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Write the paper before selecting the journal

At the recent publishing workshop organised by VU Library, Thijs van Vlijmen, Springer Senior Publishing Editor – Biomedicine, Life Sciences and Clinical Medicine – provided his insight as a writer and editor on how to get a paper or book published.

To submit a paper to a journal in any discipline, Thijs van Vlijmen recommended the following steps:

  1. Write the basics of your paper to determine what the article is about, but do not finish the manuscript.
  2. Select a journal – selection at this stage means that you can adjust the unfinished manuscript according to the specific journal requirements.  Find a journal based on your experience and/or advice from colleagues, or by using tools available on publishers’ website such as Springer Journal Selector – which provides a list of relevant journals based on your abstract or article description.
  3. Analyse the selected journal by reading the journal description (aims & scope) and recent abstracts, and looking at impact factor to determine if this journal is where you want to publish, you are eligible to publish in this journal or if this journal meets the requirements of your institution
  4. Analyse your paper to anticipate if your paper is likely to be accepted by the journal that you selected such as if your paper meets the journal requirements related to scope, depth, novelty
  5. Read the instructions for authors, and ensure that you adjust your manuscript to include all the required elements:
    • Title: describes the paper, includes keywords and is short and original.
    • Abstract: accurately and briefly summarises your research and conclusions reached, with no abbreviations or references. Ask someone to read it to get a second opinion.
    • Keywords: clear keywords including word combination. Note that keywords allow the editor to identify reviewers, facilitate indexing and ensure that your paper can be easily found.
    • Results and discussion: these can be combined or separate sections depending on the journal requirements.
    • Citations and references:
        • Cite what is important to the reader
        • Cite what you used during the manuscript preparation
        • Cite broadly and fairly
        • Follow journal reference style (as outlined in instructions for authors, and as evident in recently published papers). Wrong referencing style is one reason for a manuscript rejection.
    • Tables and figures: self-sufficient, understandable and clearly labelled, with legends and of sufficiently high resolution. If figures are from elsewhere, the author must seek reprint permission (for both print and online formats) from copyright owner(s).

For more information

More information about academic publishing is available at the Springer Author Academy including:

Publish in a BioMed Central journal or SpringerOpen journal without paying a fee

Victoria University has a BioMed Central membership which covers the article processing charge for VU researchers who meet the criteria to publish in their Open Access journals. BioMed Central (which is owned by Springer Science+Business Media) publishes 272 peer-reviewed open access journals. See List of BioMed Central journals.  BioMed Central also hosts the SpringerOpen platform – Springer Open publishes 155 peer-reviewed open access journals. At the time of submitting, the researcher needs to make sure they identify themselves as being from Victoria University (it is better to submit from on campus so that BioMed Central can recognise the IP address).

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