As a young academic, your professors probably constantly say they must “publish or perish,” and they lament about how tough they found it to earn that first publication. While things in academia haven’t changed since their youth, more people willingly offer valuable advice on how to earn your first publication.
Build a Close Working Relationship with a Professor or Research
Even undergraduates can earn publication in an academic journal if they have a professor or researcher with whom they work closely. You can find these opportunities through your university’s undergraduate research opportunity program (UROP). If you’re pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D., apply for positions as a research assistant. Request that your professor read your paper and offer edits for it.
Start with a Great Idea
From within your major study area or your favorite academic area, find one topic that interests you. Determine one aspect of your topic that others have yet to explore or investigate. Create a hypothesis. Conduct your literature search or lit search, for short. Write your paper, then edit and edit again.
Research Journals by Reading Them
When you conduct your lit search, you’re doing the first of this research. Look for names of journals that frequently publish articles germane to your topic. Those journals should top your list of potential places to publish. Explore the various scholarly publishing companies, such as Bentham Open, which specializes in peer-reviewed science journals.
Learn about the journal’s editorial board members and its internal politics. Use JSTOR and WorldCat to explore the publications of the editorial board and cite their relevant works in your own papers. Academics appreciate this as a compliment.
Join Relevant Academic Groups
If you study meteorology in the US, join the American Meteorological Society (AMS). If you study archaeology in France, join the Society for Historical Archaeology. Such groups typically offer reduced fees to students, including reduced conference fees. Students can meet a diverse group of fellow academics in their chosen field at such conferences and build their public speaking skills by presenting posters and offering presentations on their research.
Volunteer with a Journal
Some academic journals offer students internships or junior editorial positions. Typically for graduate students, these opportunities let the student learn the publication process from the inside and help them build contacts in the field. Follow the social media of academic publishers like Bentham Science to learn about these opportunities as soon as the publisher announces them.
Earning your first publication still takes a lot of work, but through the Internet’s blogs, many academics share their knowledge to help students earn their first academic byline. Even if you follow the advice offered here, you’ll have journals reject your work. Keep trying. When the journal asks for edits, make them gleefully because that’s the academic signal that someone wants to help you develop your paper and publish you.