Steps to Publishing Your Research

 In Student Success

Michael Thomas, PhD
Instructor, Department of Professional Studies

Many students in the Health and Human Performance Ph.D. program at Concordia University Chicago have an interest in pursuing publication of their dissertation or other research. Recently, I had the experience of working through this process and was eventually successful.

By doing so, you may gain recognition as a thought leader and expert in your space, while also having the opportunity to deeply understand a complex, yet finite issue.

The process I went through to publish my dissertation took several months and several rounds of revisions. Though as I worked through it, I found that there were distinct stages that may begin before performing your research.

However, you may be able to do some of the work while writing your research. Just remember to be patient and follow the steps below and you very well may be able to publish your dissertation too.

Step 1: Choosing a Research Topic

  • One of my mentors once told me to start with the end in mind. In other words, if you already know that your goal is to publish research in an academic journal, identify a compelling topic beforehand. A great place to start is to examine existing research. Look for gaps, holes, or inconclusive results and design your research to address these issues. Another option may be to take an existing topic/research question and examine outcomes in an understudied demographic or implement a novel methodology.

Step 2: Perform your research and complete your dissertation.

While you’re doing this, it may be wise to start learning about the different journals that you may want to target for publication by examining those that have a history of publishing topics similar to yours. Additional tips to consider include:

  • Have a backup plan if the first journal rejects your study.
  • Develop thick skin and be prepared to be rejected. When this happens submit to another journal.
  • Keep in mind that there may be a cost associated with submitting your work for review, prior to publication.

Step 3: Preparation for Submission

At this point, you’ve likely completed your dissertation and are ready to begin submitting your research to the journal you have identified. Preparing your work for submission may be time-consuming and tedious as each journal has its own set of formatting rules. Preparing my research for submission took approximately 30 hours. To accelerate the process, you may want to:

  • Have multiple professors review the manuscript before submission.
  • One of the most important things to consider is removing any redundancy and making certain all writing is perfect.
  • Emphasize One important concept. I had to rewrite the manuscript many times to stress the importance of the study and what made my study unique or novel.
  • Run manuscript through the software “Grammarly” to find potential grammatical errors.
  • Keep in mind, that in a way you are convincing the editors and reviewers that your manuscript is worthy of being published considering their limited content space.
  • The goal is to become provisionally accepted in which case the manuscript will be sent out to reviewers who will all have suggestions to make the paper better.

Once you have decided on a journal to submit to follow the formatting rules usually found on a webpage titled “Manuscript preparation.”

Step 4: Preparation for Publication

Once the paper has been approved to move into the review stage be prepared for many suggestions from four or more reviewers. The key here is to take each reviewer’s comment and go about either addressing their comments, defending your methods or content or complying with their suggestions. I have found that most of the time reviewers catch key things that need to be changed to make the manuscript better. Here are some tips to help you throughout this process:

  • Your response to each round of revisions should have
    • The newly updated manuscript in its entirety.
    • Then in another document or section, every reviewer comment followed by your response in detail.
  • Always address every reviewer comment regardless of how small it may seem.
  • Always be cordial and appreciative of reviewer comments even if you do not agree.
  • If you disagree with a comment explain in detail your position and or rationale for the methodology used. Often the reviewer may not fully understand a method of research or some other variable. You may need to make them aware of that method and prior research.
  • Be polite and thank every reviewer for their time and energy devoted to make the paper better.
  • If applicable, have your co-authors proofread the paper intently at each stage of the review process.
  • When submitting the manuscript back to the reviewers as you have addressed their comments the document should have the reviewer’s comments followed by the specific ways you addressed those comments. Even copy and paste sections of the manuscript underneath their question or concern that illustrates how you amended the manuscript. This is very important because reviewers do not want to go hunting for their original comments and how you addressed those comments in the manuscript.
  • In summary:
    • The second manuscript back to the reviewers has two components: the updated manuscript and every comment each reviewer made and detail of exactly how you handled their comments.

Once you have addressed all the reviewers’ comments and clearly articulated how you have resolved those issues or defended the original approach you should resubmit the paper. This process may repeat two or three times. The thoroughness of your original response to the reviewers may shorten the review process and help you publish the final product in a timelier manner.

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