One of the key challenges faced by undergraduate and postgraduate students today is the pressure to publish in scholarly journals. Students and young scholars are well aware of the growing competitiveness of the employment market within and outside academia. Journal publications are also growing in their importance to employment prospects in academia. Other reasons for publishing journal articles include peer recognition, the professional and ethical requirement to communicate research findings, and the wish to play a part in knowledge creation.
Plan Beforehand, And Devise A Strategy
Before you can begin to write a journal article, you must first make a plan on what you want to write and how to go about the writing process. Ask yourself questions like why the article is important or what purpose drives your writing.
Developing a plan for your writing implies ensuring that you have identified both the internal and external drivers. The strategy will also ensure that you have an understanding of the available time as well as the tasks required. From this, you can then develop a timeline schedule, with each task apportioned appropriate time.
Research And Understand Your Audience
It is virtually impossible to produce a good journal article without understanding who your audience is. Unlike coursework, which is writer-centered and focused on learning your way around the subject area, academic journal articles are more reader-focused. In other words, ask yourself whether you would be bothered to read the article.
Make An Analysis Of The Writing Styles In The Reputable Journals Within Your Field
Looking at some of the writings in the journals in your field will give you some idea on how to proceed. For instance, take one or two journals in your field and examine the abstracts on some issues. Make an analysis of the approaches used by the writers, including the words commonly used and how the articles are structured. Use the papers in the journal to model your article writing. From the articles, you can also get some information on the important scholarly conversations in your field.
Make An Outline Of Your Ideas
To make sure you do not leave out important details in your writing, make a list, in which you order your ideas. This will help you organize the key and supporting points for your writing. At this point, it must be reiterated that an outline needs not be done in a linear and orderly fashion.
Begin With Your Idea, Expanding It Through Research
Writing an academic journal article should not be seen as a mystery novel, where the outcome can only be revealed at the very end. Rather, view your journal writing from the position of a stated focus, from where you can proceed through a defined structure of supporting your points, bringing your ideas to life.
Keep Your Writing Simple
In writing academic journal articles, you are bound to encounter some complex topics. However, writing on a complex topic does not mean that your writing should also be complex. Rather, keeping your sentences simple and straightforward is more appealing and comprehensible compared to using long and convoluted sentences.
You should also try to avoid the use of complex acronyms and jargons. This is particularly important when submitting your paper to international and multidisciplinary journals. Choose your words carefully, ensuring that every word used plays a part in presenting your ideas and that you understand the meaning of an uncommon word that you use.
Seek Feedback Throughout The Writing Process
No one can claim to be a writing guru, especially when it comes to writing for academic journals. Seeking guidance and feedback can help improve the quality of your writing and help you avoid some costly mistakes. Discussing your ideas and work with colleagues and tutors will give you feedback that can help in structuring your paper. From such feedback conduct multiple revisions before submitting your article to the journal.
Choose A Journal Carefully
It may seem obvious, but you stand a higher chance of your article being considered if you choose to submit it to an appropriate journal, although this is not always the case. In the event that the academic journal editor sees no connection between your article and the journal, there is a high likelihood that your submission will get a negative review even before your paper gets to peer-review. Put the same energy into finding a good journal as in writing your article.
One possible way of finding out about good journals is by asking your colleagues and teaching staff. You can also check online to see where similar papers in your field have been published. It is also important to reiterate that most journals do not permit duplicate submissions, where you submit the same article to more than one journal. Send your article to one journal, and await feedback before submitting it again for more consideration.
Use The Peer-Review Process To Improve Your Article And Overall Writing
The peer review process is not meant to deter you from writing. Rather, it is meant to help you improve on your article, and make a genuine contribution to academia. Use the comments provided whenever your paper is rejected to improve your writing. Even a scathing review will have some useful points from which you can learn.
Keep Persistently With It
While it is important for young scholars and students to sharpen their writing skills and a thorough knowledge of the journal article writing process, such skills take time to perfect. Do not get discouraged by negative feedback at the beginning of your writing process. Keep practicing and sharpening your writing skills.