Friday, 29 March 2013

How to get published

Hello. My names is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

Anyone working at a UK university will be fully aware of the need to publish, in a top ranking journal if possible, and the pressures of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) One of the problems facing an academic trying to get a paper published is which journal to send it to. There is pressure for you to aim as high as possible to get your paper into a top ranked journal. But here you face two problems: 1 the large number of submissions means that there could be a long delay in getting the paper refereed and the cut off point for the REF is November 2013. If the paper is not already being looked at it almost certainly won't now get accepted in time to count. 2 In any case the acceptance rate for these top journals tends to be lower than for some journals that focus on a narrow field, say just energy economics or cultural economics. So if you have a paper that fits a particular sub-field it may be better to send it to a journal specialising in that field even if it doesn't have the same rating. Better to get the paper published in a lower ranked journal than not at all.

These were the kinds of points being made at coffee time yesterday in the cafeteria. It can be very frustrating waiting for a response from an editor or a referee once you have sent off your paper (or more likely these days having submitted online). And then, when you do get the referees' reports you may think from what they have written that they haven't read your paper properly or that some of the points that they make are wrong or inconsistent with each other. If you want to get the paper published and the report provides a list of points to be addressed then there is nothing for it but just to try to address them, even if you think they are inappropriate.

The other day one of my friends on Facebook posted a link to a really nice set of tips for authors by Professor Rene M Stulz, Advisory Editor to the Journal of Financial Economics and former Editor of the Journal of Finance. I have reproduced some of the points that he makes as they are important but also in a way quite amusing::

"Avoid insults and slights. It may well be that Professor X is an idiot, but unless the editor agrees with you, Professor X could be the referee of your manuscript."

"I just received a referee's report. The referee is an idiot. What should I do? Answer: If the referee has indeed misunderstood your work, you have to ask yourself why he or she did so. Was the paper poorly written? Were your thoughts unclear? If the referee thought your contribution to be small, is it because you failed to describe it properly? "

"I resubmitted my paper and received a report from a different referee. What is going on? Answer: The original referee may be incapacitated (for instance, he died or became a Dean). "

And do put yourself in the referee's position.Make sure that the paper is written clearly with no unnecessary techno-babble and is free of typographical errors. Don't submit a first draft and get a colleague to check your paper before you send it off.

Right. Now all I have to do is finish that paper I have been working on for six months. It will be too late for the REF but I still need to finish it and get it published!

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