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Publishing support

Publishing pain points and support available

Common pain points in the publishing journey and a guide to the support available

Meeting a journal’s requirements for publication

Different journals will have different submission requirements. It can be time consuming and frustrating to prepare a submission for a journal once you written the bulk of the paper. Much of the pain around submission cannot be avoided. If possible, consult the guidance materials for your journal before writing your paper, so that you can have the journal’s specific audience, and requirements in mind.

  • It is important for the editor to know that your paper will be a good fit for the journal. Ensure your title, abstract and keywords clearly express your paper’s suitability for their publication.
  • Read the publisher’s website clearly for the submission guidelines. There will usually be a detailed guidance document for submitting authors. Prior to publication, work through the document, to ensure you have not missed any minor requirements.
  • Pay careful attention to how the journal would like the research formatted for submission. The initial review will be a quick scan through, or visual check by the Editorial Assistant or Editor, and a well-prepared submission instils confidence in your content.
  • The journal will also require contact details of authors, copyright information, and possibly, signed licences. Not having this information to hand when it comes to submitting your research may cause unnecessary delays.

Difficulty obtaining permission or paying to reuse images or other content/legal concerns

Copyright and the legality around image permissions can be minefield. This is, in part, because copyright laws were devised prior to digitisation, and historic legislation does not account for the potential of such a wide readership. The University has plenty of support available for copyright concerns. 

There are a few key points to remember when considering the copyright for any content to be included in your publication.

  • You do not need to seek permission for quotations or excerpts in a review or criticism, for purposes of illustration or comment.
  • When seeking copyright, retain all conversations sent to copyright holders along the way to be safe.
  • Be honest about how you will be using the copyright. If the usage changes, you will need to contact the copyright holders again.
  • When preparing for publication, consider alternatives for any images you hope to use, in case the copyright holder’s quote is too high, or the permission to publish is not granted.

Publishing in English when this isn’t your first language

The University provides support for PGRs and Early Career Researchers who do not speak English as a first language. The University’s language centre provides training and guidance in Academic English.

  • Check with your department what support might be available to improve your academic writing.
  • The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health run a specific academic writing support programme.
  • The Faculty of Humanities’ Researcher Development programme includes resources to help with academic writing.
  • The University does not have a list of proof readers, and do not endorse any proof reading organisations, however, the University has compiled guidance for those considering a proof reading service.

Coping with publication timescales: Why is this taking so long?

Publisher and journal timescales vary widely, and it is important to have a sense of how long the submission to publication process could take for the journal you are hoping to submit to. Depending on your discipline, there may be some urgency in getting your research published, so journal time frames should be a consideration early on in the publishing process.

  • Most publishers will state on their websites the estimated timeframe between submission and acceptance, and acceptance to publication. If it is not stated on the website, you can contact the journal directly for advice. Some journals may even allow an earlier version of an accepted paper to be circulated prior to publication – check if your journal allows dissemination of the pre-print, as this might be advantageous for time-pressured authors.
  • Please also be aware that if the turnaround from submission to acceptance is too quick, this may be indicative of a poor, or non-existent peer review process. Many reputable journals do have a quick peer-review process, but it can also be a warning sign that the journals may not be fully-reputable. The library runs a training programme on spotting non-reputable journals which can help you to feel confident in choosing a suitable journal for publication
  • Occasionally delays can occur during the peer review process or, for example, if the publication is delayed to coincide with a special print edition of the journal. If publication is taking longer than expected you should be well-informed. Contact the journal and they will be able to advise you of the revised publication schedule. It may not be possible to hurry up the process, but the journal should let you know of any delays.

Dealing with peer review comments

It is worth remembering that the Peer Review process will ultimately improve your research and the quality and readability of your paper. It may seem frustrating, but your research will benefit from a rigorous Peer Review. If you would like to understand more about the Peer Review process, take a look at the Library’s My learning Essentials guide to Peer review

Major problems

If you have received your reviewer’s comments and believe there has been a major misunderstanding, or the reviewer has clearly missed a crucial component of the research, contact the journal editor to request a second peer review. Similarly, if the review seems discourteous, contact your editor.

Accepted with minor corrections

  • It may be more efficient for one author to make the corrections, but be sure to pass all the changes that you have made by your co-authors before re-submission to the journal.
  • Address each point in the review. Explain how you have changed your paper to meet each of the reviewer’s comments.
  • You may not feel it is necessary to make all the corrections identified by the reviewer. In each instance where, clearly justify why you have chosen not to amend the paper.
  • If you choose to make any changes NOT identified in the reviewers comments, address these too, and explain why you have made the correction.
  • If comments seem vague, or non-specific, raise this with the journal editor.

Accepted with major corrections

Be realistic about the timescales. If there are major corrections, it is important to be up front with the journal and your co-authors about when these corrections can be done by.

Rejected without review

It is likely that the journal is not a good fit for your research, and this is not a reflection on the quality of your work. It might be worth contacting the Publishing Advisory service for a 1:1 consultation, to discuss appropriate journals for your paper. 

Rejected following review

Rejection can be disappointing, especially when you have spent so long preparing your submission to a journal. Be assured, rejection from one journal will rarely mean it is the end of the road for your paper.

  • This may be because your work is not the correct fit for the journal, however, it may also be because there is a problem with your research. More often than not, this can be corrected with a bit more work.
  • Read the reviewers comments carefully, and consult with your colleagues and peers. Discuss if you think it might be worth making changes before submitting to a new journal.
  • Consider the next journal you submit to carefully, and make sure it is the right fit. Also bear in mind that it is not usually a good idea to resubmit to a journal that has rejected your research initially.
  • If you think there are major problems with the reviewer’s comments, contact the editor of the journal to discuss them.

Dealing with criticism after publication

  • It may become clear that something was missed in the peer review process. Contact your journal and request a correction or corrigendum. This will sit alongside the text – the original text will not be amended – but it will serve to identify that the error has been noticed and rectified.
  • Journals will often encourage conversation around their publications, and you may find that peers will react and publish a response to your research. If you do not agree with any criticisms made, do not worry, as you, in turn, can publish a reply. 
  • It is also worth remembering that a response is not a personal criticism, but an interrogation of your research. Take time to craft a reply that does merit to the integrity and robustness of your research.
  • If you have problems with the Peer Review process, or with post-publication comments, you could refer the the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) webpages. COPE provide case studies, and it may help to see if a the issue you are facing has been encountered before and how the situation was resolved. 

Make sure your expectations for publisher promotion of your work are realistic

  • When completing your publication strategy, bear in mind how wide the reach of journal may be, and whether they provide support for the promotion of your research.
  • The publisher’s website will detail how your research will be disseminated, and if there is any promotion involved in the publication process.
  • For many journals, the onus will be on the author to promote their work amongst peers, and the wider field. Indeed, as a subject and field expert it is the author who is best placed to do this.
  • The University provides support on increasing the reach of your work through the My Research Essentials 7 steps online tutorial.
  • You can also refer to the Library's Open Access+ webpages, and contact a member of the team: uml.scholarlycommunication@manchester.ac.uk 

The importance of peer support

Having a strong peer support network will help to ease the pains and pressures of publication and submission. Sharing experiences will help you to feel prepared, and understand more of the processes and any issues that might arise – specific to your discipline or field – along the way.

Have colleagues check your research before you submit to a journal. Peers with particular strengths may help you spot specific issues. For example, a colleague who you know to be very good with grammar and sentence structure might provide excellent guidance on academic writing, and a colleague who you know to be really good with statistics may spot any issues with the data.