Submitting the Manuscript

RR graphic - no words.jpgSubmitting the Manuscript

This module offers tips and suggestions on writing your manuscript and preparing it for submission to the journal you have chosen.

Learning Objectives

  • To review the guidelines for writing a research paper.
  • To understand the submission requirements and the process.
  • Describe the components of an effective cover letter.


A tremendous amount of time and energy went into your dissertation. You have now spent time prioritizing, outlining, pruning, and editing the content in an effort to focus in on one aspect that may be written up as a manuscript and submitted for publication. It is now time to also invest time and energy into writing the research paper and preparing to submit it to the journal you have selected. Your research findings will only have value and significance if your manuscript is accepted for publication so that your results can be shared with your audience. This can be a stressful process for many, especially considering the pressure in academic settings to publish your work. Therefore, it is well worth the effort to spend the time necessary to write a quality manuscript and follow the submissions guidelines.

Once you have selected an appropriate journal (as discussed in a previous module), the first step is to review their manuscript guidelines and their submission process. This information can be found on the website for the journal or in a directory of periodicals that describes their criteria. You should review these guidelines carefully prior to writing the manuscript. Failure to adhere to all requirements may result in an automatic rejection of your manuscript prior to the peer review process. Therefore, it is critical to follow instructions.

Before you begin writing your manuscript, you will need to find out which writing style/format the journal requires. The most common styles include APA, MLA and Chicago styles. Reference books are available for each style or format and it may be a good investment to purchase one.   However, the following website links provide the general guidelines for each style and may be useful in helping you get started. There are additional sources of information in the Resource Links on the right side of this module.

Once you are aware of the appropriate style and general formatting guidelines, you need to organize your information. Research papers and journal articles follow a fairly standard format in terms of organization. While academic disciplines vary on the exact format and style of journal articles in their field, most articles contain similar content and are divided in parts that typically follow the same logical flow. Following is a list of the parts commonly found in research articles.

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References/Bibliography

Research papers are organized so that the information flow resembles an hourglass in that it goes from general to specific and then back to general again. The introduction and literature review sections will introduce the problem and provide general information. The methods and results will provide specific, detailed information about this research project and the discussion/conclusion will discuss the findings in a larger context. Additional information can be found in the links below, the Resources section of this module and in the Suggested Readings.

Once the manuscript is ready for submission, it is time to write the cover letter. The cover letter is a critical piece that introduces your manuscript to the editor and the reviewers. The cover letter will help the editors understand the significance of your work and should include a statement as to why you have chosen to submit your article to that particular journal. The cover letter is really matter of making a good first impression and therefore, time should be taken to draft a quality letter. The following video provides an overview of the importance of the cover letter, as well as tips on how to write an effective letter.

This module has provided an overview of the key items that should be considered as you prepare your manuscript for submission. The Resource Links on this page provide additional information including a plagiarism tutorial, additional videos, and a sample research paper that may also be useful.


Suggested Readings:

  • Belcher, W. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
  • Brookfield, S. D. (2011). Addressing feedback from reviewers and editors. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Calfee, R.C., & Valencia, R.R. (2001). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: APA
  • Day, R. A. (1998). How to write and publish scientific papers.
  • Devlin A. (2006) Research Methods. Thompson Wadsworth.
  • Ellinger, A.D. (2011). Creating a whole from the parts: Qualities of good writing. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Epstein, (2011). Writing with authority: Pitfalls and pitstops. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Imel, S. Writing a literature review. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Lee, M. Finding voice. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Wallace and Wray (2011). Scholary reading as a model for scholarly writing. In Rocco, T.S. and Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Resource Links

Publishing Your Research 101 - The website provides a series of 10 video episodes by the American Chemical Society that address all aspects of writing a journal article for submission and tips on how to improve your writing.

How to Publish Your Journal Paper - This site contain tips from the APA regarding how to get your manuscript published.

Sample Research Paper - APA Style - The sample research paper shown here provides information regarding content, formatting, and style. There is also a link for exploring alternate formatting options.

How to Avoid Plagiarism Tutorial - This comprehensive guide provides information on citation rules, examples of citations, and guidelines for paraphrasing, summarizing and using quotations.

How to Write a Scientific Research Paper - The following links are a three part YouTube series on writing a scientific research paper. The series of videos provide a comprehensive, in-depth look at why publishing is important, how to get started, what are the parts of the paper and what order should they be written in, tips on how to write each section and additional suggestions that will assist writers in getting their work published.

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