Getting your research published in reputable journals can be challenging, especially for early career researchers. It can be a long road ahead, but it is not an impossible task. Here are eight useful tips to increase your chances of getting in and out of the publication pipeline, as discussed by Cavite State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Dean Melbourne R. Talactac during a webinar.
TIP #1: DON'T WAIT FOR A SIGN
If you want to have a published work, you must think and act like you are going to have one. The entire publication process from submission, peer-review, to revision, and actual publication will take months, so give ample time to prepare yourself in writing your manuscript.
But if you are still looking for that sign to start working on your drafts - THIS IS IT.
TIP #2: MAKE A LIST OF YOUR TARGET JOURNALS
In creating your list of target journals, Dr. Talactac said that it can be according to the journal’s scope and impact factor, the type of research paper, or the amount of publication fees.
Those who are aiming for their first publication are welcome to explore local or domestic journals. It will give you experience, and it might just be the right match for your research topic.
He also recommended submitting to specialized discipline-focused journals especially if your research topic is highly technical, so that it can have higher chances of getting reviewed and published. You can aim your submission first to journals with higher impact factor, but remember that it may not be a sure success because of the strict selection criteria and the tough competition among authors.
Another option for authors may also depend on the research results. According to Dr. Talactac, data and research results that need to be disseminated immediately, or are not large enough to produce a full-length research article may instead be submitted for research-in-brief publication.
Unless your research is funded or sponsored by a particular institution or government agency, your list will also depend on your personal budget for article processing charges or publication fees. Aside from avoiding pay-to-publish journals, Dr. Talactac reminded that it is not only the predatory journals that charge high, but also reputable international journals and open access journals. “But you may also apply for a waiver or discount when you are from lower-middle income economy countries,” he added.
After creating the list, you can check with the journals’ websites if your research topic matches with their intent, approach, scope, and target readers. Some editors may also entertain inquiries about the manuscript’s suitability with their journals, so be ready to send them a copy of your abstract.
TIP #3: WRITE ACCORDING TO THE JOURNAL GUIDELINES
With one’s lack of confidence being identified as a barrier to publishing, Dr. Talactac encouraged researchers to feel confident in their ability and in the quality of their works.
One good strategy is to write research according to the manuscript guidelines of your target journals. This can improve researchers’ skills in summarizing their study and findings. This will also save you time because you no longer need to convert and summarize your study from the dissertation format to the journal article format.
TIP #4: INITIATE INTERACTION WITH OTHER RESEARCHERS AND EVEN EXPERTS
One of the best ways to learn and improve in this field is to get tips and motivation from experienced researchers.
According to Dr. Talactac, you can take advantage of conferences and start talking to experts in your field of interest, and you might just unlock an opportunity to work with them!
He also suggested creating an account and following experts and other researchers on academic social networking sites like ResearchGate, Academia, and even Google Scholar. These platforms allow you to list your expertise and research interests, and build your online presence as a researcher. “Editors will sometimes do background checking so better be searchable on the Internet,” he added.
Aside from the opportunities for new research projects, the network you build may help you with editing or proofreading your work. Dr. Talactac recommended engaging a “critical friend” to review your manuscript. This will save you some costs, compared to when you subscribe to proofreading and reference management software.
TIP #5: PREPARE FOR YOUR SUBMISSIONS
Since most manuscripts are submitted online, make sure that you have a stable internet connection. After ensuring that your journal is written based on the format or guidelines, you also need to check the quality of the photos, figures, and graphs that you will be including in your manuscript.
Dr. Talactac also stressed the importance of writing an effective cover letter, as this helps support and promote your paper. Here are some questions you need to ask after writing your cover letter:
- Did I properly address the editors?
- Did I introduce my study and highlight its significance?
- Did I assure the journal that the research has not been published?
- Did I assure the journal that my co-authors agreed to this submission?
- Did I suggest reputable peer-reviewers?
- Did I include my complete contact information?
TIP #6: SEE THE GOOD SIDE IN REJECTIONS AND REVISIONS
“Rejection is not as common as you think. What is more common though, is the non-submission after peer-review,” Dr. Talactac said. Early-career researchers must remember that rejections and comments to the manuscript are not personal attacks. Comments from the peer-review process point out areas that need improvement in your paper.
Rejections may also just mean that there is intense competition among researchers, or that your study is more compatible with the research interest and target audience of other journals.
The keynote speaker also cautioned researchers not to engage with journals having poor word-of-mouth reputation, in terms of submission requirements, peer-review duration, and editor or reviewer ratings.
Similar to reading product specifications and reviews, researchers can also perform quick background checks on journals through online search engines, forums, and sites like PubMed and ScienceDirect.
TIP #7: STRATEGIZE YOUR SUBMISSIONS
According to Dr. Talactac, the initial peer-review process usually takes 4 weeks or longer, while further review and final confirmation takes several more months. If the budget for the publication or processing costs would not be an issue, you can consider submitting to open access journals first. Open access journals are said to have a faster review process compared to traditional publications.
Researchers have to be really patient in waiting for the reviewer’s comments, but you can also make a follow-up with the editors especially if the delay can mess up your schedule for submission with other journals.
TIP #8: GET PUBLISHED EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT THE FIRST AUTHOR
Not every researcher got published as the first author right away, and it is completely fine to set a short-term goal of getting published regardless of your place in the list of authors. “Just always remember, the first step is the hardest step, and you don’t need to be alone in this research journey,” Dr. Talactac said while presenting a 2001 article from the science journal Nature that had more than 100 authors.
Looking at it again, your work got published and it is a success credited to you! From there, you have already started building your experience and confidence, and these will help you improve until your name appears first in the article’s list of authors.
Concluding his presentation, Dr. Talactac emphasized that it is almost a “moral obligation” for authors, especially those from academic and research institutions, to have their manuscripts peer-reviewed and published. Doing so contributes to scientific knowledge, and helps maintain the integrity of scientific research.
Dr. Talactac graduated from UPLB’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. He currently has published 31 papers in refereed international journals, receiving a Hirsch index (H-index) of 9. This H-index measures the impact of the scientist rather than the journal, and meant that he had 9 published papers, each cited at least 9 times. He is also a co-author of two research outputs that were patented in South Korea and Japan.
The webinar, broadcasted via Zoom and Facebook Live, was organized by the Southern Tagalog Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research, Development and Extension Consortium (STAARRDEC).
STAARRDEC is composed of state colleges and universities and government agencies, and “enables the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development to conserve scarce resources, minimize research duplications, and complement and integrate R&D efforts.”