7 Steps to Follow Before Submitting Your Paper for Publication in an Academic Journal

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You’ve poured everything into your research and are nearly done writing your paper. Completing an academic piece is an impressive feat, so when you finally get there, take a moment to rejoice. However, writing is only half the battle—you also want to get your research paper published in an academic journal, which means your work isn’t finished after the writing stage. 

So, how do you know whether your paper is ready for submission? Where do you even start? While there are never any guarantees in the publishing world, academic or otherwise, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of getting published. Don’t rush through this stage, or you’ll risk submitting subpar work. 

Preparing a paper for publication in an academic journal requires organization, attention to detail, and creative writing skills. The entire process can be overwhelming, especially if you’re embarking on this journey for the first time. Luckily, you can enlist help. To learn more, check out our deluxe academic package, which includes a detailed editorial letter with extensive feedback, free revisions for 30 days, a full plagiarism report, proofreading and editing, and much more. It’s the ultimate way to ensure your paper is in the best possible shape before sending it off to an academic journal.

So, what are the steps you should follow to prepare your paper for submission?

1. Establish your publication goals and identify your audience

If you haven’t considered this already, you should be thinking about where you want your paper to be published and who your target readers are. Since different audiences will have different needs, catering to your target audience is key in getting your paper accepted by a journal. Are you writing for specialists or people without an extensive background in your subject matter? This will influence the language you use, as well as the level of detail in your explanations.

If you’ve already finished writing your paper and don’t want to overhaul it to suit a particular audience, consider what demographic is most likely to read it in its current state and identify the most suitable journals based on this assessment. What level of knowledge is necessary to understand your paper? What is the overall tone and style of the publication? 

The language, formatting, citation style, and other elements of your paper will depend on the journal(s) you’re submitting your work to, which is why it’s essential to establish your goals and identify your audience early on. Changing the formatting and citation style is tedious but necessary if you’re submitting to multiple journals. Overhauling the language is a more substantial task, so it’s best if you write for your target audience from the beginning.

2. Gather a variety of perspectives and citations 

Before you submit your work for publication or peer review, make sure you’ve used a variety of perspectives and citations from diverse sources, backing your claims with a vast body of existing research. Originality and diversity are crucial to engaging today’s audiences, even in academic circles. Always using the same sources to base your work on can result in tired and uninspired content, and you may be missing important perspectives or insights that alter the research landscape. Therefore, don’t be afraid to cite lesser-known sources or to consider a variety of viewpoints. 

However, be wary of letting too many other voices overshadow your own—it’s your research, after all. Also, keep in mind that any sources you cite push your word count up. If you’re restricted by a word limit, that will reduce the amount of information about your research you can include, so make sure that any mentions are absolutely necessary. 

3. Organize your ideas in a logical way

No matter how solid and innovative your research is, no one will want to read your paper if it’s disorganized and hard to follow. Your job as an academic is not only to conduct great research but also to present it professionally in a polished, succinct paper. It’s important that your thesis is clear from the beginning and that your writing is concise and well-organized. Assembling your paper in a logical way will keep readers engaged and make it easy for them to follow your thought process and grasp the central concepts of your research. 

If you’re struggling to organize your paper, a great solution is to consult an academic developmental editor.

4. Get feedback from colleagues and beta readers

Getting feedback from colleagues and beta readers is a great way to focus your writing and solve any problems you may need help with before submitting your paper for editing, peer review, or publication. You want to resolve any issues with logic, statistics, or research before finalizing your paper so that your thesis and abstract are clear and to the point. New people bring new perspectives—your colleagues may be able to spot oversights, and if you’re targeting a more general audience, having a layperson as a beta reader can help you determine if your language is too esoteric.

5. Tap into your creativity

This may be an academic paper, but that doesn’t mean you should check your creativity at the door. Good writing is good writing in any context, and the same basic principles apply. Most importantly, your writing needs to flow smoothly and engage the audience. Regardless of the complexity of your subject matter, it’s still important to make your paper interesting to read. 

Through engaging writing, you can make the reader want to invest their time in your paper, get them excited about your process and your findings, and show that you’re confident in the relevance of your work. You want to impress your readers and make them remember your thesis and your contribution to your field, but they need to stick with your paper to its very end for that to happen. If your writing is lackluster, your readers may force themselves to get to the last page, but they’ll be less likely to retain the information because they weren’t engaged.

6. Edit and proofread your paper

Submitting a polished, professional paper is critical if you intend to get it published. A paper full of typos, grammar errors, and punctuation mistakes won’t even be considered by an academic journal, let alone accepted for publication, even if it presents ground-breaking research. An error-riddled text indicates carelessness and poor attention to detail, degrading the credibility of a study. Moreover, errors are distracting, so readers won’t be able to focus on your findings, and certain mistakes could blur your message or even alter the meaning of a sentence. How you present your work is key to being taken seriously, and these types of errors can impair the quality of your paper.

Self-editing can go a long way, but if you’re serious about polishing your paper and bringing it up to academic standards, your best bet is to hire a professional academic editor. Not only will they catch any errors you have missed, but they will also ensure that your work adheres to your chosen style guide.

7. Follow strictly the submission guidelines

Every publication has its own submission guidelines, and journals can reject any paper that doesn’t adhere to theirs. This makes it imperative to carefully read and follow the rules of a publication to ensure your paper isn’t discarded over a technicality. If a journal receives far more submissions than it can handle, its editors won’t think twice about rejecting some simply because their authors failed to follow the submission guidelines. From style guide to word count, make sure you’re complying with all the requirements before you submit your paper. 

If you would rather leave the details to the experts, check out our deluxe academic package, which goes above and beyond to ensure your work meets the highest standards of academic writing. 

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