Publish or Perish!
It takes a lot of time and effort to get articles published in peer-reviewed journals. This blog discusses some strategies for success.
Most nursing faculty struggle with the tedious process of writing articles and getting them published in peer-reviewed journals. It takes much time, effort, and perseverance - often the tipping point for busy educators whose schedules are already stretched to the limit. As a consequence, many good manuscripts lay unpublished for months or years within the deep recesses of desk drawers and personal computers.
What are some tips for getting your article published?
Have a clear focus. Set clearly defined goals before beginning to write. In a nutshell, what do you want to communicate? A manuscript, no matter how brilliantly written, must clearly define and quickly get to its point. To be effective, it must establish a single focus, and maintain this focus throughout. Prune from your article any ideas that do not strengthen the main focus. a clearly defined focus also tackles the "so what?" test. So what sets your piece apart and why is it needed? How does it add to the knowledge base of nursing?
Write concisely and succinctly. Flowery language has no place in professional writing. The same applies to technical jargon. Know your targeted audience and write at a level that the average reader can understand.
Get others to review your work. many colleges and universities have editors on staff. Alternatively, you can get educator peers to critique your manuscript.
Send your manuscripts to the right journal. This may sound elementary, but it not only wastes your time and effort but also the time of the editors and reviewers if your article is simply not a good "fit" for the journal. For instance, don't send a "nursing only" manuscript to a journal with an interdisciplinary focus. Likewise, don't send your quantitative research report to a journal that only publishes qualitative studies. manuscripts may take many forms (e.g., review articles, clinical investigations, qualitative studies, case reports, and concept analyses). Make sure the form you choose is right for the prospective journal.
Sell your manuscript in your cover letter. Instead of being drab dead space, the cover letter should contain your rationale for selecting the particular journal. Take the time to carefully research the journal's stated mission. Address the editor by name and state how your article clearly articulates with the journal's mission. The letter can also suggest reviewers for the manuscript.
be prepared for the long haul. If your submission is not outright rejected, then this is good news. most submissions that finally make it to publication require two or three major revisions.
I am still trying to get my first article published. I currently have two separate manuscripts submitted to two different nursing journals and am in the process of submitting a third. For those who have published, I would love to hear your experience and any advice you have for success.
References and Resources:
APA Journals Manuscript Submission Instructions for All Authors
APA's Checklist for Manuscript Submission
Concise Rules of APA style, 6th Edition
Journal Statistics and Operations data - contains manuscript rejection rates, circulation data, publication lag time, and other pertinent statistics.Last edit by Joe V on Feb 3, '13
VickyRN is a certified nurse educator (NLN) and certified gerontology nurse (ANCC). Her research interests include: the special health and social needs of the vulnerable older adult population; registered nurse staffing and resident outcomes in intermediate care nursing facilities; and, innovations in avoiding institutionalization of frail elderly clients by providing long-term care services and supports in the community. She is faculty in a large baccalaureate nursing program in North Carolina.
VickyRN has '16' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds'. From 'Under the shadow of His wings...'; Joined Mar '01; Posts: 12,051; Likes: 6,462.Jun 5, '11I had great success with publishing my first article years ago. It was new information about a new clinical procedure. I had concrete research data on a new treatment -- and that made it highly desirable to the publisher of the major clinical journal in my specialty. Having something new and pertinent to say is a big factor in an author's favor. Publlishers are less likely to publish a re-telling of material that has been published before.
Since then, I haven't published -- mostly because I can't get time to write. I need sustained time to develop my thoughts and put them in writing. What I get is little bits of time here and there. That doesn't work for me.Jun 6, '11Publishing is both easy and hard.
Clinical articles which dryly present a comprehensive review of a particular syndrome or condition target an established niche audience. They are easier creatively but require research.
Qualitative of quantitative research articles require significant time and focus. Again, the writing is not difficult but fulfilling the density of protocols can be exhausting.
I prefer writing articles based upon experiences which--forgive the cliche--touch the heart. Nurses are often involved in life dramas that many find compelling. When well done, poetic perspectives of nursing experiences are likely to be published. For me, they are relatively easy but still demand hours of effort.
But never think writing is easy for anyone. It's a struggle to live in one's head. But until one decides to put in the time, creating a piece which catches the eye of an editor will be unlikely.
Finally, never send anything out without someone else reading the piece aloud. What we hear in our minds can be startling different than what we thought we actually wrote.Jun 10, '11Hi Vickie,
One tip that you did not mention is to review and follow the requirements for submission. This is posted in the front of journals or on the publication's website. Many manuscripts are never reviewed because they fail to follow these directives. Not all publications want hard copies, some do. Some prefer APA format, others MLA. Unless you follow the instructions to the Tee, your chances of being published are diminished.Jun 10, '11I have found success using "calls for article" lists and query letters. It's easy to email editors and give them a brief outline of your planned article, as well as a copy of your resume showing why you are qualified to speak on the topic, and ask if they would have interest in such an article. They often give good tips about how to focus the paper.
My main problem writing is that I have tons of ideas and am too ambitious and tend to try to do TOO much in one article. I really have to stop, do an outline, and then pick ONE idea and develop into a paper that is comprehensive. That is, go for expert in a focused area rather than superficial skimming of a broad topic.
Really think about the "so what?" test as you're writing too - what are the target audience going to want to know about this? How can you present it in an easily digestible and usable manner with tables, diagrams etc?
Get your experience down on paper, or someone else will. It's exciting to get that journal in the mailbox and see your name in print, as well as to contribute to the collective body of nursing knowledge. Have fun!Jan 3, '13This is great information. I have finished my first semester in which I had to write a "publishable paper". Using these tips is great! I dont consider myself an eloquent writer but I enjoy my topic and it is interesting. Thanks for the tip to email the editors and give them a preview of what I wrote about!Jan 25, '13I currently have an article accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal - and I am appalled to find out there is no $$ involved. For those of you who have been published previously - is this the norm? Or is the journal I'm working with unique?
I love writing, have had lots of publishing success in another non-nursing area, and have always been paid. I'd love to devote myself to writing about my research and clinical practice area - but am mightily discouraged by this.
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