Strategy for Academic Writing: Do you need one?

One of the first steps to publishing in academic journals is to identify where you want to publish. So, this short post will address this key question. And of course, the assumption is that you are writing with the intention of publishing. There is also a distinct possibility that your class assignment paper can be turned into a peer-reviewed journal article. It may need some work, but it can be easily turned into a published paper.

There are, however, a few things you must keep in mind before you go down this path. And this is what I have called ‘strategy’ of publishing. So, what do I mean by that?

I mean a few things, when I say this:

  1. Knowing the audience – who are you trying to write for ? If you are in an Economics program or a scholar of economics, you know quite clearly that other economists would be your audience. But if you are a scholar in other social sciences ( such as me) who works in many different fields, then the choice of journal and even the people you want to ‘speak to’ will be different. Clarifying this, at the outset is crucial. Also, are you aiming for the top-tier journal (which is very hard to crack) or will you be happy with a less prestigious journal? These are some strategic choices you have to make. Here is a detailed analysis of what this ‘Impact Factor’ thing is and why it matters!
  2. Type of paper – Is this a conceptual paper, where you are arguing for a theoretical position or is it empirical one? Be careful about this, as you aim for publishing in academic journals. Each one has a certain type of ‘ideal paper’ that they have in mind. If you target your paper to the wrong audience, you may be in for trouble and waste valuable time
  3. Length and tone – Related to the point above, how long is your paper going to be? What are the guidelines of the journal(s) you are targeting? These are some considerations you must have, before even starting to write the paper.
  4. Tone and style – Some American papers expect you to write in the first person, while this is a strict no-no in many others. Be careful about this, as well. The tone of your writing matters, as much as your content.
  5. Style sheet – Last but not least; make sure you follow the style sheet that the publication recommends – MLA, Chicago Manual or APA. It is incredibly painful to go back and change all of this, if you have written the paper in one style of citation and the paper expects the other.

While these are simple tips, they will be incredibly helpful, as you go ahead to conceptualize your paper.

Good luck with the next steps!


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