Publishing your research

Before planning a publication, ensure your funder contract permits academic publication, especially if you are working with industry. If you intend to apply for a patent do not publish until you have sought advice from the Enterprise Office.

Where to publish

Where you publish will depend on the research story you have to tell, and who you want to tell it to. Our general advice when choose where to publish is to consider readership, rigour and reach -and in that order.

  1. Readership. Is the outlet a place that your target audience attends or will find, read and use/cite?
  2. Rigour.  Does the outlet have high editorial standards, offer rigorous peer review and, if appropriate, have an international editorial board?
  3. Reach.  Is it a visible outlet, with international reach and a liberal open access policy or option?

Some common questions about publishing your research are addressed below.  

How do I choose a format?

The choice of format will largely depend on your discipline.

Journal articles tend to be more highly cited than conference papers, but there are always exceptions. Choose a journal article for formal final publication of research findings. 

Conference papers are the primary form of scholarly communication in some disciplines (e.g. Computer Science). Other factors you may wish to consider when considering submitting a conference paper include:

  • Career stage: early career researchers may benefit from attending conferences to start building their networks. They may also find the process of getting a conference paper accepted easier than getting a journal paper accepted.
  • Research stage: conferences can be an opportunity to get feedback on interim research results that influence the future direction of your research.
  • Conference publication: does the conference publish papers? If so are they published in an outlet with an ISSN (or just, say, a CD)? And is that outlet indexed by the major bibliographic databases, Web of Science or Scopus? 

Monographs (books) were particularly well regarded and in some cases double-weighted in Panels C and D of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). 

Research data should be deposited if your funder requires it, and even if not, this is good practice. There is evidence that doing so improves citation rates to the associated papers.

Other formats may be appropriate if engaging with industry or the public - e.g., exhibitions, trade journals and press releases. 

How do I find journals to publish in?

Always remembering the overarching guidance around readership, rigour and reach, there are a number of listings of journals that might help you in your search for the right place to publish.  You might want to check whether your journal is covered by Scopus (which feeds the citation benchmarking tool, SciVal). If you are publishing in a new or interdisciplinary area, Ulrichs Global Serials Directory lists over 300,000 different journals for you to choose from. Also, EndNoteWeb's new Match facility allows you to enter the title, abstract and reference list of your manuscript and it will identify potential journals for your work. To submit your journal or conference paper to the next REF ideally the outlet should comply with the HEFCE Open Access policy, although exceptions are permitted. Use the SHERPA/RoMEO database to find journals with lower (or no) embargo periods to ensure your paper can be made available on open access as soon as possible.

Can journal citation indicators help me choose a journal?

Our general advice when choose where to publish is to consider readership, rigour and reach - and in that order.  Field-normalised journal citation metrics such as SJR (Scimago Journal Rank) and SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper) may offer a window onto #3 (visibility and reach).  In some disciplines they may also offer a window onto #2 (rigour). But they never offer a window onto #1 (readership) – and that is top of the list.  Please check with your Associate Dean (Research) as your School may have a list of preferred journal/conferences.

How can I avoid predatory journals?

Be aware that with the advent of Open Access, there are an increasing number of 'predatory publishers' looking to cash in on authors' willingness to pay open access fees for publication. Follow the Think, Check, Submit guidelines to ensure the journal you're thinking about is trustworthy.  The following list of salient characteristics of potential predatory journals (Shamseer, et al., 2017) is also very helpful:

1.

The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics

2.

The website contains spelling and grammar errors

3.

Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized

4.

The homepage language targets authors

5.

The Index Copernicus Value is promoted on the website

6.

Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking

7.

Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email

8.

Rapid publication is promised

9.

There is no retraction policy

10.

Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent

11.

The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)

12.

Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright

13.

The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., @gmail.com or @yahoo.com)

Who qualifies as an author?

As the number of multi-authored and 'hyper-authored' papers is on the increase, professional bodies are developing guidelines on what consitutes authorship of a scholarly paper.  It is important to give credit to all the contributors to an output according to the conventions of your discipline. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provide some useful authorship and contribution  resources. See also:

You might also use the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) to identify all those who were involved in the research underpinning the output, regardless of whether they constitute authors. More journals are now asking authors to clarify the roles of those involved in producing an article by means of the CRediT taxonomy.

What are my open access options?

There are two main routes to open access journal publishing, Green and Gold, which are described on our open access pages.  Unless your research is funded by a UK Research Council, there are no central funds for payment of Article Processing Charges (APCs) for Gold publication.  However, we do subscribe to a number of publisher Gold open access deals, some of which allow ALL Loughborough staff to publish Gold open access for no additional charge.  Please check out the publisher discounts page for further information.  Also, please remember that many Gold open access journals do not charge an APC at all.  These are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.  Always work within the readership, rigour and reach guidelines when choosing a journal.

It has already been indicated that for REF 2027, the expectation is that monographs should also be made available on open access. The UK Oapen Project has produced a Guide to open access monograph publishing for arts, humanities and social science researchers.

What is open peer review?

In an effort to improve openness and transparency in journal publishing - and to provide reviewers with credit for performing peer review, the concept of open peer review is gaining traction. A great introduction to open peer review is available at Foster Open Science.  There are many differing definitions of open peer review, the following list of traits is taken from Ross-Hellauer (2018). 

  • Open identities: Authors and reviewers are aware of each other’s identity
  • Open reports: Review reports are published alongside the relevant article.
  • Open participation: The wider community are able to contribute to the review process.
  • Open interaction: Direct reciprocal discussion between author(s) and reviewers, and/or between reviewers, is allowed and encouraged.
  • Open pre-review manuscripts: Manuscripts are made immediately available (e.g., via pre-print servers like arXiv) in advance of any formal peer review procedures.
  • Open final-version commenting: Review or commenting on final “version of record” publications.
  • Open platforms (“decoupled review”): Review is facilitated by a different organizational entity than the venue of publication.

Researchers can get credit for the peer reviews they have written by creating an account with Publons.  This allows you to keep a record of your peer review activity.  Similarly, anyone can provide a post-publication peer review report on an existing paper using PubPeer. For examples of platform-based post-publication peer review, see F1000 Research, The Winnower & ScienceOpen.

How do I choose a book publisher?

When choosing a book publisher, a good starting point is to see who publishes the books you are reading. You may also want to look at the publishers of the book submissions appearing in the top quartile in your REF UoA (ask your ADR for details). Colleagues may have also have experiences of different publishers so do ask around. The UK Oapen Project has produced a Guide to open access monograph publishing for arts, humanities and social science researchers.

What do I look for in a book contract?

If you're writing a book you might want to check out the Publishers Association Code of Practice on Author Contracts and get the Society of Authors to check your contract. For a fee of £100 (less if you are under 35) they will provide an independent review of any contract you might wish to send to them.

How do I get an ISBN or DOI?

 If you want to self-publish work (e.g. Working Paper series) advice on getting an ISBN or getting a DOI via Researchgate is available.  Depositing an output on the Data Repository is another way of getting a DOI for your output.

How do I write papers that will be found and read?

There is plenty of advice out there on writing a good paper. See the Nature Masterclasses on topics such as "What makes a good paper?" and "Elements of writing style".

Writing a good title and abstract is also important as not only do they help readers to decide whether to read your paper, but search engines use keyword from abstracts to decide whether (and how highly to rank) your paper in search results. See Emerald's advice on writing an abstract and Wiley's advice on search engine optimsation for more information.

See also all the books on scholarly and scientific writing in the Library at 808.0665. For example: How to write and publish a scientific paper by Robert Day and Barbara Gastel (2012) and Scientific writing and communication by Angelika Hoffman (2014).

Where can I get help with statistics?

The Mathematics Learning Support Centre offers all members of Loughborough University statistics support via online courses, information, and drop in sessions.

You may wish to use online tools such as Penelope which runs an automatic check on your manuscript for referencing and statistical reporting or Statcheck to check your statistical reporting.

Can I publish my thesis once it has been deposited in the Research Repository?

Most journal publishers do not consider the deposit of a thesis on an Institutional Repository, such as Loughborough University's Research Repository, to be 'prior publication', although you should always check with the journal you intend to write for in advance.  In most cases, you should not be prevented from publishing parts of your thesis as a journal article.  However, with the increasing use of plagiarism detection software by publishers, some researchers are finding that their thesis-based articles are being 'desk-rejected' by publishers on the grounds that they largely match the text of their original, open access thesis.  This can usually be resolved through correspondence with the Editor, however in some cases, rewording is required.  

Book publishers usually require a thesis to be considerably reworked before it is considered suitable for publication as a monograph.  The availability of the thesis in the Institutional Repository should therefore not affect publication, but it is worth checking with the publisher you hope to write for in advance. The University of Sheffield maintains a list of book publisher policies on thesis publication which may be useful.  

The Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) have produced some best practice guidelines for thesis publishing.