Many researchers, clinicians, and business leaders want to contribute in a meaningful way to the scientific community, and publishing research findings in a reputable scientific journal is an effective way to do that. While the journey to publication might seem brutal to navigate, it doesn’t have to be if you follow our pro tips, which are based on strategies and best practices we’ve learned through the years.
Publishers often have complex and seemingly arcane rules, stringent submission standards, and hidden best practices. These challenges can shipwreck all but the savviest and most seasoned researchers. By the end of this article, we hope we’ve demystified the process enough that you feel emboldened to set sail and pursue the publication of your scientific findings. Let’s begin with a good pre-departure plan.
Establish Publication Rules
Before embarking on the research journey, it is critical to establish publication rules within your study protocol or investigator agreements. These rules should outline the expectations and responsibilities regarding authorship, data dissemination, and publication timelines. Set these guidelines from the outset to ensure clarity and avoid potential conflicts later in the process.
Form a Publication Committee
To help organize, manage, and streamline the overall process, consider forming a publication committee comprising subject matter experts and decision-makers. This committee, regardless of its size, will oversee journal selection, review authorship criteria, and provide valuable editorial input. For small companies or research teams, the publication committee may consist of a business leader, principal investigator, highest enroller, safety committee member, and core lab member.
It’s crucial to choose the right journal and get your manuscript across the finish line to maximize the impact of your research. Consider journal “fit” factors such as prestige, relevance to your target audience (e.g., potential customers, clinicians), and review process speed.
Consider your research goals and specific needs when deciding where to publish. Industry-focused research may be best suited for influential journals within your target market. On the other hand, academia-driven research may prioritize prestigious journals that contribute to advancing knowledge in a particular field.
While it is important to make an informed and thoughtful decision, don’t overthink the journal selection process; rather, focus more on the content of your research. There are exceptions, but overall, great research gets published in great journals. Also, many journals advertise quick turnaround times and offer submitter-friendly policies to encourage researchers to publish with them. Look for these journals to reduce the time your manuscript languishes in publishing limbo.
Writing the Paper & Adhering to Guidelines
While this advice seems self-evident, in practice it often isn’t: You need to craft a well-written manuscript to attract the attention of journal editors and reviewers. Their slush piles are filled with subpar research, subpar writing, and subpar editing. High-quality work will rise to the top.
Ensure that your paper adheres closely to the specific submission guidelines provided by the journal, usually available on their website. These guidelines typically include journal policies, the types of articles they publish, formatting instructions, word limits, citation styles, and submission procedures. Adhere to every requirement to ensure the smoothest process and to demonstrate your attention to detail and professionalism.
If you are an early-career academic or graduate student, don’t hesitate to request feedback from more seasoned professionals in your network before submitting to a journal. Early feedback is a great way to learn quickly if your research has legs to run on; if it doesn’t, you can avoid investing countless hours into a project that was doomed to fail from the start.
Journal Review & Feedback
An integral part of the peer-review publication process is receiving and addressing reviewer feedback. Their constructive criticism is intended to enhance the quality and rigor of your work. Even if the feedback seems overly critical or challenging, don’t take it personally. Always assume the best of reviewers. Respond generously, courteously, and thoughtfully, acknowledging the reviewers’ time and effort in providing feedback. This positive attitude fosters a productive dialogue and virtuous cycle, and it may increase the chances your current or future submission will be accepted.
By following the tips above, you can efficiently and effectively navigate the process to get your rigorous, high-quality, knowledge-advancing clinical research published. It’s an exciting milestone to share your clinical research findings with the scientific community and the broader public. We hope this article can serve as a reliable compass to help you tack through the rough waters of publishing, and we look forward to hearing about your publication success stories in the coming years.