Saturday, September 28, 2019

How to Prepare Your Paper for Publication

Writing an article and submitting it under the peer-review process can be very frustrating and time-consuming. You may often wonder if the end result is worth all the effort.  However, we must also learn that writing promotes critical thinking skills, enhances the learning experience and improves the ability to be more concise in written communications. Writing is the most important means of sharing scientific work. Research and publication complement once practice and expertise. Also, implementing research and publication is a crucial aspect of once career. Furthermore, having an article published is your big contribution to adding new knowledge in your field. Sharing of knowledge helps the community for the advancement of health, science, and research. Here are some benefits that you will reap if you are actively engaged in journal publication.

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1. Big chances for promotion. Having an article published brings the door to many opportunities if you are serious in building your reputation as an expert in a particular field. This door includes a big possibility of promotion either by virtue of rank or position. Let's say if you are currently an assistant professor, you will be elevated as an associate professor; or if you are an assistant director, you may be promoted as the general director. In the area of health, education, science and technology alike, one of the evidence that you have done a great deal of study is through research publication.

2. Help improve writing skills. Your first submission for publication is a tough one. Many times you will experience rejections from publishers. And through rejections, you will learn in the process. Going through these steps will help you improve your writing skills that are very useful in your future submissions of a journal article.

3. Establish connections. Being able to collaborate with other researchers and different experts of the field will help widen your scope and establish concrete connections which can give a big impact on your career path. 

So you have what it takes to publish your journal article. And you want to share it to the world. However, before submitting your paper for publication, it is wise to prepare your journal article. But remember to submit your journal article to a journal publisher one at a time. In the event that your journal article will be rejected by the first journal, you may submit it to a different publisher.

1. Choose your journal. Choosing a journal is quite difficult with the number of academic journals available. You may opt to submit your journal article to a specialized journal (journal for a specific field) or multidisciplinary (journals who accepts several academic disciplines). Key factors in choosing a journal:

a. Is the journal predatory? These journals are typically open-access and charging too much publication fees. They often do not perform a real peer-review process. They operate not for academic purposes but mainly for profit. Check the Beall’s List for Predatory Journals to learn more.

b. Whether the journal operates online, offline, or both.

c. Is the journal internationally recognized or is it accredited by a certain government agency? Journal accreditation is one of the indicators that a particular journal adheres to the standard of peer review and journal indexing. In the Philippines, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) provides a Journal Accreditation Service (JAS) for all Philippine Higher Education Institutions wishing to have their journal recognized as peer-reviewed/referred journal.

d. The impact or status of the journal. Having your article published in a high impact journal elevates your status and credibility as an expert in your field. A journal is considered to be of high-impact based on the average frequency of their article to be cited in a particular year.

e. How long is the peer-review and publication process? If you have a deadline, might as well look for a journal who has a shorter peer-review and publication process.

f. Choose the journal that serves your purpose. It is great to have your journal article be published in a multidisciplinary journal because of its vast audience. However, you may want to have your journal article be published in a specialized journal to extend help to the readers who will benefit more from your research findings. 

2. Read the submission guidelines. Once you’ve decided on a journal, check the publisher’s website for submission guidelines. These will usually be named something like ‘Author Instructions’ or ‘Submission Procedures’. The submission guidelines are mainly for formatting, referencing style, and how the paper should be written.

3. Do the editing process. This is usually the hardest part. Take into consideration that you need to follow the guidelines set by your chosen journal otherwise your paper will be automatically rejected. After editing your journal article, make sure to run it through a grammar and plagiarism checker. If you don’t have access to software, you may use the free grammar and plagiarism checker online. Read my other article Top 10 Tools and Software for Researchers to learn more.

4. Prepare your ethics review certification. Several reputable journals require authors to subject the ethic review board certification. This is to ensure that you adhere to the ethical standards when conducting the study.

5. Revise and resubmit. You will receive feedback from peer reviewers whenever you submit a journal article. The feedback may be:
               a. Accept, after minor revisions.
               b. Accept, after major revisions.
               c. Reject, not fit for publication.
Whatever the result, don’t let critical feedback get you down. Even if it seems harsh, you can learn from it and use it to make revisions before you resubmit the paper (or submit it elsewhere).
In the event where the journal accepts your work with revisions, the journal’s chief editor will provide you with questions and suggestions for editing, which you will be required to respond to. Your manuscript will also have to be revised based on these suggestions. 

Dealing with Rejection
Rejection is a norm in journal publication. It is a natural part of the publication process. Even researchers at the top of the field often experience rejection.  Even one of the papers of Albert Einstein was rejected by The Physical Review before it was accepted by the Journal of Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The paper outlining the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in 1966 by Richard Ernst was rejected twice by the Journal of Chemical Physics and later it was approved and published in the Review of Scientific Instrument. Richard Ernst received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991. Moreover, the first paper on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in 1993 by Kary Mullis was rejected by Science. Now, the PCR is the technique that is used every day in the laboratory facilities across the world to amplify DNA strands. 

Take note that all writers have had experienced rejected papers. Recognize that acceptance rates across journals are low. If your submission is rejected for not matching the journal guidelines, you should consider reformatting the manuscript per the guidelines of another journal that is appropriate for your study.  Don’t let rejection frustrate you, always remember that an expert was once a neophyte. There are plenty of rooms for improvement as a neophyte. Persistence will be a great attribute in having your journal article published. If you are rejected by one journal, it does not mean that you will be rejected the next. Consider the reviewer’s and editor’s comment as your guide and in the process, you will learn. Learning is always the key to success. 

15 Common Problems in Manuscripts Which Often Leads to Rejection
1. Research doesn’t add value to a journal.
2. Statements are too long which makes it difficult to follow.
3. Failure to establish the problem.
4. Lacks originality. Failure to establish a research gap.
5. Unclear hypothesis
6. Copy editor issues such as grammar, spelling, punctuation, and format.
7. Outdated references
8. Not extensive literature
9. Detection of plagiarism
10. Lack of evidence to support statements
11. References are not traceable. References do not come from reputable sources.
12. Results are not extensively discussed.
13. Poor analysis and inconclusive results.
14. Inappropriate methodology
15. Violation of research ethics

Preparing Your Journal Article for Submission
It has already been mentioned that you have to prepare your paper for submission. The peer-review process is tough and sometimes it may cause rejection of your journal article if not properly reviewed before submission. This section is a step-by-step guide on how you are going to prepare your manuscript. This time you are going to review your journal article like a peer reviewer. The peer-review process may vary depending on the journal but this is close to a peer reviewer's guidelines.

1. Are the writing style, grammar and use of language meet the graduate level standards and higher?
2. Does this research represent a definite new contribution in the study area?
3. Does the study proceed from a sound theoretical foundation?
4. Does the study have good potential to be cited by other researchers?
5. Does the title accurately reflect the results and findings of the study?

6. Does the abstract present an accurate synopsis of the paper?

7. Is the introduction appropriate to the paper’s subject?
8. Is the literature relevant and comprehensive?
9. Is there a definition of the gap in the literature?

10. Is the design of the study consistent with its objectives?
11. Is the sample representative of the population in question?
12. Is the method of selecting the sample clearly described?
13.  Is there a discussion of item-total correlation to ensure every item has high internal consistency?
14.  Is there explicit compliance to ethics protocol written as a subsection in the methodology?

Results & Discussion
15. Are the results and any statistical test results presented in a clear and unambiguous manner (tables, figures, graphs, etc.) dispensing non-significant data?
16. Does the discussion critique and discuss the methodology used?
17. Does the discussion comprehensively discuss the results?
18. Are the results interpreted correctly and linked to the literature discussed?

19. Do the conclusions accurately reflect the objectives and results of the study?

Literature Cited
20. Are the literature cited of high standard reflecting online, traceable, and reputable scientific databases?
21. Is there a substantial number of references?  
22. Are the majority (60%) of the references cited taken from the subscription journals while 40% from open access journals?

How to Use Verb Tenses in the Journal Article
In reviewing your journal article, take note of the tenses you used in your sentences. Incorrect verb tenses may confuse your readers and may also lead to rejection of your manuscript.

Use past tense when:
 citing previous research in your article
 referring to a statement(s) of other researchers
 discussing the research methodology and reporting the findings
 discussing a fact, research results or law that is no longer considered valid and relevant

Use present tense when:
 stating general truths or facts or conclusions supported by scientific findings
 discussing the findings, that hold true up to the present, and their implications that are unlikely to change – this may be anything that is universally accepted to be true.
 referring to the research manuscript itself, its contents including illustrations, texts, and the like
 presenting the conclusions.

Use future tense when:
 stating recommendations

Hopefully, the aforementioned information gave you a clear idea of how to prepare your paper for the tough peer-review process and successfully publishing your journal article to a reputable journal. I am also a recipient of rejected journal articles from different journal publishers. I experience heartbreaks, disappointments, and frustrations. But this didn’t stop me from writing. As they always say, quitters never win and winners never quit.  Best of luck in our research endeavors.

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Share this article with beginning researchers you know. They might need help in publishing their research output. After all, sharing is caring.


  1. As always, this is another extensive review from you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in research. More researchers will learn from this.

  2. This is a very comprehensive review for mentorship. Thank you so much.

  3. Well done, indeed...

  4. Replies
    1. Hi, if you need a copy of this article in a pdf or word format, please email me using the contact form which is found on the right side, just above the Recommended Reading. Thank you.

    2. Hi Danna, It's a great piece of information, thanks for sharing. Can you send this PDF, im unable to download it.

  5. i love it! i have learned a lot from reading this!


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