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How to Get Published
in a Peer-Reviewed Journal

Written by Marissa Poulson

Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal is an affirmation of your expertise, the quality of your research, and your credibility as a scholar. Obviously, the first and most extensive step in the process is developing your manuscript. However, actually getting that manuscript published takes a lot of preparation, a strong attention to detail, and our favorite—time.

The good news is as a Northcentral University student or alum, you have access to NCU faculty and staff who have been published in peer-reviewed journals and some who act as journal reviewers or editors. We touched base with two experienced NCU team members to bring you five important steps in your quest to getting published.

1. Journal Search and Selection

Finding the right journal for your work is an important step in getting published. Irrelevant submissions are often quickly rejected, and you can only apply to one journal at a time, which makes the decision that much more important. Dr. Daphne Halkias, NCU dissertation chair and editor in chief of the International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, says you should choose a scientific journal with a good reputation and one that closely aligns with your topic.

“Are the editor and editorial board high profile? Is it Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) ranked or ranked highly with other metrics? Do its topic and research goals align with yours? These are all questions you should consider asking when choosing a journal,” says Halkias.

“Once you have a list of a few highly relevant journals, read the journal descriptions,” adds Dr. Tara Lehan, director of research curriculum and practice for the Graduate School at NCU and a reviewer for the Brain Injury, Disability and Rehabilitation Journal. “If your research is applied, you should submit the manuscript to a journal that emphasizes practice. If your research is more theoretical in nature, choose a journal that emphasizes theory.”

2. Manuscript Preparation

“Once you’ve selected the most appropriate journal, read the instructions to authors and follow them exactly when preparing your manuscript,” urges Lehan. Think of it as applying for a job. Just as your résumé and cover letter must be tailored to that specific job, you need to ensure that your manuscript’s formatting and citations match the journal’s guidelines.

Another important part of the preparation process is having someone else review your work. “Be sure your paper has been read by two independent reviewers with an emphasis on any language issues,” advises Halkias.

“Since you know the information so well, you might not realize if parts of the manuscript are unclear or inconsistent,” adds Lehan. “A colleague or friend can help to point out these areas and serve as a preliminary reviewer in this process.”

“Since you know the information so well, you might not realize if parts of the manuscript are unclear or inconsistent. A colleague or friend can help to point out these areas and serve as preliminary reviewers in this process.”

Dr. Tara Lehan

3. Manuscript Submission

Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? However, similar to the preparation stage, you also need to follow precise instructions when submitting your manuscript.

“Journals provide details about their submission requirements,” notes Lehan. “For example, you might have to include the name and contact information of the corresponding author and/or an acknowledgment of the funding source(s). Many times, if you do not follow these guidelines, your manuscript will not be considered for publication.”

4. Initial Response

There may be a significant wait period (up to eight months) before you receive a response to your submission. That said, when the day arrives, you can expect a few things:

“You’ll receive an initial disposition (e.g. accept, accept with revisions, revise/resubmit, reject), a letter from the editor, and multiple reviews,” explains Lehan. “Very few manuscripts are accepted without revisions following the first review, so if you receive an invitation to resubmit the manuscript, be sure to fully address any feedback in the document. You might highlight all of the changes and/or create a document that explains how you addressed each issue with a corresponding page number,” she adds.

Reviewing the feedback is important even if your manuscript is rejected. This information can shed light on areas you may need to improve for resubmission or submission to another journal.

5. Final Response

If your manuscript was not rejected or accepted in the initial response, you will receive a final response following revision and/or resubmission of your manuscript (and another wait).

No matter what, remember that getting published is a process. Having your manuscript rejected is common, and you shouldn’t take it personally. Each new submission is a chance to learn and grow from any feedback you receive.