How to get your publications to the A-list journals? Here’s the Ten Commandments to follow. Today’s Aalto School of Economics Organizations & Management research seminar had something that’s well worth blogging about: professor Janne Tienari and Nina Granqvist presented some extremely good pointers about what to do and what not to do if you want to aim for those impact factors. (Whether you should do is another, interesting discussion in itself.)
Without further ado, for your edification, the Ten Commandments according to Tienari, with some comments gleaned from the discussion.
- Find the right readership. In short, pick your journal carefully.
- Be specific about the theoretical debate where you aim your contribution. Remember the intended audience! Remember that the theoretical debate may be somewhat different in different places; the European style that tries to break the boundaries of disciplines does not work that well in U.S. journals, which may suffer from a case of “tunnel vision.” The thing to do is to read the last five issues of the journal you’re aiming for, and see who is quoting who, and what is being talked about.
- Be specific in making explicit what that contribution is. What is your message?
- Get readers interested already in the introduction, and provide a coherent, structured text. In other words, the delivery must be excellent. The pyramid principle might work here; state the big news first, followed by less important factoids.
- Be clear in providing information about your empirical materials and how exactly you carried out the analysis. You are doing science, and science is about replicability, so this is very important! During the discussion, one person noted that European and Scandinavian scholars have a slight tendency to gloss over the methodology part, which makes replicating the results and understanding how exactly the researcher came to the conclusions somewhat difficult. Even if you’re doing qualitative research, pay attention to the methodology section!
- Offer readers a chance to follow your chain of argumentation: provide illustrative examples to specify your points. This should be self-explanatory.
- Save energy for conclusions: elaborate on your findings and why they matter. Also, re-emphasize what is your theoretical contribution and how you arrived to it.
- Check and recheck your language – and have it checked once more.
- Once you get an Revise & Resubmit: do exactly as reviewers (and editor) advice, and clearly account for everything in your letter to reviewers (assuming the reviewers are not giving contradictory comments). For the A-journals, the competition is so harsh that the editors are looking for reasons to reject papers, and not doing what was expected is an “easy way” to do so. This may not be as important in less “prestigious” journals, but it’s usually still a good idea.
- If you are rejected, try elsewhere. No point in wasting a perfectly good paper, is there?