Why You Must Follow Journal Submission Guidelines

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The write-up discusses why you must follow journal submission guidelines when submitting your research for publication. Complying with journal submission guidelines is crucial for getting published. When authors disregard instructions, it slows the review process and can lead to outright rejection.

However, adhering to guidelines demonstrates professionalism and improves your chances of acceptance. This post will explore why guidelines matter, authors’ common mistakes, and tips for submission success.

Why Is It Important to Follow Journal Submission Guidelines?

Journals establish guidelines to ensure manuscripts meet basic standards and facilitate efficient editorial workflow. Reviewers and editors rely on authors to follow instructions so they can focus on assessing content rather than fixing formatting issues. Non-compliance wastes valuable time and resources.

Ignoring guidelines significantly delays publication.

Editors may return manuscripts for correction or even desk reject without review. This can set back submission by months. Frequent offenses also reflect poorly on authors. Building a reputation for disregarding instructions can jeopardize future acceptance chances.

This article will clarify common journal or author guidelines and why they exist. We’ll discuss frequent author mistakes and how to avoid them. You’ll learn strategies to effectively interpret instructions, utilize journal resources, and double-check manuscripts. We’ll also provide tips to ensure smooth guideline compliance. Our goal is to equip you to navigate journal requirements successfully.

Understanding Journal Submission Guidelines

Journal submission guidelines exist to ensure manuscripts meet a journal’s specific requirements and standards for publication. They provide critical information authors need to navigate the submission process successfully. There are several common types of guidelines that journals may include:

Formatting Guidelines

These outline the journal’s required formatting for the manuscript text, citations, figures, tables, and supplementary materials. Elements covered often include font, line spacing, margins, file types, page limits, and heading styles.

Structure Guidelines

These detail the required manuscript components and order, including:

  1. The title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Methodology
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
  10. Figures, tables, illustrations, and captions

Style Guidelines

These specify the stylistic conventions to follow, including the citation style (e.g., Chicago Manual of Style, APA style, MLA, etc.), use of terminology, abbreviations, numbers, and metrics.

Submission Steps

These provide instructions on how and where to submit the manuscript file(s) and required cover letters, authorship confirmation forms, or other documents.

Taking the time to read and understand a journal’s guidelines thoroughly is crucial. Each journal has its specific expectations. Familiarizing yourself with these details will help ensure your submission meets all requirements, preventing delays or rejection. Adhering to guidelines also demonstrates professionalism and respect for the journal’s processes.

8 Reasons Why You Must Follow Journal Submission Guidelines

Adhering to a journal’s author guidelines can significantly increase your chances of having your manuscript accepted for publication.

1. Respecting the Process

Editors and reviewers look favorably upon authors who demonstrate attention to detail by carefully following all instructions. Manuscripts that fail to comply with guidelines often face rejection or requests for revisions before proceeding through peer review. Paying close attention to guidelines shows you respect the journal’s processes and requirements.

2. Reflection on Your Professionalism

Compliance with author instructions also reflects your professionalism as a researcher. Journals assume that authors who follow guidelines are more likely to produce high-quality, publishable work. Reviewers can focus on evaluating the content rather than getting distracted by formatting issues. In this way, guidelines help streamline the path to publication.

3. Avoid Unnecessary Delays

Additionally, adhering to guidelines prevents unnecessary delays when manuscripts require multiple revisions to fix preventable errors. For example, failing to format references properly or neglecting to include required cover letters may cause avoidable back-and-forth with editors. This slows publication timelines and wastes valuable time that could be better spent conducting research.

4. Increased Chances of Acceptance

Editors often reject or request revisions for manuscripts that fail to follow author guidelines. However, carefully adhering to all instructions demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism, making acceptance more likely.

5. Uniformity and Conformity

Uniformity and conformity are critical elements in academic publishing. They ensure that all articles within a journal maintain a consistent structure, style, and format, making them easier to read, compare, and reference. Following the journal submission guidelines contributes to this uniformity and conformity in how the publications are presented.

6. Efficient Review Process

The review process in academic publishing involves editors and peer reviewers examining a manuscript to evaluate its quality, relevance, and contribution to the field. This process is crucial in maintaining the integrity of scholarly communication. Following journal submission guidelines can significantly aid in making this review process more efficient, as academic journals can focus on assessing manuscript content.

7. Editorial Efficiency

Editorial efficiency refers to the management of a streamlined and effective editorial process, from manuscript submission to final publication. Adherence to journal submission guidelines contributes significantly to editorial efficiency, including saving time, boosting standardization, facilitating smooth communication, and maintaining quality control.

8. Compatibility

Compatibility in journal submission refers to ensuring that a manuscript aligns with a specific journal’s technical and stylistic requirements. This compatibility is crucial for several reasons, all facilitated by adherence to journal submission guidelines.

Common Mistakes When Ignoring Journal Submission Guidelines

Authors often make several common mistakes when they disregard journal submission guidelines. These errors can lead to delays, revisions, or even outright rejection of their manuscripts. Here are some frequent issues:

Incorrect Formatting

One of the most common mistakes is neglecting the specific formatting requirements outlined in the guidelines. This could be related to font type and size, line spacing, margins, or the format of citations, figures, and tables. Submitting a manuscript that does not conform to these rules may result in it being returned for corrections.

Inappropriate Structure

Guidelines usually specify the structure of the paper, including the order and content of sections such as the abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, acknowledgments, references, etc. Ignoring these instructions can confuse reviewers and make your paper more challenging to read.

Ignoring Style Guidelines

Journals often have style conventions that authors must follow. These can include citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.), use of terminology, abbreviations, numbers, and metrics. Failure to adhere to these stylistic conventions can lead to misunderstandings and may give the impression of unprofessionalism.

Submission Errors

Authors may also make mistakes during the submission process, such as submitting to the wrong journal section or failing to include necessary documents like cover letters or authorship confirmation forms. These oversights can delay the review process.

Length Issues

Some authors ignore guidelines regarding the length of the manuscript. Submissions that are too long or short can be rejected outright because they do not meet the journal’s standards.

Misuse of Language and Grammar

While not always explicitly stated in the guidelines, proper use of language and grammar is implicitly expected in all submissions. Manuscripts riddled with grammatical errors or awkward phrasing can be complex for reviewers to read and understand, detracting from the quality of the research.

Non-compliance with Ethical Guidelines

Journals often have ethical guidelines that authors must follow, such as declarations of conflict of interest, permissions for use of data, etc. Ignoring these can lead to severe consequences, including manuscript rejection and damage to the author’s reputation.

By being aware of these common mistakes and taking the time to understand and follow the journal submission guidelines, authors can improve their chances of having their work accepted for publication.

Overcoming Challenges in Following Journal Submission Guidelines

Following journal submission guidelines can seem daunting, especially for new researchers. However, some strategies can help make the process more manageable.

Strategies for Reading and Understanding Complex Guidelines

Journal submission guidelines can be long and detailed, making them difficult to parse. Here are some tips for tackling complex guidelines:

  • Read the complete guidelines for a broad overview before focusing on the details.
  • Create a checklist of critical requirements to refer to as you prepare your manuscript.
  • If possible, use submission management systems provided by the journal to input information as you go.
  • Look out for examples, templates, and author instructions from the journal.
  • Focus on sections relevant to your manuscript type (research article, review, etc.).

Utilizing Resources Provided by Journals

Many journals provide resources to help authors follow guidelines, including:

  • Author instructions – outline requirements and provide tips.
  • Manuscript templates – format your paper to match the journal style.
  • Citation style files – plug in to reference managers to auto-format citations.
  • Submission checklists – customize and check off requirements.
  • FAQs – address common questions from authors.

Seeking Clarification and Guidance

If any requirements are unclear, authors can seek clarification by:

  • Checking if the journal has an author help desk.
  • Contacting the journal editor with specific questions.
  • Asking colleagues who have published in the journal before.
  • Looking for online forums or communities related to the journal.
  • Reading published articles in the journal for examples to follow.

Following submission guidelines closely demonstrates an author’s attention to detail and professionalism. While guidelines may seem tedious, adhering to them can pay off by avoiding delays and revisions during the publication process.

Tips for Navigating Journal Submission Guidelines Successfully

Creating a checklist is one of the most effective ways to ensure you meet all of a journal’s submission requirements. As you read the guidelines, note each major item, such as word count limits, formatting specifications, required sections and documents, reference styles, etc.

Why you must follow journal submission guidelines

Then, go through your checklist item-by-item before submitting to avoid overlooked details. A master checklist saves time and gives you peace of mind that your submission is complete.

Pay close attention to any word, figure, or table limits in the author’s guidelines. Going over these limits, even a small amount, can reject your submission without review. Stay within the bounds by referencing the journal’s limits frequently as you prepare your manuscript. Consider using word processing tools to check your word count, and keep figures and tables to only the most essential ones to conserve space.

Before submitting, carefully double-check that your manuscript adheres to all the journal’s formatting and style guidelines. Look out for text and heading styles, in-text citations, reference formats, figure and table captions, and the order of sections. It can be tedious, but catching formatting issues beforehand prevents avoidable delays or rejections. Having a colleague review your submission against the journal’s checklist is also a good quality check.

Other helpful tips include allowing plenty of time to comply with the guidelines, seeking clarification from the journal if unsure about specific requirements, and using the journal’s provided templates and resources. Remember that following the instructions demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail as an author.


The write-up has discussed why you must follow journal submission guidelines when submitting your research for publication. As we conclude, it is clear that carefully adhering to journal submission guidelines is crucial for successfully publishing academic research. By thoroughly understanding and complying with a journal’s specific requirements, authors demonstrate professionalism, increase their chances of acceptance, and avoid unnecessary delays.

Throughout this post, we have explored the importance of submission guidelines, the benefits of adhering to them, common mistakes to avoid, strategies to overcome challenges, and helpful tips. Now it is time to put this knowledge into practice.

Recap the Importance of Guidelines

Let’s recap why diligently following instructions matters. Journal editors and reviewers have crafted guidelines to ensure manuscripts meet publication standards and allow for efficient assessment. Deviating from these guidelines signals disregard for a journal’s process. It also causes extra work for editors and reviewers, lowering your chances of acceptance.

Take the Time to Get it Right

While carefully reviewing submission details takes effort upfront, it pays off in the long run. Setting aside time to read instructions, use journal templates, and double-check before submitting shows you value a journal’s process. It also helps avoid the need for time-consuming revisions later. The extra effort is well worth it.

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