The First-First Author Journal Article Process

An academic’s first time through the academic journal publication process can often take many forms, depending on the person’s field, mentors, and research opportunities. However, my experience is centered on the process of converting my Master’s paper into a journal article as the sole author, for an open access journal. In this post, I’m going to be walking you through the process from submission to submission acceptance, and hopefully offer some insight!

I began the Master’s portion of my PhD program in Fall 2016, and began fieldwork in Spring 2018, and successfully defended my project in early Fall 2018. After my defense, I realized there was an opportunity to submit my Master’s paper for a paper competition at the highly attended AAG conference later that Spring. The competition was held through the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group. After submitting an abstract, I was thankful to be accepted to the next round, which required the finalists to submit a 5,000 word version of the paper. My Master’s was 17,000 at least! So, the great trim began, and by early February, I had a version ready to submit to the competition.

This trimming process for the competition is what ultimately prepared me to submit my manuscript for submission to a journal later in Fall of 2019. Because I had to cut down the word count significantly, I was pushed to reorient my paper to have a clearer focus that was more narrow in scope. I cut out unnecessary tables and figures, and eventually had a manuscript that was far more manageable to offer a journal. After some more editing, rewriting my citations into an appropriate style fitting the requirements of the journal, and ensuring all my files were in the appropriate format, I was ready to submit!

Now, we all know that the review process can take time, and this did happen with myself. However, it’s worth noting that in between my submission of the manuscript and my receipt of my first reviews, COVID-19 became a pandemic, and I am simply appreciative of the journal editors and the reviewers for doing their best to keep me in the loop and trying to keep my manuscript moving through the pipeline. When I did receive my reviewer comments in Spring 2020, they were actually fairly straightforward and very helpful. I was able to turn around revisions quickly, and eventually, my manuscript was accepted for publication!

I am now in the process of working with the journal’s graphic designer to make sure my article portrays the data in a visually appealing and clear way, and it’s been an enjoyable process. I look forward to sharing this journal article with all of you soon!

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