What are the next steps after the first draft is written?

Once you have produced your first draft and your co-authors have reviewed it, your aim should be to address the comments and get the manuscript submitted to your chosen journal as soon as possible. How you manage this will depend upon the comments you receive.

If they are minimal

  • Make the suggested changes, or ignore comments if you have a reason to do so and can explain it to the person who made the¬†comment
  • Ensure the manuscript is in the style requested by the journal
  • Confirm that all authors are happy to submit
  • Submit to the journal

If there are major or conflicting comments

This will necessitate the development of a second draft and a further round of review. If the comments are conflicting then it is often best to have a teleconference to discuss them and ensure that everyone is in agreement before making any changes. If agreement cannot be reached then the lead author (or the guarantor for the manuscript) should decide what to do.

Depending on the comments on the next draft the cycle will then continue. However, it is important to remember that the manuscript is being written to be published and you should not have innumerable review rounds, demanding perfection if this is at the cost of submitting.

Why selecting the correct journal is important.

When I was doing research in Chemistry I thought that the work I was doing was highly important and sure to get published in the highest tier journals. However, now that I have been advising on journal selection for a while I can see that I, like many people, was most probably deluded. The work I was doing definitely added to the scientific body of knowledge but was not of world-changing importance. However, the potential impact of the work is not the only consideration when selecting a journal to submit a manuscript to. The main considerations are listed below:

What is the quality/impact of the work being reported?

This will allow you to select a journal with an appropriate impact level, however, other considerations will modify this.

What is the intended audience for the manuscript?

It is important that your peers working in the same area as you get to see your work and this can partly be managed by selecting a journal that is read by them

Where are your ideal audience located?

Different journals have different footprints and this may influence your decisions. A journal widely read in the West might be less popular in Asia.

Which journals have published similar work before?

If a journal is publishing on a particular topic it is more likely to want to publish again on that topic. There is the exception of reviews, where if a similar review has been published they are less likely to want to publish yours for fear of being repetitive.

What are the submission to publication lead times?

Do you need to publish rapidly or can you wait 6 months to have a citation?

What is the rejection rate?

This is often related to how the journal is rated in a particular field, with more people submitting and being rejected from high-tier journals. A low rejection rate might increase teh chance of acceptance.

Do the journal offer other advantages, for example open access or are they online only?

Open access can be very beneficial as your work will be available for a greater number of people to read. Online only journals are not constrained by physical size so can accept more articles.

Having selected a journal it is then essential to read the author guidelines to ensure that the journal will accept your type of submission, for example some journals will not accept unsolicited review articles. Furthermore, the word count and other requirements (e.g. number of figures or references) may mean that your manuscript is unsuitable.

It is important to research and think about journal choice, and by considering all of these points and your manuscript in a critical manner I feel you can increase your chance of being accepted for publication.