Publishing Paranoia

I am tasked with finishing the final draft for my very first manuscript. I have never submitted any academic work for publishing before, and I am starting to realise that I am getting very good at procrastinating. Why do I keep delaying it? To be honest, it is because I am getting really fearful of getting rejected.

I attended quite a few sessions on academic publishing late last year. Most academics have also tried to comfort us higher degree researchers by telling us rejections are just part of the publishing process. They remind us that the more you publish, the more times you get rejected. I guess in my head at the moment, I am telling myself that at least if I don’t even try, if I don’t submit it, then there will be no chance of getting rejected. Having said that, there will be no chance of ever getting published either, and then there goes any hope for a research or academic career. So, I will finish the manuscript and discuss the final copy with my supervisor.

In the meantime, here are a few things to think about that I have learned from the various information sessions on academic publishing.


Why are you doing research? Who are we doing the research for? Remember that we are doing research to advance knowledge in our respective fields. We cannot keep this new information to ourselves. Our goal is to publish and communicate our findings.

Which journal do I submit to?

Think about the audience and the specific field of study you are involved in. This will help narrow down the list of journals that you will consider submitting to. You may also like to consider the experts and researchers that are listed on the editorial board, ensuring they are the appropriate experts who can appropriately evaluate your contribution. Also, balance considerations between the publication’s impact factor alongside their speed of feedback, as you may not want to wait an entire year for feedback or a decision on your manuscript. Having said that, it may be worth your while if the impact factor is critical to your specific study and your field of specialisation. Finally, also look at your manuscript’s reference list and see whether there are journals you’ve referenced that you would consider submitting to as well.

Is it a contribution?

Make sure to read the author guidelines very carefully and decide whether your research aligns with the journal’s aims and scope. One of the sessions I attended cautioned us that, although we feel very strongly about our research, the reality is that not all results are equal. Some results are valuable, while others are not considered significant. Try to find out how the manuscripts are evaluated and what is considered a contribution. Looking up past published work from that journal will be helpful.

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