7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing My First Article

7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing My First Article

Congratulations! Your first article has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. You made it! It may feel like all of the work is done and what is to follow is just a formality, but it is important to understand that there are a number of things that can go wrong between an article’s acceptance and its publication.

First-time authors are inherently inexperienced. They lack the knowledge taken for granted by their colleagues and mentors, and the pitfalls and perils of the minutia of article publication are not readily evident to the novice, especially for those of us who have disabilities.

That being the case, here are some things that I learned during my first rodeo:

  1. Don’t use a proofreader; use 5 proofreaders. Nobody will catch it all, even professionals, and different proofreaders have different strengths.
  2. Ask a recent first-time article author what to expect. This is a step that I should have taken, but didn’t. Since nobody seems to talk about the potential issues it did not even occur to me to ask.
  3. Take the ticking clock with a grain of salt. As a first-timer, I was not aware of the journal’s expectations re the timeline from submission to in print. I needlessly caved to the pressure created by automatically generated emails about getting my approved proof back to the publisher, and, as a result, published a paper with completely avoidable typos. Return the proof when you are done, not because of automated emails.  
  4. Do not expect editors to edit. Do not expect the journal to catch or correct anything whatsoever.They might, but don’t count on it.
  5. Understand that these issues are disproportionately perilous for those of us with disabilities. The process is not set up to be accommodating, so give yourself as much time as possible on the front-end. It is better to miss the deadline for an issue than to see a typo in the title of your first peer-reviewed publication.
  6. Make peace with the idea that there may be some form of typo or mistake. Hopefully, it will not be too cringe-inducing or distract from the meaning of your work. The work is the important thing, and even papers produced by top-notch editors make it to print with the occasional oops.
  7. After you hit “Submit”,  that’s it. Understand that once you submit the proof, any change is likely impossible.  

I hope that you found at least a few things in this list worthwhile. Thanks very much, and may your navigation of the publication process be a smooth and pleasant one.  

Update: After I published this blog entry, I discovered one more thing worth adding to this list. Beware vanity publishers. Within a week of online publication of my first article, I was contacted by vanity publishers asking if I was interested in a “paperback edition” or could “imagine [my] work as a book”. Be careful, and remember that there are predatory businesses that make their money by taking advantage of students and researchers who don’t know any better.


Categories: writing