.
  • Cite all your sources
    • Even if you are unsure where your paper will be submitted and therefore unclear on the formatting guide to follow, it is vitally important that all of the sources used are tracked and compiled with your writing. If you do not have a distinct style guide to follow, choose the most popular style in your field of research, such as APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc., and format your citations accordingly.
  • Identify your keywords
    • Nearly every journal asks for a list of keywords associated with your research so they can get a brief idea of the subject and scope of your manuscript before reading. It also helps future researchers identify whether your paper will be beneficial to their theses. Be sure to brainstorm a list of keywords during your writing process.
  • Write your abstract/synopsis
    • This is potentially the most important passage of your manuscript. If you cannot adequately, succinctly, and clearly state what your research is about and the purpose it serves in the academic community, it may be a sign that your ideas are underdeveloped. The abstract is the first thing an Editor-in-Chief looks at upon submission to decide which articles to prioritize in the review process. This makes it vital for your abstract to be well established and polished.

Step 2: Choose a Journal

In your subject area alone, there can be hundreds of thousands of journals; however, not all of them will be seeking articles on your specific manuscript topic. Additionally, many journals that are seeking submissions may not be credible. These are the most important things to remember when looking for a journal to submit your article to.

  • Review your source materials and similar articles
    • Sometimes the journals that published your source materials can be a great fit for your study. Additionally, be sure to look at similar published articles and the journals they are featured in. Be sure to consider all these publishers and journals as potential outlets for your manuscript.
  • Identify your journal criteria
    • Important aspects of a journal can include indexing, impact factor, average response time for reading submissions, open access options, editorial board members, etc. Determine what is important to you and research the aspects that matter the most.
  • ALWAYS look for Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)-affiliated journals.
    • These journals are held to a higher standard of credibility and accuracy than predatory journals. Publishing with a COPE member will ensure your reputation and research is not tarnished.
  • Consider journal finding services
    • Several services can help you find a journal that can be fitting for your research, such as eContent Pro’s free Journal Finder, or the more in-depth Journal Recommendation service, that can help you find COPE-affiliated journals within your subject area.
  • Review publisher’s submission guidelines
    • Be sure to investigate the official submission guidelines of potential journals and be sure your material is fitting and accepted by their publication. For example, things like word count, reference limits/requirements, etc. can help you identify your target journal.

Step 3: Editing Your Paper

Once you have a complete draft of your paper, the editing process can begin. Editing can encompass everything from spelling, grammar, and language to structure and idea development, depending on the style of editing you need and want. It is extremely advantageous to have your manuscript professionally edited, as it can improve your chance of acceptance and increase your paper’s credibility. Overall, things to focus on in the editing process include:

  • Scientific and scholarly editing
    • This can be the most valuable form of editing for your manuscript. Scientific and/or scholarly editing gives you an expert opinion, similar to peer review, that can lend you suggestions for strengthening your arguments, research, and thesis. This form of editing is known to save authors valuable time further down the road to publication by eliminating multiple peer reviews and resubmissions.
  • Basic copy editing and proofreading
    • Having proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word choice can make or break a manuscript. This type of editing is essential for individuals writing in a non-native language. Copy editing services and professional proofreaders will also help improve readability and consistency within the details of your manuscript, as well as assist in formatting your document to journal standards.
  • Follow publisher’s style and formatting guides
    • The most popular style guides used by academic publishers are APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, and AMA. Each of these has its nuances and details, especially within the citation guidelines, so editing for these formats is crucial. Publishers also sometimes have individual requirements for submissions such as font, font size, number of keywords, and word counts that should be followed carefully.
  • Check that you have all required sections
    • Aspects like the abstract, keywords, and references, along with any specially formatted figures and tables should be assembled and prepared according to the publisher’s guidelines when it comes to ordering, file type, etc.

Step 4: Submitting Your Manuscript

After the long and strenuous process of writing, selecting a journal, and editing, the only thing left to do is submit your article. However, last-minute details can set your submission apart from the hundreds of other articles competing to be published in your target journal. Before submitting, ensure you have everything the publisher requires. This can include:

  • A cover letter
    • Not all journals and publishers require cover letters; however, it provides an opportunity to introduce your research and yourself. Be sure to present your relevant qualifications as a scholar and researcher.
  • CV
    • Like requiring a cover letter, some publishers want to review your qualifications and credentials as a researcher through your CV.
  • Potential peer reviews
    • Since every credible journal follows a version of the peer review process, some journals require you to submit a list of several scholars from your field you believe may be interested in reviewing a paper in your research area. Typically, these peer review suggestions come with guidelines, so be sure to read them carefully.
  • Submit your paper
    • At this point, most publishers have online submission portals that guide you through the article submission process step by step, but some journals still request email submissions. If you have any questions about your journal’s submission process, be sure to contact the editor of your journal or a member of their publication team.

The entire process of researching, writing, editing, submitting, and publishing a research article can take months or even years. Therefore, it is important to have patience and be meticulous in every step of the process to ensure that the materials you submit are the best possible representation of your efforts. Since projects of this size can be overwhelming, eContent Pro provides a wide variety of services such as Copy Editing & Proofreading, Scientific & Scholarly Editing, Journal Recommendation, and more.

Whether you are faced with a quick turnaround time or in need of a proof of copy-editing certificate, utilizing our high-quality, affordable, and expeditious editorial services on your manuscript can increase the chance of being accepted in a publication of your choice in the shortest amount of time.

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