How to Get a Paper Published

Two female faculty members are having a discussion.
... Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The old saying goes that you have to publish or perish in the academic world. Most colleges and universities require their faculty to consistently publish research to gain tenure or be promoted. Some require faculty to publish to keep their jobs. As a graduate student, you have to publish to start your academic career. You'll have a hard time landing your first university position if you haven't published anything.

1 Write a Paper with Vision

No matter what tips and tricks you use, you won't ever be able to publish a paper if it's not any good. Dr. Angela M. Neal-Barnett of Kent State University told the American Psychological Association that having a vision is the most important part of research. In other words, you need to have a reason to write besides getting published. That vision will drive your curiosity and help you find a novel thesis for your research. Explore all the literature on your topic to make sure you are bringing something new to the research. Write a strong draft and then ask your colleagues to review it. Use their critiques to strengthen the draft before submitting it.

2 Create an Alluring Abstract

There are two things that journal review committees will look at first when you submit your paper: your cover letter and abstract. Your cover letter should introduce your paper and explain why you feel it is a good fit for the journal. Your abstract is a short summary of your paper, including the thesis you set out to prove and your conclusion. Think of an abstract like the summary on the back of a book. It should let readers know exactly what they they will read inside and entice them to want to do so.

3 Find the Right Journal

Thousands of journals are published on every kind of subject. A large part of your success in getting a paper published is contingent on finding the right journal. Don't feel that finding one with the same general subject matter is enough. You need to review the journal thoroughly to understand the scope of the research it covers. Once you are certain the journal is the right fit, review the submission and formatting guidelines and make the necessary changes to your paper. For example, you may have used MLA citations when the journal asks for APA.

4 Network at Conferences

The academic world is small, and you are likely to meet the editors and reviewers of the journals in your field by attending academic conferences. No one is going to publish your paper because they think you're a nice person, but if reviewers recognize your name on a submission, they might take more time to consider your paper. If you are an academic newcomer, you might also consider joint authorship for a paper. If you work with someone who has connections in the field already, you may benefit from that name recognition.

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.