Writing for Publication

Part 1 What Makes a Paper Publishable? (6:17)

Let's begin thinking about what makes a paper publishable by looking at a hypothetical paper, "Guppies Love Cheerios." Even with a set of valid, novel, and statistically significant findings, research isn't necessarily publishable. The work also needs to contribute to the human knowledge base in a meaningful way, and it always helps to relate the work in an interesting and compelling storyline.

Part 2 Common Reasons Articles are Rejected (or Accepted)(9:55)

An article can be rejected for eight basic reasons, according to Dr. Peter Thrower, editor-in-chief of Carbon:

  • technical reasons (e.g., plagiarism, or not following the journal's Instructions for Authors).
  • improper content for the journal's readership.
  • incomplete work.
  • procedural or statistical analysis flaws.
  • Unjustified conclusions
  • Incremental or insignificant work
  • Incomprehensibility
  • Marginally interesting to editors or readership

According to Elizabeth Zwaaf of Elsevier, there are also eight basic reasons your work would be accepted for publication, one of which is that your article tells a good story. Part 3 explains what is meant by that.

Part 3 How To Tell A Good "Story" In Your Article (10:00)

The "research story" of a publishable article is true, credible, and interesting. It should have a beginning, middle, and end, where each part leads the reader to keep reading. A conceptual framework for this kind of story looks like an hourglass. The top funnel sets the context of the research and identifies gaps in the knowledge that validates the purpose and questions of the work described in the new publication. With these concepts in mind, what advice could you offer to the author of "Guppies Love Cheerios?"

Part 4 Strategies for Selecting Journals for Submission (11:33)

Begin selecting an appropriate venue for a new article by taking inventory of journals cited by the papers you reference in your work. Instructions to Authors usually include Aim and Scope of the journal. Consider the following as well: the type of article you've written, the target audience, the types of papers each journal publishes, typical time from submission to publication, the "impact factor" of the journal, and publication models and costs to authors. Be wary of "fake journals" that solicit submissions and publish without valid peer review.

Part 5 The Writing Process - Prewriting and Abstract (11:37)

Start writing by following the Instructions for Authors for the journal you've selected. Writing and formatting your paper properly now will save a lot of time later. Another time-saving strategy is to use RefWorks (available free to UNL personnel) or another reference manager to track your resources, format your citations; many of these resources also provide tips on assigning authorship, and writing titles, keywords, abstracts, and cover letters.

Part 6 How Will You Write The Cover Letter? (4:44)

A good way to organize your thoughts—and tell your research story—is as follows:

  • address your general topic to provide your readers context for your work;
  • describe a problem circumscribed by the topic at hand and explain why it's important;
  • present your solution to the problem; and
  • explain the attendant benefits of your findings with respect to the described problem.

This approach is especially helpful in writing a submission letter to the editor of the journal. In addition, be sure to follow the journal's Instructions to Authors to prepare your letter.

Part 7 The Scholarly Publication Process (4:08)

Submitting your manuscript to your chosen journal will be relatively straightforward if you're prepared according to the suggestions in this seminar and the Instructions to Authors. You'll almost certainly submit your materials online. Clicking Submit will set in motion a review process with one of the following results. Your manuscript will be

  • accepted as-is for publication (not likely, but it's possible);
  • accepted, with revisions;
  • rejected, with chance to resubmit; or
  • rejected.

What you do now as the author is the subject of the next video.

Part 8 Dealing Effectively With Reviewers' Reports (8:12)

You've heard back from the editor and your reviewers have suggested some revisions. It happens to everyone, so it's best to address the suggestions objectively and respond effectively. This video provides some ways to do that.