How to write a journal article | Writing your paper | Author Services

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How to write a journal article

What are the rules you should be following when writing a research journal article? Read some of the best advice for constructing your paper given by Taylor & Francis journal editors – follow it and you can’t go far wrong.

Think about the four A’s: aims, audience, awareness, and articulation

  • Aims: Your published article may help attract funding for your next research project, boost your profile and the reputation of your institution, and importantly, help to further knowledge in your field. Keep your aims in mind when writing your paper and use them to guide your decisions.
  • Audience: Have a clear idea of your target audience, and tailor your paper to meet their needs and expectations. This might influence your decisions on the type of article you choose to write, the language you use, and which journal you choose to publish in.
  • Awareness: Be aware of existing research, political debates, and current policy issues. Ground your work in the context of the wider landscape, referencing other work wherever appropriate.
  • Articulate: Plan out a logical structure for your article, developing your ideas clearly and concisely. Consider writing your introduction and conclusion last, once your key points have become clear.

Watch the video above for more information.

Find out everything you need to know to prepare and write an effective research paper. Download your Writing your paper eBook.

Get to know the journal you want to submit to

It’s a good idea to choose your target journal before you start writing your paper. Then you can tailor your writing to the journal’s requirements and readership and increase your chances of acceptance.

Read our guide to choosing a journal for your paper.

Once you’ve chosen your target journal, take the time to read a selection of articles already published, particularly those that are relevant to your own research. This can help you get an understanding of what the editors may be looking for and guide your writing efforts.

The journal’s aims and scope is also an important resource to refer back to as you write your paper – use it to make sure your article aligns with what the journal is trying to accomplish.

Stick to the point

The strongest papers usually have one point to make. They make that point powerfully, back it up with evidence, and position it within the field.

Create a logical framework

The structure of your journal paper is just as important as the content itself, and helps to guide the reader through in a clear way.

Individual journals will have their own specific formatting requirements, which you can find in the instructions for authors.

We have a library of templates available which are accepted by many of our journals. Save time on formatting by downloading a template to apply to your article text. A large number of our journals now offer format-free submission, which allows you to submit your paper without formatting your manuscript to meet that journal’s specific requirements.

Don’t be afraid to explain

Write your journal article with confidence, to give your reader certainty in your research. Make sure that you’ve described your methodology and approach; whilst it may seem obvious to you, it may not to your reader. And don’t forget to explain acronyms when they first appear.

Clarity is key

Make your writing accessible by using clear language. Writing that is easy to read, is easier to understand too.

Go back to thinking about your audience; are they experts in your field who will easily follow technical language, or are they a lay audience who need the ideas presenting in a simpler way?

Be aware of the other literature in your field (and reference it)

Make sure to tell your reader how your article relates to key work that’s already published. This doesn’t mean you have to review every piece of previous relevant literature, but make sure to show how you are building on previous work.

Make your references current and relevant

Your literature review should take into consideration the current state of the literature. So, don’t talk about “recent research” if you’re giving citations from the 1990s. It is important to include recent references to highlight awareness of all the current developments in the literature that you are building on. This doesn’t mean you can’t include older references, just make sure it is clear why you’ve chosen it.

When you reference something, ensure you fully understand its relevance to your research so you can make it clear for your reader.

Be original

Make sure to communicate your unique point of view to stand out. You may be building on a concept already in existence, but you still need to have something new to say. Make sure you say it convincingly, and fully understand and reference what has gone before.

Editor’s view

“It’s important that authors try to connect their ideas, their issue, and their topic to something that is existing in the insights or interpretations available in the journal. It may be to challenge that, or it may be to confirm it. It may be to re-examine it, or to indicate why, after careful examination of some of the issues in the journal, the topic they’re interested in is underdeveloped, even neglected, certainly not considered in the way they want to argue. Whichever way they want to engage with it, it’s crucial that people take that time and thought to do that.”

Professor Len Barton, Founding Editor of Disability and Society

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Get familiar with Instructions for Authors

Be prepared, speed up your submission, and make sure nothing is forgotten by understanding a journal’s individual requirements