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How to Choose the Journal That’s Right for Your Study
How to identify and assess potential journals
There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher.
Why journal selection matters
Choosing a journal that’s right for your research can be more complex than it seems. You want to publish in a journal that will help your study to reach its intended audience. Your research has a better chance of attracting readers, accumulating citations, and impacting the field when your colleagues can easily find it. For some types of research, a more specific publication might be the best fit, while for others, reaching a wide audience is key. Also, you want to publish in a journal that matches your scientific values and principles of integrity.
1. Determining what you need from a journal
Start by thinking about your research and how it might best reach its intended readers. Consider your values and expectations. Take a moment to answer the following questions:
- What is the topic of your study?
- Is your article specialized or interdisciplinary?
- Is your article an incremental finding, or potentially considered a big breakthrough?
- Who is your audience? Does your article have a broad potential readership, or will it be of interest only to experts in a narrow area of study? How will readers discover your study?
- Does your funding come with any special requirements for publication (for example, some funders may stipulate that you publish the work under an Open Access license)
- How do you plan to share your study? Is it important to you to have the option to post a preprint, or publish your peer reviews
- Does the journal uphold the highest values of ethics and integrity? Are you prepared to meet journal requirements for licensing, published data, and ethical disclosures?
- What is your budget for publishing?
Taking advantage of transfers
Submitting to a highly selective journal means your chances of acceptance are lower, and you should honestly assess your work against their subjective selection criteria. But that doesn’t mean publication will necessarily be delayed if your manuscript isn’t accepted. Many highly selective journals offer facilitated transfers to a journal whose scope and readership more closely match your study, so that you can try your luck at a top-tier journal without losing too much time.
2. Identifying potential journals
If you’re getting ready to submit a research article you’ve probably been working in the field for a number of years, and already have a few favorite publications. Still, it can be worth taking a moment to review the landscape and see what’s new. Established journals are constantly evolving and adjusting their scope, and new journals are starting all the time. Here are a few easy ways to discover new publishing opportunities:
- Online search. For a look at journals on the rise in your field, try searching for related articles published in the past 1-2 years. To find journals that are expanding into your field, search Call for Papers in your subject area. Review the publisher’s website to learn more about how your article will fit at the journal. (Journal blogs can also be a great source of information!)
- Word of mouth. Check-in with colleagues, labmates, mentors or collaborators. What do they see as the exciting journals in your discipline?
- Journal finding tools. Many websites track journal metrics and performance, including factors like speed, acceptance rate, and compliance with Open Science policies. Check out Think. Check. Submit.
In a 2020 survey of new PLOS ONE authors we asked which information sources authors used to identify potential journals for their manuscripts. Here’s what they had to say:
3. Deciding whether a particular journal may be right for your specific study
Next, evaluate the journals on your list against the needs you’ve identified for your study, together with your coauthors. Which journals best fit your target audience, topic, level of specialization, and funder requirements? If you’re unsure about fit, check the journal website and see if you can answer the following questions:
- What topics are within the journal’s scope?
- Who serves on the editorial board?
- Is the journal indexed in the databases that are standard in your field?
- Does the journal uphold the highest values of ethics and integrity?
- Will the journal provide article-level metrics, so you can track the impact of your specific study?
- Does the journal charge an APC, and how much is it? Are your publication fees already covered by a regional fee structure or institutional partnership agreement?
- Are there any additional fees (for example, for color figures or extra pages)?
- Does the journal offer the particular type of article that you have written? For example, do they publish meta-analysis, negative results, review articles, or protocols?
Avoiding predatory journals
Predatory journals accept articles solely for monetary gain and do not offer a real peer review process. Spotting predatory journals can be difficult, but there are some ground rules to help you get started. Look at the journal’s website: Is the peer review process clearly described? Is the editorial board listed? Is the journal indexed in databases like PubMed or Web of Science? If not, steer clear…
The website Think. Check. Submit. can be helpful
The Dos and Don’ts of Journal Selection
- Take the time to investigate options that may be new to you
- Choose your first and second choice journals with care, taking the needs of your readers and funders for this specific study into account, as well as the type of article you’ve written, and journal scope and requirements
- Watchout for potential predatory journals that charge fees without offering reliable peer review
- Discuss your needs and priorities with your coauthors and achieve consensus about your submission choice
- Submit the same study to more than one journal at the same time
- Submit to journals that do not publish your type of study or article
- Just submit to the most prestigious journals in order (e.g. top general science journals, top journals in discipline, others)
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Selecting a Journal for Publication: Criteria to Consider
Digital technologies and new publishing models such as Open Access coupled with the democratization of publishing worldwide has transformed the traditional print journal model for communication and dissemination of knowledge. In spite of the vast array of publishing opportunities in today’s digital world that allow authors to reach a wider audience, authors face an unprecedented challenge when selecting a journal to publish their research. There are now over 80,000 academic, peer-reviewed English language journals currently active as of July 2019 and 30,000 of these journals are classified under Medicine and Health. 1
In light of the proliferation of journals, some journals have come under increased scrutiny recently with terms such as questionable, predatory, pseudo, deceptive, unscrupulous, illegitimate, or dishonest, used to describe these journals. 2 – 3 Per Cobey, 4 et al., there is no standardized definition of questionable journals but the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) offers a description: “These journals (predatory or pseudo-journals) accept and publish almost all submissions and charge article processing (or publication) fees, often informing authors about this after a paper’s acceptance for publication. They often claim to perform peer review but do not and may purposefully use names similar to well established journals.” 5 Additional characteristics of these journals described by Masten and Ashcraft include offering no services such as “expert peer-review, editing, archiving, indexing, and promising almost instant publication.” 6 Shamseer, et al., note 13 salient characteristics of potential predatory publishers such as no retraction policy, homepage language targeting authors, scope includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics, manuscript submission via email, and others. 7
In December 2016, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) announced revised recommendations for authors: “A growing number of entities are advertising themselves as ‘medical journals’ yet do not function as such (predatory journals).” The advice to authors was: “Authors have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices and reputation of the journals to which they submit manuscripts.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a notice in November 2017 reporting an increase in journal articles generated with NIH-funded research published in journals or by publishers that do not follow best practices. 8 NIH issued several recommendations for authors to ensure the credibility of their research findings when publishing:
- Adhere to the principles of research integrity and publication ethics;
- Identify journals that follow best practices promoted by professional scholarly publishing organizations; and
- Avoid publishing in journals that do not have a clearly stated and rigorous peer review process.
How can authors evaluate the integrity, history, practices and reputation of journals? There is no reliable list of good vs. bad journals, nor is there an automated decision-aid tool to use for identifying journals that are suitable for publication. We recommend that authors begin their list of potential journals by considering the journals they use for their research or clinical care. Other potential journals include journals from publications that authors cite in their research, journals they review for, and journals associated with their professional organizations. Mentors and colleagues may also be able to provide insight as to which journals are regarded as relevant for an area of research or are recommended for tenure and promotion purposes. Consultations with mentors and colleagues can be especially important for early-career authors and authors tackling a research topic outside their primary field. Other criteria to consider are noted below.
Criteria for Evaluating a Journal
A key indicator of journal quality is the scientific rigor of the publications published in the journal. When considering publishing in a new or unfamiliar journal begin with a review of publications published over the past few years to assess details such as the purpose of the research, design and methodology, data analysis, results, and discussion, all of which can lend insight as to scientific quality. Tables and figures should be clearly marked, legible and appropriate for the data. References should be comprehensive and current. The procedures used by the journal for ensuring scientific rigor during the peer review process also lend insight as to commitment to scientific rigor. Plagiarism checks using software such as iThenticate, using different statistical testing to confirm data validity, and applying forensic tools to detect image manipulation are examples of practices that reputable journals follow to ensure scientific rigor.
Another clue as to scientific rigor is whether the journal requires use of recognized guidelines for reporting of research. Reporting guidelines help to ensure the quality of scientific research and enhance the replicability of the research. Examples of reporting guidelines are CONSORT, PRISMA, STROBE, to name a few. As of July 2019, there are over 400 reporting guidelines per Equator Network. 9 A similar requirement by journals is registration of clinical trials before the time of first patient enrollment to be considered for manuscript review. Transparency of journal practices and policies for data sharing is another factor to consider for assessing scientific rigor. Data sharing is integral for ensuring that science is transparent and reproducible, and promotes the integrity of research and fosters public trust. A recent Pew Report in 2019 found that a majority of U.S Adults (57%) trust scientific research findings more if the researchers make their data publicly available. 10
Editorial quality noted in publications including editorials, can provide clues as to journal quality. Misspellings, grammar and punctuation errors, or lack of clarity and cohesiveness in writing is indicative of lack of editorial oversight and reviewer commitment. These clues may signal a journal that is not appropriate for publication. Titles and abstracts themselves can also be revealing as to editorial quality—a title that is not descriptive or an abstract that needs to be read more than once may be a warning sign.
Peer Review Process
Transparency as to the peer review process is a benchmark of journal quality. A reputable journal will fully disclose the peer review process including criteria used for peer review, selection of reviewers, the type of peer review, timeframes for the peer review, and how the peer review process is handled by the editorial board. Additional details such as how conflicts of interest are handled, confidentiality, and other ethical standards for peer reviewers should also be available from the journal website.
A quality journal will include information as to issues such as plagiarism, conflicts of interest, internal review board approval, informed consent, human and animal subject research, confidentiality, fraud, salami (or segmented) publications, ghost authorship, data and image manipulation, and other ethical considerations. A journal should include information as to ethics on the journal website, what their expectations are of authors and how they address these issues. Reputable journals endorse guidelines and best practices for publishers such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME).
Editorial Board Members
A review of the journal editorial board can reveal valuable insights as to the quality of a journal. Editorial board members should be known as established experts in the field related to the aim and scope of the journal, affiliated with known institutions, and hold appropriate academic credentials. Contact information for editorial staff should also be available. If information is missing from the journal website or if there is no contact information for editorial board members, additional review is recommended before submitting a manuscript for peer review.
Another clue related to editorial quality is editorials authored by the Editor-in-Chief or members of the editorial board. Editorial board members from reputable journals will contribute frequent and thoughtful editorials that provide context or significance to publications for a specific issue or discuss updates in journal policies for authors and readers.
Journal Reputation/Business Model
The reputation of a journal includes the publisher of the journal, the societal organization that sponsors the journal, aim and scope, mission statement, among other criteria. The publisher of a journal or the sponsoring society can lend strong credence to the quality of a journal. The aim and scope should be clearly stated and other information such as a mission statement or sponsoring organizations helps to assess the reputation of the journal. The business model of a journal should be evident and if there are fees for publication, the fees should be clearly stated on the journal website—in other words, there should be no surprise fees after submission of a manuscript for peer review.
Author Rights and Copyright
The journal policy as to author rights and copyright is another benchmark of a quality journal. Copyright is a bundle of rights that allows authors to use, disseminate, display or modify the work in any medium. Up until 20 years ago, authors routinely transferred all rights to their work to the journal publisher upon publication. Many journals allow authors generous uses of the work after publication and in some instances, will allow authors to retain full rights to the work. Authors are advised to anticipate any future re-uses of their publications before selecting a journal and signing a copyright agreement form. Some authors are required to comply with public access mandates from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF). If a journal does not allow for compliance with public access mandates, authors will need to consider another journal. Some journals allow oral rights to the work or reuse of a figure or table in a subsequent work, or posting of the work on a repository; others do not. Journals may also stipulate various uses based on the version of the work (preprint, post-print, and final published version). Transparency of a journal’s copyright policies for authors is indicative of a quality journal.
Authors want their research to be discoverable and read by others. A quality journal will be indexed by major bibliographic and citation databases such as MEDLINE®, Elsevier Scopus and EMBASE, Clarivate Analytics Web of Science, Cumulative Index for Allied and Health Literature (CINAHL), and others. MEDLINE® is produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and has rigorous scientific and editorial criteria for journals selected for indexing in MEDLINE®. Among librarians at our institution, Bernard Becker Medical Library, MEDLINE® indexed journals are considered to be the premier journals in the biomedicine field and many authors rely on MEDLINE indexing status as a strong indicator of a quality journal. In addition, MEDLINE® is a freely available citation database with no subscription required so any author can check for indexing status. As of July 2019, there are 4,995 journals currently indexed by MEDLINE® ( Figure 1 ).
How to Check for MEDLINE ® Indexing Status
However, some journals claim to be indexed by PubMed® which can be confusing as MEDLINE® citations are found in PubMed® along with citations to full-text articles from PubMed Central® (PMC). PubMed®, MEDLINE®, and PMC® are separate entities with different purposes.
- PubMed® is a resource that aggregates citations from MEDLINE®, PMC®, and other resources from the NCBI Bookshelf.
- PMC® is a free archive of full-text journal articles.
- MEDLINE® is a journal citation database from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
The single web interface of PubMed® blurs these distinctions, leading to confusion for authors and in some cases, publishers. Journals that claim to be indexed in PubMed® or Google Scholar are cause for concern. When it comes to selecting a journal, we encourage authors to verify the indexing status of a journal using a bibliographic and citation database rather than relying on the journal website, or check with a librarian affiliated with your institution or a local public library.
Impact Factor Scores
Authors often use various journal impact factor scores as criteria for selecting a journal. The Journal Citation Reports Journal (JCR) Impact Factor score was developed in the early 1960s for selection of journals in the Web of Science citation database and as an acquisitions tool for libraries. 11 The JCR Impact Factor score evolved over the years to be associated with identifying “high impact” journals for publication. 12 Other journal impact scores have been launched recently, including the Eigenfactor, introduced in 2008, and CiteScore, launched in 2016. Impact factor scores are calculated for indexed journals in the Web of Science and Scopus databases, and broadly, the calculations are based on the number of citations within a specific timeframe garnered by publications from journals. Some journals often note impact factor scores from sources such as a directory or a catalog which do not contain citation data. Authors should be wary of vague scores touted from non-citation data sources. A more holistic approach in selecting a journal is recommended instead of relying on impact factor scores. Per Ioannidis and Thombs, “Authors should pick target journals based on relevance and scientific rigor and quality, not spurious impact factors.” 13
Journal operations include archival practices for articles using platforms such as PORTICO ( https://www.portico.org/ ) or JSTOR ( https://www.jstor.org/ ), whether a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is assigned to articles or an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is assigned to the journal, and the publication schedule. An irregular publication schedule, excessive advertising, and missing or sporadic issues are indicative of unstable journal management. The aim and scope, editorial board, instructions for authors, and journal contact information should be available and easy to find.
Invitation to Publish a Manuscript or Submit an Abstract to a Conference
We are aware of many email solicitations for journal publication or invitations to submit an abstract for a conference, and in some cases, including invitations to speak at conferences. These emails are usually generic in nature and contain stilted or archaic language. Unrealistic promises are made such as acceptance of publication within hours and publication within days. Some emails include phrases such as “let us know how much you can afford towards the article processing charges.” Table 1 . Names, postal addresses and email addresses are taken from publication records found online in freely available databases and for some, the subject line of the emails match verbatim the title of a funded NIH award and the full Principal Investigator’s name as noted in NIH RePORTER, ( https://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfma ), a freely available resource. There are instances where authors are invited to submit a publication in a journal such as those published by Annual Reviews and these invitations are usually sent by a known colleague in your field of research. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Email Solicitation Warning Signs
Our institution has even warned that emails from conferences or journals may be potential phishing attempts. If you are interested in a specific conference or journal but are unsure if it is genuine, apply commonly recommended techniques for handling suspicious email: don’t click on any links in the email itself, rather type in the address for the conference or journal website on your browser. Then use the criteria described above to determine if the event or journal is credible.
Publishing in journals that are not reputable can diminish the credibility of your research, limit your career, and may result in little or no dissemination and uptake. When selecting a journal for your publication, a good starting point are the journals that you, your colleagues, and mentors use for research and clinical care. The next step is to review publications in the journal you are considering to assess the scientific rigor and editorial quality of the publications. Transparency from the journal as to its aim and scope, the editorial board, indexing status, the peer review process, reputation, and policies for authors are among the key indicators of quality journals. These criteria can help identify quality journals suitable for publication. Two resources with additional guidance we recommend are: Think. Check. Submit. ( https://thinkchecksubmit.org/ ) and Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing from the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association ( https://oaspa.org/principles-of-transparency-and-best-practice-in-scholarly-publishing/ ). Another option for authors is to consult with librarians affiliated with your institution or a local public library. Librarians are well-suited to provide guidance in helping authors with selecting quality journals to consider for publication. While it involves some effort, performing due diligence in your evaluation of the integrity, history, practices, and reputation of a journal before submitting a manuscript will help ensure that your work gets the readership it deserves.
The authors thank Robert Engeszer and Mychal Voorhees for their review of the work.
Amy M. Suiter, MS, MLS, and Cathy C. Sarli, MLS, AHIP, are at the Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
Cathy C. Sarli is a reviewer for the NIH National Library of Medicine PubMed Central (PMC) Journal Review Program. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How to find the right journal for your research (using actual data)
Want to help your research flourish? We share tips for using publisher-neutral data and statistics to find the right journal for your research paper.
The right journal helps your research flourish. It puts you in the best position to reach a relevant and engaged audience, and can extend the impact of your paper through a high-quality publishing process.
Unfortunately, finding the right journal is a particular pain point for inexperienced authors and those who publish on interdisciplinary topics. The sheer number of journals published today is one reason for this. More than 42,000 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals were published in 2018 alone, and there’s been accelerated growth of more than 5% in recent years.
The overwhelming growth in journals has left many researchers struggling to find the best home for their manuscripts which can be a daunting prospect after several long months producing research. Submitting to the wrong journal can hinder the impact of your manuscript. It could even result in a series of rejections, stalling both your research and career. Conversely, the right journal can help you showcase your research to the world in an environment consistent with your values.
Keep reading to learn how solutions like Journal Citation Reports ™ (JCR) and Master Journal List can help you find the right journal for your research in the fastest possible time.
What to look for in a journal and why
To find the right journal for your research paper, it’s important to consider what you need and want out of the publishing process.
The goal for many researchers is to find a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal to publish in. This might be one that can support an application for tenure, promotion or future funding. It’s not always that simple, however. If your research is in a specialized field, you may want to avoid a journal with a multidisciplinary focus. And if you have ground-breaking results, you may want to pay attention to journals with a speedy review process and frequent publication schedule. Moreover, you may want to publish your paper as open access so that it’s accessible to everyone—and your institution or funder may also require this.
With so many points to consider, it’s good practice to have a journal in mind before you start writing. We published an earlier post to help you with this: Find top journals in a research field, step-by-step guide . Check it out to discover where the top researchers in your field are publishing.
Already written your manuscript? No problem: this blog will help you use publisher-neutral data and statistics to choose the right journal for your paper.
First stop: Manuscript Matcher in the Master Journal List
Master Journal List Manuscript Matcher is the ultimate place to begin your search for journals. It is a free tool that helps you narrow down your journal options based on your research topic and goals.
Pairing your research with a journal
Manuscript Matcher, also available via EndNote™ , provides a list of relevant journals indexed in the Web of Science™ . First, you’ll want to input your title and abstract (or keywords, if you prefer). You can then filter your results using the options shown on the left-hand sidebar, or simply click on the profile page of any journal listed.
Each journal page details the journal’s coverage in the Web of Science. Where available, it may also display a wealth of information, including:
- open access information (including whether a journal is Gold OA)
- the journal’s aims and scope
- download statistics
- average number of weeks from submission to publication, and
- peer review information (including type and policy)
Ready to try Manuscript Matcher? Follow this link .
Identify the journals that are a good topical fit for your research using Manuscript Matcher. You can then move to Journal Citation Reports to understand their citation impact, audience and open access statistics.
Find the right journal with Journal Citation Reports
Journal Citation Reports is the most powerful solution for journal intelligence. It uses transparent, publisher-neutral data and statistics to provide unique insight into a journal’s role and influence. This will help you produce a definitive list of journals best-placed to publish your findings, and more.
Three data points exist on every journal page to help you assess a journal as a home for your research. These are: citation metrics, article relevance and audience.
The Journal Impact Factor™ (JIF) is included as part of the rich array of citation metrics offered on each journal page. It shows how often a journal’s recently published material is cited on average.
Learn how the JIF is calculated in this guide .
It’s important to note that the JIF has its limitations and no researcher should depend on the impact factor alone when assessing the usefulness or prestige of a journal. Journal Citation Reports helps you understand the context of a journal’s JIF and how to use the metric responsibly.
The JCR Trend Graph, for example, places the JIF in the context of time and subject category performance. Citation behavior varies across disciplines, and journals in JCR may be placed across multiple subject categories depending on the scope of their content. The Trend Graph shows you how the journal performs against others in the same subject category. It also gives you an understanding of how stable that performance is year-on-year.
You can learn more about this here .
The 2021 JCR release introduced a new, field-normalized metric for measuring the citation impact of a journal’s recent publications. By normalizing for different fields of research and their widely varying rates of publication and citation, the Journal Citation Indicator provides a single journal-level metric that can be easily interpreted and compared across disciplines. Learn more about the Journal Citation Indicator here .
The Contributing Items section in JCR demonstrates whether the journal is a good match for your paper. It can also validate the information you found in the Manuscript Matcher. You can view the full list in the Web of Science by selecting “Show all.”
JCR helps you understand the scholarly community engaging with a journal on both a country and an institutional level. This information provides insight on where in the world your own paper might have an impact if published in that particular journal. It also gives you a sense of general readership, and who you might be talking to if you choose that journal.
Start using Journal Citation Reports today .
Ready to find the right journal for your paper?
The expansion of scholarly journals in previous years has made it difficult for researchers to choose the right journal for their research. This isn’t a good position to be in when you’ve spent many long months preparing your research for the world. Journal Citation Reports , Manuscript Matcher by Master Journal List and the Web of Science are all products dedicated to helping you find the right home for your paper. Try them out today and help your research flourish.
Want to learn more? You can also read related articles in our Research Smarter series, with guidance on finding the relevant papers for your research and how you can save hundreds of hours in the writing process . You can also read about the 2022 JCR release here . Finally, subscribe to receive our latest news, resources and events to help make your research journey a smart one.
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How to Find the Right Journal for my Paper?
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Table of Contents
For many research rookies, it’s not always obvious that selecting the right journal for a paper can be a critical career choice. But it can. Each and every journal has its own scope, range, audience, and level of prestige, which may influence how your work – and ultimately you, as a researcher – are seen within certain communities.
If you are lucky enough to publish in a high ranked journal for your first submission, the chances are that you will rapidly achieve respect from your peers and subsequently gain more support and funding to prosecute your projects. If, on the other hand, your paper is not published in your target journal but in a second choice publication, or even if it is rejected, don’t blame your work. There are still plenty of options for you, including improving the text quality of your manuscript and revising your journal options to check if there is another one that’s more suitable for your paper.
How to Choose a Journal for Your Paper
First of all, list the available journals within your research field. This will give you an idea of the range of suitable options and, with further examination, learn more details concerning the adequacy of your paper to its scope and the fulfillment of your expectations regarding the journal’s profile (e.g. audience and/or rank). Pay special attention to:
The topics published by the journals.
The audience., the types of articles the journal publishes., the journal’s reputation..
Elsevier offers a wide range of distinguished journals and choosing the best one to publish your research paper should be easier with proper support and guidance. Using the JournalFinder , you can match your manuscript and learn more about each journal available. Powered by the Elsevier Fingerprint Engine™, JournalFinder uses smart search technology and field-of-research specific vocabularies to match your paper to scientific journals in a few simple steps:
- Enter the title and abstract of your paper
- Find journals that could be best suited for your publishing
- Ultimately, the editor will decide on how well your article matches the journal
To be certain if the suggested journal is the right one for you, there are also some measurements that can help you understand its impact and reach among your audience:
- CiteScore metrics – helps to measure journal citation impact. Free, comprehensive, transparent and current metrics calculated using data from Scopus®, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.
- SJR – or SCImago Journal Rank , is based on the concept of a transfer of prestige between journals via their citation links.
- SNIP – or Source Normalized Impact per Paper , is a sophisticated metric that accounts for field-specific differences in citation practices.
- JIF – or Journal Impact Factor is calculated by Clarivate Analytics as the average of the sum of the citations received in a given year to a journal’s previous two years of publications, divided by the sum of “citable” publications in the previous two years.
- h-index – Although originally conceived as an author-level metric, the h-index has been being applied to higher-order aggregations of research publications, including journals.
- Impact: Number of times an average paper in this journal is cited.
- Speed: The average number of weeks it takes for an article to be reviewed – The average number of weeks it takes for an article to reach key publication points in the production process.
- Reach: The number of downloads at the country/regional level over the last five full years available. The number of primary corresponding authors at the country/regional level over the last five full years available.
Once you find the perfect fit for your paper, all you need to know is how to submit a paper for publication in a journal .
Language Editing Services by Elsevier Author Services:
We know that, as an academic researcher, you have many things to do to stay relevant. Writing and publishing manuscripts is a crucial part of your endeavors. That’s why we at Elsevier Author Services support you throughout your publication journey, with a suite of products and services that help improve your manuscript before submission.
Check our video Reach the highest standard with Elsevier Author Services to learn more about Author Services.
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How it works.
Select the journal that suits your research best from over 2,600 Springer publications. The Springer Journal Selector uses semantic technology to help you quickly choose the Springer journal that is right for your paper. Enter your abstract, description of your research, or a sample text and the Springer Journal Selector provides a list of relevant journals. You can refine the results based on requirements for Impact Factor or publishing model, including an option to match to journals that are fully open access or have open access options.
Journals By Subject Area
You will find them listed by subject area and then alphabetically. Detailed instructions for authors, information about the aims and scope and the types of papers that are published in a specific journal can be found on that journal’s homepage.
- Biomedical Sciences
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Tips for finding the right journal
Submitting a manuscript to unsuitable journals is a common mistake, and can cause journal editors to reject the manuscript before peer review. Choosing a relevant journal makes it more likely that your manuscript will be accepted. Some factors to consider are:
- The topics the journal publishes. If your research is applied, target a journal that publishes applied science; if it is clinical, target a clinical journal; if it is basic research, target a journal that publishes basic research. You may find it easier to browse a list of journals by subject area.
- The journal's audience. Will researchers in related fields be interested in your study? If so, a journal that covers a broad range of topics may be best. If only researchers in your field are likely to want to read your study, then a field-specific journal would be best.
- The types of articles the journal publishes. If you are looking to publish a review, case study or a theorem, ensure that your target journal accepts theses type of manuscripts.
- The reputation of the journal. A journal's Impact Factor is one measure of its reputation, but not always the most important. You should consider the prestige of the authors that publish in the journal and whether your research is of a similar level.
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When looking for suitable journals in which to publish your own results, start with what you have read. You should already be familiar with published studies that are similar to yours. Which journal were those studies published in? The same journals may be appropriate for your manuscript, so make a list of them. If you need more journals to consider, you can do literature searches for other published articles in your field that are similar in scope and impact on the field, and see where they were published.
When you have a list of potential target journals, visit and read the websites for these journals. Every journal should have a page that provides instructions for authors, including information on many of the factors listed above.
Journals on your list that are not a match for your manuscript based on the factors listed above should be eliminated from consideration. Among the remaining journals, it is likely that one or more will stand out as a very good candidate. Consider if any additional experiments will give you a better chance of achieving publication in your top choice. If you are in a hurry to publish, consider which of the remaining journals offers rapid publication; if none do, consider which has the highest publication frequency. If your main goal is to reach as many readers as possible, strongly consider candidate journals that provide an open access option. Open access allows anyone to read your article, free of charge, online, which can make your article more likely to be read and cited.
When you have chosen the journal you think is the best fit for your study and your goals, it is usually a good idea to also identify your second- and third-choice journals. That way, if your paper is rejected from your first-choice journal, you can quickly submit to your second-choice journal.
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Q: How do I choose a proper journal to publish my research paper?
I want to publish my 2016 thesis and two other theses that I have co-authored. How do I select journals to publish in?
Asked by Bernard Boamah Bekoe on 17 Jul, 2018
Choosing the right journal for publication can be a challenge. If I understand correctly, you wish to publish content from your thesis in the form of a journal article I am unsure as to how you can co-author thesis with other people, though. Did you mean that you have co-authored two other manuscripts that you wish to submit to journals?
The following points can be kept in mind for selecting a journal:
- First ensure your indexation preference – SCI/SCIE/SSCI/ESCI/PubMed/Scopus etc. You can refer http://mjl.clarivate.com/ for finding the indexation of SCI/SCIE/SSCI/ESCI and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/journals for finding PubMed indexation.
- Make a list of available journals in your subject area and survey the type of articles published in them. Compare the quality of your articles to those published in these journals and then make a list of journals with a suitable impact factor range.
- Make sure the aims/scope of the journals match that of your study.
- Check for the types of articles published by the journals.
- Check all the other aspects of the journal such as peer-review process, instructions to authors, open access options, audience/readership of the journal, information about the publisher, time for peer review, acceptance/rejection rates etc.
- Then, make a final list of the journals that meet all your criteria, prepare your manuscript according to the author guidelines and submit the manuscript.
You can also use journal selection tools such as Elsevier Journal Finder or Springer Journal Suggester
The following articles might be helpful in your endeavour:
- How to Select a Journal to Submit and Publish Your Biomedical Paper?
- How to choose journals for submitting your paper
- How can I find a suitable journal for my paper without using journal selection tools?
- How to select journals for publishing my research?
- New free tool to aid journal selection!
Additionally, you may find the following articles helpful to convert your thesis to a journal manuscript:
- The basics of converting your PhD thesis into journal articles
- How can I convert my thesis into a journal article in a short time?
Answered by Editage Insights on 20 Jul, 2018
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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal
- Open access
- Published: 30 April 2020
- volume 36 , pages 909–913 ( 2021 )
You have full access to this open access article
- Clara Busse ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-0178-1000 1 &
- Ella August ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5151-1036 1 , 2
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Cite this article
Communicating research findings is an essential step in the research process. Often, peer-reviewed journals are the forum for such communication, yet many researchers are never taught how to write a publishable scientific paper. In this article, we explain the basic structure of a scientific paper and describe the information that should be included in each section. We also identify common pitfalls for each section and recommend strategies to avoid them. Further, we give advice about target journal selection and authorship. In the online resource 1 , we provide an example of a high-quality scientific paper, with annotations identifying the elements we describe in this article.
Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.
Writing a scientific paper is an important component of the research process, yet researchers often receive little formal training in scientific writing. This is especially true in low-resource settings. In this article, we explain why choosing a target journal is important, give advice about authorship, provide a basic structure for writing each section of a scientific paper, and describe common pitfalls and recommendations for each section. In the online resource 1 , we also include an annotated journal article that identifies the key elements and writing approaches that we detail here. Before you begin your research, make sure you have ethical clearance from all relevant ethical review boards.
Select a Target Journal Early in the Writing Process
We recommend that you select a “target journal” early in the writing process; a “target journal” is the journal to which you plan to submit your paper. Each journal has a set of core readers and you should tailor your writing to this readership. For example, if you plan to submit a manuscript about vaping during pregnancy to a pregnancy-focused journal, you will need to explain what vaping is because readers of this journal may not have a background in this topic. However, if you were to submit that same article to a tobacco journal, you would not need to provide as much background information about vaping.
Information about a journal’s core readership can be found on its website, usually in a section called “About this journal” or something similar. For example, the Journal of Cancer Education presents such information on the “Aims and Scope” page of its website, which can be found here: https://www.springer.com/journal/13187/aims-and-scope .
Peer reviewer guidelines from your target journal are an additional resource that can help you tailor your writing to the journal and provide additional advice about crafting an effective article [ 1 ]. These are not always available, but it is worth a quick web search to find out.
Identify Author Roles Early in the Process
Early in the writing process, identify authors, determine the order of authors, and discuss the responsibilities of each author. Standard author responsibilities have been identified by The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) [ 2 ]. To set clear expectations about each team member’s responsibilities and prevent errors in communication, we also suggest outlining more detailed roles, such as who will draft each section of the manuscript, write the abstract, submit the paper electronically, serve as corresponding author, and write the cover letter. It is best to formalize this agreement in writing after discussing it, circulating the document to the author team for approval. We suggest creating a title page on which all authors are listed in the agreed-upon order. It may be necessary to adjust authorship roles and order during the development of the paper. If a new author order is agreed upon, be sure to update the title page in the manuscript draft.
In the case where multiple papers will result from a single study, authors should discuss who will author each paper. Additionally, authors should agree on a deadline for each paper and the lead author should take responsibility for producing an initial draft by this deadline.
Structure of the Introduction Section
The introduction section should be approximately three to five paragraphs in length. Look at examples from your target journal to decide the appropriate length. This section should include the elements shown in Fig. 1 . Begin with a general context, narrowing to the specific focus of the paper. Include five main elements: why your research is important, what is already known about the topic, the “gap” or what is not yet known about the topic, why it is important to learn the new information that your research adds, and the specific research aim(s) that your paper addresses. Your research aim should address the gap you identified. Be sure to add enough background information to enable readers to understand your study. Table 1 provides common introduction section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.
The main elements of the introduction section of an original research article. Often, the elements overlap
The purpose of the methods section is twofold: to explain how the study was done in enough detail to enable its replication and to provide enough contextual detail to enable readers to understand and interpret the results. In general, the essential elements of a methods section are the following: a description of the setting and participants, the study design and timing, the recruitment and sampling, the data collection process, the dataset, the dependent and independent variables, the covariates, the analytic approach for each research objective, and the ethical approval. The hallmark of an exemplary methods section is the justification of why each method was used. Table 2 provides common methods section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.
The focus of the results section should be associations, or lack thereof, rather than statistical tests. Two considerations should guide your writing here. First, the results should present answers to each part of the research aim. Second, return to the methods section to ensure that the analysis and variables for each result have been explained.
Begin the results section by describing the number of participants in the final sample and details such as the number who were approached to participate, the proportion who were eligible and who enrolled, and the number of participants who dropped out. The next part of the results should describe the participant characteristics. After that, you may organize your results by the aim or by putting the most exciting results first. Do not forget to report your non-significant associations. These are still findings.
Tables and figures capture the reader’s attention and efficiently communicate your main findings [ 3 ]. Each table and figure should have a clear message and should complement, rather than repeat, the text. Tables and figures should communicate all salient details necessary for a reader to understand the findings without consulting the text. Include information on comparisons and tests, as well as information about the sample and timing of the study in the title, legend, or in a footnote. Note that figures are often more visually interesting than tables, so if it is feasible to make a figure, make a figure. To avoid confusing the reader, either avoid abbreviations in tables and figures, or define them in a footnote. Note that there should not be citations in the results section and you should not interpret results here. Table 3 provides common results section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.
Opposite the introduction section, the discussion should take the form of a right-side-up triangle beginning with interpretation of your results and moving to general implications (Fig. 2 ). This section typically begins with a restatement of the main findings, which can usually be accomplished with a few carefully-crafted sentences.
Major elements of the discussion section of an original research article. Often, the elements overlap
Next, interpret the meaning or explain the significance of your results, lifting the reader’s gaze from the study’s specific findings to more general applications. Then, compare these study findings with other research. Are these findings in agreement or disagreement with those from other studies? Does this study impart additional nuance to well-accepted theories? Situate your findings within the broader context of scientific literature, then explain the pathways or mechanisms that might give rise to, or explain, the results.
Journals vary in their approach to strengths and limitations sections: some are embedded paragraphs within the discussion section, while some mandate separate section headings. Keep in mind that every study has strengths and limitations. Candidly reporting yours helps readers to correctly interpret your research findings.
The next element of the discussion is a summary of the potential impacts and applications of the research. Should these results be used to optimally design an intervention? Does the work have implications for clinical protocols or public policy? These considerations will help the reader to further grasp the possible impacts of the presented work.
Finally, the discussion should conclude with specific suggestions for future work. Here, you have an opportunity to illuminate specific gaps in the literature that compel further study. Avoid the phrase “future research is necessary” because the recommendation is too general to be helpful to readers. Instead, provide substantive and specific recommendations for future studies. Table 4 provides common discussion section pitfalls and recommendations for addressing them.
Follow the Journal’s Author Guidelines
After you select a target journal, identify the journal’s author guidelines to guide the formatting of your manuscript and references. Author guidelines will often (but not always) include instructions for titles, cover letters, and other components of a manuscript submission. Read the guidelines carefully. If you do not follow the guidelines, your article will be sent back to you.
Finally, do not submit your paper to more than one journal at a time. Even if this is not explicitly stated in the author guidelines of your target journal, it is considered inappropriate and unprofessional.
Your title should invite readers to continue reading beyond the first page [ 4 , 5 ]. It should be informative and interesting. Consider describing the independent and dependent variables, the population and setting, the study design, the timing, and even the main result in your title. Because the focus of the paper can change as you write and revise, we recommend you wait until you have finished writing your paper before composing the title.
Be sure that the title is useful for potential readers searching for your topic. The keywords you select should complement those in your title to maximize the likelihood that a researcher will find your paper through a database search. Avoid using abbreviations in your title unless they are very well known, such as SNP, because it is more likely that someone will use a complete word rather than an abbreviation as a search term to help readers find your paper.
After you have written a complete draft, use the checklist (Fig. 3 ) below to guide your revisions and editing. Additional resources are available on writing the abstract and citing references [ 5 ]. When you feel that your work is ready, ask a trusted colleague or two to read the work and provide informal feedback. The box below provides a checklist that summarizes the key points offered in this article.
Checklist for manuscript quality
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International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Defining the role of authors and contributors: who is an author? http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authosrs-and-contributors.html . Accessed 15 January, 2020
Vetto JT (2014) Short and sweet: a short course on concise medical writing. J Cancer Educ 29(1):194–195
Brett M, Kording K (2017) Ten simple rules for structuring papers. PLoS ComputBiol. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005619
Lang TA (2017) Writing a better research article. J Public Health Emerg. https://doi.org/10.21037/jphe.2017.11.06
Ella August is grateful to the Sustainable Sciences Institute for mentoring her in training researchers on writing and publishing their research.
Authors and affiliations.
Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, 135 Dauer Dr, 27599, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Clara Busse & Ella August
Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2029, USA
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Correspondence to Ella August .
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Busse, C., August, E. How to Write and Publish a Research Paper for a Peer-Reviewed Journal. J Canc Educ 36 , 909–913 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z
Published : 30 April 2020
Issue Date : October 2021
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z
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How to Find the Right Journals to Publish Papers
According to an estimate, more than 70,000 research journals exist, growing at a rate of about 3.5% per year. More than 1,000 new journals were launched in 2014 alone. These numbers can make journal selection a daunting task. However, you can get help from various online tools to narrow down your search for the appropriate journal.
Find the Right Journal
One of the first steps in choosing the right journal is to know its scope and aim. This information is usually available on the journal’s website. It will also help you find the kind of articles the journal is interested in publishing. You can also read some of the articles the journal has published. Is there any similarity between those articles and your own manuscript? If not, it might not be the right journal for you.
You can also get information from your literature review . Look for journals, wherein the papers you cited have been published. It is likely that those journals may also be interested in your work. This approach can be helpful when journal’s scope does not give you enough details to decide whether that journal would be the right fit for your manuscript.
Related: Having difficulty finding the right open access journal? Check out the OAJF tool now!
You should also consider how long a journal takes to publish articles. With some journals, there can be a considerable delay between submission and publication. Your choice of the journal can also depend on the type of the audience you want to reach out. Based on your requirements, you may also look for a journal with broad scope, wider target audience and an online presence.
Platforms at a Glance
There are many tools and platforms for researchers to help them in their search for the right journal. Few of them are:
- Think.Check.Submit: It is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research. The first step is to answer the starter questions that makes you “think” about your target journal. In the second step, you are linked to a “check” list of criteria. It is an effective way to filter out predatory journals in your selection process. In the end, you may “submit” your paper.
- Scopus: It is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature such as scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. It provides a comprehensive overview of the world’s research output in the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Scopus has indexed journals from more than 5,000 publishers. In order to be listed in Scopus , the journal must be approved by an independent advisory board. This process means that of almost 3,500 suggested journals per year, only about 750 will be added to Scopus.
- FindMyJournal: It helps researchers select the most appropriate journal to publish their manuscript. It uses a mathematical and objective algorithm to shortlist the best-matched journals. You can start your search by answering eleven questions. It currently, has over 29,000 journals in its database.
- DOAJ: It is considered to be the most authentic database of open access journals. Launched in 2003 at Lund University, Sweden, and contains ~9,000 open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science, and humanities.
Journal selection can be intimidating. There are thousands of active research journals. Choosing the right one can involve researching the scope of the journals you are interested in. The process has been made easier by research tools. Scopus and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) can help you find legitimate journals. ThinkCheckSubmit can also help you avoid predatory publishers. FindMyJournal can almost automate the selection for you. With all these tools, the selection process can be streamlined.
Have you used any of these or other platforms in your search for the right journals? Do share your experience with us by leaving a comment below!
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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper in 7 Steps
What comes next after you're done with your research? Publishing the results in a journal of course! We tell you how to present your work in the best way possible.
This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.
Things have gotten busy in scholarly publishing: These days, a new article gets published in the 50,000 most important peer-reviewed journals every few seconds, while each one takes on average 40 minutes to read. Hundreds of thousands of papers reach the desks of editors and reviewers worldwide each year and 50% of all submissions end up rejected at some stage.
In a nutshell: there is a lot of competition, and the people who decide upon the fate of your manuscript are short on time and overworked. But there are ways to make their lives a little easier and improve your own chances of getting your work published!
Well, it may seem obvious, but before submitting an academic paper, always make sure that it is an excellent reflection of the research you have done and that you present it in the most professional way possible. Incomplete or poorly presented manuscripts can create a great deal of frustration and annoyance for editors who probably won’t even bother wasting the time of the reviewers!
This post will discuss 7 steps to the successful publication of your research paper:
- Check whether your research is publication-ready
- Choose an article type
- Choose a journal
- Construct your paper
- Decide the order of authors
- Check and double-check
- Submit your paper
1. Check Whether Your Research Is Publication-Ready
Should you publish your research at all?
If your work holds academic value – of course – a well-written scholarly article could open doors to your research community. However, if you are not yet sure, whether your research is ready for publication, here are some key questions to ask yourself depending on your field of expertise:
- Have you done or found something new and interesting? Something unique?
- Is the work directly related to a current hot topic?
- Have you checked the latest results or research in the field?
- Have you provided solutions to any difficult problems?
- Have the findings been verified?
- Have the appropriate controls been performed if required?
- Are your findings comprehensive?
If the answers to all relevant questions are “yes”, you need to prepare a good, strong manuscript. Remember, a research paper is only useful if it is clearly understood, reproducible and if it is read and used .
2. Choose An Article Type
The first step is to determine which type of paper is most appropriate for your work and what you want to achieve. The following list contains the most important, usually peer-reviewed article types in the natural sciences:
Full original research papers disseminate completed research findings. On average this type of paper is 8-10 pages long, contains five figures, and 25-30 references. Full original research papers are an important part of the process when developing your career.
Review papers present a critical synthesis of a specific research topic. These papers are usually much longer than original papers and will contain numerous references. More often than not, they will be commissioned by journal editors. Reviews present an excellent way to solidify your research career.
Letters, Rapid or Short Communications are often published for the quick and early communication of significant and original advances. They are much shorter than full articles and usually limited in length by the journal. Journals specifically dedicated to short communications or letters are also published in some fields. In these the authors can present short preliminary findings before developing a full-length paper.
3. Choose a Journal
Are you looking for the right place to publish your paper? Find out here whether a De Gruyter journal might be the right fit.
Submit to journals that you already read, that you have a good feel for. If you do so, you will have a better appreciation of both its culture and the requirements of the editors and reviewers.
Other factors to consider are:
- The specific subject area
- The aims and scope of the journal
- The type of manuscript you have written
- The significance of your work
- The reputation of the journal
- The reputation of the editors within the community
- The editorial/review and production speeds of the journal
- The community served by the journal
- The coverage and distribution
- The accessibility ( open access vs. closed access)
4. Construct Your Paper
Each element of a paper has its purpose, so you should make these sections easy to index and search.
Don’t forget that requirements can differ highly per publication, so always make sure to apply a journal’s specific instructions – or guide – for authors to your manuscript, even to the first draft (text layout, paper citation, nomenclature, figures and table, etc.) It will save you time, and the editor’s.
Also, even in these days of Internet-based publishing, space is still at a premium, so be as concise as possible. As a good journalist would say: “Never use three words when one will do!”
Let’s look at the typical structure of a full research paper, but bear in mind certain subject disciplines may have their own specific requirements so check the instructions for authors on the journal’s home page.
4.1 The Title
It’s important to use the title to tell the reader what your paper is all about! You want to attract their attention, a bit like a newspaper headline does. Be specific and to the point. Keep it informative and concise, and avoid jargon and abbreviations (unless they are universally recognized like DNA, for example).
4.2 The Abstract
This could be termed as the “advertisement” for your article. Make it interesting and easily understood without the reader having to read the whole article. Be accurate and specific, and keep it as brief and concise as possible. Some journals (particularly in the medical fields) will ask you to structure the abstract in distinct, labeled sections, which makes it even more accessible.
A clear abstract will influence whether or not your work is considered and whether an editor should invest more time on it or send it for review.
Keywords are used by abstracting and indexing services, such as PubMed and Web of Science. They are the labels of your manuscript, which make it “searchable” online by other researchers.
Include words or phrases (usually 4-8) that are closely related to your topic but not “too niche” for anyone to find them. Make sure to only use established abbreviations. Think about what scientific terms and its variations your potential readers are likely to use and search for. You can also do a test run of your selected keywords in one of the common academic search engines. Do similar articles to your own appear? Yes? Then that’s a good sign.
This first part of the main text should introduce the problem, as well as any existing solutions you are aware of and the main limitations. Also, state what you hope to achieve with your research.
Do not confuse the introduction with the results, discussion or conclusion.
Every research article should include a detailed Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) to provide the reader with enough information to be able to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.
Include detailed information so that a knowledgeable reader can reproduce the experiment. However, use references and supplementary materials to indicate previously published procedures.
In this section, you will present the essential or primary results of your study. To display them in a comprehensible way, you should use subheadings as well as illustrations such as figures, graphs, tables and photos, as appropriate.
Here you should tell your readers what the results mean .
Do state how the results relate to the study’s aims and hypotheses and how the findings relate to those of other studies. Explain all possible interpretations of your findings and the study’s limitations.
Do not make “grand statements” that are not supported by the data. Also, do not introduce any new results or terms. Moreover, do not ignore work that conflicts or disagrees with your findings. Instead …
Be brave! Address conflicting study results and convince the reader you are the one who is correct.
Your conclusion isn’t just a summary of what you’ve already written. It should take your paper one step further and answer any unresolved questions.
Sum up what you have shown in your study and indicate possible applications and extensions. The main question your conclusion should answer is: What do my results mean for the research field and my community?
4.9 Acknowledgments and Ethical Statements
It is extremely important to acknowledge anyone who has helped you with your paper, including researchers who supplied materials or reagents (e.g. vectors or antibodies); and anyone who helped with the writing or English, or offered critical comments about the content.
Learn more about academic integrity in our blog post “Scholarly Publication Ethics: 4 Common Mistakes You Want To Avoid” .
Remember to state why people have been acknowledged and ask their permission . Ensure that you acknowledge sources of funding, including any grant or reference numbers.
Furthermore, if you have worked with animals or humans, you need to include information about the ethical approval of your study and, if applicable, whether informed consent was given. Also, state whether you have any competing interests regarding the study (e.g. because of financial or personal relationships.)
The end is in sight, but don’t relax just yet!
De facto, there are often more mistakes in the references than in any other part of the manuscript. It is also one of the most annoying and time-consuming problems for editors.
Remember to cite the main scientific publications on which your work is based. But do not inflate the manuscript with too many references. Avoid excessive – and especially unnecessary – self-citations. Also, avoid excessive citations of publications from the same institute or region.
5. Decide the Order of Authors
In the sciences, the most common way to order the names of the authors is by relative contribution.
Generally, the first author conducts and/or supervises the data analysis and the proper presentation and interpretation of the results. They put the paper together and usually submit the paper to the journal.
Co-authors make intellectual contributions to the data analysis and contribute to data interpretation. They review each paper draft. All of them must be able to present the paper and its results, as well as to defend the implications and discuss study limitations.
Do not leave out authors who should be included or add “gift authors”, i.e. authors who did not contribute significantly.
6. Check and Double-Check
As a final step before submission, ask colleagues to read your work and be constructively critical .
Make sure that the paper is appropriate for the journal – take a last look at their aims and scope. Check if all of the requirements in the instructions for authors are met.
Ensure that the cited literature is balanced. Are the aims, purpose and significance of the results clear?
Conduct a final check for language, either by a native English speaker or an editing service.
7. Submit Your Paper
When you and your co-authors have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked the manuscript: submit it via e-mail or online submission system. Along with your manuscript, submit a cover letter, which highlights the reasons why your paper would appeal to the journal and which ensures that you have received approval of all authors for submission.
It is up to the editors and the peer-reviewers now to provide you with their (ideally constructive and helpful) comments and feedback. Time to take a breather!
If the paper gets rejected, do not despair – it happens to literally everybody. If the journal suggests major or minor revisions, take the chance to provide a thorough response and make improvements as you see fit. If the paper gets accepted, congrats!
It’s now time to get writing and share your hard work – good luck!
If you are interested, check out this related blog post
[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]
David Sleeman worked as Senior Journals Manager in the field of Physical Sciences at De Gruyter.
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How to Publish a Research Paper
Last Updated: August 17, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 685,296 times.
Publishing a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal is an important activity within the academic community. It allows you to network with other scholars, get your name and work into circulation, and further refine your ideas and research. Getting published isn’t easy, but you can improve your odds by submitting a technically sound and creative yet straightforward piece of research. It’s also vital to find a suitable academic journal for your topic and writing style, so you can tailor your research paper to it and increase your chances of publication and wider recognition.
Submitting (and Resubmitting) Your Paper
- Have two or three people review your paper. At least one should be a non-expert in the major topic — their “outsider’s perspective” can be particularly valuable, as not all reviewers will be experts on your specific topic.
- Journal articles in the sciences often follow a specific organizational format, such as: Abstract; Introduction; Methods; Results; Discussion; Conclusion; Acknowledgements/References. Those in the arts and humanities are usually less regimented.
- Submit your article to only one journal at a time. Work your way down your list, one at a time, as needed.
- When submitting online, use your university email account. This connects you with a scholarly institution, which adds credibility to your work.
- Accept with Revision — only minor adjustments are needed, based on the provided feedback by the reviewers.
- Revise and Resubmit — more substantial changes (as described) are needed before publication can be considered, but the journal is still very interested in your work.
- Reject and Resubmit — the article is not currently viable for consideration, but substantial alterations and refocusing may be able to change this outcome.
- Reject — the paper isn’t and won’t be suitable for this publication, but that doesn’t mean it might not work for another journal.
- Do not get over-attached to your original submission. Instead, remain flexible and rework the paper in light of the feedback you receive. Use your skills as a researcher and a writer to create a superior paper.
- However, you don’t have to “roll over” and meekly follow reviewer comments that you feel are off the mark. Open a dialogue with the editor and explain your position, respectfully but confidently. Remember, you’re an expert on this specific topic!  X Research source
- Remember, a rejected paper doesn’t necessarily equal a bad paper. Numerous factors, many of them completely out of your control, go into determining which articles are accepted.
- Move on to your second-choice journal for submission. You might even ask for guidance on finding a better fit from the editor of the first journal.
Choosing the Right Journal for Submission
- Read academic journals related to your field of study.
- Search online for published research papers, conference papers, and journal articles.
- Ask a colleague or professor for a suggested reading list.
- “Fit” is critical here — the most renowned journal in your field might not be the one best suited to your specific work. At the same time, though, don’t sell yourself short by assuming your paper could never be good enough for that top-shelf publication.
- However, always prioritize peer-reviewed journals — in which field scholars anonymously review submitted works. This is the basic standard for scholarly publishing.
- You can increase your readership dramatically by publishing in an open access journal. As such, it will be freely available as part of an online repository of peer-reviewed scholarly papers.  X Research source
Strengthening Your Submission
- “This paper explores how George Washington’s experiences as a young officer may have shaped his views during difficult circumstances as a commanding officer.”
- “This paper contends that George Washington’s experiences as a young officer on the 1750s Pennsylvania frontier directly impacted his relationship with his Continental Army troops during the harsh winter at Valley Forge.”
- This is especially true for younger scholars who are breaking into the field. Leave the grand (yet still only 20-30 page) explorations to more established scholars.
- Your abstract should make people eager to start reading the article, but never disappointed when they finish the article.
- Get as many people as you can to read over your abstract and provide feedback before you submit your paper to a journal.
Research Paper Help
- Do not immediately revise your paper if you are upset or frustrated with the journal's requests for change. Set your paper aside for several days, then come back to it with "fresh eyes." The feedback you received will have percolated and settled, and will now find a comfortable place within your article. Remember this is a big project and final refinements will take time. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/research/revising-and-editing-a-research-paper/
- ↑ http://www.canberra.edu.au/library/start-your-research/research_help/publishing-research
- ↑ http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep02/publish.aspx
- ↑ Matthew Snipp, PhD. Research Fellow, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Expert Interview. 26 March 2020.
- ↑ https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/how-to-get-your-first-research-paper-published/2015485.article#survey-answer
- ↑ https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140615095526/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/briefingpaper/2010/bppublishingresearchpapersv1final.pdf
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/abstract
About This Article
To publish a research paper, ask a colleague or professor to review your paper and give you feedback. Once you've revised your work, familiarize yourself with different academic journals so that you can choose the publication that best suits your paper. Make sure to look at the "Author's Guide" so you can format your paper according to the guidelines for that publication. Then, submit your paper and don't get discouraged if it is not accepted right away. You may need to revise your paper and try again. To learn about the different responses you might get from journals, see our reviewer's explanation below. Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Home » How to Publish a Research Paper – Step by Step Guide
How to Publish a Research Paper – Step by Step Guide
Table of Contents
Publishing a research paper is an important step for researchers to disseminate their findings to a wider audience and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field. Whether you are a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow, or an established researcher, publishing a paper requires careful planning, rigorous research, and clear writing. In this process, you will need to identify a research question , conduct a thorough literature review , design a methodology, analyze data, and draw conclusions. Additionally, you will need to consider the appropriate journals or conferences to submit your work to and adhere to their guidelines for formatting and submission. In this article, we will discuss some ways to publish your Research Paper.
How to Publish a Research Paper
To Publish a Research Paper follow the guide below:
- Conduct original research : Conduct thorough research on a specific topic or problem. Collect data, analyze it, and draw conclusions based on your findings.
- Write the paper : Write a detailed paper describing your research. It should include an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
- Choose a suitable journal or conference : Look for a journal or conference that specializes in your research area. You can check their submission guidelines to ensure your paper meets their requirements.
- Prepare your submission: Follow the guidelines and prepare your submission, including the paper, abstract, cover letter, and any other required documents.
- Submit the paper: Submit your paper online through the journal or conference website. Make sure you meet the submission deadline.
- Peer-review process : Your paper will be reviewed by experts in the field who will provide feedback on the quality of your research, methodology, and conclusions.
- Revisions : Based on the feedback you receive, revise your paper and resubmit it.
- Acceptance : Once your paper is accepted, you will receive a notification from the journal or conference. You may need to make final revisions before the paper is published.
- Publication : Your paper will be published online or in print. You can also promote your work through social media or other channels to increase its visibility.
How to Choose Journal for Research Paper Publication
Here are some steps to follow to help you select an appropriate journal:
- Identify your research topic and audience : Your research topic and intended audience should guide your choice of journal. Identify the key journals in your field of research and read the scope and aim of the journal to determine if your paper is a good fit.
- Analyze the journal’s impact and reputation : Check the impact factor and ranking of the journal, as well as its acceptance rate and citation frequency. A high-impact journal can give your paper more visibility and credibility.
- Consider the journal’s publication policies : Look for the journal’s publication policies such as the word count limit, formatting requirements, open access options, and submission fees. Make sure that you can comply with the requirements and that the journal is in line with your publication goals.
- Look at recent publications : Review recent issues of the journal to evaluate whether your paper would fit in with the journal’s current content and style.
- Seek advice from colleagues and mentors: Ask for recommendations and suggestions from your colleagues and mentors in your field, especially those who have experience publishing in the same or similar journals.
- Be prepared to make changes : Be prepared to revise your paper according to the requirements and guidelines of the chosen journal. It is also important to be open to feedback from the editor and reviewers.
List of Journals for Research Paper Publications
There are thousands of academic journals covering various fields of research. Here are some of the most popular ones, categorized by field:
- Nature: https://www.nature.com/
- Science: https://www.sciencemag.org/
- PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): https://www.pnas.org/
- The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/
- JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/psp
- Journal of Consumer Research: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/jcr
- Journal of Educational Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/edu
- Journal of Applied Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/apl
- Journal of Communication: https://academic.oup.com/joc
- American Journal of Political Science: https://ajps.org/
- Journal of International Business Studies: https://www.jibs.net/
- Journal of Marketing Research: https://www.ama.org/journal-of-marketing-research/
- Journal of Biological Chemistry: https://www.jbc.org/
- Cell: https://www.cell.com/
- Science Advances: https://advances.sciencemag.org/
- Chemical Reviews: https://pubs.acs.org/journal/chreay
- Angewandte Chemie: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/15213765
- Physical Review Letters: https://journals.aps.org/prl/
- Journal of Geophysical Research: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/2156531X
- Journal of High Energy Physics: https://link.springer.com/journal/13130
- IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=5962385
- IEEE Transactions on Power Systems: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=59
- IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=42
- IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=87
- Journal of Engineering Mechanics: https://ascelibrary.org/journal/jenmdt
- Journal of Materials Science: https://www.springer.com/journal/10853
- Journal of Chemical Engineering of Japan: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/jcej
- Journal of Mechanical Design: https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/mechanicaldesign
- New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/
- The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal): https://www.bmj.com/
- Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama
- Annals of Internal Medicine: https://www.acpjournals.org/journal/aim
- American Journal of Epidemiology: https://academic.oup.com/aje
- Journal of Clinical Oncology: https://ascopubs.org/journal/jco
- Journal of Infectious Diseases: https://academic.oup.com/jid
List of Conferences for Research Paper Publications
There are many conferences that accept research papers for publication. The specific conferences you should consider will depend on your field of research. Here are some suggestions for conferences in a few different fields:
Computer Science and Information Technology:
- IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM): https://www.ieee-infocom.org/
- ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Data Communication: https://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/
- IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP): https://www.ieee-security.org/TC/SP/
- ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS): https://www.sigsac.org/ccs/
- ACM Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (CHI): https://chi2022.acm.org/
- IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA): https://www.ieee-icra.org/
- International Conference on Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (ICMAE): http://www.icmae.org/
- International Conference on Civil and Environmental Engineering (ICCEE): http://www.iccee.org/
- International Conference on Materials Science and Engineering (ICMSE): http://www.icmse.org/
- International Conference on Energy and Power Engineering (ICEPE): http://www.icepe.org/
- American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/meetings/national-meeting.html
- American Physical Society March Meeting: https://www.aps.org/meetings/march/
- International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (ICEST): http://www.icest.org/
- International Conference on Natural Science and Environment (ICNSE): http://www.icnse.org/
- International Conference on Life Science and Biological Engineering (LSBE): http://www.lsbe.org/
- Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA): https://www.asanet.org/annual-meeting-2022
- International Conference on Social Science and Humanities (ICSSH): http://www.icssh.org/
- International Conference on Psychology and Behavioral Sciences (ICPBS): http://www.icpbs.org/
- International Conference on Education and Social Science (ICESS): http://www.icess.org/
- International Conference on Management and Information Science (ICMIS): http://www.icmis.org/
How to Publish a Research Paper in Journal
Publishing a research paper in a journal is a crucial step in disseminating scientific knowledge and contributing to the field. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Choose a research topic : Select a topic of your interest and identify a research question or problem that you want to investigate. Conduct a literature review to identify the gaps in the existing knowledge that your research will address.
- Conduct research : Develop a research plan and methodology to collect data and conduct experiments. Collect and analyze data to draw conclusions that address the research question.
- Write a paper: Organize your findings into a well-structured paper with clear and concise language. Your paper should include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Use academic language and provide references for your sources.
- Choose a journal: Choose a journal that is relevant to your research topic and audience. Consider factors such as impact factor, acceptance rate, and the reputation of the journal.
- Follow journal guidelines : Review the submission guidelines and formatting requirements of the journal. Follow the guidelines carefully to ensure that your paper meets the journal’s requirements.
- Submit your paper : Submit your paper to the journal through the online submission system or by email. Include a cover letter that briefly explains the significance of your research and why it is suitable for the journal.
- Wait for reviews: Your paper will be reviewed by experts in the field. Be prepared to address their comments and make revisions to your paper.
- Revise and resubmit: Make revisions to your paper based on the reviewers’ comments and resubmit it to the journal. If your paper is accepted, congratulations! If not, consider revising and submitting it to another journal.
- Address reviewer comments : Reviewers may provide comments and suggestions for revisions to your paper. Address these comments carefully and thoughtfully to improve the quality of your paper.
- Submit the final version: Once your revisions are complete, submit the final version of your paper to the journal. Be sure to follow any additional formatting guidelines and requirements provided by the journal.
- Publication : If your paper is accepted, it will be published in the journal. Some journals provide online publication while others may publish a print version. Be sure to cite your published paper in future research and communicate your findings to the scientific community.
How to Publish a Research Paper for Students
Here are some steps you can follow to publish a research paper as an Under Graduate or a High School Student:
- Select a topic: Choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to you, and that you have a good understanding of.
- Conduct research : Gather information and data on your chosen topic through research, experiments, surveys, or other means.
- Write the paper : Start with an outline, then write the introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion sections of the paper. Be sure to follow any guidelines provided by your instructor or the journal you plan to submit to.
- Edit and revise: Review your paper for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Ask a peer or mentor to review your paper and provide feedback for improvement.
- Choose a journal : Look for journals that publish papers in your field of study and that are appropriate for your level of research. Some popular journals for students include PLOS ONE, Nature, and Science.
- Submit the paper: Follow the submission guidelines for the journal you choose, which typically include a cover letter, abstract, and formatting requirements. Be prepared to wait several weeks to months for a response.
- Address feedback : If your paper is accepted with revisions, address the feedback from the reviewers and resubmit your paper. If your paper is rejected, review the feedback and consider revising and resubmitting to a different journal.
How to Publish a Research Paper for Free
Publishing a research paper for free can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some steps you can take to publish your research paper for free:
- Choose a suitable open-access journal: Look for open-access journals that are relevant to your research area. Open-access journals allow readers to access your paper without charge, so your work will be more widely available.
- Check the journal’s reputation : Before submitting your paper, ensure that the journal is reputable by checking its impact factor, publication history, and editorial board.
- Follow the submission guidelines : Every journal has specific guidelines for submitting papers. Make sure to follow these guidelines carefully to increase the chances of acceptance.
- Submit your paper : Once you have completed your research paper, submit it to the journal following their submission guidelines.
- Wait for the review process: Your paper will undergo a peer-review process, where experts in your field will evaluate your work. Be patient during this process, as it can take several weeks or even months.
- Revise your paper : If your paper is rejected, don’t be discouraged. Revise your paper based on the feedback you receive from the reviewers and submit it to another open-access journal.
- Promote your research: Once your paper is published, promote it on social media and other online platforms. This will increase the visibility of your work and help it reach a wider audience.
Journals and Conferences for Free Research Paper publications
Here are the websites of the open-access journals and conferences mentioned:
- PLOS ONE – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/
- BMC Research Notes – https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/
- Frontiers in… – https://www.frontiersin.org/
- Journal of Open Research Software – https://openresearchsoftware.metajnl.com/
- PeerJ – https://peerj.com/
- IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM) – https://globecom2022.ieee-globecom.org/
- IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM) – https://infocom2022.ieee-infocom.org/
- IEEE International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM) – https://www.ieee-icdm.org/
- ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Data Communication (SIGCOMM) – https://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/
- ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) – https://www.sigsac.org/ccs/CCS2022/
Importance of Research Paper Publication
Research paper publication is important for several reasons, both for individual researchers and for the scientific community as a whole. Here are some reasons why:
- Advancing scientific knowledge : Research papers provide a platform for researchers to present their findings and contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. These papers often contain novel ideas, experimental data, and analyses that can help to advance scientific understanding.
- Building a research career : Publishing research papers is an essential component of building a successful research career. Researchers are often evaluated based on the number and quality of their publications, and having a strong publication record can increase one’s chances of securing funding, tenure, or a promotion.
- Peer review and quality control: Publication in a peer-reviewed journal means that the research has been scrutinized by other experts in the field. This peer review process helps to ensure the quality and validity of the research findings.
- Recognition and visibility : Publishing a research paper can bring recognition and visibility to the researchers and their work. It can lead to invitations to speak at conferences, collaborations with other researchers, and media coverage.
- Impact on society : Research papers can have a significant impact on society by informing policy decisions, guiding clinical practice, and advancing technological innovation.
Advantages of Research Paper Publication
There are several advantages to publishing a research paper, including:
- Recognition: Publishing a research paper allows researchers to gain recognition for their work, both within their field and in the academic community as a whole. This can lead to new collaborations, invitations to conferences, and other opportunities to share their research with a wider audience.
- Career advancement : A strong publication record can be an important factor in career advancement, particularly in academia. Publishing research papers can help researchers secure funding, grants, and promotions.
- Dissemination of knowledge : Research papers are an important way to share new findings and ideas with the broader scientific community. By publishing their research, scientists can contribute to the collective body of knowledge in their field and help advance scientific understanding.
- Feedback and peer review : Publishing a research paper allows other experts in the field to provide feedback on the research, which can help improve the quality of the work and identify potential flaws or limitations. Peer review also helps ensure that research is accurate and reliable.
- Citation and impact : Published research papers can be cited by other researchers, which can help increase the impact and visibility of the research. High citation rates can also help establish a researcher’s reputation and credibility within their field.
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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide
A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.
Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.
This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.
Table of contents
Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.
Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:
- Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
- Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
- Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.
Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.
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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.
You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.
You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.
Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:
- A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
- A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.
Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.
Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.
- Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
- Are there any heated debates you can address?
- Do you have a unique take on your topic?
- Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?
In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”
A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.
The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.
You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.
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A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.
A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.
Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:
- Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
- Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
- Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.
You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.
Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.
Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.
George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.
It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.
You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.
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The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.
What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.
Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?
How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.
The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.
One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:
- topic sentences against the thesis statement;
- topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
- and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.
Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.
The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.
Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.
You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.
You should not :
- Offer new arguments or essential information
- Take up any more space than necessary
- Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)
There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.
- Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
- Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
- Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
- If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.
The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible.
- Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
- Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
- Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.
Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:
- each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
- no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
- all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.
Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .
Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading or create an APA title page .
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Checklist: Research paper
I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.
My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.
My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .
My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .
Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .
Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.
I have used appropriate transitions to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.
My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.
My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.
My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.
I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.
I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .
I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.
I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).
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These 11 Author-Approved Journals Are A Dream To Write In
As someone who writes on the internet for a living, I see journaling as a real treat. Unlike a computer screen, a notebook can serve as a landing pad for all of your half-baked ideas, convoluted thoughts, and nascent plans. It's a place you can go to drop the need to be perfect , work things out with yourself and for yourself, and write without fear of being judged.
Of the many journals I've acquired in my life, a few were so inviting that they made this exploration super easy. Curious about the journals that other professional writers keep coming back to, I asked a pool of authors to tell me about their personal top picks.
From a timeless Moleskine to a waterproof journal fit for an adventure, there's something on our list for every type of writer (even the ones who don't know they're writers yet!). Choose one that catches your eye, grab your pen, and get expressing.
11 best journals for 2021
- Best leather: Graphic Image Leather 9" Flexible Cover Journal
- Best unlined: Magic of I Vegan Leather Journal, Unlined
- Best fancy: Papier Mirage Foiled Notebook
- Best spiral: Fringe Studio Sage Notebook
- Best recycled: Decomposition Seahorses Book
- Best classic: Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, Large
- Best portable: XYark 12-Pack Notebook Journals
- Best mini: Field Notes National Park 3-Pack
- Best digital: Paperlike iPad Screen Protector
- Best for outdoors: Rite In The Rain Side Spiral Notebook
- Best for beginners: Intelligent Change The Five Minute Journal
Best leather: Graphic Image Leather 9" Flexible Cover Journal
Annie Daly , a travel journalist and the author of Destination Wellness , says that opening this leather journal feels like "hanging out with an old, treasured friend." After a long period of testing notebooks that were either too formal or too flimsy, she landed on this one that strikes just the right balance of approachable yet elegant.
"I also love the satin ribbon marker that keeps my place," Daly adds. "It's so beautiful and brings me a tiny bit of joy every time I open the page!"
Graphic Image Leather 9" Flexible Cover Journal ($105)
Best unlined: Magic of I Vegan Leather Journal, Unlined
Unlined journals allow for more free-form writing and doodling, and Becca Piastrelli , author of the upcoming book Root & Ritual , loves this one from Magic of I. Piastrelli tells mbg that the special, cosmos-inspired cover makes her want to carry this vegan leather book around with her everywhere—and fill its blank pages with everything from "freewriting to dream recollections to notes for my next book."
Magic of I Vegan Leather Journal, Unlined ($28)
Best fancy: Papier Mirage Foiled Notebook
Papier makes a whole family of notebooks with chic, timeless covers. This desert-inspired one, complete with raised gold, shimmery touches, caught my eye right away. I appreciate that you can choose what kind of paper to fill it in with (lined, dotted, or plain) and even have the option to customize it with your name or personal writing mantra . It would also make a fantastic gift for the journalers in your life.
Papier Mirage Foiled Notebook ($31.99)
Best spiral: Fringe Studio Sage Notebook
Andrea Scher , author of the upcoming book Wonder Seeker , didn't hesitate to name her favorite writing tool: The faux leather, spiral-bound notebooks from Fringe Studio. "They are soft and bendable, clean and practical, and also feel luxurious and feminine," she tells mbg. "Their simple beauty inspires me to carry them around and write more."
Fringe Studio Sage Notebook ($20)
Best recycled: Decomposition Seahorses Book
Featuring 144 pages of 100% recycled paper bound in a soy-ink printed cover, this Decomposition book is great for the writer looking to leave a lighter impact. The blank notebook is also super lightweight and easy to stuff into a purse or backpack. And at $10, it's affordable to boot.
Decomposition Seahorses Book ($10)
Best classic: Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, Large
Moleskine Italian notebooks and planners have graced desks around the world for over 20 years. They're a classic for a reason! Made to mimic the traditional notebooks of great thinkers through time like Van Gogh and Hemingway, they feature strong, bleed-proof paper, a ribbon bookmark, and an outer elastic band to keep everything compact. Rounded edges and a cushioned cover mean that this notebook, despite being luxurious, remains approachable and not daunting.
Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, Large ($16.46)
Best portable: XYark 12-Pack Notebook Journals
When Terri Trespicio , writing instructor and author of Unfollow Your Passion , leads writing retreats, she hands attendees the same journals she uses herself: These slim, soft cover models that you can snag from Amazon for less than $2 a piece. "The job of a journal is to listen; your job is to write," she says of her choice. "If a notebook is bulky or fussy or heavy, it's not doing its job. The lighter it is, the more likely you'll bring it along—and have it handy when the moment strikes."
As opposed to more elaborate (and sometimes intimidating) journals that tend to collect dust and stay blank for longer, she finds that these give her the freedom on the page she craves.
XYark 12-Pack Notebook Journals ($18.99)
Best mini: Field Notes National Park 3-Pack
For me, it was love at first sight with these unique National Park notebooks from Field Notes. Measuring in at 3½" × 5½", they fit into the palm of my hand and are the perfect size for quickly jotting down notes or random reflections. It doesn't hurt that their small but mighty cover illustrations nudge me to seek out inspiring wild places near and far every time I look at them.
Field Notes National Park 3-Pack ($12.95)
Best digital: Paperlike iPad Screen Protector
One downside of notebooks is they can quickly take over a drawer or shelf. Author Christine Platt of The Afrominimalist's Guide to Living With Less says that going paperless has been the most challenging part of her journey toward a minimalist life.
"I'm old-school—I love the feeling of pen to paper. But I hate the wastefulness that comes with printing multiple drafts to edit and I'm still trying to reconcile my obsession with paper products," Platt tells mbg.
One nifty tool that's making the transition a little easier? Paperlike—a screen protector that's designed to mimic the feel of writing on paper. Throw it on your iPad, grab your Stylus pen, and pat yourself on the back for getting your thoughts down in a clutter-free way.
Paperlike iPad Screen Protector ($39.99)
Best for outdoors: Rite In The Rain
While journaling on your couch or at your dining table has its perks, sometimes you want to bring your writing out into the elements. For those days, this Rite in the Rain waterproof spiral notebook is a near-magical tool that lets you write in the rain or by the riverside. Pair it with one of the company's field-biologist-tested all-weather pens, and you'll be all set for a mess-free outdoor journal entry (that will still be legible later).
Rite In The Rain Side Spiral Notebook ($7.95)
Best for beginners: Intelligent Change The Five Minute Journal
For the times when a blank page feels too intimidating (been there), this cult-favorite guided journal is filled with short prompts to help you plan every morning and reflect every night. It's encouraged over 1 million people to write for at least five minutes daily about their triumphs, challenges, and goals—and have fun doing it.
Intelligent Change The Five Minute Journal ($24.95)
The bottom line.
Choosing the right journal is personal, but hopefully, at least one author-approved option on this list has your name written all over it. Once you find your dream notebook, be sure to check in with our guide to starting a journal and list of prompts for mindful reflection .
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us . She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care , which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner .
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University . In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle , and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff , Gay Browne , and Summer Rayne Oakes .