This is Part 2 of Can. J. Chem. Eng.’s Discover the Publishing Process series of CIC News stories. As a society-owned journal, we are offering our CIC community behind-the-scenes information on how journal publishing works.
In the first story in this series, we provided some tips from our publishing experts on things like why you should choose to publish your research in a peer reviewed journal and how to select what journal to publish your work in. Building on these tips, The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering wants to provide you with some more insight about what happens next in the publishing process.
Once you have determined that your research is ready to be published, decided where you want to publish it, and crafted it into a compelling paper, you are almost ready to hit submit. The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering uses ScholarOne as our article submission platform, and it will walk you through creating your author profile and the different files that you need to upload in order to proceed with submitting your article.
When you first submit your article, our team at the CIC national office checks to make sure that your submission is complete and meets the journal’s requirements. You can find these requirements on the journal’s website in the author guidelines. For many journals including Can. J. Chem. Eng., your article may not even make it into the Editor-in-Chief’s inbox unless you have followed these guidelines.
We understand that sometimes these guidelines can be frustrating. Remember that, although the formatting requirements can feel like a burden at times, we have them in place to ensure that your article is easy to read for our reviewers. Your figures need to be high quality at this stage, because otherwise they may not accurately convey your findings to our reviewers. The other important reason for formatting requirements at this stage is to make the process as quick as possible after your paper is accepted. We will discuss the production process in more detail in later posts, but if your article is already formatted according to journal requirements when you submit it, then that will speed up the publication process.
In the initial submission stage, our national office team also screens to make sure that the quality of writing in the paper is good enough that it can be easily read by reviewers. We recommend carefully editing your paper even after you think you have it finished to make sure that the language is clear and effectively conveys your research. It is also always helpful to have a friend or colleague edit your paper as well, since sometimes you know so well what you want to say that you may miss things that another set of eyes will spot quickly.
At the initial submission stage, Can. J. Chem. Eng. also uses iThenticate plagiarism detection software to scan submitted articles. When your article is submitted to iThenticate, Can. J. Chem. Eng. receives a report with a similarity percentage score. A higher percentage means that there is more text in that paper that matches text available online (the software also accesses paywalled articles). We receive a detailed breakdown of what sources the paper is matching with and can then investigate further to see if it is a problem. Oftentimes, it may simply require the author to more clearly cite the relevant articles.
A common thing that can drive a high similarity percentage is when an author draws on material that is in their submitted thesis. Most institutions have open repositories for theses, which means that technically they are available online and the iThenticate software will flag it. However, for copyright purposes an institutional repository is not considered published, so our team knows that material from your own thesis is acceptable to submit to a journal. It is very helpful, though, if you notify us that your article contains some material from your thesis, since that allows us to make a note about the high iThenticate percentage. You can provide that information in your cover letter.
The cover letter is often an over-looked part of the submission process, but it can actually help your submission succeed. Our national office team looks at cover letters when they first receive your submission for seemingly small but important details like making sure that you are intending to submit to our journal.
We know that sometimes you may have tried to submit to a different journal before, but do remember to change the journal name to the correct one. This saves us from having to email you to doublecheck that you do indeed want to submit to Can. J. Chem. Eng. It is also important that you do not submit to multiple journals at the same time and that you say that you are not doing so in your cover letter. Submitting to multiple journals can lead to retractions if you are accepted and causes extra work for reviewers.
Finally, our Editor-in-Chief João B. P. Soares suggests that your cover letter is also crucial because it is the first thing that he reads once your article has passed the initial screening of our national office team. Your paper has made it to Prof. Soares inbox, but you still have to convince him that it is a good fit for Can. J. Chem. Eng. and that it has significant results. Remember to address your letter to the Editor-in-Chief.
We recommend a short (no longer than a page) four paragraph approach to your cover letter: 1) state the title of your article and what journal you are submitting it to; 2) confirm that you have met the journal’s publication policies, like only submitting to one place and the copyright details; 3) explain the importance of your work; and 4) describe the key conclusions or results of your research. This style of cover letter will quickly tell the Editor-in-Chief what they need to know about your work and convince them that they should send it out for peer review.
When you have all of these components in place and you do hit submit, remember to celebrate. At Can. J. Chem. Eng., we know that getting your research to the stage where it is ready to submit to a journal is a lot of work and taking some time to recognize your efforts will help you recharge and get ready for the next steps. In our next story, we will explore the peer review process and provide some tips on how to navigate it.