Getting Published: Barriers to Entry
The most highly ranked or ‘prestigious’ academic journals have rejection rates of around 90%. Therefore, when preparing your article or research paper for submission, it’s important that you try and find every possible way to stack the deck in your favor, starting from correct formatting to the writing style of a journal.
Getting your name in print, even as a contributor or co-author, is a critical step in building a career in academia. ‘Publish or Perish’ is real, and when you’re applying for promotion or research funds, the caliber of your authorship and the subsequent citation of your published works will be considered in your overall evaluation.
Selecting the Right Journal
Your research studies will most likely contribute the most to this decision, but if you are a young researcher with your first publishable paper, seek the advice of your senior colleagues and faculty.
Compile a detailed profile of each of the journal candidates they recommend – ranking, readership profile (international or domestic), and any specific copyright restrictions. Some will not allow you to post pre-publication material on your own website, for example, and others have very strict rules of copyright ownership. In addition, note any stated preferences for study designs such as clinical studies, minimum sample sizes, or replication studies.
Following the Writing Style of a Journal
Mostly there is a particular writing style of a journal that it prescribes for all submissions.
The American Psychological Association (APA), the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), and the Modern Language Association (MLA), are the most prevalent writing styles, with APA being the preference for scientific writing.
The accompanying manual for each style specifies everything from manuscript preparation, reference citations, and grammar usage.
Specifying the preferred formatting and writing style of a journal ensures that all submissions will be consistent, and that the published journal content will be equally consistent in order to facilitate global citation of that content.
Quality over Quantity
Adding the extra pressure in trying to deduce identifiable elements of the writing style of a journal would represent an unnecessary burden over and above the challenges you would already be facing in getting your research published. Editors and peer reviewers will give you more feedback on your writing than you could ever want, but only if the topic of your research and the nature of your study results are deemed to be suitable for the journals’ readership. If that connection isn’t made first, nothing else will matter, because your submission will join the others in the 90% pile.
Finding a good research topic and the resources needed to investigate it should be your primary concern. Producing your best work from the results of that study should be next on the list. Any attempt at prediction or divination of a esoteric mix of variables that will boost your odds of acceptance would simply be an unwarranted distraction. In simple words, it’s quality over quantity.