I’ve recently attended a few publication workshops and I’m in the process of finalising a manuscript for my first attempted publication. In this post, I’ll make a brief summary of the most useful information I’ve gathered from the workshops, but also from my experience of writing and submitting the first paper for review.

Choose a journal early

This makes your writing targeted. Different journals have different aims and interests and knowing early on your audience and writing tone can make your paper better aligned with the journal’s needs (thus increasing your chances of acceptance). Formatting and word limit are also difference across journals and knowing these early can save you a lot of time. I made the mistake of not choosing a journal early and this meant my first draft was written without a target word limit. We then decided on a journal to publish that has very strict word limits. This resulted in me spending more than a week re-reading my draft and throwing out a huge chunk of my work.

Impact factors, shmimpact factors

Impact factors don’t tell the whole truth and there are other indices measuring the effectiveness of journals. These include cite score rank, SNIP (source normalised impact per paper) and SJR (scientific journal rank). Each of these tells a different story. For instance, you might see a journal ranking high on impact factor but at the same time ranking comparatively lower on SNIP. This means that you should study these ranks carefully and use your judgement to choose a target journal. And once you’ve figured out a way of choosing a journal, always make a list and aim for the one with the highest ranks (based on your selection method). To check these numbers, go here. Oh, and don’t forget to discuss the journal selection with your supervisor and other colleagues. Being more experienced than you, they sometimes will reject a journal due to bad experiences they’ve had in the past.

Authorship

This could be an entire post on its own, but I’ll quickly suggest that you decide on the authors and order of authors early. Some journals require an outline of the contribution each author made to the study. I find that very helpful, as it informs the reader of the amount of work everyone undertook for the study. No more guessing on what each author did based just on the order of authors.

While there are numerous topics on publication I will stop here for now to keep this brief, as initially promised. Additional tips in the future may follow.

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