Research essentials

How to write for professional and academic journals

Once you have made the decision to publish your work the next step is to consider your intended audience. Knowing your audience will also assist you to consider which journal is the most appropriate for your article.

Once you have made the decision to publish your work the next step is to consider your intended audience.

NCYP October cover

Knowing your audience will also assist you to consider which journal is the most appropriate for your article. Be aware the first person to read your manuscript might be the editor and it will then be read by the reviewers for peer review, who will give feedback to you and the editor.

Don’t procrastinate, have a plan and get started.

How to get started

Consider the following steps:

  • Read carefully the author guidelines and preparation of your manuscript. Well-established journals will have a website or links to their own guidelines for authors. These will provide essential requirements relating to word allowance, structure and referencing convention.
  • Consider the journal’s impact factor if it has one, or consider whether you would prefer to publish in a professional journal that does not have an impact factor but has a larger circulation.
  • If possible, identify a mentor who can guide you through the experience especially if you are a novice author.
  • Set yourself realistic and achievable targets and break your writing into bite-sized chunks and try to write on a regular basis maybe 100-200 words and set aside time.
  • Avoid jargon, explain abbreviations and write them out in full at first mention.
  • You will draft your article several times so try not to write and edit.
  • Seek constructive feedback which will strengthen your next draft before submission.
  • Ensure your work is backed up electronically.
  • If declined after review use this as an opportunity to rework and prepare for the next submission.
Common types of journals

A distinction is sometimes made between academic/scholarly and professional journals. Published articles may relate to a variety of areas of professional practice and education for example:

  • Case studies
  • Short reports
  • Clinical evidence-based research and practice
  • Original research
  • Literature reviews
  • Discussion, short narratives and /or opinion pieces
  • Conference proceedings
  • News and updates


Submitting your manuscript

Many journals now have electronic online submission so you will need to follow the instructions carefully from setting up a new account to final submission

Geek speak

Impact factor

This is the most commonly used measure of a journal’s impact but other metrics may be employed. Impact factor was devised by the Institute of Scientific Information Measures and relates to the journal's influence, and the number of citations it receives.

The impact factor may be seen as a significant criterion when selecting a journal, however not all journals have an impact factor and these tend to be professional rather than academically-focused publications.

Peer review

This is the process where journal editors ask expert reviewers to examine the submitted work and report on its suitability for publication (Price 2014b). Nursing Children and Young People uses open peer review and some other journals use double blind review. Open peer review is where the author and reviewers are made aware of each others' names. Double blind review is where neither authors nor reviewers know each others' names. 

Top tips

  • Writing for publication is a process.
  • Set time aside regularly and write in chunks.
  • Write in clear English and consider issues of confidentiality and anonymity.
  • Decide upon your target group and the most appropriate journal for your work.
  • Consider if this will include an international audience.
  • Invite peer review of your draft work.
  • If unsuccessful first time use this as the platform for re-working your manuscript and resubmission.
  • Price (2014a) and Price (2014b) offer useful advice for novice authors and how to improve your journal article after review.


Price B (2014a) Writing a journal article: Guidance for novice authors. Nursing Standard. 28, 35, 40-47.

Price B (2014b) Improving your journal article using feedback from peer review Nursing Standard. 29, 4, 43-50.


Carol Chamley is senior lecturer Coventry University, on behalf of the RCN’s Research in Child Health network’s core community

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