Publishing Articles

Contribute to your discipline by publishing your research findings in an academic journal.

Getting Started

Begin early.

Start working on your article right after completing data analysis. Publishing will become increasingly unlikely the longer you wait (Rudestam & Newton, 2007).

Know your audience.

Determine who would benefit most from your findings. Are they?:

  • Scholars
  • Practitioners
  • General public
  • Members of a specific population

Consult your advisor.

If you’re a recent doctoral graduate, ask your dissertation advisor how to convert your findings into one or more articles. They may even be interested in publishing the article with you.

Identifying Potential Journals

Now that you know your audience, begin thinking about where you want to publish your article. Use the sources below to identify potential journals.

Reference List

Scan your reference list. Highlight articles that are similar to your research (Rudestam & Newton, 2007; Thomas & Brubaker, 2001).

Audience

Consider your audience. What journals do they read and respect?

Professional Associations and Societies

If your target audience is a specific profession, browse professional association and society websites for recommended journals.

Google Metrics

Use Google Metrics as a springboard for identifying potential journals. Google Metrics lists the top 100 journals by discipline and ranks journals by how frequently their articles are cited.

WARNING: Google Metrics’ rankings are not an exact science. Some resources are double-listed and therefore, their citations are counted more than once.

Evaluating Journals

Next, evaluate the journals you found. Be selective because the submission process is time consuming. Each journal that you submit your article to will have unique formatting requirements; consequently, every time you submit your article to a journal, you will have to revise extensively. Therefore, choose wisely.

Dissertation Policies

Some journal editors consider articles based on dissertations to be duplicate publications or self-plagiarism, and they may reject your article on those grounds. Review the author guidelines on the journal’s website for their duplicate publications policy.

Topic

Investigate whether your topic suits the journal’s scope.

  • Aims and Scope
    Read this section of the journal’s website to identify frequently published topics.
  • Recent Articles
    Browse articles from the last year. Are they similar to your research topic?
  • Theme Issues
    Check journal homepages for announcements about themes. Would your study fit?

Likelihood of Acceptance

Because article publishing is time-consuming and most submissions are rejected, especially for prestigious journals, we recommend choosing a journal that is likely to publish your article. Consider the following criteria:

  • Acceptance Rates
    Sometimes you can find acceptance rates on journal and publisher websites. You can also search “journal acceptance rates” in SuperSearch to find empirical studies.
  • Specialized, Technical, and Practitioner-Focused
    You are more likely to get published in specialized and practitioner-focused journals because the audience and author pools are smaller. Consequently, there will be less competition for your article.
  • Impact Factors
    Journals are considered more prestigious if their articles are cited frequently. You can find out how frequently a journal has been cited by viewing its impact factor, a metric that represents the average number of times a journal’s articles have been cited within the last year. Impact factors are available on journal websites and in Google Metrics.

    Note: Impact factors are relative. Multidisciplinary journals yield higher impact factors because they have a wider audience and are therefore, cited more frequently than specialized journals. Therefore, once you find your journal’s impact factor, compare it to journals that also publish that topic. Determine if your journal’s impact factor higher or lower than its competitors.

    After you get published, you can download Publish or Perish to evaluate your own impact.

  • Years of Publication
    More established journals (older than 10 years) may be less likely to accept your article. Find years of publication by visiting journal websites and viewing the archives section.
  • Your Publishing History
    Be realistic. How does your publishing history compare to the journal’s recent authors? Determine how you compare by viewing author profiles. First, search the author’s name in Google Scholar. Most established authors have a Google Scholar user profile. Search their name in quotes (“Last name, First name”). Open their profile to view their publications, and select the “Cited By” link to see who cited them. Second, search for author profiles on Academia.edu and Research Gate, which are research social networking sites.

Peer Review Process

Check the author guide to find out if the review process is double-blind, where the editors do not know who they are reviewing. Double-blind reviews are typically more objective.

Discoverability

Make sure that readers can easily discover the journal’s articles. Visit the journal’s website to find out if it is indexed in major databases (e.g. EBSCO, Elsevier, etc.) Also, search the first 4 words of recent article titles in Google to see how discoverable they are. Does the journal appear in the first few results?

Open Access Publishing

Some journals offer open access publishing options, which make your article accessible to the largest audience possible. With open access publishing, readers can view your article for free on the web, without a subscription to the journal. In contrast, traditional publishing requires readers to have a subscription or to be affiliated with a library that has a subscription to view your article. Also, you may not be able to share the full text of your article without violating copyright. View the author guide for more details.

Predatory Journal Fees

Some legitimate journals charge fees for open access publishing. However, many predatory journals have emerged that charge exorbitant publishing fees. No worries. Librarians to the rescue. Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian, created a list of suspicious journals and publishers to avoid, which you can browse on beallslist.weebly.com. Beallslist.weebly.com is not comprehensive, so you may need to also visit thinkchecksubmit.org to determine if your journal is predatory. Learn more about predatory journals (Kolata, 2017, 2013).

Formatting Guidelines

Visit the journal’s website and browse their submission guidelines, which are typically found in an author guide. The submission guidelines typically detail formatting requirements, such as:

  • Article length
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Citation style

Contacting the Editor

We strongly recommend that you contact the editor before you begin writing your article.

  • Avoid self-plagiarism. Be transparent.
    Publishing an article based on your dissertation may be considered a prior publication or self-plagiarism by the editor. Therefore, APA (2010) recommends that you consult with the editor regarding, “what constitutes prior publication,” (p. 13). Ask the editor if they accept articles based on unpublished dissertations. Offer to provide your dissertation’s full text, so the editor can read it (Majumder, 2016). By being transparent, you can avoid any accusations of self-plagiarism.
  • Communicate effectively.
    Develop a good working relationship with your editor by following the recommendations offered by Belcher (2009).
  • Ask remaining questions.
    Make a list of questions that could not be answered by the journal’s website, and ask the editor before drafting your article submission.

Writing Articles

Manage your project.

Use the same strategies that helped you complete your dissertation. Identify key milestones, develop a timeline, and create to do lists.

Draft your article.

  • Use the journal’s most recent articles as exemplary models for your article.
  • Analyze your exemplary article for patterns in organization, tone, and format.
  • Focus on findings that will interest readers and journal editors the most.
  • Select five key points from your research to write about (Rocco & Hatcher, 2011).
  • Outline your article following the exemplary article you chose.
  • Write for a broad audience (Rocco & Hatcher, 2011).
  • Follow the journal’s formatting requirements explicitly.
  • Remove jargon commonly used in dissertations (Rudestam & Newton, 2007).

Avoid self-plagiarism.

  • Rewrite rather than copy sections from your dissertation (Rocco & Hatcher, 2011).
  • Use qualifiers: “Portions of this article were drawn from [your dissertation citation].”
  • Mark tables and figures from your dissertation as reprinted/adapted (APA, 2010, p. 14).

Submitting Articles

Send your article to one journal at a time. Only submit your article to one journal at a time because many journals have policies that prohibit concurrent or duplicate submissions (Rudestam & Newton, 2007). You will have to wait for a decision after you submit, even if it takes a long time, before submitting to another journal. If the editors take too long, you can withdraw your article. This process often moves more slowly than expected, so you may need to be in touch with the editors.

Brace yourself for editors’ responses.

Typically, journal editors respond to article submissions in four ways (Cone & Foster, 2006):

  1. Rejection (most common)
  2. Acceptance with revisions
  3. Revise and resubmit
    The editors are unsure. The paper will need to be revised, resubmitted, and reviewed.
  4. Acceptance without revisions (least common)

Take reviewer feedback in stride.

Anticipate that reviewers will provide more critical than positive feedback (Cone & Foster, 2006). While feedback from reviewers may seem critical, you can use their comments to improve your article (Cone & Foster, 2006). If you are asked to make revisions and resubmit the manuscript, do so in a timely manner. Journal editors appreciate quick turnarounds. Doing so may help you get published. If your article is rejected, don’t despair. This is the most common response from editors. You may submit your article to several journals before it is accepted. Use feedback from the rejection letter to revise and submit your article to your backup journals.

Become a reviewer to learn more.

The best way to learn what journal editors will accept and reject is to become a reviewer for a journal (Rocco & Hatcher, 2011). With practice, you can learn the secrets to drafting publishable articles. Check the journal’s website for opportunities to become a reviewer.

Further Reading

American Psychological Association. (2006). Converting your dissertation into a journal article. Retrieved from http://supp.apa.org/style/pubman-ch08.pdf

Azar, B. (2006). Publishing your dissertation. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/03/dissertation.aspx

Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Availability.

Cone, J. D., & Foster, S. L. (2006). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Availability.

Elsevier. (n.d.). Understanding the publishing process: How to publish in scholarly journals. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/?a=91173

Kolata, G. (2013, April 7). Scientific articles accepted (personal checks too). The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/health/for-scientists-an-explodingworld-of-pseudo-academia.html

Kolata, G. (2017, October 30). Many academics are eager to publish in worthless journals. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/science/predatoryjournals-academics.html

Majumder, K. (2016, August 17). The basics of converting your PhD thesis into journal articles [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://www.editage.com/insights/the-basics-of-converting-yourphd-thesis-into-journal-articles

Rocco, T. S., & Hatcher, T. G. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Availability.

Thomas, R. M., & Brubaker, D. L. (2001) Avoiding thesis and dissertation pitfalls: 61 cases of problems and solutions. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. Availability.