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Scholarly Communications

Steps to Publish in a Journal

Choose a Journal to Submit

A lot of thought should go into selecting which journal to apply to have your work published under. It's a good practice to put yourself in the reader's shoes; where would they go to look for articles like yours? Think about which databases and which journals people in your field tend to use. There are many other considerations that go into selection, more information can be found here.

This is also a good time to consider if you want your article to be open access (OA). There are many paths to open access including publishing in an open access journal or depositing a version of your article in a repository such as DalSpace (this "Green" open access option is NO Cost and fulfills funding agency OA requirements). You can learn more about open access from our Open Access LibGuide.

You may also consult your subject liaison for more help.


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Check the Journal's Manuscript and Submission Requirements

Every journal has their own requirements related to content, citations and formatting. Check their website for details.

Submitting to a journal is more than just sending off your manuscript draft off to the publisher, they may request a cover letter detailing why your submission is appropriate for the journal and how it furthers its aim & scope.

Below you can find a link to an example of what the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) requests for all of its submissions.

When a submission is rejected before entering peer review, it is known as a Desk Reject. To avoid this, keep in mind the common ways that a desk reject occurs:

  • failed plagiarizing checking software
  • Manuscript does not meet criteria set out in Instructions for Authors (e.g. did not comply with instructions for authors)
  • Manuscript's contents outside of aims & scope of journal


Peer Review

Any reputable academic journal will go through the Peer Review process. Peer review can take months to complete since it requires the publisher to first read through your submission to determine if it meets basic standards and criteria, then contacting reviewers with the appropriate area of expertise to read the submission and provide feedback, and finally evaluating the feedback to determine if the submission passes peer review.

Four possible results typically occur after a peer review:

  • Accept - the journal will publish with no revisions required. This is uncommon.
  • Minor Revisions Needed - revisions are required, but the submission shows promise of acceptance
  • Major Revisions Needed - extensive revisions are required
  • Reject - the paper is deemed not appropriate to the journal and the submission process ends here

Responding to a Request for Revision

It is to be expected that after peer review, some revisions are asked of the author. Take a few days after getting a response to reflect and recuperate; it's not easy taking criticism!

It's helpful to organize the revisions by ease of completion; tackle the low hanging fruit first. As you go through every point of revision, document what you have done to address the reviewer's feedback. If you do not agree with a comment, support your claim with evidence to the best of your ability. When resubmitting your edited manuscript, ensure that the revisions are organized, well documented, and clear.


As a researcher, getting rejected from a journal is bound to happen at some point in your career; it happens to the best and brightest of us.

Your next step is to consider submitting your manuscript to your second-choice journal. Before submitting, make sure you address any feedback given to you from your first submission.



Congratulations! The journal wants to publish your manuscript. 

If it has not already been done, signing of documents pertaining to copyright and licensing would be the next step. Please be aware that some publishers may request the signing of the publishing agreement take place before the acceptance of your manuscript. You must remain vigilant of what you are agreeing to and signing with the publishers.

Be sure that you are conscious of what terms the agreement entails. Read through the rest of the guide to learn more about copyright, open access, and the transfer of copyright upon the signing of a publishing agreement. You can also check out Dalhousie's Open Access libguide and the Copyright Office's page on copyright.