Finding a home for your article

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Hello, early career researchers in social science disciplines!

If you have written a course paper you’d like to publish, or if you’ve figured out a way to slice and dice your dissertation into some article length pieces, this post walks you through an easy way to find a home for your article.

Start with your reference list

Scan your draft’s reference list to determine which journal you are citing most frequently. Most likely there is at least one journal that pops up multiple times. This tells you your draft is probably participating in a conversation that is relevant to that journal. You may find 2-3 contenders.

What if no journal is cited more than once? You can still use your reference list for guidance. In your literature review, did one article stand out as particularly important? Which article came the closest to what you are trying to do with your article? Consider the journal that published this “VIP” article.

Check the journal’s “aims and scope”

Once you have a potential target journal (or 2-3), go to the the journal’s website and read the “aims and scope” section. If this section is not immediately visible on the homepage, you can usually find it under “about the journal” or possibly “submission guidelines” or “information for authors.”

The “aims and scope” is a bit like the first part of an assignment sheet–it tells you in the broadest terms what the editors expect from a submission that will be suitable for the journal. Notice the buzzwords. Do they line up with keywords in your article? Can you succinctly explain why your article matches up with this journal’s aims and scope? Are you writing to the audience described? Or could you with a bit of revision? If you have 2-3 possible journals to choose from, you can use the aims and scope to figure out which is the best fit for your draft.

Check the journal’s “instructions for authors”

This section is more like the “fine print” of the assignment sheet, explaining in detail length, style, and format requirements and the actual submission process. Make sure your draft fits the requirements or can feasibly be edited to do so. If everything checks out, proceed! Make a plan to tailor the draft to the journal, including all those pesky format requirements, and submit.

I’ve used this process successfully a number of times. Once, I used this process and had the article kicked back by the editor, who didn’t see the study as relevant to an international readership. My coauthors and I just moved on to our next contender journal, which ultimately published the article. So if you get something rejected right away, don’t despair. Just go back to your reference list and look for another contender.

You got this. Get


Published by Kathleen Vacek

academic writing consultant specializing in supporting graduate students to complete their theses and dissertations

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