What to expect when proposing an article for publication (Andreea Mitan)

Shortly: you may receive many rejections, encounter delays, or, worse, get no answers.

Working in academia implies an uphill battle to make your research available to the scientific community by publishing your articles in the most relevant journals in your field, and then having them read and cited by your peers. This entry aims at helping young researchers, mainly doctoral students, to navigate the waters of publishing their first academic papers.

Writing your first academic article is a transformative experience. Getting your first academic article published by a renowned journal is a whole different thing. You read a lot on a topic you love learning about. You found a research gap. It is juicy, and you did your own solid research to find answers that would help you cover that gap and put your name on the list of good, even bright contemporary researchers. There is only one small additional step to make: to actually publish your work in a respectable academic journal, in a timeframe that suits your needs. And this is where the battle begins. Let the Games begin!

Bear in mind these criteria when searching for THE journal:

  • Frame of reference. If you are a Romanian doctoral student, for example, you need to discuss with your thesis coordinator and make sure you choose a journal which is indexed in the databases that are relevant in your field, in the Romanian academic system. You may want to consult the criteria needed for obtaining the doctoral title, as presented by the Order No. 5110/ 2018 of the Ministry of National Education. You may want to visit the websites of UEFISCDI (Unitatea Executivă pentru Finanțarea Învățământului Superior, a Cercetării, Dezvoltării și Inovării) and CNCS (Consiliul Național al Cercetării Științifice) and learn about the relevant databases and journals in your domain. Think of the targets you need to reach by publishing that specific article.
  • Acceptance ratio. Editors speak about high quality journals as having `a good rejection rate`, which is somewhere near 76%. For a young researcher, this could present a problem. There are many chances for your paper to fall in those 76%. And it is not because of bias, but because it is almost impossible for a young researcher to write exceptionally well. Experience matters. With an average acceptance rate below 15% for the years ranging between 2016 and 2020, highly sought after journals (by senior researchers), such as Biomaterials, are usually beyond the possibilities of a junior researcher or doctoral student. What to do then? Giving up is not an option. Seek journals that are good, read papers published by that journal, learn the standards they use (citation style, literature review structure, type of research, methodology, statistics) and practice. Write. Submit papers. And do not get upset when you receive a desk rejection. However, you might not have the time to learn too much in this way, because of the publishing expectations that your supervisor, department director, and committee members might have. What can you do then to increase your chances of publication? Read your paper and then compare it to the articles published by other journals. See where your fellow junior researchers published their first articles. Choose a journal that has previously published papers of junior researchers, like you, and papers of a similar complexity, perhaps on topics that are compatible with yours. Chances are that your paper might fit the standards for publication. You may also target journals that are associated with conferences that you attend, or journals that are associated with professional associations that you may care to join.
  • Review process. A good journal uses peer review, ideally double blind peer review. This process takes time – the paper is sent to reviewers, they read it and give their recommendations, then you may be asked to modify your paper according to those recommendations, then the paper is sent again to the reviewers, for a second round. It takes months, maybe years (depending on the journal). So patience is the key. And good timing.
  • Choose a journal that is open access, if you do not have the money to pay the publication fees that the journals many times request. You may also speak with your supervisor and/ or department director and ask for financial support for publication. You could be financially supported by the institution you are affiliated to. It is not mandatory for the institution to do so (as far as the author knows), but they might decide to offer you this opportunity, if their budget allows.

These are just a few pieces of advice that could prove to help a young researcher make their work known to the public. And while they might seem too many or too specific, bear in mind that the effort of publishing is a never ending story for a researcher, so you will get better at this game. Or exit the scene.

About the author

Andreea MITAN is a Lecturer at SNSPA, the CEO of the Center for Research in Management, and the CEO of the Norwegian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce. She is an experienced consultant in marketing and communication, having worked since 2006 with various organizations in Europe. She holds a PhD in Communication Studies (2014) and is a PhD candidate in Management. She is affiliated to B.S.Lab – Business Systems Laboratory, and EBES – Eurasia Business and Economics Society, and a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing (Inderscience). She serves as a reviewer for Kybernetes (Emerald), Journal of International Management (Elsevier), and Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy. Her most recent book Y: Popular Culture and Identity [Y: Popular culture și identitate] (Tritonic, 2019) tackles the topic of youth identity and culture, two of her long standing academic interests. Her current research focuses on business internationalization and human capital. For more information regarding her academic profile please visit her profiles on: Publons / ORCID / Google Scholar / ResearchGate

Suggested readings:

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 7th Edition. American Psychological Association.
Eco, U. (2015). How to write a thesis. The MIT Press.
Turabian, K. (2017). Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. 8th Edition. The University of Chicago Press.

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