Academic journals cover a wide variety of study topics, even rather esoteric subjects, but what they have in common is rigor and expectations for all submissions. Most academic journals make the submission guidelines and acceptable forms of content clear. Each article type (original research, commentary, review) will have its own protocol for section format, length in word count, etc. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the requirements, they are there to assist the author in achieving success in publication.
Utilizing the information in the submission guidelines successfully comes down to several key steps:
Read the guidelines: If you have a piece written, this is a chance to determine which guideline sections are relevant for your specific manuscript. If you are preparing to write your study, then you can ensure that you haven’t missed an important item.
Understand that there is a purpose for each guideline listed: Journals wish to maintain the integrity of their journal, in style and in content. Additionally, there are print considerations that you may not be aware of. These are traditionally found in the sections dealing with font type and size; table formatting and layout; figure construction; and paper length.
Know the type of article you will be submitting: Research articles will have different requirements from commentaries or reviews, allowing you to hone in on the specific guidelines to follow.
Be aware of the manner of submission: Most journals have electronic submissions, be aware of how and to whom the submission is to be sent. Often this information is at the top of the submissions page, but it can be found tucked into the content with a specific link that must be used.
Know that deviation can be costly: Most submission pages warn that not adhering to the instructions can cause your manuscript to be delayed in review or simply returned to the corresponding author for technical revision before it’s actually considered.
Be sure to follow the reference guidelines: The style of referencing is usually found near the end of the guidelines page accompanied by examples. If you have multiple authors, it’s important to maintain consistency of style and layout throughout the reference section.
When the submission guidelines are read and understood, it can save considerable time and energy, and can make revisions less overwhelming. From information about the title page to the legends for figures, knowing the requirements for submissions will take a lot of guesswork out of the preparation process.