I have gone through this process many times…and it still is not much fun. Here is what submitting a paper to an academic journal can look like:
- Come to the point when you feel that you have said all that there is to be said and in a satisfactory way. Perhaps this comes in response to feedback from a previous submission or from your own thinking and conversations. This may have been a quick turnaround or a lengthy period of contemplation and rewriting. Time to find the submission page for a journal.
- Go through the author’s guidelines for that particular journal. Even with commonly-used bibliographic formats and some consistency of how papers are put together, there might be changes or small details to attend to. Formatting ensues.
- Time to submit the paper. Go through a process that looks similar across journals but might ask for slightly different information or in a different order. Get the details right and look over key parts of the paper again including the abstract and keywords. Approve your submission.
Time to sit back and wait. Will it make it past the editors? Linger in peer reviews? Come back with mixed reviews, get a revise and resubmit, or be accepted? In some ways, the publication process is just underway.
I understand why the process is what it is: each journal has its own approach as does each publisher. The publishing system is meant to provide peer review for academic work, helping to insure good research is published. Even going through the final steps for submission as outlined above can help crystallize arguments and writing.
But, simplifying the process, even within publishers or within disciplines, could help researchers feel better about their submissions. Some of this cannot be changed; it is still a vulnerable point to send off a manuscript into the great unknown and to reviewers who may or may not like what is there. Some of it can be changed: the basic details are usually the same even across venues.