Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘writing’

Common roadblocks to publishing, and how to overcome them

Over the years I have had occasions to answer many questions related to success in publishing scholarly manuscripts.  There are occasional unique issues that prospective authors face, but mostly people experience very similar challenges.  Take heart — most of these challenges can be overcome!  Here is a summary of  common roadblocks, and how to overcome them!

  • Failing to follow the journal guidelines.  Success in publishing in any journal depends to a large extent on your preparation related to that journal.  Read the “Information for Authors” that all journals provide, and follow it as closely as possible.  The ANS guidelines are readily accessible on the ANS home page. Pay particular attention to the purpose of the journal, and make sure that your manuscript is in line with that purpose. If you have questions about the guidelines, do not hesitate to contact the journal editor!
  • Lack of familiarity with the journal.  Become familiar with the past 2 to 3 years of the journal content to know the kinds of articles they are publishing, and to identify possible gaps that your manuscript might fill. Notice the style of writing in the published articles, typical article length, and the typical “profile” of article style and format. Identify the audience that the journal reaches, and if that is the audience for which your manuscript is intended. Notice if the journal has published articles on your topic in the past several months, and if so, consider how your work can add to what has already appeared in the journal.  The author’s guidelines probably address some of the style and format issues, but you will get a greater familiarity with the “personality” of the journal if you do this bit of homework!
  • Knowing when to get editorial assistance.  If you have difficulty with composition, challenges with the English language, or specific writing challenges (for example, improving the logical flow of ideas or making a long manuscript shorter), do not hesitate to seek help.  Consider teaming up with a colleague to exchange feedback on your writing, and to get suggestions for improving your writing.  There are a number of excellent  professional resources that you can explore; we list a few in the ANS guidelines in the “Preparation of Manuscript” section.
  • Becoming discouraged. Often the accomplishment of preparing a manuscript and getting it submitted is a major undertaking, and to get back a rejection letter after all that hard work is truly discouraging.  However, you can prepare publishingWoman250yourself for this disappointment by taking steps to be ready for any outcome.  Have a second and third journal option in the wings from the outset, so that if you need to submit your manuscript to a different journal you are ready to do so from the beginning.  Also, be ready to make revisions based on reviewer comments.  I recommend that authors immediately develop a table containing all of the reviewer comments in one column, and a second column with notes about what to do to address the comments.  Be prepared to tackle revisions the day after you receive the editor’s decision letter!  Do not put it aside and wait … be persistent, and get right back into the task of moving the manuscript forward!

There are factors beyond your control that could lead to rejection of your manuscript. But you can take some steps to minimize the possibility that these factors will interfere with your being published. These include:

  • Space constraints that limit the inclusion of all worthy manuscripts. All journals have some space constraints, so the more you keep your manuscript within reasonable length requirements, the greater your chances of success.
  • Editorial priorities that do not include the topic that your manuscript addresses. Sometimes you can determine these priorities in advance.  Seek publication in a journal that you know includes a priority for your topic, or contact the Editor to determine if they have an interest in your topic.
  • Editorial perspectives and practices related to controversial or sensitive issues. If your topic involves a controversial or sensitive issue, you may seek to determine the journal’s stance related to your topic in advance by becoming familiar with recent journal content, or direct contact with the Editor.

If you heed these hints for overcoming obstacles, you will almost certainly get your work published!  If you have questions or other suggestions to add to mine here, post them as a comment and let us discuss them!

Attention to detail

“Your great attention to detail is both a blessing and a curse”  – Chinese proverb

This message, found in a fortune cookie, inspired the folks at Oxford University Press (the Pencil and question markpublishers of the AMA Manual of Style, used by ANS), to start a blog!  The blog is the AMA Style Insider, and I highly recommend it – even for those who are not blessed with great attention to detail!  It is free of charge and anyone can visit the blog — I recommend that you subscribe to stay informed of many important issues facing writers, editors and publishers.  As they note in the announcement that circulated about the new blog, even though the AMA Manual of Style is over 1000 pages long, there are endless issues and questions that come up for writers every day.  And, the issues they address are not limited to any one approach to “style” – in fact they refer to other style manuals and traditions besides their own.

So far there are only a handful of posts on the blog, but every one of them is interesting!  They deal with topics ranging from recent FAQ’s from users of the AMA Manual of Style, to word usage (heathy vs healthful for example), placement of an apostrophe, the dangers of duplicate e-publication, and much more!  And, the information addresses not just the “facts” of how to handle problems of style, spelling, grammar, usage, and so forth, but the issues surrounding the problems and various points of view about how to deal with the issue in your own work.

%d bloggers like this: