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How to publish your research

A step-by-step guide to getting published.

Publishing your research is an important step in your academic career. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, this guide is designed to take you through the typical steps in publishing a research paper.

Discover how to get your paper published, from choosing the right journal and understanding what a peer reviewed article is, to responding to reviewers and navigating the production process.

Jump to section

Step 1: choosing a journal.

Choosing which journal to publish your research paper in  is one of the most significant decisions you have to make as a researcher. Where you decide to submit your work can make a big difference to the reach and impact your research has.

It’s important to take your time to consider your options carefully and analyze each aspect of journal submission – from shortlisting titles to your preferred method of publication, for example  open access. 

Don’t forget to think about publishing options beyond the traditional journals format – for example, open research platform  F1000Research , which offers rapid, open publication for a wide range of outputs.

Vector illustration depicting two characters choosing a journal from a screen which is in the middle of them.

Why choose your target journal before you start writing?

The first step in publishing a research paper should always be selecting the journal you want to publish in. Choosing your target journal before you start writing means you can tailor your work to build on research that’s already been published in that journal. This can help editors to see how a paper adds to the ‘conversation’ in their journal.

Vector illustration of a character wearing blue, facing away, holding a giant magnifying glass.

In addition, many journals only accept specific manuscript formats of article. So, by choosing a journal before you start, you can write your article to their specifications and audience, and ultimately improve your chances of acceptance.

To save time and for peace of mind, you can consider using  manuscript formatting experts  while you focus on your research.

How to select the journal to publish your research in

Choosing which journal to publish your research in can seem like an overwhelming task. So, for all the details of how to navigate this important step in publishing your research paper, take a look at  our choosing a journal guide . This will take you through the selection process, from understanding the aims and scope of the journals you’re interested in to making sure you choose a trustworthy journal.

Don’t forget to explore  our journal suggester  to see which Taylor & Francis journals could be right for your research.

how to submit research paper

Go to guidance on choosing a journal

Step 2: writing your paper.

Writing an effective, compelling research paper  is vital to getting your research published. But if you’re new to putting together academic papers, it can feel daunting to start from scratch.

The good news is that if you’ve chosen the journal you want to publish in, you’ll have lots of examples already published in that journal to base your own paper on. We’ve gathered advice on every aspect of writing your paper, to make sure you get off to a great start.

How to write your paper

How you write your paper will depend on your chosen journal, your subject area, and the type of paper you’re writing. Everything from the style and structure you choose to the audience you should have in mind while writing will differ, so it’s important to think about these things before you get stuck in.

Our  writing your paper guide  will take you through everything you need to know to put together your research article and prepare it for submission. This includes getting to know your target journal, understanding your audiences, how to choose appropriate keywords, as a  guide through your research publication journey .

Vector illustration of a large open laptop, with four puzzle pieces that are blue and pink on the screen, and three characters stood around the laptop pointing at the puzzle pieces.

You should also make sure you’re aware of all  editorial policies  for the journal you plan to submit to. Don’t forget that you can contact our  editing services  to help you refine your manuscript.

how to submit research paper

Discover advice and guidance for writing your paper

Step 3: making your submission.

Once you’ve chosen the right journal and written your manuscript, the next step in publishing your research paper is  to make your submission .

Each journal will have specific submission requirements, so make sure you visit  Taylor & Francis Online  and carefully check through the  instructions for authors  for your chosen journal.

How to submit your manuscript

To submit your manuscript you’ll need to ensure that you’ve gone through all the steps in our  making your submission  guide. This includes thoroughly understanding your chosen journal’s instructions for authors, writing an effective cover letter, navigating the journal’s submission system, and ensuring your research data is prepared as required.

You can also  improve your submission experience  with our guide to avoid obstacles and complete a seamless submission.

Vector illustration of two characters either side of a laptop with their arms in the air. A lightbulb is rising from the laptop.

To make sure you’ve covered everything before you hit ‘submit’ you can also take a look at our  ‘ready to submit’ checklist (don’t forget, you should only submit to one journal at a time).

how to submit research paper

Understand the process of making your submission

Step 4: navigating the peer review process.

Now you’ve submitted your manuscript, you need to get to grips with one of the most important parts of publishing your research paper –  the peer review process .

What is peer review?

Peer review is the independent assessment of your research article by independent experts in your field. Reviewers, also sometimes called ‘referees’, are asked to judge the validity, significance, and originality of your work.

This process ensures that a peer-reviewed article has been through a rigorous process to make sure the methodology is sound, the work can be replicated, and it fits with the aims and scope of the journal that is considering it for publication. It acts as an important form of quality control for research papers.

Vector illustration showing a checklist, person with a magnifying glass, mug of hot drink to show the different elements of peer review.

Peer review is also a very useful source of feedback, helping you to improve your paper before it’s published. It is intended to be a collaborative process, where authors engage in a dialogue with their peers and receive constructive feedback and support to advance their work.

Almost all research articles go through peer review, although in some cases the journal may operate post-publication peer review, which means that reviews and reader comments are invited after the paper is published.

If you’ll like to feel more confident before getting your work peer reviewed by the journal, you may want to consider using an  in-depth technical review service from experts.

Understanding peer review

Peer review can be a complex process to get your head around. That’s why we’ve put together a  comprehensive guide to understanding peer review . This explains everything from the many different types of peer review to the step-by-step peer review process and how to revise your manuscript. It also has helpful advice on what to do if your manuscript is rejected.

how to submit research paper

Visit our peer review guide for authors

Step 5: the production process.

If your paper is accepted for publication, it will then head into  production . At this stage of the process, the paper will be prepared for publishing in your chosen journal.

A lot of the work to produce the final version of your paper will be done by the journal production team, but your input will be required at various stages of the process.

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What do you need to do during production?

During production, you’ll have a variety of tasks to complete and decisions to make. For example, you’ll need to check and correct proofs of your article and consider whether or not you want to  produce a video abstract  to accompany it.

Take a look at  our guide to the production process  to find out what you’ll need to do in this final step to getting your research published.

Your research is published – now what?

You’ve successfully navigated publishing a research paper – congratulations! But the process doesn’t stop there. Now your research is published in a journal for the world to see, you’ll need to know  how to access your article  and  make sure it has an impact .

Here’s a  quick tip on how to boost your research impact  by investing in making your accomplishments stand out.

Below you’ll find helpful tips and post-publication support. From how to communicate about your research to how to request corrections or translations.

How to access your published article

When you publish with Taylor & Francis, you’ll have access to a new section on Taylor & Francis Online called  Authored Works . This will give you and all other named authors perpetual access to your article, regardless of whether or not you have a subscription to the journal you have published in.

You can also  order print copies of your article .

How to make sure your research has an impact

Taking the time to make sure your research has an impact can help drive your career progression, build your networks, and secure funding for new research. So, it’s worth investing in.

Creating a real impact with your work can be a challenging and time-consuming task, which can feel difficult to fit into an already demanding academic career.

To help you understand what impact means for you and your work, take a look at  our guide to research impact . It covers why impact is important, the different types of impact you can have, how to achieve impact – including tips on communicating with a variety of audiences – and how to measure your success.

how to submit research paper

Keeping track of your article’s progress

Through your  Authored Works access , you’ll be able to get real-time insights about your article, such as views, downloads and citation numbers.

In addition, when you publish an article with us, you’ll be offered the option to sign up for email updates. These emails will be sent to you three, six and twelve months after your article is published to let you know how many views and citations the article has had.

Corrections and translations of published articles

Sometimes after an article has been published it may be necessary to make a change to the  Version of Record . Take a look at our dedicated  guide to corrections, expressions of concern, retractions and removals  to find out more.

You may also be interested in translating your article into another language. If that’s the case, take a look at our  information on article translations .

how to submit research paper

Go to your guide on moving through production

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Publishing with Elsevier: step-by-step

Learn about the publication process and how to submit your manuscript. This tutorial will help you find the right journal and maximize the chance to be published.

1. Find a journal

Find out the journals that could be best suited for publishing your research. Match your manuscript using the JournalFinder tool, then learn more about each journal.


Powered by the Elsevier Fingerprint Engine™, Elsevier JournalFinder uses smart search technology and field-of-research-specific vocabularies to match your article to Elsevier journals.

Find out more about a journal

Learn about each journal's topics, impact and submission policies.

Find a journal by name

2. Prepare your paper for submission

Download our get published quick guide , which outlines the essential steps in preparing a paper. (This is also available in Chinese ). It is very important that you stick to the specific "guide for authors" of the journal to which you are submitting. This can be found on the journal's home page.

You can find information about the publishing process in the understanding the publishing process guide. It covers topics such as authors' rights, ethics and plagiarism, and journal and article metrics.

If you have research data to share, make sure you read the guide for authors to find out which options the journal offers to share research data with your article.

Read more on preparing your paper

Read about publishing in a special issue

3. Submit and revise

You can submit to most Elsevier journals using our online systems.  The system you use will depend on the journal to which you submit. You can access the relevant submission system via the "submit your paper" link on the Elsevier.com journal homepage of your chosen journal.

Alternatively, if you have been invited to submit to a journal, follow the instructions provided to you.

Once submitted, your paper will be considered by the editor and if it passes initial screening, it will be sent for peer review by experts in your field. If deemed unsuitable for publication in your chosen journal, the editor may suggest you transfer your submission to a more suitable journal, via an article transfer service.

Read more on how to submit and revise

4. Track your paper

Track your submitted paper.

You can track the status of your submitted paper online. The system you use to track your submission will be the same system to which you submitted. Use the reference number you received after submission to track your submission.

Unsure about what the submission status means? Check out this video .

In case of any problems contact the Support Center

Track your accepted paper

Once your paper is accepted for publication, you will receive a reference number and a direct link that lets you follow its publication status via Elsevier’s "Track Your Accepted Article" service.

However, even without a notification you can track the status of your article by entering your article reference number and corresponding author surname in Track Your Accepted Article .

Read more about the article tracking service

5. Share and promote

Now that your article is published, you can promote it to achieve a bigger impact for your research. Sharing research, accomplishments and ambitions with a wider audience makes you more visible in your field. This helps you get cited more, enabling you to cultivate a stronger reputation, promote your research and move forward in your career.

Read more on sharing your research After publication, celebrate and get noticed!

Elsevier.com visitor survey

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how to submit research paper

How to Submit a Paper for Publication in a Journal

Table of Contents

Whether you’ve done it before, or not, submitting a paper for publication in a journal is, to say the least, a process that brings great anxiety and stress. After all your hard work for many months, or even years, recognition is finally at your grasp. That is why there no room for mistakes.

What to Expect of the Scientific Publishing Process

If you are a beginner, you might be struggling to know exactly what to do. After all, it is a step-by-step process, sometimes with a lot of players and paperwork involved; it’s not always evident what to do next. An excellent, high-quality manuscript is the best way to give a good impression from the beginning, putting your paper on the right track for a successful submission. At Elsevier, with our Language Editing services , we not only revise your manuscript, but guarantee there are no text errors.

If, on the other hand, you have already published articles, you might have enough experience to know that each paper submission in a journal is different. Either the journal is different, or the context has changed, or the peers are new. You never know what can go right or wrong, other than the variable that lies under your control – that the manuscript is error-free and spot-on for successful acceptance. In this case, you might consider Elsevier’s professional Language Editing services to amend your text to the target journal’s requirements, helping you focus on other projects.

Scientific Paper Submission. Are you ready? Let’s go!

For many researchers, putting their paper through the professional journal submission process is stressful. Here is a simple to-do list which might help you go through all of it with some peace of mind:

Now, what happens if your paper gets rejected by the journal ? It is, by no means, the end of the world. There are very real steps you can take to ultimately get published in a reputable journal.

The Science of Article Publishing

Article publishing is every researcher’s aim. It brings visibility and recognition, essential factors for those who intend to build a full career in research. However, most scientists feel handicapped or lost when it comes to conveying their findings or ideas to others. For many, it can be difficult to re-format a certain type of text to another, be aware of formatting requirements and translate their work into visually appealing outcomes. Additionally, keeping track of all the steps needed to submit an article for publication can be overwhelming and take too much time that could be spent doing new research.

At Elsevier, we believe everyone should be doing what they do best: in this case, leave research for scientists and leave the science of turning the best ideas into excellent quality text to our professionals.

Language Editing Services by Elsevier Author Services:

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How to Write and Publish a Research Paper in 7 Steps

What comes next after you're done with your research? Publishing the results in a journal of course! We tell you how to present your work in the best way possible.

This post is part of a series, which serves to provide hands-on information and resources for authors and editors.

Things have gotten busy in scholarly publishing: These days, a new article gets published in the 50,000 most important peer-reviewed journals every few seconds, while each one takes on average 40 minutes to read. Hundreds of thousands of papers reach the desks of editors and reviewers worldwide each year and 50% of all submissions end up rejected at some stage.

In a nutshell: there is a lot of competition, and the people who decide upon the fate of your manuscript are short on time and overworked. But there are ways to make their lives a little easier and improve your own chances of getting your work published!

Well, it may seem obvious, but before submitting an academic paper, always make sure that it is an excellent reflection of the research you have done and that you present it in the most professional way possible. Incomplete or poorly presented manuscripts can create a great deal of frustration and annoyance for editors who probably won’t even bother wasting the time of the reviewers!

This post will discuss 7 steps to the successful publication of your research paper:

1. Check Whether Your Research Is Publication-Ready

Should you publish your research at all?

If your work holds academic value – of course – a well-written scholarly article could open doors to your research community. However, if you are not yet sure, whether your research is ready for publication, here are some key questions to ask yourself depending on your field of expertise:

If the answers to all relevant questions are “yes”, you need to prepare a good, strong manuscript. Remember, a research paper is only useful if it is clearly understood, reproducible and if it is read and used .

2. Choose An Article Type

The first step is to determine which type of paper is most appropriate for your work and what you want to achieve. The following list contains the most important, usually peer-reviewed article types in the natural sciences:

Full original research papers disseminate completed research findings. On average this type of paper is 8-10 pages long, contains five figures, and 25-30 references. Full original research papers are an important part of the process when developing your career.

Review papers present a critical synthesis of a specific research topic. These papers are usually much longer than original papers and will contain numerous references. More often than not, they will be commissioned by journal editors. Reviews present an excellent way to solidify your research career.

Letters, Rapid or Short Communications are often published for the quick and early communication of significant and original advances. They are much shorter than full articles and usually limited in length by the journal. Journals specifically dedicated to short communications or letters are also published in some fields. In these the authors can present short preliminary findings before developing a full-length paper.

3. Choose a Journal

Are you looking for the right place to publish your paper? Find out here whether a De Gruyter journal might be the right fit.

Submit to journals that you already read, that you have a good feel for. If you do so, you will have a better appreciation of both its culture and the requirements of the editors and reviewers.

Other factors to consider are:

4. Construct Your Paper

Each element of a paper has its purpose, so you should make these sections easy to index and search.

Don’t forget that requirements can differ highly per publication, so always make sure to apply a journal’s specific instructions – or guide – for authors to your manuscript, even to the first draft (text layout, paper citation, nomenclature, figures and table, etc.) It will save you time, and the editor’s.

Also, even in these days of Internet-based publishing, space is still at a premium, so be as concise as possible. As a good journalist would say: “Never use three words when one will do!”

Let’s look at the typical structure of a full research paper, but bear in mind certain subject disciplines may have their own specific requirements so check the instructions for authors on the journal’s home page.

4.1 The Title

It’s important to use the title to tell the reader what your paper is all about! You want to attract their attention, a bit like a newspaper headline does. Be specific and to the point. Keep it informative and concise, and avoid jargon and abbreviations (unless they are universally recognized like DNA, for example).

4.2 The Abstract

This could be termed as the “advertisement” for your article. Make it interesting and easily understood without the reader having to read the whole article. Be accurate and specific, and keep it as brief and concise as possible. Some journals (particularly in the medical fields) will ask you to structure the abstract in distinct, labeled sections, which makes it even more accessible.

A clear abstract will influence whether or not your work is considered and whether an editor should invest more time on it or send it for review.

4.3 Keywords

Keywords are used by abstracting and indexing services, such as PubMed and Web of Science. They are the labels of your manuscript, which make it ‘searchable’ online by other researchers.

Include words or phrases (usually 4-8) that are closely related to your topic but not “too niche” for anyone to find them. Make sure to only use established abbreviations. Think about what scientific terms and its variations your potential readers are likely to use and search for. You can also do a test run of your selected keywords in one of the common academic search engines. Do similar articles to your own appear? Yes? Then that’s a good sign.

4.4 Introduction

This first part of the main text should introduce the problem, as well as any existing solutions you are aware of and the main limitations. Also, state what you hope to achieve with your research.

Do not confuse the introduction with the results, discussion or conclusion.

4.5 Methods

Every research article should include a detailed Methods section (also referred to as “Materials and Methods”) to provide the reader with enough information to be able to judge whether the study is valid and reproducible.

Include detailed information so that a knowledgeable reader can reproduce the experiment. However, use references and supplementary materials to indicate previously published procedures.

4.6 Results

In this section, you will present the essential or primary results of your study. To display them in a comprehensible way, you should use subheadings as well as illustrations such as figures, graphs, tables and photos, as appropriate.

4.7 Discussion

Here you should tell your readers what the results mean .

Do state how the results relate to the study’s aims and hypotheses and how the findings relate to those of other studies. Explain all possible interpretations of your findings and the study’s limitations.

Do not make “grand statements” that are not supported by the data. Also, do not introduce any new results or terms. Moreover, do not ignore work that conflicts or disagrees with your findings. Instead …

Be brave! Address conflicting study results and convince the reader you are the one who is correct.

4.8 Conclusion

Your conclusion isn’t just a summary of what you’ve already written. It should take your paper one step further and answer any unresolved questions.

Sum up what you have shown in your study and indicate possible applications and extensions. The main question your conclusion should answer is: What do my results mean for the research field and my community?

4.9 Acknowledgments and Ethical Statements

It is extremely important to acknowledge anyone who has helped you with your paper, including researchers who supplied materials or reagents (e.g. vectors or antibodies); and anyone who helped with the writing or English, or offered critical comments about the content.

Learn more about academic integrity in our blog post “Scholarly Publication Ethics: 4 Common Mistakes You Want To Avoid” .

Remember to state why people have been acknowledged and ask their permission . Ensure that you acknowledge sources of funding, including any grant or reference numbers.

Furthermore, if you have worked with animals or humans, you need to include information about the ethical approval of your study and, if applicable, whether informed consent was given. Also, state whether you have any competing interests regarding the study (e.g. because of financial or personal relationships.)

4.10 References

The end is in sight, but don’t relax just yet!

De facto, there are often more mistakes in the references than in any other part of the manuscript. It is also one of the most annoying and time-consuming problems for editors.

Remember to cite the main scientific publications on which your work is based. But do not inflate the manuscript with too many references. Avoid excessive – and especially unnecessary – self-citations. Also, avoid excessive citations of publications from the same institute or region.

5. Decide the Order of Authors

In the sciences, the most common way to order the names of the authors is by relative contribution.

Generally, the first author conducts and/or supervises the data analysis and the proper presentation and interpretation of the results. They put the paper together and usually submit the paper to the journal.

Co-authors make intellectual contributions to the data analysis and contribute to data interpretation. They review each paper draft. All of them must be able to present the paper and its results, as well as to defend the implications and discuss study limitations.

Do not leave out authors who should be included or add “gift authors”, i.e. authors who did not contribute significantly.

6. Check and Double-Check

As a final step before submission, ask colleagues to read your work and be constructively critical .

Make sure that the paper is appropriate for the journal – take a last look at their aims and scope. Check if all of the requirements in the instructions for authors are met.

Ensure that the cited literature is balanced. Are the aims, purpose and significance of the results clear?

Conduct a final check for language, either by a native English speaker or an editing service.

7. Submit Your Paper

When you and your co-authors have double-, triple-, quadruple-checked the manuscript: submit it via e-mail or online submission system. Along with your manuscript, submit a cover letter, which highlights the reasons why your paper would appeal to the journal and which ensures that you have received approval of all authors for submission.

It is up to the editors and the peer-reviewers now to provide you with their (ideally constructive and helpful) comments and feedback. Time to take a breather!

If the paper gets rejected, do not despair – it happens to literally everybody. If the journal suggests major or minor revisions, take the chance to provide a thorough response and make improvements as you see fit. If the paper gets accepted, congrats!

It’s now time to get writing and share your hard work – good luck!

If you are interested, check out this related blog post

how to submit research paper

[Title Image by Nick Morrison via Unsplash]

David Sleeman

David Sleeman works as Senior Journals Manager in the field of Physical Sciences at De Gruyter.

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How to Publish a Research Paper

Last Updated: September 30, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 30 testimonials and 92% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 660,727 times.

Publishing a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal is an important activity within the academic community. It allows you to network with other scholars, get your name and work into circulation, and further refine your ideas and research. Getting published isn’t easy, but you can improve your odds by submitting a technically sound and creative yet straightforward piece of research. It’s also vital to find a suitable academic journal for your topic and writing style, so you can tailor your research paper to it and increase your chances of publication and wider recognition.

Submitting (and Resubmitting) Your Paper

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Matthew Snipp, PhD

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Choosing the Right Journal for Submission

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Strengthening Your Submission

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Research Paper Help

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About This Article

Matthew Snipp, PhD

To publish a research paper, ask a colleague or professor to review your paper and give you feedback. Once you've revised your work, familiarize yourself with different academic journals so that you can choose the publication that best suits your paper. Make sure to look at the "Author's Guide" so you can format your paper according to the guidelines for that publication. Then, submit your paper and don't get discouraged if it is not accepted right away. You may need to revise your paper and try again. To learn about the different responses you might get from journals, see our reviewer's explanation below. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to publish your paper

On this page, journal specific instructions, nature journal pledge to authors, how to publish your research in a nature journal, editorial process, about advance online publication, journals' aop timetable, frequently asked questions.

For more information on how to publish papers in a specific Nature Portfolio title, please visit the author instructions page for the  journal  that is of interest to you.

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Editors of the Nature journals strive to provide authors with an outstandingly efficient, fair and thoughtful submission, peer-review and publishing experience. Authors can expect all manuscripts that are published to be scrutinized for peer-review with the utmost professional rigor and care by expert referees who are selected by the editors for their ability to provide incisive and useful analysis. Editors weigh many factors when choosing content for Nature journals, but they strive to minimize the time taken to make decisions about publication while maintaining the highest possible quality of that decision.

After review, editors work to increase a paper's readability, and thereby its audience, through advice and editing, so that all research is presented in a form that is both readable to those in the field and understandable to scientists outside the immediate discipline. Research is published online without delay through our Advance Online Publication system. Nature journals provide more than 3,000 registered journalists with weekly press releases that mention all research papers to be published. About 800,000 registered users receive e-mailed tables of contents, and many papers are highlighted for the nonspecialist reader on the journal's homepage, contents pages and in News and Views.

Throughout this process, the editors of Nature journals uphold editorial, ethical and scientific standards according to the policies outlined on the  author and referee site as well as on our journal websites. We periodically review those policies to ensure that they continue to reflect the needs of the scientific community, and welcome comments and suggestions from scientists, either via the feedback links on the author and referees' website or via our author blog,  Nautilus , or peer-review blog,  Peer to Peer .

The Nature journals comprise the weekly, multidisciplinary Nature, which publishes research of the highest influence within a discipline that will be of interest to scientists in other fields, and fifteen monthly titles, publishing papers of the highest quality and of exceptional impact:  Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Chemistry, Nature Climate Change, Nature Communications, Nature Genetics, Nature Geoscience, Nature Immunology, Nature Materials, Nature Medicine, Nature Methods, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Photonics, Nature Physics, Nature Protocolsand Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.  These journals are international, being published and printed in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. See  here for more information  about the relationship between these journals.

Nature  and the Nature monthly journals have Impact Factors that are among the highest in the world. The high prestige of these journals brings many rewards to their authors, but also means that competition for publication is severe, so many submissions have to be declined without peer-review.

The Nature journals differ from most other journals in that they do not have editorial boards, but are instead run by professional editors who consult widely among the scientific community in making decisions about publication of papers. This article is to provide you with an overview of the general editorial processes of these unique journals. Although the journals are broadly similar and share  editorial policies , all authors should consult the author information pages of the specific Nature journal before submitting, to obtain detailed information on criteria for publication and manuscript preparation for that journal, as some differences exist.

The following sections summarise the journals' editorial processes and describe how manuscripts are handled by editors between submission and publication. At all stages of the process, you can access the online submission system and find the status of your manuscript.

Presubmission enquiries

Many Nature journals allow researchers to obtain informal feedback from editors before submitting the whole manuscript. This service is intended to save you time — if the editors feel it would not be suitable, you can submit the manuscript to another journal without delay. If you wish to use the presubmission enquiry service, please use the online system of the journal of your choice to send a paragraph explaining the importance of your manuscript, as well as the abstract or summary paragraph with its associated citation list so the editors may judge the manuscript in relation to other related work. The editors will quickly either invite you to submit the whole manuscript (which does not mean any commitment to publication), or will say that it is not suitable for the journal. If you receive a negative response, please do not reply. If you are convinced of the importance of your manuscript despite editors' reservations, you may submit the whole manuscript using the journal's online submission system. The editors can then make a more complete assessment of your work. Note that not all Nature journals offer a presubmission enquiry service.

Initial submission

When you are ready to submit the manuscript, please use the online submission system for the journal concerned. When the journal receives your manuscript, it will be assigned a number and an editor, who reads the manuscript, seeks informal advice from scientific advisors and editorial colleagues, and compares your submission to other recently published papers in the field. If the manuscript seems novel and arresting, and the work described has both immediate and far-reaching implications, the editor will send it out for peer review, usually to two or three independent specialists. However, because the journals can publish only a few of the manuscripts in the field or subfield concerned, many manuscripts have to be declined without peer review even though they may describe solid scientific results.

Transfers between Nature journals

In some cases, an editor is unable to offer publication, but might suggest that the manuscript is more suitable for one of the other Nature journals. If you wish to resubmit your manuscript to the suggested journal, you can simply follow the link provided by the editor to transfer your manuscript and the reviewers' comments to the new journal. This process is entirely in your control: you can choose not to use this service and instead to submit your manuscript to any other Nature or nature research journal, with or without including the reviewers' comments if you wish, using the journal's usual online submission service. For more information, please see the  manuscript transfers page .

Peer review

The corresponding author is notified by email when an editor decides to send a manuscript for review. The editors choose referees for their independence, ability to evaluate the technical aspects of the paper fully and fairly, whether they are currently or recently assessing related submissions, and whether they can review the manuscript within the short time requested.

You may suggest referees for your manuscript (including address details), so long as they are independent scientists. These suggestions are often helpful, although they are not always followed. Editors will honour your requests to exclude a limited number of named scientists as reviewers.

Decisions and revisions

If the editor invites you to revise your manuscript, you should include with your resubmitted version a new cover letter that includes a point-by-point response to the reviewers' and editors' comments, including an explanation of how you have altered your manuscript in response to these, and an estimation of the length of the revised version with figures/tables. The decision letter will specify a deadline, and revisions that are returned within this period will retain their original submission date.

Additional supplementary information is published with the online version of your article if the editors and referees have judged that it is essential for the conclusions of the article (for example, a large table of data or the derivation of a model) but of more specialist interest than the rest of the article. Editors encourage authors whose articles describe methods to provide a summary of the method for the print version and to include full details and protocols online. Authors are also encouraged to post the full protocol on  Nature Protocols'  Protocol Exchange , which as well as a protocols database provides an online forum for readers in the field to add comments, suggestions and refinements to the published protocols.

After acceptance

Your accepted manuscript is prepared for publication by copy editors (also called subeditors), who refine it so that the text and figures are readable and clear to those outside the immediate field; choose keywords to maximize visibility in online searches as well as suitable for indexing services; and ensure that the manuscripts conform to house style. The copy editors are happy to give advice to authors whose native language is not English, and will edit those papers with special care.

After publication

All articles are published in the print edition and, in PDF and HTML format, in the online edition of the journal, in full. Many linking and navigational services are provided with the online (HTML) version of all articles published by the Nature journals.

All articles and contact details of corresponding authors are included in our press release service, which means that your work is drawn to the attention of all the main media organizations in the world, who may choose to feature the work in newspaper and other media reports. Some articles are summarized and highlighted within Nature and Nature Portfolio publications and subject-specific websites.

Journals published by Nature Portfolio do not ask authors for copyright, but instead ask you to sign an exclusive  publishing license . This allows you to archive the accepted version of your manuscript six months after publication on your own, your institution's, and your funder's websites.

Disagreements with decisions

If a journal's editors are unable to offer publication of a manuscript and have not invited resubmission, you are strongly advised to submit your manuscript for publication elsewhere. However, if you believe that the editors or reviewers have seriously misunderstood your manuscript, you may write to the editors, explaining the scientific reasons why you believe the decision was incorrect. Please bear in mind that editors prioritise newly submitted manuscripts and manuscripts where resubmission has been invited, so it can take several weeks before letters of disagreement can be answered. During this time, you must not submit your manuscript elsewhere. In the interests of publishing your results without unnecessary delay, we therefore advise you to submit your manuscript to another journal if it has been declined, rather than to spend time on corresponding further with the editors of the declining journal.

Nature journals offer Advance Online Publication (AOP).

We believe that AOP is the best and quickest way to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed research for the benefit of readers and authors. Papers published AOP are the definitive version: they do not change before appearing in print and can be referenced formally as soon as they appear on the journal's AOP website. In addition,  Nature  publishes some papers each week via an Accelerated Article Preview (AAP) workflow. For these papers, we upload the accepted manuscript to our website as an AAP PDF, without subediting of text, figures or tables, but with some preliminary formatting. AAP papers are clearly indicated by a watermark on each page of the online PDF.

Each journal's website includes an AOP table of contents, in which papers are listed in order of publication date (beginning with the most recent). Each paper carries a digital object identifier (DOI), which serves as a unique electronic identification tag for that paper. As soon as the issue containing the paper is printed, papers will be removed from the AOP table of contents, assigned a page number and transferred to that issue's table of contents on the website. The DOI remains attached to the paper to provide a persistent identifier.

Nature  publishes many, but not all, papers AOP, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

For the monthly Nature journals publishing primary research, new articles are uploaded to the AOP section of their web sites once each week. Occasionally, an article may be uploaded on other days.

The monthly Nature Reviews journals also upload new articles to the AOP section of their web sites once each week.

Q. Which articles are published AOP?

A.  Original research is published AOP — that is, Articles and Letters, and for the Nature journals that publish them, Brief Communications. Associated News and Views articles may be published with the AOP Article or Letter or when the papers are published in the print/online edition of the journal.  Nature  occasionally publishes other article types AOP, for example News and Commentaries. 

Q. Is the AOP version of the article definitive?

A.  Yes. Only the final version of the paper is published AOP, exactly as it will be published in the printed edition. The paper is thus complete in every respect except that instead of having a volume/issue/page number, it has a DOI (digital object identifier). This means that the paper can be referenced as soon as it appears on the AOP site by using the DOI. Nature also publishes some papers each week via an Accelerated Article Preview workflow, where the accepted version of the paper is uploaded as a PDF to our website without subediting of text, figures and tables, but with some preliminary formatting. These papers are clearly identified by a watermark on each page of the PDF.

Q. What is a Digital Object Identifier?

A.  The DOI is an international, public, "persistent identifier of intellectual property entities" in the form of a combination of numbers and letters. For Nature Portfolio journals, the DOI is assigned to an item of editorial content, providing a unique and persistent identifier for that item. The DOI system is administered by the International DOI Foundation, a not-for-profit organization. CrossRef, another not-for-profit organization, uses the DOI as a reference linking standard, enables cross-publisher linking, and maintains the lookup system for DOIs. Nature Portfolio is a member of CrossRef.

Q. What do the numbers in the DOI signify?

A.  The DOI has two components, a prefix (before the slash) and a suffix (after the slash). The prefix is a DOI resolver server identifer (10) and a unique identifier assigned to the publisher—for example, the identifier for Nature Portfolio is 1038 and the entire DOI prefix for an article published by Nature Portfolio is 10.1038. The suffix is an arbitrary number provided by the publisher. It can be composed of numbers and/or letters and does not necessarily have any systematic significance. Each DOI is registered in a central resolution database that associates it with one or more corresponding web locations (URLs). For example, the DOI 10.1038/ng571 connects to http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng571.

Q. Can I use the DOI in a reference citation?

A.  Yes, instead of giving the volume and page number, you can give the paper's DOI at the end of the citation. For example, Nature papers should be cited in the form;

Author(s)  Nature  advance online publication, day month year (DOI 10.1038/natureXXX).

After print publication, you should give the DOI as well as the print citation, to enable readers to find the paper in print as well as online. For example;

Author(s)  Nature  volume, page (year); advance online publication, day month year (DOI 10.1038/natureXXX).

Q. How can I use a DOI to find a paper?

A.  There are two ways:

Q. What is the official publication date?

A.  Many journals, and most abstracting and indexing services (including Medline and Thomson-Reuters) cite the print date as the publication date. Publishers usually state both the 'online publication date' and the 'print publication date'. Nature Portfolio publishes both dates for our own papers, in the hope that scientific communities, as well as abstracting and indexing services, will recognize these dates.

We endeavour to include both the online publication date and the usual print citation in reference lists of Nature Portfolio papers, where a paper has been published online before being published in print. Given the use of the DOI in locating an online publication in the future, we encourage authors to use DOIs in reference citations.

For legal purposes (for example, establishing intellectual property rights), we assume that online publication constitutes public disclosure. But this is for the courts to decide; Nature Portfolio's role as a publisher is to provide clear documentation of the publication history, online and in print.

Q. Must I be a subscriber to read AOP articles?

A.  Yes. AOP papers are the same as those in the print/online issues: while abstracts are freely available on any Nature Portfolio journal's web site, access to the full-text article requires a paid subscription or a site license.

Q. Does Medline use DOIs?

A.  Medline currently captures DOIs with online publication dates in its records, and is developing an enhanced level of support for the DOI system.

Q. Does Thomson-Reuters use DOIs?

A.  Thomson Reuters captures DOIs in its records at the same time as the volume/issue/page number. Therefore, it is not using the DOI to capture information before print publication, but rather as an additional piece of metadata.

Q. How does AOP affect the Impact Factor?

A.  Impact factors are calculated by Thomson-Reuters. At present, Thomson-Reuters bases its calculations on the date of print publication alone, so until or unless it changes its policy, AOP has no effect on impact factors.

Q. What are the page numbers in PDFs of AOP papers?

A.  For convenience, the PDF version of every AOP article is given a temporary pagination, beginning with page 1. This is unrelated to the final pagination in the printed article.

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How do I submit a paper to a scientific journal?

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By: maxine clarke.

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Before submitting a paper to a scientific journal

The first factor to keep in mind is the need to ensure that you have a clear, logical message. The second is to present your paper in the correct format for the journal to which you intend to submit the paper.

The first of these is the most important. However careful and beautiful the presentation, a paper will not be published unless it has a clear, sound conclusion (editors of reputable journals will always be happy to advise authors whose scientific conclusions are publishable but who have difficulty in presenting these conclusions in, say, a foreign language).

Before submitting a paper, therefore, be sure that you have something important and publishable to say. To know this, you should discuss your results with others working in the field, both in your own institution and elsewhere.

The best way to do this is to present your results at scientific meetings — if you can get to them. An additional (or alternative) strategy is to join an email list relevant to your field, and use that to obtain feedback about your research plans, and learn about results from others in the field.

Discuss your ideas and proposed paper with people whose work you respect and admire. It may be a good idea to send one or two key scientists a brief summary of your paper, and ask them to send you some informal comments on whether it is worth your while writing a full paper, or if whether you should to do some more work first (and if so, what).

Use the Internet and email if you cannot speak to people directly at meetings . If you can discuss your work by telephone, then do so; but send the recipient a synopsis or draft of your proposed publication first, so that you have something concrete to discuss.

Writing a draft

When you are sure you are ready to write up the paper, prepare a first draft, including the figures, and repeat the consultation process. Ask people at this stage which journal they think would be most appropriate for publication of your work.

Once you feel you have a solid conclusion to present, you need to prepare a final draft of your paper (see "How to write a scientific paper" ) in the format of the journal to which you intend to submit.

In deciding on the journal, you should bear in mind the advice you have received from others in the field (some of whom may be academic editors of journals and referees themselves, and hence experienced at judging which journal is most appropriate).

You should also be aware of which journals are publishing similar papers to yours, and whether the journal that you have selected has any rules that make it particularly easy — or difficult — for you to submit.

For example, some journals impose page charges (although many do not), which are typically US$50–100 per page but vary greatly. A journal will state its page charges in its instructions to authors. If your institution cannot pay these, you should ask the journal before you submit whether it will waive the charges — many do under such circumstances.

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Follow the guidelines

Make sure you read thoroughly the journal's editorial policy, guidelines to authors and any other relevant information — for example, which people in your scientific field are on the editorial board — before you submit.

Author information of this type is usually on 'free access' areas of journals' websites, even if the content of the journal is only available to subscribers. But if your library does not subscribe to the journal of your choice and that journal has an online version, it is worth sending the journal an email saying that you are planning to submit a paper, and asking the journal if it will arrange for you to have online access to its contents for a limited time.

This will allow you to look at the level and format of published papers, information that will be helpful when you prepare the final version of your own paper.

Submitting your paper

Once you have read the journal's instructions to authors and prepared your paper, you must submit it according to the journal's instructions.

Different journals have different rules about number of copies of papers to submit, how to prepare figures and tables, whether to include other information supplementary to your paper, whether all the authors have to sign the letter of submission (known as the 'cover letter') or just one, and so on.

What your cover letter should contain:

Your name, address, phone and fax numbers and email address, a brief statement, in a sentence or two, why you think the paper is important and why the journal should publish it (in other words, state the main conclusion of the paper);, names of anyone in the field who has commented on the paper previously particularly if they are individuals of high standing in the field and/or if they are on the editorial board of the journal;, suggestions of a particular person you would like to referee the paper (although you must be confident that the person is independent, in other words does not collaborate with you or have any other reason to be biased in your favour);, details of anyone you would not like to review your paper because you think they would not give an objective assessment; and, any other details you think are relevant.it is important to keep this cover letter as short as possible, as the editor who will read it probably receives many papers, and will find it easier to assess yours if you can be succinct., reacting to a journal's response.

When your paper has been submitted, the journal will probably acknowledge receipt. If you do not hear anything from the journal for a couple of weeks, send the editor a short email asking for an acknowledgement of receipt of your paper, a reference number, and the name of the editor who is handling it.

Use this reference number in any subsequent status enquiries. A journal usually provides an email address on its list of staff (known as the 'masthead') that is published in each issue, usually on the front or the back page.

When the journal has assessed your paper (usually with the help of referees, who are independent scientists in the field selected by the journal's editors), the editor will write to you with a decision about publication, and enclosing referees' reports.

Sometimes an editor's letter will be clear, and it is obvious how you should revise your paper for resubmission. If the letter is not clear, write back to the editor (by email) explaining what you do not understand, and ask for an explanation — for example if the referees' comments are difficult to understand, or you are not sure what the editor means in his or her instructions for revising your paper.

What to do if your paper is rejected

If the journal declines to publish your paper, it is a usually a good idea to discuss this decision with a colleague in the field, showing them the reports and editor's letter, before proceeding further. It might be worth appealing the decision, or it might be better to submit your paper to another journal.

If you do decide to appeal the journal's decision, send a letter stating your case, sticking to scientific points (for example, those parts of your conclusions that may have been misunderstood or not appreciated).

What to do if your paper is accepted

If your paper is accepted for publication, ask the editor immediately, certainly before the paper is published, about the journal's policy on copyright and reprints, and whether there are other conditions of publication.

A journal may provide you with some reprints free of charge if you do not have funds to pay for them. But it is important to ask about this before your paper is published; the journal may not be able to provide free reprints after publication, as they are much more expensive to produce than reprints made at the time of publication of your article.

Alternatively the journal may be prepared to waive its standard copyright restrictions. But you will probably need to ask for such concessions, explaining your circumstances.

When you are given a publication date for your paper, tell your institution so that it can include this information in its annual report or other documents promoting its research.

Finally, remember to thank personally all those who have helped you in preparing the paper, letting them know that it will be published and in which journal.

Maxine Clarke is the executive editor of Nature.

This article was previously part of SciDev.Net's e-guide to science communication and has been reformatted to become this practical guide.

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Guide to Getting Published in Journals


You have worked through your list of journals, investigating all your criteria and found the journal that is best suited to your paper and the goals you have for it. It is now time for you to submit!

In this section, we will prepare you for what to expect when submitting to a journal, give some insights into the peer review process, how to respond to requests for revisions and resubmit a paper, and what steps to take should you receive a rejection decision.

Submitting a paper

Make sure you have prepared your paper according to the instructions for authors . Double-check the journal’s requirements with your article to be certain.

If you need to include a cover letter with your submission, you should address the editor by formal name (e.g. Dear Professor Name---) and include the name of the journal but make sure you use the correct one (especially if this is your second-choice journal)!

In the letter, explain why your article is suitable for that journal and how your paper will contribute to furthering its aims & scope. Pitch the value of your article, describing the main theme, the contribution your paper makes to existing knowledge, and its relationship to any relevant articles published in the journal. You should not repeat the abstract in the letter. Include information not typically mentioned in a manuscript.

You may also be requested by the journal to suggest some reviewers for your paper. Good sources for these include authors cited in your references and editorial board members from the journal, or from other journals in the field. You should not suggest anyone that you would have a conflict of interest with, such as co-workers.

You should also make some formal declarations regarding the originality of your work, that you have no conflicts of interest, and that all co-authors (if you have any) agree to the submission.

The review process

As we discussed in the earlier module on peer review , there are a wide range of timeframes over which your review process may be conducted.

It may take several months for the journal to complete the review process, which typically involves:

Acquiring reviewers and then receiving those reviews back is the longest part of the process. It is very much dependent on the availability of academics, and is not an especially predictable process.

Journals which use web-based reviewing platforms often feature a status for each submission that authors can check. If this status has not changed for some time, in most cases, you will be able to send the journal administrator or editor an email. Some journals make their review times publicly available, giving you a good idea of how long their process might take, and when it may be appropriate to ask for an update. If you do not know what to expect, we suggest waiting around 2 months before asking for an update.

Desk reject

Hopefully you will have submitted your article to the perfect journal, exactly as they have requested, and your article will be sent for reviewing. However, some papers are rejected without being sent for peer review – this is commonly known as a desk reject – and of course, you want to avoid this happening to your paper.

To help you understand and minimise the risk, here are some of the most common reasons for desk rejection:



Similarity (plagarism) checking

Many journals conduct some form of checking of article text to go alongside the reviewing of papers. Software such as iThenticate, Turnitin, PlagScan, among many others, are used either to look for similarities in text between the submitted article and published material available online.

These platforms cannot, by themselves, determine whether text has been plagiarised, only provide a score of how similar passages of text are to existing material. For this reason, these programs tend to be referred to as ‘similarity checker’, not ‘plagiarism checker’.

Papers which are processed and return high scores are likely to be investigated to determine whether the similarity does appear to be deliberate plagiarism. How a journal deals with such a paper depends on their own policies and procedures, and the extent of the plagiarism detected.

Many journals will refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines and Flowchart for dealing with “Suspected plagiarism in a submitted manuscript”. See our module on Ethics and Malpractice Statements for more detail on COPE and journal ethics.

These similarity checking programs may be used at different stages of the process, depending on journal policy and situation. Some journals may screen all papers on submission, some only when some concerns are raised by the editor on first read or by referees during review.

Receiving a decision after peer review

Once the editor has received all comments, feedback and recommendations from the reviewers, they will make a decision on the paper. These decisions may be called by different terms, but will usually fit into one of four categories:

If you are invited to revise your paper, make sure you are methodical in your approach to tackling the revisions requested by the editor.

Having a submission rejected from your first-choice journal is something of an inevitability - every researcher has been rejected at some point in their careers. Even some of what we now consider ground-breaking and foundational studies were rejected from their first-choice journals. Hans Krebs' paper on citric acid cycle - the Krebs cycle – was rejected from Nature in 1937, and Kary Mullis’ first paper on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was rejected from Science in 1993, before going on to win the Nobel Prize. Rejection happens, quite literally, to the best of us.

If this should happen to you, try not be too disappointed. It does not mean there is no future for your paper. As with our revision recommendation, set aside the letter once you have read it and give yourself some time before tackling it.

When you are ready to proceed with your paper, consider the following steps:

When submitting the new version of your paper to your second journal, there is no need to include a letter responding to the original reviewers’ comments.

After acceptance, you will usually be required to sign copyright or licensing documents, to give the publisher the rights to publish your article. Be sure to read these documents thoroughly to understand what you are signing.

If you would like to publish your article Open Access, Article Processing Charges are usually requested at this stage, and go hand-in-hand with the license you select, if such options are available.

Accepted papers are usually sent to a production team to format into journal style. Some have dedicated professional typesetters, copyeditors and proof-readers. For some journals, the Editors may contribute to these roles.

Some journals publish the Accepted version online within just a few days, to make it officially available before the final ‘Version of Record’ journal-styled PDF is made available.

Some journals publish articles online as soon as they are ready, into a queue of early publication manuscripts. Other journals hold all articles offline until each issue is full and publish each issue according to a defined schedule (for example, 4 times per year).

There are many different ways in which publishers and journals manage their post-acceptance stages and publication schedules. If the information about your article is not provided to you, you may contact the journal office for an update.

These are some of the more common processes and procedures that you will encounter and come to rely on throughout your research publishing career, but there may be many more variations to deal with. The submission process can be a time-consuming, frustrating experience, but with these tips, and building up your own repertoire of tools, resources and techniques, you will soon master the arts of submission and peer review.

Good luck with all your future submissions!

Further resources

Hervé Stolowy (2017) Letter from the Editor: Why Are Papers Desk Rejected at European Accounting Review? , European Accounting Review, 26:3, 411-418


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    How to publish your first research paper | Step by Step guide | Start to End Instructionshow to publish a paper in international journalA

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