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, completes her overview.
What happens after you have submitted your paper?
You should receive an email acknowledgement of your submission fairly quickly. Upon receipt of your paper, the journal’s editor will send it for peer review. Depending on the journal’s policy, two or more anonymous reviewers will read your paper and recommend that the editor accept, reject, or ask you to revise and resubmit it. Regardless of the decision, good reviewers will give you their view on your paper’s content, structure and style.
Even if your first paper isn’t accepted by the first journal to which you submit, the feedback you get should be valuable and useful both for this paper and with your work more broadly. If you are asked to revise and resubmit, do so promptly. Regardless of the result, be sure to say thank you.
Once your paper is accepted, it will be copyedited and you’ll be asked to correct errors and answer questions on proofs. The copy editor and sometimes the journal editor will also review these proofs. Some journals have one round of proofs, and some have more. Once the final proofs are corrected, your article will go to print and will be published online, if the journal publishes in both formats.
In most cases, copyright in the article will be with the publisher, or with the society that owns the journal. You’ll probably be given a pdf of the article which you can post on a departmental web page or in an institutional repository. You may receive a print copy, but you might have to ask for it, as many publishers (including Cambridge) don’t usually provide a print copy as a matter of course.
Offer to review a book for a journal. Many journal editors tell us that they have difficulty finding reviewers for recent publications. Some are happy for PhD students to write book reviews, sometime with the oversight of an academic adviser. If you make clear that you have the necessary qualifications and knowledge of the field, this might be a good way to get your name in print for the first time, and will show the editorial team that you are eager and willing to be involved. Also, reviews are generally shorter and less time consuming to write than research articles.
Editors and publishers will recognize quality when they see it. They do not automatically assume that submissions from PhD students are of lesser quality than those from established academics. If your material is of high quality, you do have a real chance of getting your submission accepted.
Remember that editors and publishers are people, too
Whatever the result of your submission, be sure to thank those involved. They will be grateful, and will remember you positively the next time your paths cross.
Celebrate your success
Once your article is published, celebrate. The next day, update your resume / C.V.