How to Create Manuscript Submission Guidelines for an Academic Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction to Manuscript Submission Guidelines

The write-up explains how to create manuscript submission guidelines for an academic journal, a crucial part of the journal publishing process. The manuscript guidelines provide detailed instructions for authors on preparing and submitting articles for consideration by a journal. Well-crafted guidelines help maintain the quality and integrity of published research.

Submission guidelines typically cover the journal’s scope and key focus areas, formatting and style requirements, word count limits, and policies on authorship, plagiarism, and ethical standards. They help ensure manuscripts adhere to the journal’s expectations before entering editorial review.

Clear, comprehensive guidelines allow authors to optimize their submissions according to the journal’s needs. This helps editors and reviewers easily evaluate manuscripts for importance, originality, and rigor. Guidelines also uphold transparency and consistency in the peer review process.

How to create manuscript submission guidelines for an academic journal

In summary, by establishing manuscript requirements and scientific best practices upfront, a journal’s submission guidelines play a vital role in soliciting high-quality scholarly work aligned with the journal’s aims and readership. They enable an efficient, productive publishing process.

Understanding the Needs of Journal Publishing

When creating manuscript submission guidelines, it is crucial first to understand your scholarly journal’s specific needs and priorities. This involves carefully examining key elements like the journal’s scope, target audience, and preferred research methodologies aligned with academic publishing.

First, consider the scope of your journal’s research topics and subject areas. The guidelines should clearly articulate the boundaries of suitable submissions and discourage out-of-scope manuscripts. Defining a clear scope helps attract the most relevant manuscripts to your readers.

Next, analyze the target audience – who reads and references your journal? Is it mainly academics, industry professionals, or policymakers? Understanding your core readership helps tailor language, context, and examples in the guidelines for maximum clarity.

You must also determine if your journal favors specific research methods and reporting formats. For example, an applied science journal may expect a certain structure for experimental studies, while a humanities journal may be more flexible. Communicating preferred methodologies in your guidelines helps standardize manuscript structure and quality.

Additionally, manuscript guidelines should align closely with your editorial policies and ethical publishing practices. Any requirements around authorship, originality, data transparency, disclosure of conflicts of interest, etc., should be highlighted. This helps uphold integrity during manuscript submission.

In short, taking the time to discern your journal’s unique needs and priorities is key to developing customized manuscript guidelines that attract high-quality submissions relevant to your readership. The guidelines serve as the critical interface between authors and editors and help maintain consistency and ethical standards in scholarly publishing.

Essential Elements of Manuscript Submission Guidelines

Comprehensive manuscript submission guidelines are crucial for any scholarly journal seeking to uphold standards and streamline the publication process. This section will explore some key components editors should include in their guidelines to maximize clarity and effectiveness.

Formatting Requirements

One of the submission guidelines’ most basic yet critical elements is outlining the journal’s formatting requirements. This includes specifications on document type (e.g. Microsoft Word), font style and size (e.g. 12-point Times New Roman), line spacing (e.g. double-spaced), margins, and page limit.

Guidelines should clearly state the requirements for visuals, illustrations, figures, and tables (e.g. resolution, margins, colors, etc.). The guidelines also should indicate whether figures, tables, and references are included within the page limit. Adhering to formatting requirements ensures a consistent look across published articles.

The type of peer review also plays a crucial role in deciding how authors should prepare the documents. If a blind review is involved, then the main manuscript must not contain the author’s information (name and institution) because the author and the reviewer should be anonymous to each other.

Citation Style

The submission guidelines must indicate the preferred citation style for references. Common styles include APA Style, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc. For example, journals I have worked with prefer the Chicago and the APA styles.

The citation style impacts the in-text citations and reference list format. Providing citation examples or links to style guides can help authors apply the style accurately. Consistent use of one citation style also enables easier linking between cited references.

Article Structure

Manuscript guidelines should provide an overview of how different articles should be structured concerning word count, sections to be included, and order of sections.

For example, original research may require sections like Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion, whereas a review article may need Introduction, Prior Work, Analysis, and Conclusion. A logical structure for each article type ensures that submitted manuscripts follow a coherent narrative flow.

Ethical Considerations

As part of outlining author responsibilities, the guidelines must cover relevant ethical considerations such as avoiding plagiarism, disclosing conflicts of interest, obtaining subject consent for studies, adhering to data fabrication/falsification principles, and more based on the journal’s focus area. Clear ethical guidelines uphold the integrity of published research.

Well-defined manuscript submission guidelines that cover these key areas provide authors with a comprehensive understanding of the journal’s expectations. This results in higher-quality manuscript submissions and a more efficient editorial review process.

Submission System or Mechanism

Authors need to know the submission system or mechanism the journal uses. Is there any specific website or web-based software they need to start the submission process? Or do the authors need to email their manuscript (not desirable since established journals are using a good manuscript submission system)?

Tailoring Guidelines to Different Types of Articles

When creating manuscript submission guidelines, it is important to recognize that requirements may vary depending on the type of article being submitted. For instance, original research articles, review articles, case studies, and commentaries will each have unique elements that need to be addressed in the instructions to the authors.

Original Research

For original research manuscripts, authors will need clear direction on formatting the abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections. Be sure to indicate:

  • The expected structure and word count for the abstract.
  • Guidelines for citing previous literature in the introduction.
  • Required details for outlining the study methodology and materials.
  • Instructions for presenting quantitative and qualitative results, including figures and tables.
  • Suggestions for relating the findings to prior work in the discussion.

Review Articles

Review articles synthesize previously published material on a topic, so the guidelines should describe the following:

  • The preferred systematic approach for the literature review such as PRISMA or Cochrane.
  • Expected coverage of the existing body of knowledge.
  • Guidelines for critically appraising the cited studies.
  • Instructions for identifying knowledge gaps and areas for future research.

Case Studies

For case study submissions, ensure authors understand the following:

  • Requirements for obtaining patient consent and protecting identities.
  • The expected structure such as introduction, case description, and discussion.
  • Guidelines for linking the case to broader scientific knowledge.

Additionally, instructions may be needed for specific sections like abstracts, figures, tables, references, and supplementary materials. Providing tailored guidelines for different manuscript types improves clarity for authors and enhances the quality of submissions.

Communicating Your Submission Guidelines Effectively

The language used in manuscript submission guidelines is crucial in effectively conveying requirements to prospective authors. Guidelines should be written in clear, concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid complex jargon and sentence structures. Use simple words and aim for brevity. The reading level should be accessible to those outside the field as well.

Here are some tips for writing effective guidelines:

  • Use active voice and address authors directly e.g. “You must submit…”, “Your manuscript should…” etc.
  • Break down instructions into numbered steps whenever possible.
  • Use bullet points to highlight key requirements.
  • Include examples for formatting, citations etc., to clarify expectations.
  • Define any specialized terms that may be unfamiliar to those outside the field.
  • Use a Flesch reading ease score of 60-70 to ensure understandability.

The presentation and accessibility of the guidelines also matter. Guidelines should be readily available on the journal’s website. A PDF document works well for ease of access. Web-based guidelines are also desirable as long as the content is easily navigated.

Hyperlinking to different sections can help authors quickly navigate to what they need. You can also create a concise checklist of key requirements.

Consider making the guidelines downloadable so authors can refer to them offline while preparing their submissions. If major changes are made, notify previous authors and readers through emails or notifications.

The tone should be friendly but professional. Avoid being too rigid or demanding. Phrase guidelines as recommendations rather than absolute rules whenever possible. This encourages cooperation from authors.

With clear, engaging writing and easy availability, your manuscript submission guidelines can seamlessly convey what you expect from authors. This benefits both the authors and the journal.

Reviewing Your Journal’s Submission Guidelines

As with any set of policies and procedures, manuscript submission guidelines cannot remain stagnant. They require periodic reviews and updates to ensure they continue meeting the journal’s and its authors’ needs. Here are some tips on keeping your guidelines current and effective:

Conduct an Annual Review of the Submission Guidelines

Set a reminder to formally reassess your journal’s submission guidelines at least once a year. The review should involve the publisher and the journal’s editorial team. A good journal always establishes contact with the editorial team and periodically discusses how to improve the journal’s quality and standing continually.

This review should analyze whether the guidelines align with any changes in the journal’s scope, style, formatting requirements, or editorial standards. Annual reviews also ensure the language and instructions remain clear and helpful for prospective authors.

Solicit Feedback from Authors and Editors

Authors and editors regularly engaging with your submission guidelines can provide valuable insights into where they are confusing, overly rigid, or missing key information. Consider sending out an annual survey to these groups to get suggestions on improving the guidelines. Monitoring author questions during submissions can also reveal pain points to address.

Stay Up-to-Date on Standards and Best Practices

Regularly check if your guidelines adhere to the latest industry standards around issues like authorship, conflicts of interest, data availability policies, and ethical research conduct. Consult style guides to ensure your formatting instructions are current. Review submissions guidelines of leading journals in your field to identify useful updates.

Incorporate Feedback in a Timely Manner

As you receive feedback, aim to review and update your submission guidelines frequently, at least every quarter. This ensures new pain points or recommendations can be incorporated quickly to benefit authors and journal editors. However, avoid changing guidelines erratically, as consistency is key.

With some diligence, manuscript submission guidelines can remain useful for your academic journal. The effort to keep them updated pays dividends in more efficient, higher-quality submissions.

Conclusion: How Well-Crafted Submission Guidelines Will Help Your Academic Journal

In conclusion, comprehensive and well-structured manuscript submission guidelines are crucial for the success of any academic journal.

They help establish a standard for submitted manuscripts, ensuring authors provide all the necessary information per the journal’s requirements. This makes the review and publication process much smoother and more efficient for editors and reviewers.

Well-crafted guidelines also uphold the academic integrity and ethical standards of a journal. They provide clear instructions to authors on formatting, citation styles, authorship policies, and other responsibilities. This minimizes plagiarism, data manipulation, and other issues from a lack of awareness of best practices.

Additionally, tailored submission guidelines that account for different types of articles can improve the overall quality of published research. Setting customized requirements for sections like abstracts, methods, results etc., based on the manuscript type, allows authors to present their work better.

By communicating guidelines effectively through clear, concise language and easily accessible formatting, journals make it simpler for new authors to understand what is expected of their submissions. Regular review and guideline updates also ensure they stay relevant to evolving research practices.

In summary, well-crafted manuscript submission guidelines tremendously influence the success and reputation of scholarly journals. They uphold standards, streamline processes, and communicate expectations clearly to authors. This results in higher-quality manuscript submissions and published articles.

We encourage all academic journals to re-evaluate their current submission guidelines and make efforts to improve them. Do not hesitate to seek feedback from your editorial team, reviewers, and authors to identify areas of improvement. Investing time and effort into crafting comprehensive submission guidelines will undoubtedly enhance your journal’s integrity and success in the long run.

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