Hi, my name is Suzy Anderson and I’m a Business Manager for Emerald Group Publishing. Over the past two years I’ve been travelling around the world speaking to, and working with researchers to help them navigate the minefield that is getting their research published. I’ve been around South Africa, Botswanan, Swaziland, I’ve spoken to researchers in Malaysia and India, Australia and the USA, as well as of course from around the UK and Ireland as well.
What struck me most in my travels is not how different things are, but how researchers everywhere have the same basic needs, concerns and aspirations. As a researcher in Bradford College you have more things in common with a researcher in Swaziland than differences!
There are a few little gems that I’ve found in my travels, and I’ve been asked by your library to share these with you.
Reading for research versus reading for publication
How do you rate your skills searching for information? Pretty good? You can probably navigate your library’s discovery tools like a pro, are familiar with Google Scholar and all of the major databases, but as a quick challenge, write down the titles of the 3 main journals that you read on a regular basis. And no cheating by looking up your reference list!
Sorry are you finding this difficult?
You might do some provisional quality check before citing publications for your thesis, but when it comes to writing for publication, location and quality are everything. Do not fall into the trap of publishing in a low quality or scam journal just because there’s a website!
You are already reading widely in your field, so start paying attention to those key details. What is the journal called, who’s the editor and which company publishes the journal? Getting to know the styles and content of your preferred journal will help in writing appropriately for publication.
When it comes to selecting a journal, start by looking at the journals you read the most, cite from the most. It’s a good sign that they have a high affinity with the topic of your research, but remember, always read the author guidelines.
When to start the writing process
I get it, you’re excited, the research is complete and you have the energy and drive to sit down and write this article.
How upsetting and infuriating would it be if you spend weeks writing your article only to find that you’ve used the wrong style of references? How would you feel to find out that the subject matter isn’t covered in the journal, or that you have too many words and need to cut back significantly?
Writing an article before choosing a journal will not save you time, it costs you time, because every journal that you want to submit your article to will want to see that your article was targeted to their audience, their requirements and interests. So you would need to edit your article every time you submitted it somewhere else.
Save your time, read widely, target to the journal first… and then write!
Entering the journal conversation
When I first started to work with researchers on publishing, one of the common complaints I heard was that some of the standard advice from publishers didn’t make any sense, or couldn’t be applied in a practical way.
The most common example of this was the concept of “entering the journal conversation”. No one could really give an example of what this meant.
Anne Huff gives a brilliant example in her book “Writing for Scholarly Publication” which I’ve reinterpreted below. Hopefully it will give you a better idea of what this key concept means.
Imagine you are a guest at a wedding. In the reception, there are several tables filled with people having fun and talking to each other. Every table is talking about the same general topic, for example the US elections, but each table is looking at the topic from a different angle.
Table 1 is talking about the data security issues with Clinton using private servers
Table 2 is talking about Trump’s behaviour towards women
Table 3 is talking about the economic impact of each candidate winning
Table 4 is talking about the impact that each candidate could have on global politics
If you were to walk up to a table and just start talking about random Trump or Clinton facts you will find yourself feeling very foolish, possibly even ignored. You should always start by standing quietly, listening to what other people are saying and then making a decision as to whether you want to sit down or not.
This is why it is important to read back issues of the journal that you want to publish in, making a note of key themes, who are the major authors, what are the most cited papers.
I hope that this advice has been helpful to you, and I wish you all of the best in your future research publishing career.