It is never easy to get published in an academic journal, and high impact journals have particularly strict criteria as part of their editorial selection process. In order to be successful, you must be well prepared, thorough, and meticulous in the preparation of your manuscript. Irrespective of the quality of your research, nothing will get your manuscript rejected quicker than failing to meet the standard conventions of the journal.

Once your manuscript is written and you are ready to submit, make sure you can tick off every item from the following check-list to avoid rejection on purely formal grounds:

  • Did you format your manuscript according to the journal's author instructions, following their style recommendations both for the main text and the references (e.g., APA, Oxford, Harvard, etc)?
  • Did you proofread your manuscript more than once to ensure that there are no factual or grammatical/typographical errors and no orphaned citations or references?
  • Did you number all pages, figures, tables and equations in the correct order?
  • Did you include your contact details and are they correct?
  • Is the manuscript length within the recommended minimum and maximum word/page limits?
  • Did you apply the correct spelling for the target journal (US/UK English)?
  • Have you acknowledged all contributors/funding agencies and obtained copyright clearance for any secondary materials included from other sources?
  • Did you write an eloquent and compelling cover letter that highlights the key features of your manuscript?
  • Does your manuscript conform to academic writing style and conventions

If you could tick off each of the above items then you are ready to submit. One last point that often gets overlooked: you need to identify the correct channel for submitting your manuscript. While some journals provide a dedicated website where you can upload your document and enter all necessary information, others require submissions to be sent directly via email to the journal’s editorial office.

To learn about how manuscripts are assessed by editorial offices before being considered for publication, see our short guide on the academic journal editorial process.

Good luck!