What did Prof. Iram Siraj learn after publishing nearly 200 journal articles and chapters?

Publish or perish. A list of your journal publications may be one of the most important sections on your CV. Publications matter so much that their quantity and quality can largely influence whether your achievements in your professional field are justly recognized .

Everyone has a story to tell when it comes to what they have been through to successfully publish a journal article. Iram Siraj is no exception. With nearly 30 years’ experience of working in academia, she is now Professor of Child Development and Education at the University of Oxford. She has also held professorships at the University of Wollongong and University College London. Let’s see what she had to share about the challenging, yet rewarding, journey of academic publishing:

1. Take care to select the right journal

When choosing which journal to submit to, look at the names on the editorial board. If you don’t recognize any of the names, uh-oh, you might have chosen the wrong journal. Make sure you submit to a journal that would be interested in your topic, so you don’t waste your time waiting for a rejection notice.

2. Think about how quickly you want to see your paper published

There are many factors to consider when choosing which journal to submit. If you want to see your work in print soon, you’d better choose a less impactful journal with a faster response time. High-impact journals usually have rounds of review. Knowing your priority is the key in decision-making.

3. Focus on your story logically, rather than chronologically

“I did A…”, “then I did B…”, and “B didn’t work out and finally I did C.” In an academic article, logic and coherence of the flow of ideas and argument are more valued than the actual steps you take. Always put your readers in mind and a clear and progressive flow of ideas is always appreciated.

4. Proofreading is important

It sounds like a cliché, but journal editors are surprised at how poorly-written some articles are. The quality of writing is important when judging the research ability of the author. Edit your article after you finish it and get a colleague to read it. A fresh pair of eyes won’t do any harm.

5. Deal with reviewers’ comments calmly and respectfully — only challenge bits of a review with good justification

Harsh comment is not uncommon in reviewers’ responses. If you think you are right, don’t refrain from insisting your views. Recognize the issue pointed out by the reviewer, and explain the merits of your approach or reasoning with enough justification. Sometimes, you’ve got to hold on to what you believe is right.

6. Don’t give up when you see major hurdles

No matter how senior your position is, getting published is never easy. It seems that after getting the reviewer suggestion of ‘major revision’, many writers just don’t resubmit. So don’t give up when your first submission is not successful, keep calm and carry on. All efforts will pay off eventually.

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Early career researcher at Oxford University. Passionate about intercultural communication, languages, and higher education.

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