Image Credit: Brandy Dopkins

Are you looking to attract more quality submissions to your journal? It’s an ongoing goal, and at times a struggle, for many lead editors. Between established journals with high Impact Factors capturing the attention of tenure-track researchers, and the influx of online journals being launched by notable scholars and organizations every day, competition for quality submissions can be fierce. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to make your journal stand out in the crowd.

When it comes to increasing the number of submissions your journal receives, focusing on publishing and promoting premium scholarship is paramount. You must work to attract submissions from top scholars and to show that your journal is publishing influential research in its field. Below are some steps you can take to attract more quality submissions to your journal.

Seek leading scholars to join your editorial board

Your journal’s editorial board is its greatest asset. Whether you’ve just launched a journal or your journal has been around for years, one of the best steps you can take to attract more quality submissions is to invite prominent scholars to join your editorial board.

A great way to do this is to seek a pool of consulting editors that you can call upon to do a certain number of manuscript reviews per month or year. You’ll want to set clear upfront expectations regarding the number of reviews each of your consulting editors will be expected to complete, and make sure the work you’re proposing will be very manageable for them.

One journal that takes this approach is Sociological Science. The journal has a large group of consulting editors that it uses as a sort of built-in reviewer pool. This is part of the reason Sociological Science is able to maintain an impressive 30-day or less turnaround time for all manuscript decisions - because the editors always have a ready and willing group of reviewers on hand. The journal’s speedy time to decision is certainly one reason it’s able to attract many submissions from top scholars working on timely topics.

In addition to potentially speeding up peer review, consulting editors will also bring their sphere of influence to your journal. Influential editors can open pathways for scholars who are following their research to learn more about the journal and hopefully submit.

As you grow your editorial board, be sure that you and your fellow editors are actively fostering conversations about your journal in person and online. You are the ones on the ground with fellow academics everyday - use the power of word of mouth to your advantage. Explain the work your journal is doing and why it’s becoming a top place to publish.

Solicit small contributions from preeminent scholars in the field

If you’re a newer or lesser-known journal, getting some initial pieces from notable scholars in your field to give your journal the foothold it needs to attract more quality submissions can prove difficult.

As Clare Hooper, Head of Journals at Liverpool University Press, explained in a Scholastica webinar on growing journal impact and reputation, “you get into a sort of virtuous circle of content leading to readership leading to citations leading to submissions. The better content you publish, the better and more content is submitted.”

So how can journals get such noteworthy scholarship? Pippa Smart, Founder of PSP Consulting and editor-in-chief of Learned Publishing1741-4857)), shared some helpful advice. “Identify top authors you’d like to have in the journal and rather than going after their original research go after editorials, commentaries, and other short pieces in order to build up reputation,” said Smart.

Provide a superior experience to authors who submit to your journal

Have you ever found yourself saying, or have you ever heard another scholar utter something along the lines of - “I will never submit to this journal again”?

No matter how noteable a journal may be, if its editorial process feels like an exercise in frustration, it will start to lose out on submissions from authors who know the struggle that comes with them. Authors want to be able to easily submit their manuscript to a journal, they want to know what’s going on during peer review, and they want upfront answers to common questions like policies for making their research available on pre-print servers. One of the best things your journal can do to attract more submissions is to work to give submitting authors value. You’ll want to:

  • Make sure you have an up-to-date website that’s easy for authors to navigate
  • Refine your submission and manuscript formatting guidelines
  • Take steps to keep authors in the loop during peer review - journal management software like Scholastica will come in handy here
  • Make sure authors are getting valuable reviewer feedback and avoid having a lengthy R&R process
  • If your journal is OA, make sure submitting to it is affordable - if you need to charge authors to pay for overhead, consider having a nominal submission fee rather than a costly article processing charge (APC)

In addition to making your submission and peer review process as painless as possible, your journal can provide added value to authors by helping to promote the research you publish. Melissa Terras, Director of University College London’s (UCL) Centre for Digital Humanities, offers some great advice on this topic in a recent blog post, including:

  • Developing a social media presence for your journal and sharing journal articles and other content authors put out pertaining to their research
  • Starting a journal blog where authors can contribute posts about their research process
  • Helping scholars track alternative impact indicators for their articles

If authors like working with your journal and feel that it’s worth their while they’ll be more likely to submit again and encourage others to do the same.

We hope you find these tips useful! Do you have any suggestions to help journals attract more quality submissions? We want to know. Tweet them to us at @scholasticahq!

Danielle Padula

This post was written by Danielle Padula,
Community Development