Part II: Writing and Submitting Your Manuscript
Sink or Swim!
Following Instructions for Authors
Scholarly journals generally include specific and detailed instructions for authors submitting manuscripts. You can often find these author guidelines on a journal’s Web site. They are also listed in at least one issue of the printed journal each year.
Make sure your manuscript conforms to the journal’s author guidelines before you submit it. Editors have been known to reject manuscripts that do not conform to their stated guidelines without even looking at the content!
Author instructions typically include some or all of the following elements:
- Manuscript length
- Title page format
- Manuscript format and organization
- Number of copies
- Abstract length and description
- Writing style and conventional grammar usage
- Using figures, tables, graphs, mathematical formulas, photographs, and original art
- Reference and citation style
- Keywords or identifiers needed for indexing
- Manuscript submission method
- Ethical considerations such as treatment of subject and sharing of data
- Copyright requirements
- Required statements and permissions
- Page or reprint fees
Many journals may even make available a downloadable style file, which you can use in conjunction with your word processing program to automatically format your manuscript to the style requirements of the journal. For example, Springer, a publisher with peer-reviewed journals in many academic fields, provides templates for journal contributions within each discipline.
After you have drafted your manuscript, read the instructions for authors again to make sure you have followed every detail. Before you submit your final manuscript, read them yet again! If possible, have someone else proof your manuscript to make sure you haven’t overlooked something.14
The appearance of a manuscript can indicate the care with which an author conducts research. For example, an author who submits a manuscript that contains numerous typos raises a red flag for an editor that the research in the article may have also been carelessly compiled.
-- Stan Soocher, journal editor, author and peer reviewer