For students: how to get published (part 1)

If you are considering a career in academia and research it may be worth thinking about publishing your work while you are studying. Although as a student, you probably will not be submitting to the top journals within your discipline, having early experiences of writing for publication and dealing with potential rejections will come in handy later in life.

Imagine training to run a marathon for the very first time. You will start small and work over a long period of time to build up your strength and endurance, while also improving your technique. You may ask for feedback. Writing for publication in academia is a bit like that – it may take time and a lot of hard work but it will pay off in the end. Remember, it is an important career step, so have your end goal in mind and celebrate small successes!

So, start by thinking strategically about how you can get your first academic article published. Here’s some advice to help you:

  • Identify what motivates you: seeing your first article published can take a while and you need to be prepared to wait for a long time for feedback and to face rejections. So, clarifying why you are doing this will help you stay motivated when times get tough.
  • Do your research: what are the top journals in your discipline and what type of research do they publish? It is always worth looking up the scientists and writers you admire and finding out how they got to where they are now. Check which journals are likely to publish student writing and submit to those that are more likely to publish your work. Once you have gained more experience, you can target the top journals.
  • Submission process: check what is expected of you and how long the review process takes. If you’re considering submitting your article to multiple journals you must check their policy on multiple submissions. Being professional always pays off.
  • What is your point? Is your idea new? Make sure that the paper you are submitting sheds new light on an issue. To impress busy editors, refer to the past papers and authors they have published. Referencing strategically will show that you really take interest and read the journals you want to be published in!
  • Edit, edit and edit some more: this is not just about fixing spelling mistakes and stray commas but checking for simplicity and clarity of the language and argument. Make sure you leave some time between drafting your paper and editing it. Printing it out in a different font type and size may help with proofreading. Also, remember to stick to the specified word count. If the submission guidelines say 3,000 words then do not send them 5,000.
  • Feedback: be prepared to take a step back and accept an editor’s comments or requests to rephrase and redraft passages. The final article will have undergone a long process of drafting, redrafting and editing so take this opportunity to learn from the professionals.

This may be a good time for you to start making a name for yourself. Success depends on how hard you are prepared to work and how willing you are to work with others and listen to feedback. So, while you may be just dipping your toes in the world of academic publishing, treat it seriously and put the hours in. You never know what’s around the corner!

Good luck and come back next month for advice on how to structure your academic paper.

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Inspiring talks from authors

Reflect: now that you have read this article, take a few minutes and jot down answers to the questions below. This will help you remember the most insightful points and put together an action plan that works for you:

  • What inspired you?
  • As a result, what do you want to do more of?
  • And what do you want to do less of?
  • What will you do next to achieve these goals?
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