Publishing in Journals

The process of submitting and publishing research articles can appear daunting and there's no simple formula for getting published - We have put together some tips on getting published which you may find useful.

Structuring your research paper

Title - The title is the part of your paper which will be read the most, often it is the only part which will be read, try to use the fewest words possible which adequately describe the paper's contents.

Abstract - The abstract is a concise (usually one paragraph) summary of the entire paper, including research objectives, methodologies used, results and conclusions. Be careful not to include conclusions that aren't stated later in the paper.

Introduction - The introduction should allow the reader to understand the rest of your paper without needing to consult previous publications on the the topic. The introduction should also contain a brief summary of the literature with which you will engage, a research question that derives from that literature, and a brief explanation of how you will answer that question. Include paragraphs to define any conceptual terms you are using, as well as outlining your research questions and methodology.

Argument - You can assert your argument within the introduction, but you will need to include an argument in order to get published.

Body - The body of a paper reports on the actual research done to answer the research question or problem identified in the introduction. Often, the body comprises several sections and subsections, whereas structure, organisation and content depend heavily on the type of paper, publication outlet, publisher and the creativity of the authors.

Generally, the body of a paper answers two questions, how the research question was addressed (materials and methodologies used) and what results emerged.

Discussion - the discussion section (sometimes this can be labelled as ‘Discussion and Conclusion’, or ‘Conclusion’) is the counterpart to the introduction since this part should lead the reader from narrow or specific results to more general conclusions. Generally, this part incorpates:

  • Background information as well as reiteration of the research aims of the study.
  • A brief summary of the results.
  • Comparison of this study's results with those of previously published studies.
  • Conclusions or hypotheses drawn from the results, with a summary of evidence for each conclusion, and any proposed follow-up research questions and further work.
  • A discussion about the significance and implications of the results.

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References - this is a crucial element of research writing. You should cite related work within the text and by list all of the cited references which were used at the end of the paper. Different publishers require different formats or styles for citing a paper in the text and for listing references. The most commonly used referencing systems are variations of:

  • Name and year system. References are cited by their respective authors and the year of publication, e.g. ‘Portes and Rumbaut 2001 define… ’. This is a very convenient system for authors, as the citation does not have to be changed when adding or removing references from the list.
  • Alphabet-number system. This system lists the references in alphabetical order and cites them by their respective number in parentheses or [square brackets], e.g. ‘As reported in [3]… ’.
  • Citation order system. This system is similar to the alphabet-number system with one major difference: the reference list is not sorted alphabetically, but in the order of appearance (citation by number) in the text.
  • There are many other citation methods, check the publishing guide for the journal's template

Submitting your work

Pick the right journal! - you should recognise at least some of the editorial board, check that your work is within the scope of the journal that you are submitting to. This seems really obvious but it’s surprising how many articles are submitted to journals that are completely inappropriate. Take a look through a number of recent issues to ensure that the journal is publishing articles on the same topic and that are of similar quality and impact.

Timing - Think about how much time you have before you need an acceptance letter. Scholars may only submit a given paper to one journal at a time. Peer reviewers can be hard for editors to chase down. Loosely speaking, time to publication correlates with how well an editorial office is run and, if a journal is publishing late or an editor does not respond to an inquiry about average time ranges, these are indicators that your manuscript may not appear quickly. You can assess a journal's timeliness by checking that the online publication date of issues corresponds with the cover publication date. Additionally, you could contact the editor and ask for the time range of their review process

Follow the correct submissions procedure - Take the time to carefully read the instructions to authors. This can save enormous quantities of time for both the author and the editor and expedites the process when the correct procedure is adhered to.

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