Boosting your acceptance chances as an author: A brief guide

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By: Guest contributor, Wed Feb 22 2023

Author: Guest contributor

The steps you take before you submit your article manuscript can have a big impact on your chances of getting accepted. These are the steps that start after you have your results, and before you submit them. Most of them happen in between writing up your results and submitting the manuscript, but some parts can influence how you write up your results. 

In this blog we will go through a series of steps you can follow when you are preparing to submit your manuscript. This guide aims to help you as an author in improving your chances of getting your work published to your desired outlet.

Building a submission plan

You want to carefully consider the journals to which you want to submit your article—and that list of journals should vary from article to article because you want to pick the journals that are most suitable for that particular article. Submitting your article to the wrong journal, even if it’s one you’ve published in before but where your article isn’t quite in scope, can result in rejection before review.

So you want to look at both the Aims & Scope (and compare that to the topic of your article), as well as the articles the journal has been publishing (especially the articles published recently, which will show you the editors’ current focus). 

And even if you do everything right, there’s still a chance that the journal’s editors will reject your article, so you want to have a list of journals—a whole submission plan—so you already know where to send the article next.

Preparing the manuscript

You want to check your target journal’s Instructions for Authors so that you can prepare the manuscript, as well as supporting files (like images) according to these instructions. You also want to check for length specifications—if your manuscript is too long (or too short). Not conforming to the Instructions for Authors can also result in a rejection without review. 

Cover letters

A good cover letter can help to “sell” your manuscript to the journal editor. As well as introducing your work to the Editor you can also take this opportunity to explain why the manuscript will be of interest to a journal’s readers, something which is always at the forefront of an editor’s mind.

The structure below will give you a good idea of how to write a good cover letter. (Also note that every cover letter should include the following sentence: We confirm that this manuscript has not been published elsewhere and is not under consideration by another journal.

  • If known, address the Editor who will be assessing your manuscript by name. Include the date of submission and the journal’s name. Tip: Most journals list their Editorial Boards on their website. 
  • First paragraph: include the title of your manuscript and the type of manuscript it is (e.g. review, research, case study). Then briefly explain the background to your study, the question you sought to answer and why. 
  • Second paragraph: you should concisely explain what was done, the main findings and why they are significant. 
  • Third paragraph: Show why the readers of the journal would be interested in the work, taking your cues from the Aims & Scope. 
  • To conclude, state the corresponding author and any journal specific requirements that need to be complied with (e.g. ethical standards).

These tips and suggestions should help you get started.

Learn more about how to prepare for your next article submission by taking Springe Nature’s free online tutorial (registration required), “How to submit a journal article” You can also explore more resources at Nature Masterclasses and at AJE

Best of luck with your next submission!


Author: Guest contributor

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