What to pay attention to when submitting your article
Now you have written your article, received feedback from colleagues, and carried out editing, it is almost ready for submission. However, there are still several important factors to consider ahead of submission. In this article we will cover several key things you need to do and check.
Writing your cover letter
The main aim of your cover letter is to convince the editor that your paper is a good fit for their journal and will be of interest to readers. The cover letter is an opportunity for you to let the editor know what your paper is about. Always check and see if the journal has any specific requirements that should be followed when writing your cover letter; several publishers include examples of cover letters, or cover letter templates online. There are certain things that should always be included:
✦ The title of your manuscript should be in the cover letter. Your title, as was addressed in the webinar modules, should be concise and informative.
✦ A very brief summary of the paper including the methodology used and the main findings.
✦ A brief statement about why readers would be interested in this manuscript and what the study contributes to the field.
✦ The type of submission if the journal accepts different types of articles. Some examples include original research, a review of research, or a research-in-progress paper.
✦ The name of the editor or editors and the title of the journal to which you are submitting.
✦ Confirmation that the manuscript has not been submitted anywhere else for publication.
Selecting preferred reviewers
When you submit an article for consideration you can often suggest preferred reviewers. For many reasons, selecting review by people we know can be appealing. However, there are several aspects you need to take into consideration when suggesting reviewers. Do not select reviewers where there might be any conflict of interest. For example, you should not select a reviewer who has conducted research with you, even if they are not an author on the current paper. You are really being asked to select a reviewer that you believe has specific expertise that makes them valuable in reviewing the paper’s content. That person should also be able to conduct an unbiased review of your work. So, while suggesting people who work in the same field as you is a good idea, suggesting people you work directly with is not. Finally, it is generally best to avoid suggesting reviewers altogether unless the journal specifically asks you to do so.
Checking that the article is ready
When you are finally ready to submit the article, you should check through the following points one last time:
✓ Make sure that you have performed a thorough spelling and grammar check and have corrected any typos. Writing an academic paper takes many iterations of writing and editing, and by the time the paper is complete, the author is often so familiar with the writing that it is difficult to spot errors. Having a colleague, or a professional service proof your article can both ensure it is error free and save you time. In addition, many professional services, like Charlesworth Author Services, can review the article in terms of the accuracy of its academic English and provide suggestions for edits. Charlesworth Author Services can also help you check for any instances of inadvertent plagiarism, which you can then remove or add citations for as appropriate.
✓ Go through the journal’s guidelines for authors one more time and make sure you have followed these exactly. The last thing you want to have happen is your paper being returned or rejected because you did not follow the guidelines. If possible, have a support service or professional service check through everything for you. Make sure to check all the following elements:
✓ Abstract. Check that the word count is correct and that the formatting style is the style required by the journal (e.g. APA, MLA, etc.)
✓ Body of article. Check that the headings and subheadings use the correct formatting style. Find out whether your figures should be included in the body of the paper or submitted as additional files. Make sure the word count is at or below the maximum allowed by the journal. When checking whether the word count is correct, make sure you have included all the sections that the journal guidelines state are counted towards it (e.g. text, figures and tables, references, appendices.)
✓ Citations and references. Check that all your citations are accurate, are included in your reference list, and are formatted appropriately. Also check that your reference list is formatted correctly.
✓ Appendices and visuals. Read the formatting requirements for tables, graphs, images and appendices. If you are required to submit separate files for these, make sure it is clear what each file is and that you have included in-text references for everything.
✓ Be certain that you understand how to submit your paper using the submission process the journal requires. Many journals use an online platform for submission. So, visit this platform, make sure that you have an account and that you understand how the platform works. Some journals ask you to email your manuscript, in which case make sure you clearly label the different file attachments so the editor can clearly see what you have included. Be sure that you have used the suggested file type (e.g. a word doc, pdf file, etc.) when submitting your paper by email or through an online platform.
✓ Be sure that there are no occurrences of inadvertent plagiarism in your paper. Plagiarism can happen inadvertently, especially in sections where you are discussing and summarising prior research. Additionally, writers sometimes forget to check for self-plagiarism. Plagiarism is frowned upon in the academic world, even when it is inadvertent, and can also lead to your paper being rejected. Conducting a plagiarism check is therefore incredibly important, and Charlesworth Author Services can carry this check out for you using industry-leading technology, iThenticate.
Why articles are typically rejected
The main reason articles are generally rejected ahead of peer-review is because they are not deemed a good fit for the journal. This could be because the type of article submitted is not what the journal publishes. It might be because the subject is not a topic that is within the scope of that journal. Writing errors are another reason that many articles are rejected. Grammatical and spelling errors or incoherent writing will contribute to this. English language errors can also lead to rejection, and if there are many English language errors it can impact the reviewer's ability to understand the research being reported. Minimising, or ideally eliminating these errors is very important. If possible use a professional proofing and editing service to help with this.
Remember you are much more likely to be published if you submit to the right journal and:
✓ Have an important research question.
✓ Used the right method to answer it.
✓ Wrote a clear account of the study.
✓ Followed a tight structure.
✓ Used effective writing to convey your message clearly.
✓ Submitted an error free paper.
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