91 Introduction: Contemplating Publication

After spending months of agonizing work, laboring over the various components of your project, it seems fitting that it should be published so that others can view it long after you complete it. But while there is a growing expectation that the end goal of research is publication, this does not have to be your goal. It is completely acceptable if you do not wish to publish. In writing your dissertation, it is better to work toward producing the best possible thesis than to be concerned about publication. After your paper has been graded, then you can decide on whether you want to try to get it published. If you do decide to publish, we encourage you to consider all possibilities: research and evaluation reports, editorials, blogs or the peer review. Each route comes with different challenges and you will need to tailor your writing accordingly.

Given the diverse requirement of each of the publication option, we will focus on the peer review process in this chapter (additional resources for publishing through other avenues are provided at the end of the chapter). Peer review requires the intense and grueling process of demonstrating your unique contribution to experts (reviewers) in the field. The good news is that there is a growing body of undergraduate publications and thousands are downloaded each year (Stenberg, 2016). The bad news is that it is extremely difficult to get undergraduate work published in peer-reviewed journals, except in undergraduate journals. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals and books must first meet (extremely high) the standard set for the specific publication. If the paper does not meet the specific format stipulated or if the editor does not believe the paper will make a significant contribution to the field, you will likely get a “desk reject” –i.e., the editor rejects the paper without sending it out to experts for feedback. Studies that you read in peer-reviewed journals and books have been evaluated by experts in the field (peer-reviewers) and have benefited from feedback (and often substantive changes). There is no sugar-coating it, peer review publication is extremely difficult. One of the world’s largest academic publishers, Elsiever (2018), notes that the risk of rejection to one of its journals is really high. It estimates that, depending on the journal, up to 60 per cent of articles get desk rejects, and of the remainder that goes to peer review, only about 50 per cent gets accepted for publication after making major or minor revisions (Elsiever, 2018). Peer review is not for the faint of heart. You will need to be prepared for the possibility of rejection every time your work goes through the process. The best chance of getting your work published in a peer-reviewed journal is through an undergraduate research journal. While this is scary, our ultimate goal is to prepare so that you understand the process and are able to make the best decision on what to do with your research. This chapter is divided into three sections: (1) Selecting publication venues and understanding the peer review process; (2) preparing your manuscripts for submission; and (3) Responding to peer-review and revisiting good academic writing principles.

Additional Resources

Some UBC Resources on Publication


Elseiver (2018). How to get published.  https://www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/powerpoint_doc/0018/225171/How-to-get-published_biorestec_26-Oct.pptx

Stenberg, E. (2016). Publishing Undergraduate Scholarship: Should you be afraid? University Libraries Presentations.  https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/lib_present/22


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Practicing and Presenting Social Research Copyright © 2022 by Oral Robinson and Alexander Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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