how to submit research paper to journal

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How to Submit a Paper for Publication in a Journal

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Whether you’ve done it before, or not, submitting a paper for publication in a journal is, to say the least, a process that brings great anxiety and stress. After all your hard work for many months, or even years, recognition is finally at your grasp. That is why there no room for mistakes.

What to Expect of the Scientific Publishing Process

If you are a beginner, you might be struggling to know exactly what to do. After all, it is a step-by-step process, sometimes with a lot of players and paperwork involved; it’s not always evident what to do next. An excellent, high-quality manuscript is the best way to give a good impression from the beginning, putting your paper on the right track for a successful submission. At Elsevier, with our Language Editing services , we not only revise your manuscript, but guarantee there are no text errors.

If, on the other hand, you have already published articles, you might have enough experience to know that each paper submission in a journal is different. Either the journal is different, or the context has changed, or the peers are new. You never know what can go right or wrong, other than the variable that lies under your control – that the manuscript is error-free and spot-on for successful acceptance. In this case, you might consider Elsevier’s professional Language Editing services to amend your text to the target journal’s requirements, helping you focus on other projects.

Scientific Paper Submission. Are you ready? Let’s go!

For many researchers, putting their paper through the professional journal submission process is stressful. Here is a simple to-do list which might help you go through all of it with some peace of mind:

  • Use an external editing service, such as Elsevier’s Author Services if you need assistance with language.
  • Free e-learning modules on preparing your manuscript can be found on Researcher Academy.
  • Mendeley makes your life easier by helping you organize your papers, citations and references, accessing them in the cloud on any device, wherever you are.
  • Do not rush submitting your article for publication Carefully re-read and revise your manuscript. Re-reading is essential in the research field and helps identify the most common problems and shortcomings in the manuscript, which might otherwise be overlooked. Often, reading your text out loud will uncover more errors than reading silently to yourself. If you are doubtful about the quality of your text, consider Elsevier’s Professional Language Editing services . Our professional team is trained to provide you with an optimal text for successful submission.
  • Read the journal’s aims and scope to make sure they match your paper.
  • Check whether you can submit – some journals are invitation only.
  • Use the journal’s metrics to measure its impact. In fact, you can also check other additional info – like speed and reach to understand if it’s the right one for you.
  • If you’re a post doc, check out our free access program.
  • Read the aims and scope and author guidelines of your target journal carefully Once you think your manuscript is ready for submission, the next important step is to read the aims and scope of the journals in your target research area. Doing so will improve the chances of having your manuscript accepted for publishing.
  • Submit a cover letter with the manuscript Never underestimate the importance of a cover letter addressed to the editor or editor-in-chief of the target journal. A good cover letter should underline 3 main aspects: the main theme of the paper, its originality/novelty and the relevance of the manuscript to the target journal.
  • Make a good first impression with your title and abstract The title and abstract are incredibly important components of a manuscript as they are the first elements a journal editor sees. They create interest and curiosity about the whole work.

Now, what happens if your paper gets rejected by the journal ? It is, by no means, the end of the world. There are very real steps you can take to ultimately get published in a reputable journal.

The Science of Article Publishing

Article publishing is every researcher’s aim. It brings visibility and recognition, essential factors for those who intend to build a full career in research. However, most scientists feel handicapped or lost when it comes to conveying their findings or ideas to others. For many, it can be difficult to re-format a certain type of text to another, be aware of formatting requirements and translate their work into visually appealing outcomes. Additionally, keeping track of all the steps needed to submit an article for publication can be overwhelming and take too much time that could be spent doing new research.

At Elsevier, we believe everyone should be doing what they do best: in this case, leave research for scientists and leave the science of turning the best ideas into excellent quality text to our professionals.

Language Editing Services by Elsevier Author Services:

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Guide to Getting Published in Journals

  • Why publish in journals?
  • Identifying potential journals
  • Creating a journal comparison spreadsheet
  • Aims & Scope
  • Editorial Board
  • How different journals approach peer review
  • Different open access models
  • Interpreting traditional metrics like the Impact Factor
  • Alternative metrics
  • Ethics and malpractice statements
  • Recognising and avoiding predatory journals
  • Instructions for authors
  • Submitting your paper


You have worked through your list of journals, investigating all your criteria and found the journal that is best suited to your paper and the goals you have for it. It is now time for you to submit!

In this section, we will prepare you for what to expect when submitting to a journal, give some insights into the peer review process, how to respond to requests for revisions and resubmit a paper, and what steps to take should you receive a rejection decision.

Submitting a paper

Make sure you have prepared your paper according to the instructions for authors . Double-check the journal’s requirements with your article to be certain.

If you need to include a cover letter with your submission, you should address the editor by formal name (e.g. Dear Professor Name---) and include the name of the journal but make sure you use the correct one (especially if this is your second-choice journal)!

In the letter, explain why your article is suitable for that journal and how your paper will contribute to furthering its aims & scope. Pitch the value of your article, describing the main theme, the contribution your paper makes to existing knowledge, and its relationship to any relevant articles published in the journal. You should not repeat the abstract in the letter. Include information not typically mentioned in a manuscript.

You may also be requested by the journal to suggest some reviewers for your paper. Good sources for these include authors cited in your references and editorial board members from the journal, or from other journals in the field. You should not suggest anyone that you would have a conflict of interest with, such as co-workers.

You should also make some formal declarations regarding the originality of your work, that you have no conflicts of interest, and that all co-authors (if you have any) agree to the submission.

The review process

As we discussed in the earlier module on peer review , there are a wide range of timeframes over which your review process may be conducted.

It may take several months for the journal to complete the review process, which typically involves:

  • Reading the article and deciding whether to send it for review.
  • Acquiring sufficient reviewers and receiving all feedback.
  • Assessing the reviews and rendering a decision on the paper.

Acquiring reviewers and then receiving those reviews back is the longest part of the process. It is very much dependent on the availability of academics, and is not an especially predictable process.

Journals which use web-based reviewing platforms often feature a status for each submission that authors can check. If this status has not changed for some time, in most cases, you will be able to send the journal administrator or editor an email. Some journals make their review times publicly available, giving you a good idea of how long their process might take, and when it may be appropriate to ask for an update. If you do not know what to expect, we suggest waiting around 2 months before asking for an update.

Desk reject

Hopefully you will have submitted your article to the perfect journal, exactly as they have requested, and your article will be sent for reviewing. However, some papers are rejected without being sent for peer review – this is commonly known as a desk reject – and of course, you want to avoid this happening to your paper.

To help you understand and minimise the risk, here are some of the most common reasons for desk rejection:


  • Language or writing issues which make it too hard for the editor to understand the paper.
  • Similarity checking revealing a large amount of exact matching or plagiarised content.
  • Formatting is not in the journal style
  • Word count is too high
  • Figures & Tables are incomplete or difficult to read
  • References are incomplete


  • Outside Aims & Scope.
  • Hypothesis or purpose is not sufficiently clear.
  • Methods are unclear or flawed.
  • Results do not support conclusions.
  • Incremental addition to knowledge.
  • References miss key or recent literature.

Similarity (plagarism) checking

Many journals conduct some form of checking of article text to go alongside the reviewing of papers. Software such as iThenticate, Turnitin, PlagScan, among many others, are used either to look for similarities in text between the submitted article and published material available online.

These platforms cannot, by themselves, determine whether text has been plagiarised, only provide a score of how similar passages of text are to existing material. For this reason, these programs tend to be referred to as ‘similarity checker’, not ‘plagiarism checker’.

Papers which are processed and return high scores are likely to be investigated to determine whether the similarity does appear to be deliberate plagiarism. How a journal deals with such a paper depends on their own policies and procedures, and the extent of the plagiarism detected.

Many journals will refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines and Flowchart for dealing with “Suspected plagiarism in a submitted manuscript”. See our module on Ethics and Malpractice Statements for more detail on COPE and journal ethics.

These similarity checking programs may be used at different stages of the process, depending on journal policy and situation. Some journals may screen all papers on submission, some only when some concerns are raised by the editor on first read or by referees during review.

Receiving a decision after peer review

Once the editor has received all comments, feedback and recommendations from the reviewers, they will make a decision on the paper. These decisions may be called by different terms, but will usually fit into one of four categories:

  • Accept – it is very rare than a first submission will be accepted outright, without any changes being requested.
  • Revisions likely to result in acceptance – This can be a ‘minor revisions’ decision, or a more major revision, but in both cases the editor shows positivity towards a final acceptance.
  • Revisions with an uncertain outcome – Often referred to as ‘major revisions’, or ‘reject, revise and resubmit’, these decisions request extensive revisions, reinterpretations of information, or deeper, more thorough explanations of details, which ultimately may not be acceptable for the journal even when responses to all reviewer comments have been provided.
  • Reject – The paper is unsuitable and/or unacceptable for the journal in this form, or any alternate version. With a reject decision, a revision is not invited, and should an author resubmit the paper as a new version, it may be immediately rejected.

If you are invited to revise your paper, make sure you are methodical in your approach to tackling the revisions requested by the editor.

  • Read the letter and put it aside for a day or two. However well-framed the reviewer’s comments and criticisms of your paper, there is always a chance you may feel protective over the original paper you spent so much time writing. It is not always easy to receive criticism, so don’t rush to take action immediately.   Give yourself a few days to digest the reviewer comments before taking the next steps with your revision.
  • In most cases, it is likely that you will be able to follow the recommendations of the reviewers.
  • Organising the reviewer comments by ease of response or your ability to complete. For example, on a spectrum of requested revisions, spelling and grammar corrections would be at the easiest end, through to conducting extra experiments at the more difficult (or impossible) end.
  • Numbering each of the comments from each reviewer.
  • Taking a structured approach to revisions will also make it easier to respond. You will need to include a point-by-point response letter, detailing how you have addressed each reviewer point.   You do not need to perform every change requested of the reviewers, but you should provide a response as to why you have not done so. It may be that reviewers request conflicting things, or the additional experiments they suggest are not possible.
  • If you disagree with a comment made by one of the reviewers, try to provide an evidence-based explanation in your response.
  • Try to complete your revisions by the requested deadline. If you think you will need longer, let the journal know. They will probably be happy to grant you the extension, and it is courteous to keep them updated. In addition, some online review platforms may prevent you from submitting your revision once the due date expires, so asking for an extension will avoid this problem too.
  • Once your revisions are complete and you have detailed all your responses in your letter, check with any co-authors that they are all happy with the final versions before re-submitting to the journal.
  • For journals with online submission forms, be sure to submit as the revision of your original article so that it is easy for the editorial office and Editor to follow. Amend any relevant fields (such as title, abstract) that have changed during your revision process, provide related cover letters, revised manuscript files and reviewer response letter in the appropriate places in the forms.
  • Revisions may be sent to the previous reviewers to re-assess, or the Editor may make a decision independently. In some cases, new reviewers may be sought. As with the first submission, once all reviews have been submitted, the Editor will make a decision from the same set of categories and hopefully your paper will be accepted in just one or two rounds of resubmission. Some very strict journals will not invite a second speculative revision, but others may be more lenient and continue to invite revisions until the editor is satisfied of a decision to either Accept or Reject.

Having a submission rejected from your first-choice journal is something of an inevitability - every researcher has been rejected at some point in their careers. Even some of what we now consider ground-breaking and foundational studies were rejected from their first-choice journals. Hans Krebs' paper on citric acid cycle - the Krebs cycle – was rejected from Nature in 1937, and Kary Mullis’ first paper on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was rejected from Science in 1993, before going on to win the Nobel Prize. Rejection happens, quite literally, to the best of us.

If this should happen to you, try not be too disappointed. It does not mean there is no future for your paper. As with our revision recommendation, set aside the letter once you have read it and give yourself some time before tackling it.

When you are ready to proceed with your paper, consider the following steps:

  • From your shortlist of suitable journals for your paper, you might now consider your second-choice journal.
  • Another option to consider may be ‘Cascade Journals’. Some publishers now offer a chance to publish in a ‘Cascade journal’. These are usually open access titles, published by the same organisation. Some Cascade journals will require payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC). You may or may not be offered a reduced rate as part of the transfer to the related title. It is likely that the journal will transfer the reviews received at your first-choice journal to the ‘cascade journal’. This is intended to speed up the review process, or may mean the editor does not have to conduct any reviewing at all, but it does not guarantee acceptance at this journal. The editor will still need to make a decision as to whether your paper is suitable for the journal.
  • Firstly, it is likely that the comments the reviewers provided will help you improve aspects of your paper such as focusing the aims and purpose of your paper, sharpening the inferences made from your results, fine tuning the message you wish to convey, or improving the readability among many other positive edits.
  • Secondly, even in reasonably large research fields, there is a chance that the same reviewers who saw your paper at the first journal will be asked to review it at the new journal. It will not reflect favourably on you if you have not acknowledged or considered any of their comments from the first round of reviews.

When submitting the new version of your paper to your second journal, there is no need to include a letter responding to the original reviewers’ comments.

  • Check that the format of your paper meets the submission criteria of the new journal and make the appropriate amendments (remember, failure to comply with a journals Instructions For Authors is one of the most common causes of immediate rejection).
  • If you wish, write a cover letter to the new journal, explaining the relevance of your paper to the journal, and be sure to address the correct journal editor and journal name.
  • Complete your new submission to the journal.

After acceptance, you will usually be required to sign copyright or licensing documents, to give the publisher the rights to publish your article. Be sure to read these documents thoroughly to understand what you are signing.

If you would like to publish your article Open Access, Article Processing Charges are usually requested at this stage, and go hand-in-hand with the license you select, if such options are available.

Accepted papers are usually sent to a production team to format into journal style. Some have dedicated professional typesetters, copyeditors and proof-readers. For some journals, the Editors may contribute to these roles.

Some journals publish the Accepted version online within just a few days, to make it officially available before the final ‘Version of Record’ journal-styled PDF is made available.

Some journals publish articles online as soon as they are ready, into a queue of early publication manuscripts. Other journals hold all articles offline until each issue is full and publish each issue according to a defined schedule (for example, 4 times per year).

There are many different ways in which publishers and journals manage their post-acceptance stages and publication schedules. If the information about your article is not provided to you, you may contact the journal office for an update.

These are some of the more common processes and procedures that you will encounter and come to rely on throughout your research publishing career, but there may be many more variations to deal with. The submission process can be a time-consuming, frustrating experience, but with these tips, and building up your own repertoire of tools, resources and techniques, you will soon master the arts of submission and peer review.

Good luck with all your future submissions!

Further resources

Hervé Stolowy (2017) Letter from the Editor: Why Are Papers Desk Rejected at European Accounting Review? , European Accounting Review, 26:3, 411-418

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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.

4.3 Keywords

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.

4.4 Introduction

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.

4.5 Methods

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.

4.6 Results

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.

4.7 Discussion

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.

4.8 Conclusion

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.)

4.10 References

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

how to submit research paper to journal

[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]

David Sleeman

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 686,680 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

Step 1 Ask a colleague or professor to review your research 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.

Step 2 Revise your paper based on your reviewers’ recommendations.

  • 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.

Step 4 Submit your article when you feel it’s ready to go.

  • 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.

Step 5 Don’t panic when you get the journal’s initial response.

  • 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.

Matthew Snipp, PhD

  • 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! [6] X Research source

Step 7 Keep trying to get your paper published.

  • 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

Step 1 Familiarize yourself with potential publications.

  • 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.

Step 2 Choose the publication that best suits your research paper.

  • “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.

Step 3 Keep the circulation or exposure of the journal in mind.

  • 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. [11] X Research source

Strengthening Your Submission

Step 1 Give your paper a clear vision.

  • “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.”

Step 2 Narrow your focus.

  • 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.

Step 3 Write a top-notch abstract.

  • 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

how to submit research paper to journal

Expert Q&A

  • 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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  • ↑ Matthew Snipp, PhD. Research Fellow, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Expert Interview. 26 March 2020.
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About This Article

Matthew Snipp, PhD

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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