Steps Towards Publication

  1. Initial Preparation. See the sections on computing and writing.
  2. Extended Abstract. Most conferences will ask for an extended abstract (or sometimes a full paper), which will be used to decide whether or not to accept or deny your submission of a full paper. We treat an extended abstract as a draft of the final paper instead of a proposal of what you plan to do. In other words, you should have your methodology pretty well worked out and have a decent set of results by the time you submit your abstract. The reason for this is that we usually underestimate how much time it will take to get publication ready and having a solid draft will generally lead to higher quality publications and minimize the probability that you will have to withdraw from a conference.
  3. Conference. A conference publication is not the end goal—peer-reviewed journal publication is. However, conferences are a great opportunity to disseminate ideas, receive feedback on your work, learn broadly about other research, and network. Not every paper needs to go to a conference. Sometimes we skip straight to journal submission. Some reasons to skip straight to journal publication include: particularly groundbreaking research (which can be presented later at a non-proceedings-based conference), a desire to publish in a particular journal that does not have a good conference tie-in, a publication that is impactful but does lend itself as well to a conference presentation format. You should be aware that by publishing in a specific conference you sometimes limit what journals you can publish that work in. You will need to think of the journal you want to publish in up front, as this will often dictate the conference you can go to.
  4. Journal Preparation. After the conference you will want to incorporate feedback and improve your work for journal submission. Not everything in the conference paper needs to be in the journal version. Only the most important and impactful results should be in a journal publication. Usually the journal paper is at least 30% different (improved!) as compared to the corresponding conference paper.
  5. Journal Submission. After submission your paper will be sent to two to three peer reviewers who will assess your work and provide detailed comments to you and the editor. They are looking at things like: fit with the journal’s scope, originality and impact of the work, quality of the research, etc. After receiving the reviewers recommendations, the editor will make a decision on your paper. At the time of submission we should post a preprint. Send me a clean copy and we’ll post it on BYU’s archive or on arxiv as appropriate. A preprint makes your research immediately accessible while it works it way through sometimes length peer review process.
  6. Acceptance or Rejection. After about 3-12 months, depending on the journal, you will receive the feedback and decision. The decision usually falls into the general categories of:
    • Accept without change
    • Minor revisions
    • Major revisions
    • Reject It is rare that a paper is accepted without change on the first submission. Usually, the reviewers have some suggestions, questions, or concerns that need to be addressed. Sometimes these are very minor changes that you can quickly address that afternoon, and other times it involves a month or two of regenerating results and rewriting. It can be difficult to receive criticism on your work, but you should be grateful for it. The reviewers are providing valuable feedback that will almost always help you improve the quality of your publications. Sometimes we may disagree with some of the reviewer’s comments. That’s perfectly fine, but the burden is on us to demonstrate why we disagree and to do it respectfully. Often if someone provides a comment, even if you disagree with it, it probably means there is something in your writing that could be presented more clearly. After making changes you will need to prepare a document outlining the changes and a response to each of the reviewer’s comments. You should copy/paste all the reviewer comments into a document, then in a different color write your response after each comment. You will then resubmit the paper to go back through the peer-review process. If the changes are not too extensive, you should include a diff with your submission to make it easier for the reviewers to see exactly what was changed.
  7. In Press. Once the journal has accepted your paper without further changes it will be sent to the publishers. They will edit your document for formatting and likely provide a list of additional suggestions/edits. These include things like stylistic changes to comply to the journal format, grammatical errors, or incomplete reference information. You will not be allowed to make changes to the scientific content.
  8. Published. After your changes, and preparation by the journal, your paper will be published. Most journals these days will publish it online first, and sometime later (months, a year, never) it will appear in print.
  9. Increase Impact. You can increase your impact by making your paper easier to discover and by spreading the word. Send me a version appropriate for archival and I will upload it to BYU’s ScholarsArchive. Often, this is a postprint, but sometimes a preprint. Look up the journal’s self archival policy here. Next, we spread the word in appropriate channels. Currently, we do two things: 1) create a summary blog post written for a general audience and with a nice visual. We’ve founded animated visuals or videos to be the most impactful. See [here] for an approach to making an animated *.gif. 2) We post on LinkedIn, include the animation or video (you have to make an mp4 version as a gif won’t work on LinkedIn), link the blog post, link the archived paper link, and if you post @ reference me so my followers will see it also.



If you are wondering who should be included in your author list, this page contains a good summary of what constitutes authorship as adopted by most journals. Understanding proper authorship is important to maintain the integrity of the work. The two main criteria are that an author should have 1) made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work, and 2) drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content. Please read the link for more details.