From Paper to Publisher: Top Tips to Increase Your Chances of Publication

By Natalie Squance

Your research project has the potential for meaningful change, and how it’s shared, communicated and engaged with is critical to its ability to drive impact. However, today’s digital world is changing conceptions of community, collaboration and interaction, and the world of research dissemination is no exception. As a result, it’s critical to prioritise and plan how to effectively communicate your research. If done effectively, not only will it help to raise your own academic profile, but it will also increase the chances of publication and gaining external recognition for your work. 

Create your game plan

All dissemination should have a purpose, and defining clear objectives early on is a key strategic first step. Ask yourself this: what does success look like? Do you want to inspire wider audiences through mainstream publications and websites, or perhaps stick to a more traditional journal route? Answering these questions will not only help to provide clarity in your direction forward but also provide benchmarks for success. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What does success look like?
  • Which audiences do I want to inspire?
  • Where do I want my work to be published?

Get to know your audience

Regardless of whether you want to maximise the uptake, sidetake or downtake of your research, it’s important to understand who your audiences are. Consider who specifically you want your research outputs to reach. Whether policymakers, the wider public, or other academic communities, whoever you want to influence, understand where they look for and receive information. The more you understand your audience and who you’re speaking to, the easier it will be to engage them. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • What are the job roles of my target audience?
  • Where do they look for information?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they care about?

Craft a unique value proposition 

Your value proposition is a promise of the value to be delivered. Think of it as an elevator pitch as to why publishers and journals should be interested in your work. If your research has the power to help their readership, make it known!  A well-crafted value proposition helps publications know that you’re innovating with purpose and can give you and your team a common thread throughout the dissemination process. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • How will my research change the world?
  • Why should publishers care about my work?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • How can it help their readership?

Gather insights

With your target audience and target publications defined, it’s time to gather as many insights into them as possible and use this data creatively to inform the road ahead. Engaging with stakeholders throughout the project’s lifecycle can help identify exactly who within the publication/journal needs to buy into the research. Qualitative research can also provide deeper insights into the questions the reader really wants answers to. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • Conduct stakeholder interviews
  • Let qualitative research inform a more nuanced understanding of how best to connect to your audience
  • Be led by the data

Develop a brand identity

As the world of academic publishing becomes more competitive, branding your project has never been more important. Pushing creative boundaries with your brand image can give you a competitive edge and allow you to better connect with your audience. However, creating a brand identity is more than just a logo. Give your project a name. Create a visual identity and a tone of voice. At its core, it’s all about building connections and creating a consistent and compelling vision of project purpose, goals and benefits. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • How can I ensure the language used doesn’t alienate my intended audience?
  • How can articulate my research’s purpose in a way that resonates with my audience?
  • How do I want to be perceived by my audience?
  • How can I ensure my research is visible?
  • What social media platforms should I be using?
  • Does the research project need its own website?

Map the journey

Where will publications and journals first hear about your work? And if they want more, where do they go next? By mapping out the journey of the actions you want publications and journals to take, you can remove barriers to engagement. This exercise allows you to devise methods for communicating more effectively, and ensures that the very people you want to know about your research won’t get stuck looking for the information they need to take them forward. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • What actions do I want publications and journals to take?
  • Where do I want them to go next?

Create show-stopping content

With all of this in place, it’s now time to structure activities, assign roles and allocate resources to make get your research out there and make it irresistible to publications. This is where you and your team can get your creative juices flowing and create content that stops publications and journalists in their tracks. From animated videos and podcasts to infographics and visual artwork, the world is your oyster. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • What can I do to make my content as engaging as possible?
  • How can I create content that reinforces my project messaging?
  • What are the appropriate hashtags to use on social media to build traction?
  • Are there any influencers I can contact to increase awareness?
  • Who can I reach out to on social media to build relationships?

The narrative is in the numbers

Without measuring the impact of your dissemination plan, you run the risk of wasting precious time and resources on activities that don’t deliver the desired results. Your research might not be visible to the right communities or publications. Keep a watchful eye on what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved and scaled. 

Key takeaways to consider:

  • What can be improved?
  • How can I leverage successes for more funding, new projects and commercialisation?

Ready to get published?

If you need a hand effectively disseminating your research project and increasing its visibility, we run free research communications training workshops for academics. Get in touch with [email protected] to find out more.

Like this article? We’ve got loads more where that came from. Sign up to Project: Insight, our fortnightly email digest for best practices in research dissemination and creative innovation for projects.

Written in collaboration with Naomi Couper

Beyond the banks: The effects of flooding on animal and human life

Written by Sean Dudley. About 10 years ago, I played a game of cricket. I don’t remember anything particularly about the match itself, but I

Category Design: A Mindset Shift for Researchers, Scientists and Academics

“A problem well put is half solved.” John Dewey In the realm of scientific and academic research, a powerful concept is reshaping the landscape of

People, Planet, Profit… Pants

Building a Regenerative Business Another article about business and climate. Meh. Stick with me. Ok, let’s get the doomism out the way shall we?  The

Let’s Change the World

FOMO? Get Our Newsletter

Get in touch we’d love to hear from you