How to Write and Publish an Academic Research Paper

How to Write and Publish an Academic Research Paper

Publishing your research is an important step in your academic career. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, this guide is designed to take you through the typical steps in publishing a research paper. Discover how to get your paper published, from choosing the right journal and understanding what a peer reviewed article is, to responding to reviewers and navigating the production process.

Step 1: Choosing a Journal

Choosing which journal to publish your research paper in is one of the most significant decisions you have to make as a researcher. Where you decide to submit your work can make a big difference to the reach and impact your research has.

It’s important to take your time to consider your options carefully and analyze each aspect of journal submission – from shortlisting titles to your preferred method of publication, for example open access. 

Don’t forget to think about publishing options beyond the traditional journals format – for example, open research platform F1000Research, which offers rapid, open publication for a wide range of outputs.

The first step in publishing a research paper should always be selecting the journal you want to publish in. Choosing your target journal before you start writing means you can tailor your work to build on research that’s already been published in that journal. This can help editors to see how a paper adds to the ‘conversation’ in their journal.

In addition, many journals only accept specific manuscript formats of article. So by choosing a journal before you start, you can write your article to their specifications and audience, and ultimately improve your chances of acceptance.

Step 2: Writing your Paper

Writing an effective, compelling research paper is vital to getting your research published. But if you’re new to putting together academic papers, it can feel daunting to start from scratch.

The good news is that if you’ve chosen the journal you want to publish in, you’ll have lots of examples already published in that journal to base your own paper on. We’ve gathered advice on every aspect of writing your paper, to make sure you get off to a great start.

How you write your paper will depend on your chosen journal, your subject area, and the type of paper you’re writing. Everything from the style and structure you choose to the audience you should have in mind while writing will differ, so it’s important to think about these things before you get stuck in.

Step 3: Making your Submission

Once you’ve chosen the right journal and written your manuscript, the next step in publishing your research paper is to make your submission.

Each journal will have specific submission requirements, so make sure you visit Journal Website and carefully check through the instructions for authors for your chosen journal.

To submit your manuscript you’ll need to ensure that you’ve gone through all the steps in our making your submission guide. This includes thoroughly understanding your chosen journal’s instructions for authors, writing an effective cover letter, navigating the journal’s submission system, and ensuring your research data is prepared as required.

To make sure you’ve covered everything before you hit ‘submit’ you can also take a look at our ‘ready to submit’ checklist. (Don’t forget, you should only submit to one journal at a time.)

Step 4: Navigating the peer review process

Now you’ve submitted your manuscript, you need to get to grips with one of the most important parts of publishing your research paper – the peer review process.

Peer review is the independent assessment of your research article by independent experts in your field. Reviewers, also sometimes called ‘referees’, are asked to judge the validity, significance, and originality of your work.

This process ensures that a peer-reviewed article has been through a rigorous process to make sure the methodology is sound, the work can be replicated, and it fits with the aims and scope of the journal that is considering it for publication. It acts as an important form of quality control for research papers.

Peer review is also a very useful source of feedback, helping you to improve your paper before it’s published. It is intended to be a collaborative process, where authors engage in a dialogue with their peers and receive constructive feedback and support to advance their work.

Almost all research articles go through peer review, although in some cases the journal may operate post-publication peer review, which means that reviews and reader comments are invited after the paper is published.

Peer review can be a complex process to get your head around.This explains everything from the many different types of peer review to the step-by-step peer review process and how to revise your manuscript. It also has helpful advice on what to do if your manuscript is rejected.

Step 5: The Production Process

If your paper is accepted for publication, it will then head into production. At this stage of the process, the paper will be prepared for publishing in your chosen journal.

A lot of the work to produce the final version of your paper will be done by the journal production team, but your input will be required at various stages of the process.

During production, you’ll have a variety of tasks to complete and decisions to make. For example, you’ll need to check and correct proofs of your article and consider whether or not you want to produce a video abstract to accompany it.

Your Research is Published – Now What?

You’ve successfully navigated publishing a research paper – congratulations! But the process doesn’t stop there. Now your research is published in a journal for the world to see, you’ll need to know how to access your article and make sure it has an impact.

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