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 If you intend to apply for a patent do not publish until you have sought advice from the Enterprise Office.

 

Choosing your format

Depending on your discipline the most appropriate scholarly outlet for your research might be a monograph, a conference paper or a journal article.

Journal articles

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.  See "where to publish" below for advice on choosing a journal.

Conference papers

The decision as to whether to disseminate your research through a conference paper rather than a journal paper will depend on a number of factors:

  • Disciplinary norms: are conference papers the primary means of dissemination in your discipline? (This is common in Computer Science, and parts of Engineering).
  • 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? 

See "where to publish" below for advice on choosing a conference.

Monographs (books)

In some Panel C and D Research Excellence Framework (REF) Units of Assessment (UoA), monographs were particularly well regarded and in some cases double-weighted. 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.

Research data

In addition to written research outcomes, you may be required by your funder to make your research data available as well. There is evidence that doing so improves citation rates to the associated papers.

Other formats

If engaging with industry or the public, you might also want to consider other outlets (exhibitions, trade journals and press releases). If you want to self-publish other forms of work (e.g. Working Paper series) advice on getting an ISBN or getting a DOI via Researchgate is available.

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

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) (ADR) as your School may have a list of preferred journal/conferences. 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.

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.

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 you publish with

In most disciplines, co-authored papers – especially those co-authored with international collaborators – are more highly cited than papers with no or internal/national collaborators. SciVal allows you to identify highly-cited potential collaborators in your field. If working with industry, ensure that you retain the right to publish your research wherever possible. If you intend to apply for a patent, don’t publish anything until you have spoken to the Enterprise Office, as publication may make it impossible to obtain a patent. 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 what role each author played and therefore whether they actually qualify for authorship. More journals are now asking authors to clarify the role they played in producing an article by means of the CRediT taxonomy.

Writing a good paper, title and abstract

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 abstract is also important as it helps readers to decide whether to read your paper, and search engines use keyword from abstracts to decide whether (andhow 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).

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.

After you publish

To meet the HEFCE REF Open Access criteria, you must upload the full-text of your “author accepted manuscript” via LUPIN immediately or no later than three months after the “date of acceptance” from the publisher.

Evidence proves that promoting your work after publication improves its visibility and citedness. You are encouraged to promote your work via social media (Twitter, blogs, etc.,), profile tools (LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Academia.edu) and reference managers (Mendeley, CiteULike). The University of Utrecht provides a useful comparison of academic networking sites. Publishers have developed HowCanIShareIt.com to help academics understand how they can share their journal articles in accordance with publisher licences. You might also want to include your latest paper on your email signature and on your professional web profile. 

Improving the citedness of your research

There are a wide range of ways you can improve the visibility and therefore the citedness of your research. A journal paper by Ebrahim et al (2013) identifies 33 ways to improve your citation frequency.

Some top tips include: