Preparing your article for submission
Wouldn’t it be nice if all submission guidelines were the same? If you thought that preparing one manuscript was all you had to do, and send this off to each of the editors then I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Each journal will have its own submission process. These are predominantly completed through a specific web portal for each journal (so make sure you keep track of your usernames and passwords for each of them!) There are usually a series of technical questions around authors, key words, funders etc. This is followed by facilities to upload your manuscript. However, each journal has different requirements for referencing style, what should be included in the main document (with or without tables/ figures) and what font style/ size should be used. Make sure you thoroughly comb the ‘Instructions for authors’ document or section of the journal website to make sure you’re ticking all the right boxes. If you don’t, your manuscript could be automatically rejected. Also, don’t forget that it’s not just the article itself you’ll need to prepare – you’ll also need to compose a covering letter to the journal editor (I’ve included an example from our submissions below for anyone who will find it helpful).
Word counts. Most journals will have word count guidelines depending on the type of article you’re submitting for consideration. The guideline analysis article was huge when we started. The combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis meant that there was so much stuff that we wanted to say. It took 5 versions of the manuscript to get it down to a reasonable level, with a lot of help from Anne! For our final submission to IJPP we were still over the recommended word count, but felt that we could cut down no more. I decided to get in touch with the Editor and ask for special consideration. Thankfully, it was granted and we were able to submit ‘Version 5’ a little over the official word count.
Whilst being succinct and to the point is always best, it is a bit of a balancing act. In reality, this version of the article was too short. And some of the parts that we cut to try and get the paper more succinct were later added back in to respond to reviewer comments. ‘Version 5’ was 3,373 words, but the final accepted version was actually 4,838! But having reviewer comments to justify the extra words I think definitely helps.