Topics ranging from plastic bag usage in Japan to the sanitation practices of rural Africa, and everything in between, can be found in an academic journal. But what elevates a periodical to the category of an academic journal? It’s more than the topics covered, it’s about content, the quality of that content, and the process it undergoes.
Academic journals cover a wide variety of study topics, even rather esoteric subjects, but what they have in common is rigor and an expectation for all submissions. Most academic journals make the submission guidelines and acceptable forms of content clear: Original research, commentaries, or reviews. Each of these article types will have their own protocol for section format, length, references-even for how to list the authors. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the requirements, there are ways to aid the process.
Each journal’s website should have a submissions page, loaded with the information you need to successfully submit an article. Many will clearly spell out what sections should be included i.e., abstract, introduction, discussion, methods, etc. Should you need to add conflict of interest information or sponsorship details, where and how to add them will also be listed on this page. Generally, the submission page will also inform the author how to format tables or figures for the best appearance in publication. Finally, details on font, size, headings, word count, and references can be found as well.
Peer review is an additional, important step in the process. Many journals will do a single-blind, double-blind, or open review process; which process a journal utilizes should be readily available on the submissions page. A single-blind review is one in which the reviewers know the authors’ names, but the authors will not know the reviewers. This ensures that the reviewers will be able to make their opinions known without concern for any rancor it might engender. A double-blind review removes these drawbacks; for in that process, neither the reviewers’ nor authors’ names are revealed. The final review process is the open review, in which both the reviewers’ identity and authors’ identity are known. Each process has its own set of pros and cons, but all are capable of fulfilling the goal of ensuring only quality work is accepted for publication.
In submitting work to an academic journal, it is important to thoroughly understand the submission requirements, process, and structure prior to sending in your manuscript. Because an academic journals’ reputation is so closely linked to the quality of work published, every effort to ensure your manuscript meets the standards required is important.