Social Science Journal Article Submission Tips

Do these three things before you submit your journal article to increase your chances of publication.
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In many social science fields, journal articles are the most important publications on your CV. However, once you have done the research, written up the results, and chosen a target journal, your work is not done. How can you make the submission process as efficient as possible? Following our three tips will increase your chances of publication.

1. Look at Previously Published Articles in the Journal

Before doing anything else, go look at the archives of the journal you want to submit to. Skim through the articles they have published recently and look for the following:

  • Section headings: Many social science articles follow a formula for their top-level organization (i.e., Introduction, Literature Review, Theoretical Framework, Methods, Results, Discussion). See what is most common in your target journal and edit your own manuscript to match. If peer reviewers can easily find the sections they are expecting, they will be more inclined to view your manuscript positively.
  • References: What other journals are most commonly cited in your target journal? Are you citing the same sources? This will give you a good indication of whether your work is participating in the same conversation as other articles published in the target journal. If not, think about whether you can add some references or if you should target a different journal instead.
  • General tone and style: To really level up your submission, try to match your authorial voice to other articles in your target journal.

2. Read the Journal’s Submission Guidelines

This tip may seem obvious, but it is the most important to follow. Read the journal’s guidelines for things like:

  • Word count: What is the maximum word count? Does the journal include elements like the abstract, tables, figures, and appendixes in the word count? Going over the maximum word count is the quickest way to have your manuscript returned without review.
  • Style guide: Which style guide does the journal use (e.g., APA, AMA, ASA)? Do they indicate any exceptions to the standard guidelines? Keep in mind that style guides apply not only to citations and reference lists but also to section headings, table/figure titles, and the reporting of statistics. Some journals may require that all of these elements conform to the style guide before they move your manuscript forward. You might seek out copyediting services for help following a style guide.
  • Blinding your manuscript: Many journals require that you submit a blinded version of the manuscript for peer review. This includes removing author information from the title page and blinding citations to your previous work. Be sure to read and follow the journal’s instructions carefully. Equally important, check that the unblinded version you are submitting includes all the details you removed from the blinded version.

3. Complete the Journal’s Submission Procedures

These days, most social science journals use a dedicated online system to manage manuscript submissions. This is the final step in the submission process, but it should not be overlooked. When you create your submission, pay attention to:

  • Submission form information: Be sure to provide everything the journal asks for. It may take a while to add a lengthy list of coauthors to the system, but do not skip this step if you want your article to move forward. Similarly, be sure to upload all of the documents that the journal requests using the proper file types. Getting these things right the first time will help you avoid unnecessary delays later.
  • Keywords: When a journal asks you to add keywords to your submission, spend some time going through the list and choosing the ones that best fit your manuscript. If you are having trouble picking appropriate keywords from their list, it might be a sign that you have chosen the wrong journal.
  • Reviewer suggestions or exclusions: Some journals allow you to indicate scholars who may or may not be good choices for peer reviewers. If so, think carefully about your choices to demonstrate your good judgment.


When you are job searching or on the tenure clock, getting your social science journal articles published quickly is essential. Following these tips will avoid delays and help journal staff and peer reviewers focus on what’s important: the content of your research.

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About the author

Erin is the managing editor of a prestigious social science journal with over 5 years of experience sending manuscripts back to authors for failing to meet quality standards. She is a developmental editor at Flatpage with a focus on the social sciences. Before moving into academic editing, Erin earned a PhD in history from Stanford University.


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