You’ve got an idea for a paper, but aren’t sure about how to get your scholarship to the right audience. Melissa Good, Commissioning Editor for Cambridge Journals, gives an overview. She manages a portfolio of linguistics and music journals.
This post is not about the intellectual content of your paper, which we as journal publishers leave largely to each journal’s academic editor, but about the mechanics of getting your scholarship to the right audience.
Why publish a journal article?
You may have an idea for a paper. Your academic adviser may have encouraged you to get something published. Perhaps your idea is part of your finished, or unfinished, thesis. Perhaps you’re finding that researching and writing your PhD is lonely work, and would like feedback from referees to help you focus.
Where to publish?
Ask for advice. Your academic adviser is an expert in your field, and will be able to make suggestions in the first instance.
Journals vary widely, from departmental publications (Penn Working Papers in Linguistics), to niche journals (Journal of French Language Studies), to well known general journals (Journal of Linguistics). Look at recent issues of relevant journals. Has anything similar already been published? What’s the tone of the articles in the journal? Does it publish new scholars as well as established ones? Do you know anyone on the editorial board? If you do, ask them for advice, too. You will probably find that they are more than happy to help.
Once you’ve decided which journal to try, study recent articles carefully to see what issues they address, what tone they adopt, what conventions they follow (in referencing, giving examples, using terminology, the structure of their articles) and what devices they use to present their data and arguments. For instance, English Today, publishes short, accessible articles for a wide range of both academic and general readers, while Phonology, publishes theoretical material of interest to phonologists and those working in related disciplines.
Be sure to look at, and follow, the journal’s instructions for contributors, which will be on the journal’s home page. These instructions will contain important information about length, style, format, type of file, and how to submit. As publishers who work with numerous academic editors, we regularly hear about their frustration with authors whose papers are not submitted in the correct journal style.
Do be aware that you, the author, are responsible for securing the necessary permissions for material used in the article, such as quotes, pictures, or music examples. Permissions is a complicated subject; for more advice see http://www.societyofauthors.org/faqs-about-writingor or http://authornet.cambridge.org/information/productionguide/hss/hssPermissions.asp.
Melissa continues her advice in a second post that will appear soon.