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Blog: Improving your article's chances of being accepted by a certain journal: passing the first screening

Improving your article's chances of being accepted by a certain journal: passing the first screening
One of the biggest challenges facing scholars in virtually all academic disciplines is how to make their newly written article pass the initial screening stage, by the journal's editing staff. That is, how to convince this staff (sometimes a single editor, sometimes several editing personnel) that this new article is in line with the topics covered by the journal, and is up to date with current dilemmas. Those articles that don't pass this stage are set aside, usually rather quickly, and don't get to be reviewed (i.e. properly read and commented on) by two or three of your peers. Thus, although there are no guarantees that your article would have been accepted at the end of the review process, at least when this process is exhausted you receive some remarks from one or more reviewers who took the time to read your work. All you can expect from being screened out at the initial stage, is some vague recommendation regarding your topic of writing, or a recommendation to try your luck in a certain other journal, that seems to them better suited to your topic of writing. All in all, for the scholar trying to publish, the interest seems to clearly lie with passing this initial screening without hurdles.

So, how can you make sure your article fits the topics covered by the journal, and is up to date with current dilemmas? The first obvious step you can take is to read the aims and scopes of the candidate journal, usually located in an 'About the Journal' section of its homepage. These sections vary in the depth they go into explaining their areas of interests, but usually do a good job in describing the general perimeters of their engagement. As such they are the place to start, as they help to screen out those journals which clearly don't fit the topic of your article. After this stage, you usually end up with a 'shortlist' of what seem to be suitable journals.

Although the list is shorter, you still have to decide where to send your article, as there are almost always some adjustments you have to make in order to submit your manuscript (usually formatting adjustments). Since these adjustments take time, it is worthwhile to refine your pick from the shortlist. This second step has traditionally been done by looking each of the candidate journals over, and getting a clearer impression of the topics and dilemmas that interest the journal's editing staff by browsing several of the latest issues. The result of this overview of each journal is both a clearer understanding of which of the shortlisted journals is a better candidate for this particular article, but also, of how one can fine-tune the title and the abstract, in order to better suit the journal's interests and contemporary writing.

Yet the process of going over these issues, in several journals, is both time consuming, and prone to bias. Hence, it takes a long time to go over all these issues, and even then you may only get a general impression of these journals' interests, and not a methodical examination of them. Thus, there is clearly a need for technological tools that will address these difficulties.

Widiem's own solution to this problem is a service that is called What's trending. In many of the journal pages available on our site (you can find all of them via our Browse Journals section) you will find a link to what's trending in this title. The service comprises a list of 40 terms arranged by prevalence, which provides a clear and methodical indication of the topics and hot dilemmas that feature in each journal.
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Tagged: tips, graduate, postdoc

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