“Speed” is a word that many academics don’t typically associate with the publishing process. Between assessment, peer review, and simply the large quantity of submissions out there, editors need time to carefully consider each prospective paper for their publications.
Yet, when years of thorough research finally culminates into a piece of writing, authors are eager to have their work published quickly. Speedy publication allows you to establish yourself as an authority in an emerging research area and begin work on your next project. The following tips will guide you in developing a manuscript that has all of the practicalities of an exemplary manuscript and avoids giving the editors a headache:
Draft Early On
Ideas and those profound thoughts come and go for most of us, so don’t be afraid to start the writing process even if your research is still underway or your key arguments haven’t been formulated. Drafting your paper early on gives you more time to restructure your thoughts and findings into a meaningful document. Work on your Abstract and Introduction, and then moving forward, brainstorm about the next direction of your manuscript. Writing subsequent sections of your manuscript while the foundation for your research is still fresh in your mind will lead to a more convincing and comprehensible argument.
Find the Balance Between Jargon and Simplicity
It’s called clarity. Contrary to the belief of many novice scholars, creating a manuscript packed with too much technical jargon and flowery language creates ambiguity and fails to establish credibility with your readers. Particularly, if editors and peer reviewers have difficulty understanding your argument or perceive your writing as convoluted rhetoric, they’ll surely note that in their assessments and lean towards rejection. Dr. Anabela Mesquita, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction, reveals that, sometimes, “authors use such a hermetic language that it is not accessible to all kinds of readers.” Professional copy editors and proofreaders can help introduce clarity in your writing while remaining authoritative.
Target Your Paper to the Most Fitting Publication
So many scholars mistakenly choose to submit their content to a journal or book solely because it’s included in prestigious indices rather than because its topic area is the most relevant. Very often, peer reviewers recognize that a paper is out of the publication’s scope, and therefore, isn’t suitable for publication. Consider your past reference lists or discuss pertinent journals or books with your colleagues. Then, read the full scope of each publication you consider and pinpoint one that marks all of your checkboxes. You can hopefully avoid getting rejected and having to extend your publication timeline by searching for a more fitting book or journal.
Reach Out to the Editor
Write a succinct letter to the book or journal’s editor inquiring about whether your paper falls within the desired topic area of the publication. Attach your Abstract so the editor can clearly make a determination for you. You may be surprised to know that a pre-submission inquiry—basically a proposal—is required by many publications. Even if the editor has no interest in publishing your manuscript, at least you didn’t waste months of your time waiting for what would have likely been a flat-out rejection from the start.
Adhere to the Style and Formatting Guidelines
The publisher of most every book or journal has a distinct style guide that contributing authors must follow. Sometimes journals are given the liberty to require their own specific formatting guidelines, but nevertheless, these details cannot be overlooked. You’ll find these guidelines set forth not too far within the publication’s website. Everything from your title, to page numbering, to endnotes must be cross-checked against these guidelines, or frankly, you risk rejection.
Last, but certainly not least, be sure that your paper meets all requirements of the specific referencing style mandated by the publication. For example, a submission to Inderscience in APA style may result in rejection, whereas if the same document in APA style is submitted to IGI Global, the editors and reviewers would be satisfied. You can always relieve your anxiety about meeting these various styling requirements by submitting your manuscript to a professional copy editor.
Don’t Forget About Your Figures
Quality, quality, quality. Are your images blurry, graphs hard to read, or data not presented in a logical manner? Editors want figures presented in an easily accessible way. If these illustrations are ill-prepared, it casts more of a negative light on your manuscript than you might think. Also, be sure to verify whether or not the publisher has specific image formatting requirements.
Have a Colleague Review Your Work Before Submission
Choose someone who’s an expert in your field of study, but not too close to you personally. They will provide a straightforward and honest review of your paper, which will be invaluable as you make minor final revisions before actually submitting to a book or journal. Adding this step before official submission should help alleviate more arduous changes that might be demanded by peer reviewers later on.
Follow UpSelecting and developing manuscripts for a publication is a meticulous process, so be patient at the beginning even if a speedy publication is particularly important for you. Also, the decision-making process can vary widely between different research areas. As a general rule, you will not want to be bothersome to the editors or the publisher during this process. Yet, after about 4 months, it would be appropriate to cordially follow up. Consider our tips on how to properly check on your manuscript’s submission status.
Respond to and Engage with Peer Reviewers
Making it past the initial evaluations and through the review process is a notable accomplishment, so take a moment to commend yourself. From here, you can’t just implement edits based on the reviewer comments; engage with them. Write a detailed and polite response to your manuscript’s evaluators, not only with conversant replies or civil rebuttals, but also with an enthusiastic “thank you.” This will reduce your chances of a rejection and will speed up your potential publication because the editor probably will not need to request anything further from you.
The publishing process inherently takes time: research, writing, revision, review, revision, production, publication. However, if you follow the tips and approaches we mentioned, it can shed months off your wait time and help to ensure the smooth sailing of your manuscript.