Publish your research
Advice for researchers on developing a publishing strategy and selecting where to publish.
Publishing your research findings is an essential part of academic life. It’s important to develop a strategy for where and how you publish in order to reach the audience you want and support your career development.
When you’re getting started, you should consider the following questions:
- What audience or readership do you want for your research? Who are you trying to reach? Who else might be interested in it?
- What kind of research are you doing? Generating your own data eg through experiments, measurements, or surveys? Analysing someone else’s data? Summarising existing literature?
- What stage is your research at? Eg still under development and seeking feedback or collaboration, or complete in its final form?
- Where is research like yours published? Where did you find the research that you’re citing? Where else do other researchers in your field publish?
- If your research is governed by any contracts around intellectual property, do they allow for publishing the research results? What about publishing the research data?
- If your research involves any cultural knowledge, or animal or human ethics, do you have approval to publish the research results? Do you have approval to publish some form of the research data (whether raw, analysed, anonymised or a subset of data)?
- Are there any publication expectations in your chosen career path?
Some of the most common research outputs are:
- Journal article - typically investigating a new research question or a new aspect to a research question
- Preprint - a draft of a journal article prior to peer review. Sometimes this is only the version you submit to the journal and doesn’t get seen by anyone else. But sometimes authors also upload their preprint to an open access preprint server to get early interest in their results.
- Book, or chapter in a book - often for more settled scientific knowledge, summarising the state of knowledge in a field
- Dataset - may support a journal article, or may stand alone (see some examples of published datasets)
- Conference paper
- Thesis or dissertation (see examples of theses and dissertations)
- Report or paper
- Discussion paper - examine or inform current opinion or debate; disseminate the preliminary results of research (see examples of discussion papers)
- Working paper - preliminary outcomes, without finalised data; elicit feedback from colleagues and peers (see an example of a working paper)
- Research paper - report on research progress or final results of research; elicit feedback prior to submitting to academic journal (see examples of research papers)
- Research report - communicate research findings; of high academic/scientific standard (see examples of research reports)
- Technical report - report research to other professionals or subject specialists; present data or experiments; technical or scientific focus (see examples of technical reports)
As you can see, which publication type is appropriate will depend on the type and stage of your research. It can also depend on your field: some fields that prioritise sharing results very quickly rely more on conference papers and preprints, while other fields that prioritise deep analysis rely more on books.
Where to publish
There are thousands of conferences and journals out there, ranging from the highly prestigious to outright scams. When you’re deciding where to publish, you should:
- ask your colleagues, supervisor or other experts for recommendations
- look at where you found the literature you’re citing
- use the LTL databases to explore journals publishing in your field
- Some databases provide tools to analyse the impact of journals based on citation counts received over the last two or more years. Read more about journal metrics.
- explore journal/conference websites
- the mission statement, scope, or call for papers will help identify if your research is a good fit for the topics they normally publish
- the editorial board will let you check who is involved with the journal: are they recognised experts in the field, and employed by reputable institutions?
- instructions for authors will let you check:
- is there a peer review process?
- is it open access?
- are there any fees to publish? (If you don’t have another source of funding, you can apply for Lincoln’s APC funding to help cover open access publishing charges.)
- do they expect you to publish your research data?
- browsing previously published issues will give you an idea of the article structure expected.
It’s useful to keep track of the different versions of your research output:
- While you’re writing it – in case you need to go back to an earlier version.
- It’s a good idea to regularly save a new copy and add the date into the file name – eg “Clover Nutrition 2022-07-06.docx” – so it’s easy to work out which one is current and which ones are old.
- After submitting to a publisher – if you sign a contract giving the publisher the copyright, you can do different things with different versions. Especially for journal articles these versions are often named:
- “Submitted version” or “Pre-print”: the version the author first submitted to a journal for peer review
- “Accepted version” or “Post-print”: the final version the author sends the journal, edited based on peer review suggestions, and accepted by the journal for publication
- “Published version”: the version the publisher makes public. It will have the same content as the accepted version but will look ‘prettier’, including the publisher’s logo and the journal name, page numbers, etc.
- “Updated version” or “Revised”: occasionally revisions may be made after publication.
Usually you can upload submitted and accepted versions to Research@Lincoln via Elements and make them open access to make it accessible to more potential readers. But the publisher usually restricts your right to upload the published version, unless you have published under a Creative Commons license.
Read more about your rights as an author on our Copyright and Open Access page.