Top tips 6: How to submit your paper and deal with reviewers

We hear many stories of how challenging the submission and peer review process can be, but it’s actually a great opportunity to refine your paper with expert help.

1. Get to know the portal
Play around with the electronic submission portal for your chosen journal. Make a note of what is needed for each section of the submission process – do they require a Word document, a PDF or scanned copies of signatures? Gather all the information you need into one file and then put some time aside to upload everything in one sitting. Never submit to more than one journal at the same time.

2. Be patient
Your paper is about to go through a long process. First is the ‘tech check’ to make sure it meets the journal’s guidelines on everything from formatting through to ethics statements and referencing. If you have followed the guidelines, your paper will then go to the editor, who will also read your cover letter. If the editor thinks it’s suitable for the journal, your paper will be sent to 2 or 3 reviewers.

3. Read the editor’s letter carefully
What does it really say? A ‘revise and resubmit’ means that the editor is already interested in your paper and if you address the reviewers’ comments in each round of reviews, your paper is likely to be published. The review process can last several rounds (called R1, R2 etc). Don’t worry, this back and forth between authors and reviewers is common.

4. Be polite
When addressing reviewers’ comments, remember they have spent their free time reviewing your paper and are helping you refine it.

5. Don’t give up if you get a rejection
Get expert advice on where to submit it next. Perseverance is key. Don’t let your paper incubate in your laptop; it’s much better with editors and reviewers than it is being hidden from potential audiences.

Summarised from a presentation by Dr Ajay Kumar as part of The Union and MSF SORT-IT course

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