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Mason Grad Insider’s Guide to Publishing: Part 2

February 24, 2017

Austin Deray

This week’s Insider continues our publishing series.[i]  Last week, we went over the first three steps of publishing: Step 1: Identify your audience; Step 2: Familiarize Yourself; and Step 3: Know the Guidelines. This week we will continue our guide into publishing with steps 4-6. Let’s get started!

Step 4: Follow these General Rules and Guidelines

Besides knowing the style guidelines for specific disciplines (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, AMA), there are some specific rules and guidelines to keep in mind when publishing.

  1. Before submitting, read and follow the instructions for authors provided by the particular journal you are targeting (see the journal’s web page for these instructions). For instance, a journal may follow APA style for citations and references, but have specific requirements for formatting that differ from the APA style.
  2. Before submitting, ask a mentor or peer (hopefully, someone with expertise in the field) to review your manuscript and offer suggestions to improve both grammar and content for your article.
  3. Before submitting, make sure this is new (previously unpublished) material and remember to submit to one journal at a time.
  4. Before submitting, try to link your article to coming themes or special issue calls for best success.
  5. Before submitting, as my gender thesis chair would say, “No one wants to read an article with a boring title.” Find a good title for your article, something that will grab attention.
  6. Before submitting, try to use effective keywords in your title and abstract.[ii]

Step 5: Avoid these Common Publishing Errors

Keep these common errors in mind, so that you won’t make them yourself.

  1. Lack of familiarity with journal and audience
  2. As already stated, wrong style—check journal guidelines
  3. GRAMMATICAL ERRORS! (yes, I am using shouty capitals)
  4. Failure to establish your credibility/qualifications. People want to know you are qualified to speak on what you are discussing in your work.[iii]

Step 6: Manage an Acceptance or Rejection

Your article has been accepted! It is rare for your article to be accepted the first time out, even rarer without any comments and need for edits. So, make the edits if you agree with them; if not, thank them for their time and comments and shop your article elsewhere.

Expect to get conditionally accepted, often known as a “revise and resubmit” decision. One or two peer reviewers will have read your manuscript, and it is now time to make edits. Paul J. Silvia, in How to Write a Lot, relates there are three forms of acceptances: Open Doors, Wide-open Doors, and Barely Open Doors.

  1. Open Doors are when “the editor is willing to consider a revised version of your manuscript. This category ranges from encouraging letters that imply likely acceptance to discouraging letters that imply a long slog of revision.”
  2. “Wide-open doors involve easy changes, such as rewriting parts of the text or adding information.”
  3. Finally, “barely open doors involve effortful changes, such as collecting more data and rethinking the conceptual basis for your research. Sometimes, editors say that they’ll treat heavily revised manuscripts as new submissions.”[iv]

Lastly, there will be the times you get the dreaded rejection, or as Silvia calls it the Closed Door. “When the door is closed, the editor never wants to see your manuscript again. Sometimes, closed-door rejections encourage you to submit your manuscript elsewhere; other times, the editor mails you a personal shredder for destroying all known copies of the manuscript. If the door is closed, don’t antagonize the editor by resubmitting the manuscript.”[v] He is speaking bluntly and with humor, but it is good advice to heed. First and foremost, keep calm and collected. Rejection is a part of life and it’s why there are resubmission options. Sometimes your work isn’t up to snuff and you need to do some major editing before sending it to a new journal.

Well, I hope you found this blog helpful and remember to check out Mason Grad Insider’s next blog. Kay Ágoston will guest writing and speaking about the Fulbright opportunities for graduate and professional students.

Have a great weekend,


[i] Inspiration and content coming from Thriving in Graduate School Workshop: “Creating a Publication Plan and How to Write a Lot” and PROV 601 Presentation by John W. Warren, George Mason University Press.

[ii] Presentation by John W. Warren, George Mason University Press.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Paul J. Silvia, How to Write a Lot, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Press, 2007, 91-3.

[v] Ibid., 93.

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