Stuck with Journal Publication for your PhD? A 5-step guide to developing a manuscript in management domain suitable for acceptance in a reputed journal.

Stuck with Journal Publication for your PhD? A 5-step guide to developing a manuscript in management domain suitable for acceptance in a reputed journal.

Writing in itself is a very creative process. A researcher in social sciences, especially management needs to couple creativity with a bit of critical thinking to develop manuscript that is suitable for publication in a reputed journal.

A lot of researchers do not qualify themselves as good writers as they find the task of writing intimidating as well as arduous. They feel that they are not creative enough to articulate their thoughts on paper but the fact is that to write publication worthy management manuscript you don’t have to be a qualified writer. There is a formula  on how to structure and organise a research paper with few tips related to the use of language, expression and grammar that can help you to create a paper that will surely get your paper shortlisted in your targeted list of journals.

The concept of using a formula for writing may give an impression of mediocrity and that is quite true in most of the genres of writing. But in the case of a research paper the emphasis must always  be on the reflection of research and the words be only a tool for conveying the idea effectively.  Over a period of time, management journals have developed a distinctive style of  not just writing but also the manuscript structure and organisation.  If, as a writer, you get a grip of this style, it will make it easier for you to give what the research paper needs. That is nothing but effectively communicating your ideas.

The key difference between journal based research writing and other creative genres of writing is the limited scope in the prior. It cannot be “all things to all”. It caters to a very narrow readership and is published with a purpose, though very important but narrow in generating interest and stimulating readership. The community that has interest in reading your research, that also specifically in the field of management is not random in nature. They all have something common in them and that is the clarity on the concept of management background and some broadly agreed upon common goals. By simply following the set standard and structure  and organisation of a research paper style the author has to work in limitation of use of creativity. This is important also because then only is the author able to focus on the real content and ultimately create a worthy paper.

When you are writing your research paper, certainly your interest is to get it published in a good journal. Good journals in the field of management take at least a period of 6 to 12 months  to get publication. How  would you know which journal is the best one for your paper? Let us look at a few tips here that will enhance the possibility of  your manuscript getting accepted in a reputed management journal.

1)  Effective Title and Impressive Abstract: In this era  where all searches are happening online and libraries have gone digital, the importance of effective title and impressive abstract is more than ever before. Despite the importance of the two, it is very common to find poorly written abstracts and bad titles  in the management field of research. Let us look at some common mistakes in paper titles and abstracts and look at the fool proof approach to  creating good ones.

The key purpose of a title and abstract is  often said to be  “the selling” of the paper. When someone reads the title and abstract they must get intrigued to go through the entire paper. Such should be the strength of the title and abstract. But what is more important than this is to have such an effective title and abstract that the right kind of people don’t miss your research. That is the ultimate win. When you research reaches the right kind of people  who fall in the narrow spectrum of readership in management research because your title and abstract comes in their notice, you have won the battle. But the right kind of people are reading the right kind of journals. The bottom line being that, we need to  be able to get  our manuscript selected in a quality journal for publication and acceptance.

The title followed by the abstract is the first thing that a reader sees. This should be the last thing that should be written by the researcher, the abstract being written just before  the title

The biggest mistake in writing an abstract is to not pay attention to it.  The abstract should be written before the title and lets us look at the abstract writing tips. The abstract should be precise and a stand-alone summary of the paper covering the following topics:

a) background/motivation/context

b) Aim/objective/problem statement

c) Approach/method/procedures/materials

d) Results

e) Conclusion/implications

If any of the five components are missing from the abstract, there is a chance that there is a poor match between reader and paper.

A typical abstract is about 150-200 words so every word should be  chosen very carefully. Concise and precise are the keys of a good abstract. If the abstract is too wordy, readers may give up before finding what the paper is about. 

Make the title crisp and comprehensive and all complete. It should include the key words and make it attractive enough for the readers to go  through the entire manuscript.

2) Writing the convincing journal cover letter:

The main role of a cover letter is to convince  the editors that your research work is worthy of publication. The creation of the cover letter should be with the same sincerity and effort that has been put in creating the manuscript content. Some important tips  that can help you to create an impressive cover letter are:

  • If you can, find out  the name of the editor of the journal and address them by name in the cover letter. It won’t be too difficult to find the name, it will be easily available of the submission page  of the website of the journal.
  • In the first two paragraphs of the cover itself, do explicitly mention the  name of your manuscript and the names of all the authors. You must be convincing  here  when you explain the main reason for undertaking this research. The purpose as well as the gap your research is going to fill up should be incorporated briefly in your cover letter.
  • The third paragraph of the cover letter should target the aim and scope of the journal. Mention effectively how your aim contributes to the aim of the journal and is within the periphery of the management domain of research. You  must write this in powerful way indicating who your specific target readers are and why your research will be of value to them.
  • The concluding part of your cover letter should ensure and commit to the editors that  your manuscript is original and you have not submitted it anywhere else for publication. You will  also be giving an undertaking for the same but stating it in the cover letter itself is assuring for the editors that you  are  aware of the protocol and are maintaining the standards of the journal.
  • If your targeted  journal asks for a list of reviewers to whom your manuscript can be considered to send for review, it should be a part of this section of  your cover letter.

3)Follow good Publication ethics:

A quality journal will  want commitment and clarity on ethical issues such as plagiarism, conflict of interest, internal review board approval, confidentiality, fraud, ghost authorship, manipulation of data or images, and other ethical issues. All the ethical expectations of a good journal are explicitly mentioned on the journal website. Their expectations of the authors and how these issues can be addressed are all stated on the website. All reputed and prime journals endorse guidelines and best practices for publishers. You must meticulously follow them and make sure that you don’t break the ethical commitment in any which way. Even a slight breach on ethical grounds can get an extremely worthy  research manuscript rejected.

4) Create a mindful list of  Citations and References:

What is the purpose of citations in research? There are several reasons for the same. The primary reason is to avoid plagiarism. Impactful journals are very specific about plagiarism. Other than avoiding plagiarism and giving credit to someone for using their idea and concept in your research, citing sources makes you a more impactful writer.

 You must  meticulously note your sources including clear and precise information. This will help you to write clear statement and specific arguments that are dependable. When you search for quality research  on your topic, you tend to go deeper and research more. This makes you a better researcher. The editors of a good journal can make out the quality of the manuscript by just having a glance on the citations and list of references drafted. Using appropriate citations at relevant places increases the credibility of your research and makes it easier for the readers decide whether your work makes sense. Remember, if you fail to cite your sources well and incorporate through references, readers can attack your work for being poorly researched without even looking at the deserving merits of your argument. You must also ensure to use few references and citations from the same journal that you are sending your work for publication consideration. This surely also improves your chances of acceptance. Bottom line is, do not be reckless and ignorant about the prominence of citations and references in a manuscript. They increase the credibility, authenticity of your paper and also put you in the category of a well read and informed researcher

5) Language and style of writing:

 It may be write or not, researchers have a reputation of being bad writers. Whatever domain of research they may belong to, this holds true . A person wo doesn’t have the knowledge of a particular field can get lost in the first few sentences of reading a research paper. This is primarily because of the complexity of the subject and also because of the writing style that assumes that the readers would have a certain amount of knowledge.

Even if you do know have the skills of being a good writer, you must know that style is a layered concept and if you want to improve our writing style the first thing is to work on the grammar and scientific vocabulary. The next thing you must know is articulation. How to write clear and accurate sentences. You should be able to pin down ideas that are not just simple but also communicate complex thoughts. The final layer is the organisation style. The compilation of all that you have written in a systematic manner with a seamless flow.

 Whatever be your genre of research or writing. Some attributes that stand common to all form of writing are clarity, grace, vividness and vigour. They are cherished by both writers as well as readers. When you talk of research in management domain then, accuracy, precision, clarity and concision are to be added. This surely is added pressure on an academic writer, but you can improve your writing style and make your paper fit for a good management journal by reading their research and by specifically focusing of the style and language. The more you read and analyse the writing style of good academic writers in worthy publications, you will be able to create your own tips and pointers to enrich the quality of your writing and make your manuscript reach that level of acceptance in a worthy journal. Beyond the above mentioned tips, while submitting your manuscript to a journal of repute, make sure you are sending to only one journal at a time. The good ones do not consider a paper that is submitted at multiple places for publication acceptance. You may have to give a declaration for the same and be ethical in that declaration. 

It may be difficult to get your research manuscript published in a high impact management journal but it is not impossible. You need to follow the above tips and be meticulous of the finer details that add quality to your work and make it reach that level where the editors get compelled to accept your paper for publication.

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