How to create a publication schedule and why Helping you get published
How to create a publication schedule and why The time taken from submission of a manuscript to acceptance for publication in a journal can vary considerably, ranging from a few months to 3-4 years. Why so long? Because manuscripts typically get rejected rather than accepted by the first journal they are submitted to. Indeed, it is not uncommon for a paper to be rejected up to 3 or 4 times before it is finally accepted by a journal.
How to create a publication schedule and whyPublication is often a matter of when, not if3 million: number of manuscripts submitted to journals each year11.5 million: number of manuscripts that are then rejected by the journals195%: rejection rate of journals like Cell, Lancet, and Nature62%: percentage of published papers in epidemiology that had been rejected at least once279%: percentage of manuscripts initially rejected by the journal Radiology but subsequentlypublished within 3-4 years320%: percentage of papers published by top ecologists that were rejected at least once43-6 times: estimated number of times that manuscripts are submitted to journals beforegetting accepted for publication52 years: period within which at least 50% of manuscripts across disciplines were publishedafter getting rejected by the first journal they were submitted to6
How to create a publication schedule and why Any author wanting to get his/her paper published in a journal must factor in the possibility of rejection and accordingly prepare a publication schedule. Given below are some of the major decisions/actions that authors should take while creating a publication schedule. 1. Decide the format of your paper 2. Determine your journal strategy 3. Ensure that you meet all the submission requirements of the target journal 4. Take advantage of pre-submission inquires
How to create a publication schedule and why 1. Decide the format of your paper Should your paper be written up as a full-length original research article or a brief technical report? If you are in a hurry to have part of your findings published, even before you have completed the full study, then a rapid communication is the best option for publishing quickly. You should not try to write up your research in an unsuitable format just because you want to publish in a particular journal (e.g., don’t turn a case report into an original article just because the journal of your choice does not accept case reports).
How to create a publication schedule and why 2. Determine your journal strategy You should create a list of at least 5 journals to submit your manuscript to. As explained above, there is a high chance that the paper will not get accepted by the first journal you submit to. You might need to consider various strategies while determining this list of journals. For example, is publishing in a prestigious journal your most important consideration? Then you might wish to try your luck with 3 prestigious journals before lowering the target for the last 2 journals. Or would you like to publish in a prestigious journal but cannot afford to risk waiting a year or two to publish? Then you might want to submit to a prestigious journal initially, but lower the target gradually; as you go down the list, pick journals where you have an increasingly higher likelihood of being accepted.
How to create a publication schedule and why 3. Ensure that you meet all the submission requirements of the target journal Submission requirements vary across journals. For example, some journals may require only a single cover letter stating that all authors agree to publication, while others may require that all authors read and sign the journal’s authorship agreement form. Thus, it can take anywhere from a week to a month before you are ready to complete the submission of your paper to a journal. You should also factor in time to reformat the manuscript in accordance with the journal’s instructions for authors. When compiling your list of journals, try to ensure that the journals don’t have radically different formats for manuscripts. For example, if your paper is 5000 words in length, it is best to avoid journals that have a word count restriction of 3000 words.
How to create a publication schedule and why 4. Take advantage of pre-submission inquires Many journals let you submit an abstract or short summary to ask their opinion on whether the topic or research will be of interest to the journal. If your selected journal allows this option, take advantage of it. If the journal is not interested, it will save you loads of time in avoiding the entire submission process with that journal.
How to create a publication schedule and whyDetermine next steps to be taken once you receive a decision from the journalScenario 1: The manuscript is rejected by the journal without peer reviewIn this scenario, the decision of the journal editor is likely to be communicated to youvery quickly, sometimes as quickly as a day and typically in less than a month. If thishappens, you have no option but to consider another journal. This is why it isimportant to keep a list of backup journals ready. Select the next journal on your listand immediately begin the submission process, without wasting time in between tolook for another journal.
How to create a publication schedule and whyDetermine next steps to be taken once you receive a decision from the journalScenario 2: Manuscript is rejected after peer reviewType 1: Conditional rejectionA conditional rejection is not bad news. It means that the journal is willing toreconsider the paper for publication if you follow the reviewers’ and editor’ssuggestions. You have two options available: reject/ignore the changes suggested, orrevise the manuscript on the basis of the reviewers’ comments. It is highly advisableto go with the second option (unless you fundamentally disagree with thereviewer), since the journal has already indicated its interest in the paper by askingyou to resubmit. It will also be quicker because the journal is already familiar withyour paper and may even decide to go ahead and publish it without another roundof review.
How to create a publication schedule and whyDetermine next steps to be taken once you receive a decision from the journalType 2: Outright rejectionAfter receiving an outright rejection, authors should ideally consider the reasons forrejection. Incorporating the reviewers’ and editor’s comments can increase thechances of publication in another journal. Indeed, one study did a case study of ajournal and found that in the case of manuscripts rejected by the journals, thosethat were revised by the authors following reviewers’ suggestions weresubsequently published in journals with higher impact factors than those that werenot revised (they also found that some of the manuscripts took over 28 months toget published).7 If, however, reviewers identified a major flaw in the research, thenthe author would be well advised to devote some more time to improving theresearch before considering another journal, rather than waste time submitting themanuscript to one journal after another.
How to create a publication schedule and whyDetermine next steps to be taken once you receive a decision from the journalScenario 3: Manuscript is accepted for publicationCongratulations! Most of your work is done. Be sure to provide thoughtful and well-reasoned responses to the reviewers’ comments, especially in the case of a conditionalacceptance. And make sure you complete all the revisions, proofing, and figureproduction work that the journal requests on time, to avoid publication delays.
How to create a publication schedule and whyPlanningA recommended approach to creating a publication schedule is to work backwards fromthe target date of publication.Figure: A mock schedule for publication planning. Target: Publish by end of 2012; Startdate: September 1, 2011.
How to create a publication schedule and why Journal 1(Very Journal 2(Very Journal Journal Journal 5(Safe prestigious prestigious 3(Prestigious 4(Respected journal with high journal with low journal with low journal with journal with chance of chance of chance of moderate chance moderate chance publication) publication) publication) of publication) of publication and guarantee to send decision in 2 months)Time to prepare 4 weeks 2 weeks 0 weeks 0 weeks 0 weeksmanuscriptTime to prepare 2 weeks 1 week 1 week 1 week 1 weeksubmissionrequirementsTime taken for 12 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks 8 weeks 12 weekspeer reviewTotal time 18 weeks 15 weeks 13 weeks 9 weeks 13 weeksTotal 18 weeks 31 weeks 44 weeks 53 weeks 66 weekscumulative timeDate Dec 29, 2011 Apr 12, 2012 Jul 12, 2011 Sept 13, 2011 Dec 13, 2011
How to create a publication schedule and why Of course, the times given above can vary widely. Peer review periods can be difficult to estimate. Further, a single author may well be able to revise the paper and prepare all submission requirements within a few days of receiving a journal decision. However, if you have 10 co-authors, it may take you a few months just to revise the paper.
How to create a publication schedule and why Conclusion Rejection rather than acceptance is the norm in academic publishing. But most papers end up getting published if the authors stay persistent. Authors should factor in time to submit their paper to more than one journal prior to publication. Plan well ahead! If you need a paper to be published in 2013, you should begin the journal submission process no later than January 2012.
How to create a publication schedule and whyBibliography1. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (2011). Peer review in scientific publications Vol 1. House of Commons: London, UK.2. Hall SA & Wilcox AJ (2007). The fate of epidemiologic manuscripts: A study of papers submitted to Epidemiology. Epidemiology 18(2):262–65.3. Khosla A, McDonald RJ, Bornmann L, and Kallmes DF (2011). Getting to yes: The fate of neuroradiology manuscripts rejected by Radiology over a 2-year period. Radiology 260:3-5; doi:10.1148/radiol.11110490.4. Schultz DM (2010). Rejection rates for journals publishing in the atmospheric sciences. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91(2), 231-243. doi: 10.1175/2009BAMS2908.1.5. Azar OH (2004). Rejections and the importance of first response times. International Journal of Social Economics, 31(3), 259-74. doi: 10.1108/03068290410518247.6. Woolley KL & Barron JP (2009). Handling manuscript rejection: Insights from evidence and experience. Chest, 135(2), 573-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.08-2007.7. Armstrong AW, Idriss SZ, Kimball AB, Bernhard JD (2008). Fate of manuscripts declined by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 58(4):632-5.