Top ten tips to get your paper accepted by any journal


There are two categories of journals out there. The predatory journals that care more about your money than whatever you have to publish and journals that care more about the fidelity of the information you have to publish than the money you intend to pay. That said, it follows that for the first category, all you need to have is money and you can get away with almost anything. Go through some of the articles in these journals and you’ll find both petty and dire mistakes, logical errors and sometimes outright plagiarism.

I will therefore not talk about publishing in the first category of journals because there is nothing much to tell. Instead, let us focus on the second category of journals. There are reasons that would push you into publishing and when the time comes, it will pay to remember the following 10 tips that will help you get your paper accepted into any high-profile journal out there.

1. Know the journal you wish to publish with even before you start your work:

Most authors first struggle with their work and later start shopping around for journals that are willing to publish them. The authors end up wasting time fitting their papers to the needs of the prospective journals and changing the logics of their papers to fit the logics of the publishing journals. Their work loses the personal touch along the way and reduces the acceptability rate.

2. Follow the guidelines step by step:

This is why tip number one is important. Most authors have no idea how much them not following the guidelines become a headache to the editorial team. Whereas some editors can be kind enough to waste their time doing the donkey work for you, others will throw your paper into the hip of others who do not follow rules like you.

3. Have the logic in your work correct and well researched:

Some authors like throwing exaggerated statements in a bid to sensationalize their work. Other authors generalize ungeneralizable facts whereas some have a very confusing logic in their work. Respected journals care about accuracy and try their best to stay logical. Unless you are explicitly sending your paper to the ‘Journal of Illogical and Inaccurate Papers (JIIP)’, keep your logics correct and your findings accurate.

4. Be scholarly in your work:

I promise you one thing, being scholarly in your approach to the work you intend to publish gives it appeal with any journal you intend to publish with. This means that if you are writing a paper for a law journal, use legal language. If it is a journal of technology, geek up your language. Unscholarly language and approach paint the prejudice of you being a novice in the mind of the reviewers. This alone make them doubt your work and that alone can prevent you from being published.

5. Reference like a professional:

In most of the editorial board meetings I have attended, wrong referencing means that your paper will be rejected until you get your referencing act together. The reason for this is simple, if you cannot reference correctly, then your work is not scholarly enough to merit publication in a reputable journal. Plus, some of these journals receive thousands of paper submissions daily. They don’t have time to do the work for you even if it is just adding commas to your intext citations. I recommend that you use auto-referencing instead of manual referencing to get this right once and for all.

6. Obviously have the money to promptly pay the fees:

Some authors wait until they hear that their paper has been accepted before they start jumping around looking for money to pay up the fees. It is like they were not counting on the journals to accept their work in the first place.

7. Keep the deadlines as agreed with the prospective journals:

Nothing turns off a journal manager than an author that has no respect for deadlines. And this is because reputable journals have multiple chains of reporting, constraints and targets. You lie to the email handler who in turn lies to the section editor that lies to the editorial team and then the editor-in-chief and so on. You destabilize an entire organization unintendedly for just not keeping a simple deadline.

8. Ask a colleague to review your paper before submitting:

Our minds have been programmed to sometimes autocomplete the things they already think they know. Your own words are some of the things your brain thinks it knows and might therefore fail you no matter how many times you proofread your work. Furthermore, some of the meanings you think were clear when you typed your work end up confusing reviewers leading to a rejection. If a friend goes through the work beforehand, they might point out the illogical aspects of your work and the areas you assumed to be clarified when in fact were not.

9. Research, research, research:

How many times did I say research? Most authors come up with a rough idea and for some reasons believe that they are the first people that have ever had the idea since the beginning of life. Their first impulse is then to pen it down and the next impulse is to publish it. I walked into a PhD defense session where the student had the revolutionary idea that was not well researched. The panel had a Professor that had written books on the area of the idea that the student had not cared to read. Guess what happened next? Well, I too do not know because I left before the verdict. But the point is, your work will fall into the hands of an expert reviewer and lack of research will mess you up.

10. Coauthor only when necessary and with experts:

Sometimes we get papers submitted to our journals with so many authors per paper. You get a 3000 words paper authored by 10 people and wonder exactly how many words did each author contribute. If you want to hack publication by any journal, be very careful about the people you coauthor with. Journal editors know when authors are aesthetically piling up coauthors. A genuinely coauthored work can most of the times be judged by just reading through. Coauthoring with experts makes your work ‘expert’ in return and appealing to publishers. Piling meaningless coauthors sometimes makes us ask ourselves this question, ‘if the ten people can write a paper as shallow as this, what will one of these people be able to write?’


Well, that is it for today, we wish you success as you submit your work to journals out there. There is an entire jungle of journals waiting for you to submit something to them. Make sure that you chose the best with respect to your needs. We would be glad by the way if you started with checking out our East African hosted journals. Thank you in advance and bye!