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Strategic publishing

This guide provides information on applying strategic measures when considering publishing, promoting and tracking your research.

Getting started and defining your focus

How do you start writing?

Sometimes it is difficult to get started as you may have some of these types of thoughts in your head:

  • Just begin at the beginning
  • You have to be inspired
  • First you have to know what to say
  • Journal articles have to be perfect
  • There is no way I can write at that level

These are common writing blocks. Notice if they are familiar to you. When writing for publication, you don't have to begin at the beginning, you don't need to wait for inspiration to strike, know exactly what to say, or write perfectly in your first draft. You just need to have an idea. Once you have an idea, you can start where it’s best for you – maybe even at the conclusion or the methods (if you are writing a publication with a traditional structure).

Let the first draft be messy and unfinished, as your thinking will develop through the writing process. A lot of research shows that we think better through writing than just sitting and thinking. Remember: writing can be a tool for thinking.

One way to start writing is to define your writing focus:

  • Are you adapting a conference presentation?
    • You will need to shift verbal and visual language into a written form
  • Writing an article from your PhD?
    • Do not attempt to condense the entire PhD into one article!​ Instead, ask yourself, what from your thesis could be developed into a publication. For example:  
      • Answers to each research question (literature, results, discussion)​
      • Themes developed from your research ​
      • Review paper from your literature review​
      • Methodological paper (if your research involved a new methodology)​
      • Theoretical paper (new theory/development of existing theory)​
      • For creative practice research, the practices/experiments or iterations of practice 

Tools for defining a writing focus

  • Write an abstract. Use the following method – one or two sentences on each point:​
    • What is the problem?
    • Why is it a problem?
    • What am I doing about it?
    • Why does it matter?​​
  • Say it out loud (‘walking and talking’ can help you to bypass the terror of the blank page)​
  • Pre-writing techniques: ​
    • freewriting, listing, asking yourself journalist questions (whowhatwhenwherewhyhow)​​
  • Ask yourself: What is it really about? (and then ask yourself that question again and again, until you have refined your focus).

Writing in chunks 

Once you have the focus of your paper, you can start to think about its structure. This can be daunting for some and exciting for others. Often it depends on what kind of writer you are – do you like to have a structure in mind while you write? One way to approach structure is to think in chunks. You might think of these chunks as building blocks that set up the overall architecture of the article. 

Writing in chunks, you can start writing anywhere. Possible starting points include:

  • The direction of the paper: “This paper seeks answers to…”
  • How your research relates to the literature: “This study both confirms and extends the literature on...”
  • What’s new in your research?: “This paper contributes to… "
  • What’s your argument?: “This paper argues that…”

Noticing: style and format

If you want to write a journal article, read journal articles and notice things about them such as:

  • the types of articles published by certain journals
  • the journal guidelines and expectations
  • the papers in terms of their:
    • length
    • structure
    • writing style

The submission process

Submitting your article

  • Ensure your article meets the journal requirements (formatting and style)
    • Follow the journal’s instructions on formatting and style including referencing
  • Ensure your publication meets your responsibilities of research:
  • Proofread your article before submission.
    • Use a proofreading service or ask a friend or colleague to read your article to avoid 'writer’s blindness'. 
  • Follow the journal's instructions on how and where to submit.
  • Wait patiently (and then wait a little longer). 
    • Typical turn-around time is 14 weeks.
    • Check the journal for expected response time and allow two more weeks before tactfully (and politely) emailing the editor. 
    • Do not send your paper to another journal until you have a response. While you wait, consider focusing on another publication. 
  • The editor will respond with their decision, which usually falls into one of the four responses below: 
    • acceptance: “Yes – we’ll publish this, no changes are needed” (a rare response!) 
    • acceptance on the condition that the work be improved in certain ways: "Yes – we’ll publish this subject to some minor changes”
    • rejection but encouragement to revise and resubmit: “No – we won’t publish this in its current form, but if major changes are made, we might.”
    • outright rejection: “No – we won’t publish this under any circumstances”
      If your article is rejected, consider whether this is the right publication for your article. 
  • If accepted for editorial review, your article will be read and edited to ensure it meets the standard and requirements of the journal. Details of the editorial process, roles and timeframes are often available on a journal's website. 

Responding to peer review

The importance of peer review

  • Peer review is undertaken by credible scholarly journals to ensure the content published is of a high academic standard. Journals editors select subject experts to evaluate submitted content before publication. 
  • Remember, peer review is a process to improve the quality of your work. This is an opportunity for you to critically reflect on your work and strengthen your paper. Even Nobel Prize winning papers will be carefully reviewed.

Responding to reviewers’ comments

  • Don’t respond immediately (cool down first!)
  • Read the revision letter carefully, noting each point the reviewer/editor has made, so you have a full understanding of the reviewer/s and editors concerns.
  • Editors/reviewers comments typically come in two categories, the more substantial requirements (such as clarifying the case for your research or clarifying your contribution), and then more minor issues (such as editing).
  • Address all comments/points raised by reviewers individually. Create a list of all comments with another column identifying the changes you’ve made.
  • Where you disagree:
    • Politely and tactfully explain why you disagree
    • Support your point with evidence, e.g. cite other published work
  • Summarise all changes/rebuttals and thank the editor and reviewers in your response email.
  • Remember: when responding to peer review, it is important to be polite, clear and concise. 

Dealing with rejection

  • Remember: this happens to everyone! (Consider yourself in good company – Animal Farm, Gone With the Wind and Harry Potter were all rejected multiple times before they were published!)
  • Rejection can be a very useful learning process, even if it hurts! 
  • Know your choices
    • Submit it to another journal. 
    • Revise and resubmit it to the same journal.
    • Revise and resubmit it to a different journal.
    • Appeal the decision
    • Abandon the article (for now). 

Writing resources

Below is a list of resources that can assist with writing and preparing a publication for submission: