Experiences of publishing journal articles

by Kristin Hoffmann
Associate Librarian, University of Western Ontario

One Tuesday morning last December, Western’s Librarian and Archivist Research Support Network held a panel session where colleagues shared their recent experiences with publishing their research. Sharing experiences of different parts of the research process is an important part of building a research culture. I found it illuminating and motivating to hear about my colleagues’ experiences, so I thought I would share with Brain-Work readers the key points I took away from that session.

It can take a very long time.
All of the panelists talked about this. In none of their cases did the publishing process take less than a year from start to finish. Be prepared for publication to take time, and be quick to respond to requests for revisions.

So, consider having more than one project on the go at any given time.
One panelist offered this suggestion as a follow-up to the long publication times mentioned above. Working on more than one project at once means that you can be working on one while waiting for the reviewers’ comments on the other.

Feedback helps!
Colleagues who read your paper before you submit it to a journal might identify changes that you can’t see because you’re so close to your work. Editors and reviewers can also give you helpful feedback, even if they end up rejecting your submission to their journal. Panelists also emphasized the value of getting feedback throughout their research, not just at the end when they were writing their paper.

Author order matters, so talk about it.
Do this early on in the writing process, if possible. Some factors that our panelists took into account included the relative contributions of each author to the research, and the authors’ sense of which of them would benefit most from being first author.

It matters where you submit your article.
Your article should be a good fit for the journal’s scope. If you aren’t sure, ask the editor. Create a list of journals to which you could submit your paper, and do this early on in the writing process so that you can write with your selected journal’s style in mind. In choosing journals, panelists considered factors such as: prestige, fit with the journal’s scope, open access, frequency of publication, impact factor, and whether the journal could bring the article to a larger audience than librarians.

“Resubmit” is not rejection.
Take it as a positive sign when a journal asks you to resubmit your paper if they don’t accept it outright. Even though “resubmit for review” can feel like a rejection at first, it isn’t! Focus on the positive comments from the reviewers and work on making your paper even better. Also, rejections aren’t the end of the world. Half of our panelists had their first submissions rejected, but their papers were ultimately published in other journals.

For anyone who has published journal articles, this likely reminded you of your own experiences. For those who haven’t yet published an article, or who haven’t published in a while, these are good tips and strategies to keep in mind as you are writing and preparing to submit your paper.


 

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

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