Writing and publishing your first academic paper can be a daunting task. We have got you covered with practical advice – from writing a great paper, to choosing a journal, navigating the submission system and braving peer review. And of course, making sure your published article makes an impact.
Our podcast, Getting published for the first time, hears from researchers and editors explaining their tips for getting an article published. Here, we summarize their advice and gather useful resources to help you navigate publishing your first article.
Read the Getting published for the first time podcast transcript.
6 practical tips for publishing scholarly articles
Be properly prepared – carry out peer review of other people’s work
Refereeing other people’s work before writing your own is one of the best ways to help you understand what makes a good academic paper (or a bad one).
“Reviewing is something that I think everybody should do,” said David Bogle, pro-vice provost of the doctoral school at University College London, speaking on our podcast. “I give [my own students] things to referee because it makes them focus on what the point of the paper is. I think refereeing before you ever write your papers is very important.”
Do your homework – choose the right journal
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start writing up your research without first choosing the journal you want it to be published in.
How you write your paper, from the style and structure to the audience you should have in mind while writing, and even the article length, will depend on which journal you’re targeting. Choosing the journal before you start writing also means you can tailor your work to build on research that’s already been published there. This can help editors to see how a paper adds to the ‘conversation’ in their journal.
To help you with this crucial step, look at our guide on selecting the right journal for your research.
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Understand journal requirements before you start writing
Once you’ve chosen your target journal, you need to understand what they’re looking for in papers submitted to them. And the first place to look is the instructions for authors (IFAs). These are an individual set of requirements for a journal that help guide potential authors to construct their article in the correct way and prepare it for submission.
They will tell you exactly what the journal’s editorial board expects to see in articles submitted to the journal. And the IFAs will also include details of specific processes to follow to ensure there are no problems during production should your article be accepted.
By following these guidelines you’ll know your article is in exactly the right format for submission and includes everything the editorial board would like to see.
You can find the IFAs for any Taylor & Francis journal on the journal’s home page via Taylor & Francis Online.
Write an impactful article
It’s no surprise that to get an article published for the first time, you need to make it impactful and write it effectively. This tip sounds straightforward but it is, of course, a difficult ask – especially if you’ve never written an academic article before. There’s a lot to consider to make sure you write the best article possible. That’s why we created Writing your paper – a free guide that takes you through the process step by step.
But what did our podcast interviewees advise?
“It needs to be a staged approach,” explained David Bogle. “It’s easier to write the work first. So, you document what you’ve done and get that clear. That tends to make you reflect then on what’s missing. And consider the ‘so what?’ for the conclusion. Then you can write the introduction. And absolutely, definitely the abstract last.”
Be ready for rejection, revisions, and a lot of feedback
“If you’ve taken that step and you’ve come through the electronic system and submitted your paper, the next thing that will happen is an email pings up for me to indicate that there’s a new submission in the system,” explained Catherine Harper, Editor of Textile: Cloth and Culture, speaking on the podcast. “I’m just in the process of reading a new submission. And that’s the first evaluation really, which is checking that the work itself is of a reasonable standard.”
Once you’ve hit submit at your journal of choice, there’s still a lot to be done before your article is (hopefully) published. If it passes an initial desk assessment, it’ll then go through the peer review process.
This experience can be both daunting and sometimes disheartening, as your carefully crafted paper receives potentially critical feedback. It’s important to remember at this point that criticism and even rejections can happen to the most experienced researchers too. While it can be tricky to manage the first time round, try to have an open mind to feedback and look for support if you need it.
Help your research make an impact
If you’ve managed to get your article published for the first time, you’ll want it to make an impact. And you’re not alone. Every researcher wants their work to have an impact, whether that’s in the world of academia, in society, or both.
Creating a real impact with your work can be a challenging and time-consuming task. And it can feel difficult to fit into an already demanding academic career. But it’s well worth doing, as Diana Layton from Liverpool John Moores University discusses on our podcast:
“Academic impact is driven by attention – the attention that outputs gain from the academic community and from the wider public and other organizations too. Researchers cannot ignore the indicators of attention that their work receives. It’s all part of building a CV and being able to communicate [about the impact your work has had].”
Our free guide to Research Impact designed to help you understand what impact means for you and your work, why it’s important, how to achieve it, and how to measure it. We’ve also included inspiration and ideas to help you get started.