During WRIEC, our editors hosted a roundtable in which they provided key tips for authors to consider when publishing papers. Below is a recap of 8 the suggested tips from our editors.
#1 Submit papers that are complete and polished, and, whenever possible, that have already been vetted and improved by colleagues, including at academic conferences and seminars.
- A rule of thumb: suppose you did not get a chance to revise the paper again: would you be comfortable having the paper published as is? If so, then it is ready to be submitted.
- Are you submitting it in the hopes of getting feedback that you can incorporate before submitting to another journal? This is not a free option, there are costs you are imposing on reviewers and potentially reputational costs to you. Rather, submit the paper to a conference or present it in a seminar series instead, revise it accordingly, and submit it to the journal where you consider it the best fit.
- The time taken to receive feedback prior to journal submission will yield outstanding results on this manuscript specifically and for your reputation generally.
#2 Write and submit papers that address a well-defined question; clearly articulate that question, along with the answer, in the abstract and introduction.
- Research is often exploratory. But research papers should be focused and directed.
- The question also needs to be relevant; be certain to articulate why we care about the answer.
#3 Make certain that your research question and methods are a good fit for the journal to which you are submitting.
- Review the aims and scope of the journal.
- Read papers published in the journal to ensure that your work is appropriate.
#4 Write the paper so that everything in it is directed towards answering your well-defined question.
- Tangentially related matters should be jettisoned, no matter how interesting they may be.
- A majority of time spent in writing a paper is in shortening and clarifying the content.
#5 Explain how your research contributes to the existing literature. Cite (and only cite) relevant literature and describe clearly how your paper’s contribution relates to that literature.
- Literature reviews should also be directed: avoid encyclopedic descriptions of papers on the general topic area of your question; instead describe the existing literature with an eye to explaining how your paper relates to and builds upon it.
- The literature review can be thought of as a jigsaw puzzle, with your objective being to describe the known pieces to the puzzle, leaving open the hole that this paper will fill.
#6 Make sure your references are complete, up to date, and follow the journal’s style guidelines.
Specifically check whether any cited working papers have been recently published or accepted for publication and update the bibliography accordingly.
#7 Run a thorough spelling and grammar check; clearly define new and/or uncommon terminology; check that sentences are clear and unambiguous.
- Consider having a non-expert read the paper to identify syntactically unclear passages.
- Consider employing a copyeditor for every paper submitted. The cost is worth it.
#8 Check and follow all submission guidelines.
- Does the journal require an anonymized document?
- Does one of the co-authors need to be a member of the journal’s parent academic organization?