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Shaping an article for publication

Writing for publication is essentially similar to writing for assessment - except that that the primary criteria will be 'interest' or 'originality'. If you don't have something to say in your proposed journal article that hasn't already been said many times, or you don't have research that is new and interesting in your field, or you don't have research results that are significant, then you probably won't get published.

Within your discipline you should be aware of the different approaches to research, and of different styles or structures for research papers. 'Research' papers in literature and history will not necessarily look the same as each other, and neither will look anything like a research paper in genetics or psychology. These differences go beyond, or are 'deeper' than differences in referencing style and formatting issues, such as whether you use subheadings or not.

Even within a discipline there can be different kinds of research articles. In his guide to publishing scholarly articles, Up the Publication Road, D. Royce Sadler identifies three main classes of research articles:

  • Status descriptions report on the results of empirical research
  • Methodological articles describe techniques and methods of obtaining or testing data, or might propose theories.
  • Conceptualisations report on scholarly views, or present opinions and argument, theories and critiques.

adapted from Sadler, 2006

It is good to ask yourself what you have to say, and what are trying to do in terms of these 'classes' of research. But remember, your research article might involve a combination of these, or your discipline encourages other forms of publication and approaches to research.

It is a good idea to test your article before you send it to a journal: for example, get someone elso to read your paper, or try it out in a departmental seminar, etc.

Research students in the Faculty of Arts can workshop writing for publication through the GRIP (Graduate Researchers In Print) program Opens in new window.

However, there are differences: notably audience (you must take into account the audience of the journal you target) and purpose-it's not for assessment, so you do not have to demonstrate all you know!

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