Publishing as academic practice

Publications are important:

  • to ensure people hear about your research and you are part of a conversation that goes on in the public sphere,
  • for your personal career as they contribute to building up your profile as a researcher, and
  • for the University as they influence funding received and contribute to strengthening the reputation of the University.

Many resources are available to help you write better articles. Some useful resources available online:

Further resources on how to deal with reviewers are at the end of this page.

Where to publish?

It is important to carefully choose journals to publish in. To do so you need to understand publication politics, so you can be strategic when publishing and use them to build up your track record. The main dilemma at the moment is whether to publish in traditional journals or choose open access journals.

Finding journals

The best place to find journals is by going through the databases used to search for journals. Over time you should become familiar with journals in your area and understand their specialties and priorities. Each journal tends to publish specific types of articles. This could have to do with the topic, approach to the topic, methods used, theories or scope. It is important to understand the type of articles a journal publishes before submitting your article.

As an academic researcher you should publish in peer reviewed journals. Databases and search engines generally specify whether a journal is peer reviewed. If you are not sure about a journal, check heck the University’s library pages on publication. A potentially useful resource is Caltech Library Services which provides a list of journals against abbreviations.

Impact factors

Some journals however are more prestigious than others. This generally has to do with the impact of a publication measured by the number of articles citing a publication. Check the UC Library pages for information on how to determine impact factors of a journal.

A useful tool is the ‘Publish or Perish’ citation software (retrieves and analyses academic citations).

Where not to publish

Beall’s list of predatory journals/publishers NOT to publish gets updated every year and is widely used by people when assessing where to publish.

The peer review process

Not all journals are peer reviewed. If you send a paper for publication to a peer reviewed journal, it will be sent on to experts who are asked to comment on the suitability and quality of the paper. If they think your paper is suitable these comments will be sent back to you so you can address them and eventually the paper can get published. Receiving feedback can be difficult, but should be taken as an opportunity for improving a paper.

readUC Library pages also offer useful information on publishing research and the peer-review process.

Note that the peer review process does not go uncriticised: Peer review is fraught with problems, and we need a fix.

For more advice on how to decide where to publish read Thirty one things to consider when choosing which journal to submit your paper to (Dunleavy, P. in Writing for Research). The article groups factors into five categories : the scope of a journal, review processes, open or closed access, coverage, dissemination and impact. For each there is a detailed table setting out what to consider.

Publishing in open access journals

If you want to be read, you may prefer to access open access journals which are widely accessed. By publishing in Open Access journals, you also support the idea that knowledge and research, generally subsidised through public finding, should be shared openly.

For a useful explanation on open access journals check the relevant Library pages and Scholarly Open Access. You can also check the more creative video presentation from

Some countries require researchers to publish only in publications granting free access. This allows larger distribution for research which has often been publicly funded. Why limit access and allow publishers to act as gatekeepers and make money on that research. This raises dilemmas for researchers who will need to make a choice. There is an official open access policy – the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

To find Open Access Journals, check the Directory of Open Access Journals (Lund University Libraries). Digital resources can also be accessed via OAIster, Trove and Google.

To follow the debate on open access in Australia, follow what happens in the Australasian Open Strategy Group or the Council of Australian University Librarians.

There is a list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. We recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.

Keeping track of publications

ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes every researcher and is recognised internationally. ORCID links research activities undertaken over the course of a career.

readTen things you need to know about Orcid.



“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham


Authorship can cause tension because of the real or perceived power imbalance between a young researcher and a supervisor.

To assist, clear recognised guidelines on rules which should guide authorship have been developed. The Vancouver Protocol, first described by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors is now widely recognised and applied across all disciplines in the world’s top universities. Guidelines developed are very similar to UC’s Publication and Authorship of Research Policy.

In brief, the Vancouver Protocol states that to be credited as an author, an author needs to have been involved in,

1. Conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data


2. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content


3. Final approval of the version to be published.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, Section 5 is dedicated to authorship.

Co-authored publications

Co-authored publications may generate questions about the order in which authors should be listed. Authorder® is a free tool that has been developed to assist with this. Also available through Facebook Authorder.

 More rtoolboxesources

Scholarly writing should be distinguishable from other forms of publication by its transparency. We should know exactly how authors arrive at their findings. Findings published in academic journals should be given special credence because of this.

Academic publishing should be defined by the presence of strict regulations to maximise transparency. Articles that do not meet transparency criteria should not be eligible for research quality assessments, such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework. URL:

Bem, Daryl J. (2003), Writing the Empirical Journal Article, Cornell University.

Cargill Margaret and O’Connor Patrick (2009), Writing Scientific Research Articles, Chichester: Blackwell. UC Library call nr  T11.C3 2009. The book is associated with

Carley Michael J. (1999), Publish Well and Wisely: A Brief Guide for New Scholars available from

Career Corner (2008), Publishing your scholarly work – a video presentation  featuring a panel discussion with editors of three Canadian university presses, available at

Garfield, E (2005). The Agony and the Ecstasy – The History and Meaning of the Journal Impact Factor. Presented at the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication, Chicago, September 16, 2005. 22pp.

Danaher, J. (2015). How I Write for Peer Review.  Blog page on available on

Delamont, S. & Atkinson, P. (2004). ‘Publishing journal papers: some marvellous things to say’. In Successful research careers: a practical guide (pp. 101-118). New York: Open University Press.

Dunleavy, P. (2014). Are you an academic hermit? Here’s how to easily change, if you want toWriting For Research blog.

Dunleavy, P. (2014). Seven upgrade strategies for a problematic article or chapter. Writing For Research blog.

Eysenbach G. (2006). ‘Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles’. PLoS Biology 4/5.

Lundberg, G. (2003). ‘The “omnipotent” Science Citation Index Impact Factor’. The Medical Journal of Australia 178 (6): 253-254.

Lupton, D. (2012). ’30 tips for successful academic research and writing‘, LSE Impact Blog

McVeigh, M. (2004).  Open Access Journals in the ISI Citation Databases: Analysis of Impact Factors and Citation Patterns; A citation study from Thomson Scientific. Thomson Scientific.

Murray, R. (2005). Writing for academic journals. New York: Open University Press. UC Library call nr PN146.M87 2005.

Regional Studies Association (2012), ‘Publishing Top Tips‘, Regional Insights June 2012.

Sand-Jensen, K. (2007). ‘How to write consistently boring scientific literature’. Oikos, 116, 5, 723-727. Available from Academic Search Premier database.

Shaw, J. (2012), ‘Responding to reviewers‘, Academy of Management Journal 55/6, 1261–1263. This is a useful guide to what next – once you have received reviewers comments. 

Further thoughts…

Have a look at Mark Ware’s Peer Review: An Introduction and Guide. What is it? How does it work? What about misconduct? Is there an alternative? This short Guide shows a coherent and forward-looking overview of the processes, the shortcomings, and the innovations around peer review, and why peer review is such a vital element of effective scholarship.

Another interesting reading was published in the Times Higher Education was titled Does bitchiness serve any useful scholarly purpose?

Communicating your research well is crucial, as the sheer number of publications coming out compete against each other to grab audience’s attention. There are too many studies according to Parolo, Pietro Della Britto et. al. “Attention Decay in Science” xarchiv [online][“6 March 2015”][last accessed 11 June 2015].

You may want to check out and subscribe to the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC), an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise. AusSMC aims to improve links between the media and the scientific community.

If you want to lighten up a bit about all this, have a look at the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR), which rejects all submissions, regardless of quality.
Read the following article in Nature which explains how conference proceedings were removed from subscription databases after a scientist reveals that they were computer-generated: Van Noorden, Richard (2014). Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers, Nature 24 February 2014

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