how-to-publish-journal

6 steps for how to publish a journals


Publication of original research in a peer-reviewed, indexed journal is the final and most important step towards recognition of any research work. However, the process begins long before a manuscript is written. The journal in which the author hopes to publish his/her work must be chosen at the time of the conceptualization of the scientific work according to the expected readership. Most journals provide information on their scope (which specifies the relevant scientific areas for publication in the journal), and general instructions for authors, which must be followed when preparing a manuscript.

Publication of research works has become mandatory for scientists, engineering researchers, or specialists with academic affiliations, and it is now desirable even at the undergraduate level. Despite a plethora of forums for showcasing original research, very few of them are published in a scientific journal, and even if they are, the manuscripts are usually from the same few institutions. Publication serves the purpose of academic reputability and recognition; and some publications may even contribute to shaping various national policies. Participating in an international conference in 2022 should offer you a clearer idea of this.

Academic appointment, appropriate infrastructure, and access to peer-reviewed journals are seen as facilitators for publication. The lack of technical and editorial skills, institutional obstacles, and time constraints are considered the main obstacles to any scientific publication. Furthermore, the majority of researchers around the globe are involved in numerous other endeavors owing to the excessive red tape that exists in many countries under the guise of ensuring “transparency” in the expenditure of research funding. This requires carrying out a multitude of tasks in addition to undertaking experimental research and therefore poses an additional limiting factor due to long and irregular working hours. It is extremely difficult to devote time to research and writing in such scenarios. Nevertheless, it is a loss to research and progress if these talented researchers do not contribute to the existing research literature. Upholding research ethics and science and understanding the standards for preparing a manuscript are very important to improving the quality and relevance of scientific research in our time.

This article brings together various aspects to keep in mind when creating a manuscript suitable for publication. The contributions provided are relevant to all interested persons, whether or not they have an academic or institutional affiliation. Although the prospect of becoming a research author of a published scientific work is invigorating, it is crucial to be prepared for minor or major revisions to the original article and even rejection. However, persevering in this endeavor can help preserve one’s work and contribute to the promotion of science.

Significant considerations for writing a manuscript include the following – 

  1. Choose an appropriate journal and be aware of the qualities of predatory journals.
  2. Understanding how to nail the primary aspects of your research manuscript.
  3. Strengthening the body of your manuscript. 
  4. Concluding your manuscript such that it has a maximum and lasting impact
  5. Understanding the typical submission and peer review processes followed by journals and executing them professionally. 
  6. Some additional measures that you can take to make sure your paper meets the global standards of research publication.
  • Step 1

Journal Choice & Combatting The New Evil – Predatory Journals

  • A manuscript should be both informative and readable. 
  • Even if the concept is clear in the minds of the authors, it is important to remember that they are introducing new work to the readers, and therefore, proper organization of the manuscript is necessary to make clear the purpose and importance of the work to readers.
  • Picking The Right Journal For Publication
    • Choosing the preferred journal should be one of the first steps to consider, as mentioned earlier.
    • Author guidelines may change over time and, therefore, should be reviewed at regular intervals and adhered to. 
    • The choice of journal depends mainly on the target audience, and it may prove to be useful to have one or more journals in mind in case the first choice journal is refused. 
    • A journal’s impact factor should be considered when choosing an appropriate journal.
  • Being Aware Of Predatory Journals & The Pitfalls Of Falling Prey To One
    • Some of the well-known journals offer an “open access” option to authors, in which if the manuscript is published, it is freely available to all readers online. 
    • However, authors must pay a certain fee to make their manuscript an open-access article. 
    • Additionally, some of the well-known journals published by reputable publishers have online “open access” journals, where manuscripts are published for a specific fee but are submitted to the conventional review process, and readers can access the full-text article. 
    • The DOAJ is an online database that indexes and offers access to world-class, open-access, peer-reviewed journals.
    • However, many open access journals online are proliferating, giving a legitimate face to an illegitimate publishing process that lacks basic industry standards, good peer review practices, and a solid foundation in academic publication ethics.
  • These journals are called “predatory journals”. 
  • The pressure of the need to have scientific publications and the ignorance of predatory journals can encourage authors to submit their manuscripts to such journals. 
  • At present, it is not easy to recognize predatory journals, and authors should proactively seek this information from mentors, journal websites, and recent and relevant published literature.
  • Additionally, editorial controls (editors and editorial board members), peer review practices, quality of published articles, access, citations, indexing, and ethical practices are important aspects to take into account when choosing an appropriate journal.
  • A pertinent research hypothesis and research conducted within the ethical framework are of utmost significance for scientific research. 
  • The natural progression from there is manuscript preparation, a daunting process for most clinicians engaged in clinical research. 
  • Picking a journal that provides an appropriate platform for the manuscript, adhering to journal-specific instructions, and following some simple guidelines can lead to successful preparation and publication of scientific work. 
  • Allocating some time at regular intervals to writing and maintaining discipline and perseverance in this regard are very important prerequisites for achieving the goal of successful publishing. 
  • Participating in an upcoming virtual conference in 2022 will help you gain a clearer understanding of the world of predatory journal publication. 
  • Step 2

Nailing The Core Aspects Of The Manuscript

  • The Title
    • The title of a research manuscript gives the first impression about the manuscript. 
    • It is estimated that a reader spends less than two seconds reading the title. 
    • Most search engines use keywords to locate relevant articles, and therefore the title should be well thought out. 
    • A full title can have the following three important keywords – 
      • general, indicating the field or specialty to which the article belongs; 
      • intermediate, referring to a specific subfield or phenomenon; and specific, referring to even more niche subjects, tests, or topics.
    • It is important that the title conveys the new information that the study concerned offers. 
    • Abbreviations should be avoided, and many journals limit the number of characters that can be included in the title. 
    • Also, some journals require a short running title to make it easier for readers to read.
  • The majority of scientific journals with a good impact factor have specific authorship criteria. 
  • This avoids the problems associated with phantom paternity and honorary paternity. 
  • Phantom authorship refers to a scenario in which an author’s name is omitted to obscure financial relationships with private companies; honorary authorship appoints someone who has not made a substantial contribution to the work, either owing to pressure from colleagues or to enhance the chances of publication. 
  • Most journals comply with the authorship criteria defined by international regulatory bodies. 
  • They are listed as follows –
    • Substantial contributions to the conception or source of the work; 
    • Or the acquisition, study, or interpretation of data for work;
    • Writing the work or revising from a critical stance as an intellectual contribution;
    • Acceptance of the final version that will be published;
    • Agreement to be responsible for all aspects of the work, ensuring that questions relating to the preciseness or integrity of any part of the work are investigated and resolved appropriately.
  • Some journals need authors to declare their contributions to research and manuscript preparation. This helps avoid honorary and phantom authorship and encourages authors to be more honest and responsible.
  • The Abstract
    • An abstract is a self-contained part of the manuscript giving a brief overview of the content; this may influence editors, peer reviewers, and readers regarding the quality of the manuscript. 
    • It can be freestyle or structured according to the journal standard. 
    • A structured abstract has sections relating to background, purpose, materials and methods, results, and conclusion. 
    • There is a 250-word limit for abstracts in most journals. 
    • The abstract should be revised each time the manuscript is revised or modified.

Keywords

  • Keywords are usually mentioned at the bottom of the Summary section. 
  • These words indicate important aspects of the manuscript and help identify manuscripts by electronic search engines. 
  • Most journals specify the number of keywords required, usually between four and eight. 
  • They should be simple and specific to the manuscript; a good title contains the majority of the keywords. 
  • The general flow of the manuscript adheres to an IMRaD structure (Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, and Discussion). Although it has been recommended since the beginning of the 20th century, most authors have started following it since the 1970s.

The Introduction

  • The Introduction section cements the tone of the manuscript and, therefore, should be focused. 
  • It provides a relevant context for the study with appropriate references and establishes the context for the work. 
  • Any word or name with a standard abbreviation should be written in its expanded form the first time, with the abbreviation in parentheses.
  • Thereafter, only the abbreviation should be used throughout the manuscript. 
  • The Introduction section is usually in the form of a funnel, with the first paragraph emphasizing the scope and importance of the disease in question. 
  • The following paragraphs summarize the relevant known facts and areas of uncertainty in the context of the research question. 
  • This is then followed by the pertinence of the current study and ends with the purpose of the study.
  • A common mistake when writing an introduction is an attempt to review all of the available evidence on the subject. 
  • It becomes confusing to the reader, and the purpose and importance of the study in question are overwhelmed by the plethora of information provided. 
  • The issues mentioned in the Introduction section should be addressed in the Discussion section, and it is important to avoid repetition and overlap. 
  • Some might prefer to write the Introduction section after preparing the draft of the Materials and Methods and Results sections.
  • The last paragraph of the Introduction section defines the purpose of the study or the study question using active verbs. 
  • If there is more than one objective for the study, specify the main objective and address secondary objectives in a separate sentence. 
  • It is recommended that the Introduction section occupy no more than 10-15% of the entire text.
  • Step 3

Ensuring That The Body Of Your Research Paper Is Strong

  • The Materials & Methods Section
    • The Materials and Methods section serves as the link between the Introduction and Results sections. 
    • The entire section is described in the past tense. 
    • It goes over the methods and means used to conduct the study so that other researchers can carry out a similar study with the information provided. 
    • The type of study, whether – 
      • prospective/retrospective, interventional/observational, or
      • cohort/randomized controlled/case-control study 

should be clearly documented. 

  • It is therefore important to describe the place where it took place, the time it took, and to specify whether ethical approval was sought and granted. 
  • The following paragraph describes study participants with selection and exclusion criteria and provides information regarding informed consent. 
  • It is followed by a detailed description of the study protocol.
  • Sometimes some of the methods used can be very elaborate and not very relevant for the majority of readers; for instance, if polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used for diagnosis, the type of PCR executed should be mentioned in this section, but the whole procedure does not need to be detailed in the “Methods” section. 
  • Either a pertinent reference can be offered, or the details of the procedure can be given online as additional data. 
  • It is vital to mention both the generic name and the brand name of all the materials used as well as the name of the manufacturer and the place of manufacture. 
  • Similarly, all the experiments carried out must provide the specifications of the equipment used and the contact details of its manufacturer. 
  • For many scientific parameters, it is preferable that intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation be provided. 
  • In addition, standard units of measurement and internationally accepted abbreviations should be used. 
  • Online guidelines are available to maintain uniformity in the reporting of different types of studies. 
  • Following these guidelines enhances the clarity and completeness of reporting.
  • The Statistical Analysis
    • One of the major barriers to publishing scientific research is the inability to pick and perform suitable statistical analyses. 
    • With the availability of diverse user-friendly software systems, an increasing number of researchers are comfortable performing complex analyses without additional assistance. 
    • However, it is still common to involve biostatisticians for this purpose. 
  • Coordination between researchers and statisticians is very important for the calculation of the sample size, the creation of an appropriate data set, and its subsequent analysis. 
  • It is crucial to utilize the appropriate statistical methodologies for a more accurate and comprehensive representation of data to improve the quality of a manuscript. 
  • It may be beneficial to refer to a recent review of the most widely used statistical analyzes and their application in clinical research for a better presentation of the data.
  • There is some evidence to prove that structured training involving data analysis, manuscript writing, and submission to indexed journals enhances the quality of submitted manuscripts, even in a low-resource setting.
  • Short online certificate courses on statistics are freely available at many universities around the world. 
  • You could also choose to participate in an online international conference in 2022 if you’d like to meet and partner with leading statisticians. 
  • Step 4

Giving The Manuscript A Strong Conclusion

  • The Results Section
    • The Results section generally echoes the Materials and Methods section, and for each step/intervention performed, there would be an outcome. 
    • It is useful to collect the results in an orderly fashion at the beginning of the preparation of the manuscript so that the message to be conveyed becomes clear. 
    • It begins with the sample size, inclusion, and exclusion details, which can be presented effectively as a flowchart, and followed by the basic characteristics of the study sample, usually represented as a table.
    • The outcomes of the study are summarized in the form of tables and figures. 
    • Journals might have limitations on the number of figures and tables, as well as the rows and columns of tables. 
    • The text should highlight only the results reported in the tables and figures and should not repeat all the details. 
    • The primary analysis should be presented in a separate paragraph. 
    • All secondary analyses performed in view of the results seen in the primary analysis should be mentioned separately. 
    • When comparing two groups, it is good practice to list the data for the study group followed by the control group and maintain the same order throughout the section. 
    • No adjectives should be used when comparing except for the statistical significance of the results.
  • The Results section of a manuscript is written in the past tense, and numeric values ​​must be stated with a maximum of one decimal place.
  • Measures of central tendency should be followed by appropriate measures of variability (mean and standard deviation; median and interquartile range). 
  • Relative measurements must be accompanied by absolute values ​​(percentage and real value). 
  • The interpretation of results based on bar charts or line graphs alone could be misleading, and more comprehensive data may be presented as box plots or scatter plots.
  • The Discussion Section
    • The Discussion section offers the interpretation of the results and describes them in the context of the available evidence. 
    • The first paragraph summarizes the main findings in two to three sentences. 
    • The following paragraphs should consider the results in the context of the body of available literature, elaborating on the similarities and differences. 
    • Any results that do not conform to expectations or previous evidence should be analyzed, and any unexpected results must be highlighted as such.
    • The strengths and weaknesses of the study must be discussed in a different paragraph. 
    • This sets the stage for implications for clinical practice and future research. 
    • The section ends with a conclusion of no more than one to two sentences. 
    • The Conclusion section summarizes the results of the study in the context of the evidence from the field. 
    • The important elements of the Discussion section are summarized.
  • The References Section
    • A referencing tool such as EndNoteTM can be used to store and organize references. 
    • References at the conclusion of the manuscript must be listed in a manner specified by the journal. 
    • Commonly used styles are – 
      • Vancouver, 
      • Harvard,
      • American Psychological Association (APA), etc. 
    • Despite continuous efforts, standardization in a global format has not yet become a reality. 
    • It is crucial to understand the evidence in the referenced articles to write meaningful introductory and discussion sections. 
    • Online search engines like –
      • Pubmed, 
      • Medline, and
      • Scopus 

are some of the sources that offer indexed journal abstracts. 

  • Nevertheless, a full-text article may not always be available unless you subscribe to the journals. 
  • Those with institutional links, authors, and even the research division of pharmaceutical companies can be unconventional but useful sources for obtaining full-text articles. 
  • Individual articles can also be purchased from some journals.
  • The Acknowledgements Section
    • This section follows the Conclusion section. 
    • Individuals who have offered assistance in various aspects of the relevant research work, statistical analysis, or preparation of the manuscript but who don’t qualify to be study authors are acknowledged, preferably with their academic affiliations. 
  • Conflicts of Interest (COI)
    • It is important that research authors declare any COI relevant to the manuscript. 
    • The COI can be personal, commercial, political, academic, or financial. 
    • These can have a negligible to a very significant impact on the quality of the manuscript. 
    • Holding a position in a pharmaceutical company or being a recipient of pharmaceutical industry grants can have a COI with research quality. 
    • Even reviewers and editorial board members must declare the COI before agreeing to review an article. 
    • The above section provides general guidelines for preparing a good manuscript. 
    • However, for more information on prevalent guidelines and other resources to facilitate good research reporting, simply head over to the IFERP platform and peruse our list of blogs and articles. 
  • Step 5

Submission & Reviewing Processes

  • Manuscript submission is now exclusively an online exercise. 
  • The basic template for submission in any journal includes the following –
    • title file or front page file,
    • article file, 
    • image files, 
    • videos, 
    • graphs, 
    • tables, 
    • figures and 
    • copyright/consent forms. 
  • It is important to have all the files prepared in a folder before beginning the submission process. 
  • When submitting images, it is vital to have good quality, well-focused images with excellent resolution. 
  • Some journals may provide the choice of selecting authors’ preferred reviewers, and, therefore, this should be prepared for. 
  • Once the manuscript is submitted, the author can check the status of the submission periodically. 
  • With minor divergences, a submitted manuscript, more often than not, is subject to the following review process – 
    • The editor-in-chief of the journal assigns the manuscript to one of the members of the editorial team, who verifies the relevance of the publication in the journal. It is also checked for plagiarism at this point. 
    • The article is then submitted for peer review by two to three reviewers. 
    • The review process can take four to six weeks, at the end of which reviewers submit their remarks and an “article decision” is made, which could be advice for minor/major revisions, rewriting of the entire manuscript for specific reasons, acceptance without any modification (very rare), or rejection. 
  • It is important to consider all reviewer comments and incorporate any necessary changes into the manuscript prior to resubmitting. 
  • Albeit, if the manuscript is rejected, authors must carry out revisions to incorporate valid suggestions given by reviewers and consider submitting it to another journal in the field. 
  • This should be done without delay by overcoming disappointment so that the research still remains valid in the context of time. 
  • For more info on the peer review process, simply register for an upcoming Scopus indexed conference in 2022. 
  • Step 6

Additional (But All So Crucial) Factors To Bear In Mind

  • Plagiarism
    • Plagiarism remains a grave threat to scientific publications and is defined as the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and unattributed substantial textual copying of the work of others and the representation of these as their very own authentic pieces of work.
    • The primary responsibility for preventing plagiarism lies with research authors. 
    • It is crucial to develop the skill of writing any manuscript in one’s own words and, when citing available evidence, justifying it with suitable references. 
    • Nevertheless, the usage of plagiarism detection tools and critical analysis by the editorial team before submitting a manuscript for peer review are also equally vital in preventing this threat. 
    • The consequences of plagiarism can range from disciplinary charges such as article retraction to criminal charges.
  • Language
    • One of the vital limitations to publication is the challenge of writing in English. 
    • This can be minimized by enlisting help from colleagues or by using the language editing service provided by many journals.
  • Professional Support for Research Writing
    • In recent times it has been widely observed that lack of time and language constraints prevent the publication of some good work.
    • Therefore, the role of professional support for research writing is critically evaluated. 
    • Reported professional research writing assistance is associated with more complete reporting of experimentation results and better quality of written English. 
    • Research writing assistance can play an important role in improving the quality of research reports. 
    • The role of professional research writers should be acknowledged in the Acknowledgments section of a manuscript if the author has availed of such assistance. 
    • Download the IFERP mobile app or head over to the IFERP website if you’d like to know more about the professional research assistance and support services we offer at IFERP.