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Stony Brook University

An Undergraduate's Guide to Funding and Publishing Research

This guide is designed for undergraduate students who are looking for research opportunities as an extension of or in addition to their coursework.

How to Choose a Journal

Sometimes, half the battle of getting published is simply finding a journal that is a good match. Reviewers often reject an article not necessarily because of the quality of the work, but because the work does not fit within the scope of the publication. It can pay off to put substantial effort into selecting the right journal to submit your work to.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a publication! Here are some things to think about:

  • Get advice from your mentor, a librarian, or other supportive experts. Those with special knowledge in your field or with experience helping undergraduates publish their work will likely know of publications that other students have had success with and will help you know what to look for.
  • Find the journal website and learn as much as you can about the journal. Consider:
    • Are you eligible to submit to this journal? Some journals might have restrictions based on degree level, institution, citizenship, or residency.
    • Is there a specific disciplinary focus or is the journal multidisciplinary?
    • Do submissions require that you have a faculty mentor?
    • Is it peer-reviewed? If yes, are the reviewers students, faculty, or a mix?
    • Is there an Advisory Board and/or Editorial Board?
    • Is it open access? If no, where is it indexed? How will others access your work?
    • Most journals don't have a publishing fee, but some do. Double check whether or not there's a fee.
  • Skim through some of the articles published in different issues of the journal. Get a sense of:
    • Do you like the presentation, readability, and access of the journal? For example, are all the articles available as free pdf downloads, or is there a specific web platform or service that hosts the articles?
    • Is there a consistent style / structure to all the articles, or are they each very different from each other?
    • Is there a single genre or a mix? Are they essays, studies, critical reviews? Does the journal only publish original research, or does it also accept creative work such as artwork and short stories?
    • Does the tone, content, style, approach, and rigor of the research in the journal seem to be a good match to your own work?
  • In all cases, consider submitting a copy of your work to SBU's repository, the Academic Commons. This is a platform that hosts materials that are openly available to all.

Carefully Review the Submission Guidelines

photo of a chalkboard that says "follow the rules"

After you've chosen a journal that you feel is an excellent match for your research, you will need to carefully review the submission guidelines. Look for the following elements in the guidelines when preparing your article for submission:

  • Is it required that you have a faculty mentor or formal letter of recommendation with your submission? 
  • Is there a required citation style (for example, MLA or APA)? If the journal is multidisciplinary, it might allow for whatever citation style is appropriate for your subject area.
  • Is there a fixed submission deadline, or is it a rolling deadline (meaning you can submit at any time)?
  • Are there any particular criteria listed? How do the reviewers decide whether to publish the article?
  • How strict are the format guidelines? How many pages, what file format (.doc, .pdf, etc), font, spacing, and other stylistic elements?
  • Are you required to also submit an abstract or keywords?
  • Are simultaneous submissions allowed? That is, does the journal allow you to submit to more than one journal at once?
  • Once your work is published, are you allowed to resubmit the work to another journal? If yes, will you be required to recognize the journal as the first publication before republishing somewhere else?