So, you believe that your research is original, novel and is supported methodologically –and hence is worth the peer-review route. This is great. The next step is to consider which peer-reviewed source to submit your paper. Here, we discuss three options: undergraduate journals, contributors to an edited book, or mainstream journals.
Undergraduate Students’ Journal
There are hundreds of undergraduate journals which are peer-reviewed (usually reviewed by faculty and other experts in the field). These might be great places for you to gain publication experience, particularly for papers with small samples. These journals typically follow the standard peer review process and produce high quality products but are strictly devoted to undergraduate work. In addition to gaining experience of the peer review process and having a publication line on your CV (if your paper is accepted), your chances of getting accepted is likely higher than in standard mainstream journals. This is because you are competing against your undergraduate peers rather than your professors. Another advantage is that unlike standard peer-review journals that emphasize methodology, ground-breaking findings and significant contributions to the field, undergraduate journals are more likely to emphasize analysis, interpretation, logic, drawing conclusions, coherence etc. Furthermore, they might be more likely to accept strong review essays. You need to check the submission criteria of the journal you are considering. There is a growing number of journals that are dedicated to undergraduate publications (see Sacredheart University, 2020).
Another avenue for publishing your work is in edited volumes. Book publishers often issue calls for chapters in edited books outlining specific criteria for acceptance. Often, these are often non-blind peer review or single-blind reviews but they can be double-blind reviews as well. For book chapters that are double-blind reviewed, there is little difference in the review process compared to a double-blind journal. However, for single-blind or non-blind reviews, the editor might ask for you to submit a bio outlining your previous work. Because the process is usually competitive, more established academics might be favoured for these submissions. Although acceptance rate can be very low, it is worth exploring “Calls for book chapters” to determine if your work fits the criteria and better understand the process. You can go to any of the major academic publishers and search for “call for chapters” or search generally on the internet (see Box 13.3.1). Bear in mind that it is highly unlikely that your undergraduate work would get accepted in an edited volume. We can only advise you to give it your best shot, get feedback and manage your expectations (we discuss strategies for dealing with rejection below). Please note that everyone has experienced a rejection at one point in their publication career –even the most brilliant professor whom you esteem).
Most academic journals are double-blind peer reviewed. This is important for upholding the integrity of the review process. As mentioned earlier, publishing in a mainstream journal is an extremely difficult undertaking (see Elseiver, 2018). Before we discuss strategies that can improve your chances of success, it is important to understand how to choose which journal to submit your paper to. Here are some strategies:
- Ask your supervisor or mentor: The trusted advice from an experienced person can be invaluable. They might be able to provide tips on different journal’s appetite for certain work, what journals to avoid and offer advice on whether your work is publishable.
- Check the reference list of your work: Checking where the articles that you cite are published can give you a good sense of what research is accepted where. Be mindful that many of the articles you cite might be in highly prestigious journals which might be more difficult to publish in –even for the most experienced academic. It is always good advice to talk with your supervisor or mentor about your choice. Again, they might be able to give you advice, which could help prevent heartbreaks and disappointment.
- Scope out the major journal publishers and search their journal lists. Among the major publishers are Elsevier, Springer-Verlag, John Wiley & Sons, Taylor and Francis, Sage Publications, Open Journal Systems/Public Knowledge Projects. You can visit any of these cites and browse a full list of their journals.
Box 13.2 – Some of the Major Academic Book Publishers
- Springer/Palgrave Macmillan: Generally known for their works in the social sciences and humanities
- Princeton University Press
- Routledge is also known for publishing work in Humanities and Social Science, publishing about 2,000 new books annually
- Cambridge University Press
- Oxford University Press
For a more complete list of social sciences publishers, see Publishers Global (2021) Social Sciences Publishers’ Directory. https://www.publishersglobal.com/directory/subject/social-sciences-publishers
Elseiver (2018). How to get published. https://www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/powerpoint_doc/0018/225171/How-to-get-published_biorestec_26-Oct.pptx
Sacredheart University (2020). Undergraduate publishing: where to publish your research. https://library.sacredheart.edu/undergradpublishing/journals