Writing Journal Articles – Tips from the Editors

During yesterday’s Doctoral Conference at the London Knowledge Lab, Martin Oliver, Neil Selwyn and Rebecca Eynon, editors of Learning, Media and Technology, presented a useful session on getting journal articles published. Here’s a summary of my notes.


Developing Journal Articles from a Thesis

  • Aim to write three journal articles from your thesis
  • Develop one key theme for each – not the same texts with a different spin
  • Avoid ‘salami slicing’ – replicating texts across different journals
  • Also look for options in developing shorter ‘positional’ papers – Neil Selwyn mentioned the recent viewpoint article by University of Nottingham’s very own Sarah Lewthwaite as a good example from their journal

Identifying Journals

  • Ask supervisors
  • Look at previous authors of journals (these may now be reviewers)
  • Send an abstract to editors before committing to writing a paper – they will try to get back to you
  • Look for reputable publishers
  • Make sure journals are peer reviewed and have an ISSN number
  • Know your audience – pay particular attention to the requirements of an international audience


  • Proof read!
  • Use critical friends
  • Obvious, but thoroughly read journal submission guidelines / instructions


  • Make sure each recommendation is addressed
  • Add a note when resubmitting to outline how you have addressed each recommendation



  • Present the key points from your conclusion in the abstract – don’t keep them as a surprise!

Literature Review

  • A good literature review should critique, build on and support existing literature
  • Ensure the literature review logically informs and justifies the research questions


  • Avoid ‘copy and paste’ methodologies from theses
  • It is not necessary to describe the methodology in depth – more important to justify why you chose a methodology
  • Sampling is often a weak area in journals – present sampling methods and the justifications for sampling


  • Doctoral students tend to discuss ethics too much in journal articles – reviewers assume appropriate ethical procedures have been taken
  • Only refer to special cases / requirements

Presenting Data

  • Journals are frequently let down by insufficient data
  • Use tables, diagrams or graphs if possible but keep these limited

Discussion / Conclusion

  • Always use the literature review to discuss your data – do not introduce new literature
  • Draw three or four key conclusions


  • Consider carefully who you cite – reviewers read titles, abstract and references first


6 Responses to “Writing Journal Articles – Tips from the Editors”

  1. imp Says:

    very useful. thks for sharing.

  2. virginia Yonkers Says:

    As both a reviewer and an author, let me add some tips. First, look at the journal you are submitting to and make sure that your article “fits” that journal. Then make sure your introduction includes how it “fits”.

    Related to this is when you are looking for journals to submit to, consider journals your article cites. Most likely your article will be of interest to them if you are contributing to previous articles they have printed.

    Expect to make revisions. Only those that have many years experience with a specific journal will only have to make minor revisions. If you receive a letter requesting major revisions, look at each suggestion (most reviewers will give detailed suggestions) and consider if it is warranted or not. Sometimes you will receive contradictory comments. Don’t take it personally, but rather analyze what they are saying and decide if you should change it or not (I also just received this advice for dissertation/thesis comments).

    Make sure your data is easy to read and accurate. Reviewers do look at tables and if the data does not make sense, the entire article is questionable.

    The suggestion for one theme is very important. Often authors try to tackle too many ideas so the article seems disjointed and shallow. Choose a theme, develop the theoretical basis (which may end up being an article of its own if this is a new idea that needs indepth analysis), explain why that idea is important, present only data which is relevant to that theme, and (many forget this) draw conclusions on why this is important to the reader to know about.

  3. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Thanks Virginia. Some very useful advice.

    The session did examine the revision process far more than I have presented here, and yes, as you suggest, they did emphasise that inexperienced authors should expect to make major revisions. Do you think it is worthwhile to add a brief summary of how recommendations for revision have (or have not) been addressed when resubmitting?

  4. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Having recently reviewed some papers for the first time myself, I do think early researchers should grab any opportunities they can to review (even if they are for minor publications), as the experience does provide an insight into the reviewer’s perspective that is useful when you are submitting articles yourself.

  5. virginia Yonkers Says:

    I would definitely add a bit on revisions. I had a colleague who said she did not resubmit the first 10 or so articles she submitted because it did not appear the readers liked it. Then a mentor scolded her and told her to make revisions and resubmit. Within two years, she had 10 publications! Personally, I have a lot more comments on pieces I think have potential. One of my most successful articles took my coauther and I 3 years to publish because the two reviewers had totally different theoretical view points. Finally, the editor stepped in and we got the article published. Knowing how long the process can be and what an author has to go through helps keep comments/reviews in perspective.

  6. The Chinese Online Writing Lab Says:

    […] publishing news Writing Journal Articles – Tips from the Editors Here are some tips from editors on publishing from the Doctoral Conference at the London Knowledge […]

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