Tailoring a Scientific Paper To Fit a Particular Academic Journal

Tailoring a Scientific Paper To Fit a Particular Academic Journal
The ideal when seeking a journal in which to publish a scholarly paper is to discover a periodical that is exactly right. Such a journal would have a range and scope into which the paper concerned fits perfectly and it would publish articles precisely like that paper in length, structure and approach. This is an ideal, however, and in most cases a little custom tailoring will be required to make a paper fit the requirements of a particular journal with precision.

Although the content of a paper can often be changed to some degree, this is usually the last aspect of a manuscript that should be altered to fit a journal. Instead, the primary reason for choosing a journal should be its appropriateness for the research presented in the paper. With this basic match established, the material can then be reshaped to conform to the guidelines or instructions the journal provides for authors. It is therefore imperative when you are considering a journal to find these guidelines at once and study them carefully in relation to the paper you hope to submit for publication. In particular, you should watch for the following details.
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• A distinction between types of papers. Often a journal will publish various kinds of articles such as research papers, case studies and literature reviews, but will specify different length, structural and other requirements for each kind. Be sure to identify the type that matches your paper and to focus on meeting the requirements for that type of paper.
• Length limitations. Scholarly journals usually have length limitations measured either by word count or number of pages. These limitations must be strictly observed, so you may have to shorten or lengthen your paper a little to fit. Remember that an acquisitions editor will be able to determine the length of your document with ease and can reject your manuscript if it is too long or too short.
• The number of references allowed. Some journals will limit the number of sources that can be cited in a paper, and that number may vary depending on the type of paper you are submitting. If you have cited more sources than allowed for your type of paper, you will need to remove some of them. This will require serious reflection because you do not want to remove references to any sources essential to your study.
• The number of tables, figures, notes, appendices and other ancillary elements permitted. There will sometimes be limitations on one or more of these items for certain kinds of papers, so do keep an eye on details and present your research accurately and thoroughly in effective formats that also allow you to meet journal requirements.
• The structure required for a paper of your kind. This is often relatively consistent across academic or scientific journals within a defined discipline, but there can be variations. Most research can be shaped to fit within the structural guidelines of a given journal, particularly if the research and journal are well matched.

These are the largest and most fundamental concerns beyond content, so if you envision problems with tailoring your work to meet these aspects of journal guidelines, you may want to give the matter further thought and consider other journals whose guidelines may be very different.

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If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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