Image: SHIRIM Field Action Report
Are you curious about the publication process or looking for some tips about how to write and publish your first journal article? In April 2022, Share-Net International’s Kimberley Meijers published her first article in the journal Global Health: Science and Practice. Read more below for some insights into her experience!
My publication experience – Perseverance is key!
My first scientific article – ‘Using Rapid Knowledge Translation Approach for Better SRHR in Bangladesh, Burundi, Indonesia, and Jordan’ – just got published and it was quite a journey! When I started writing I had no clue of the steps to follow and the long road ahead of me. Luckily some of my fellow authors had already published before, and guided me throughout the writing and submitting process step-by-step. You might also wonder what ‘CRIM-KT’ stands for – this is an abbreviation for ‘Collaborative Rapid Improvement Model for Knowledge Translation’, the basis of Share-Net International’s SHIRIM program.
Are you also interested in writing and publishing your first article on SRHR or have you just started your PhD? Then this blog might come in handy!
When I came up with the idea of writing a scientific article I never imagined it would take me two years to get it published. Now don’t immediately get discouraged, it can go a lot quicker and does not have to take this long, but it is good know it can be quite a long process. It also makes a difference whether it is your full-time job as PhD student or if you, like me, work on your first article next to your regular job. Of course, some people have a smooth ride and publish in no-time, for me and my fellow authors it took multiple rounds of revisions before and after the article was peer-reviewed. Perseverance was key!
The CRIM-KT article I wrote is based on use of the Share-Net International Rapid Improvement Model (SHIRIM) for policy and practice in SRHR. SHIRIM was designed as an experience for the Share-Net country hub platforms to explore, experiment, and exchange – together with their members – effective strategies to translate newly acquired knowledge around teenage pregnancy and child marriage. The manuscript was written by me in the capacity of project lead, together with the involved knowledge experts and Share-Net country platform representatives. An external researcher, Robert Borst from Erasmus University who was not involved in the implementation of CRIM-KT, was invited to participate in the end evaluation. We selected the journal Global Health: Science and Practice as the best fit for our manuscript, as this journal is interested in the intersection of SRHR and knowledge management, making it a good fit for our topic. This journal was our first choice and we were happy to not have to submit anywhere else.
Some tips and tricks for publishing an article
- What do I want to convey to readers? Before you start the writing process it is useful to first decide what type of information or message you want to convey to your readers. If possible, try to already write down some first key messages or a vision statement, and it really helps if you choose a topic you are passionate and curious about.
- Who are your co-authors? Decide with whom you want to write your article with. Select wisely! Think of people that are willing to devote time and effort to write, review, and rewrite. It is helpful to select people with different fields of expertise than your own, that are still related to the topic. If applicable, try to address power-imbalances by including different voices and perspectives from low- and middle-income countries.
- Finding a relevant journal. Look for a journal that is potentially interested in your article. I used Jane.Biosemantics via https://jane.biosemantics.org/ as a tool to identify potentially relevant journals. Here you can insert key words, possible title(s) of your article or abstract and Jane will provide you with journal suggestions. Compare the journal suggestions by looking at different journal styles, topics of interest, and the article types published. Always try to go for high-quality journals indexed in Medline or open access journals approved by the Directory of Open Access Journals. Decide whether you prefer an open access or subscription journals, and be aware of possible publication fees.
- Consult submission guidelines. Once you have selected the journal, decide on the most appropriate article type. Before you start writing, consult the submission guidelines, formatting, and word limit of the article type and journal of your choice.
- Structuring and writing your article. Divide the writing of the first draft of the manuscript among the different authors. Usually it is the easiest to start by writing the methodology section, followed by the main results, the discussion, and a clear conclusion. You can finish with writing the introduction and abstract. Follow the formatting guidelines of the journal of your choice. If possible, include images to illustrate your story.
- Who is the first author? Decide on the order of the authors. I learned that the first author usually writes most of the manuscript and submits it to the journal. The last author is special because it is usually a person that either mentored or supervised the first author or was the principal investigator.
- Referencing – use referencing management software. Assemble your references throughout the writing. It is advisable to use a reference manager like Mendeley or EndNote. Follow the reference style used by the journal.
- Copy editing – use a native speaker! Have your manuscript copy-edited by a native speaker of the language you are writing your article in before you submit.
- Block out time for the final submission. When you are ready to submit your article, it is advisable to block a full day in your agenda. It usually entails a lot more than just uploading your manuscript and pressing send.
Often the journal requires you to:
- Separate the author information from the manuscript if it is a peer-reviewed journal
- Upload figures, tables, and images separately
- Include authors information and affiliation
- Include a letter the editor explaining why your manuscript is relevant and interesting for their readers and needs to be published.
- Provide suggestions for possible peer-reviewers (if applicable)
- Disclose relevant financial and non-financial interests and relationships
- Photo consent of human subjects
For some revision rounds you might need to repeat parts of this process multiple times.
- Be patient! It can take months before a journal has reviewed your manuscript and made a decision. It is possible your manuscript will be rejected and you have to choose another journal, or that you have to revise your manuscript multiple times before it is published. Keep your co-authors informed and engaged in the submitting and revision process.
- Celebrate successes along the way! For instance, when the editor does not accept your manuscript but asks you to resubmit a revised version. It demonstrates they are interested and engaged in your work! Or when the editor decides to send your manuscript for peer review. It means you are one step closer to being published. Don’t give up!
- Feedback as opportunities, see the peer review feedback you receive as an opportunity to receive constructive feedback which you can use to further improve your manuscript.
- Make final checks. Check your manuscript thoroughly when you know your article will be published (including all graphics, figures, citations, taglines etc. )
- Create a dissemination and promotion plan. Develop a dissemination plan to share, promote, and facilitate the uptake of your article in your personal and professional network. Remember at Share-Net International we are happy to share and promote your SRHR article as well, just get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Where can you share your article? Look for opportunities to submit your abstract to present it at international conferences.
Share-Net International Country Coordinator & Knowledge Expert