Mia Ricci and João B. P. Soares, FCIC

The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering is starting a new series of CIC News articles providing an inside look at publishing for everyone in our chemical sciences community. As a society-owned journal, we want to provide our members with behind-the-scenes information about how publishing in a journal works, from the early stages of writing all the way to promoting your published article.

For this first article, we are taking inspiration from our October 20th Early Career Publishing Workshop in Halifax at the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference. This workshop was part of the student program at CCEC 2019 and featured presentations from Can. J. Chem. Eng. Editor-in-Chief, João B. P. Soares, FCIC, and our Wiley Executive Editor, Mia Ricci. In this first CIC News article, we will give an overview of what Soares and Ricci discussed, and then in later articles we will break down some of the different stages of publishing in more detail.

At the workshop, Prof. Soares focused his discussion on how to take your research from the lab into a journal. After spending hours in the lab optimizing your experiment or hours programming to improve your code, sometimes the last thing you want to do is write up your results. You have fantastic results! Shouldn’t the paper write itself?

However, the writing part is crucial because this is how you are going to get those fantastic results out into the world. Prof. Soares provided valuable information on how to make sure that your writing is clear and concise so that editors and reviewers will not only understand the importance of your work, but will even enjoy reading it. He suggested that you should aim to simplify the language, not the science of your work. According to Prof. Soares, the best way to become a good writer is to “write a lot and read even more!”

As you begin to write, you should have an idea of where you are trying to publish your work. There are a few good reasons that you should be aiming for peer-reviewed journals:

  • Registration – You can stake a claim on your research field.
  • Certification – A peer-reviewed publication acknowledges the quality of your work.
  • Dissemination – You can demonstrate your results to your field and the wider public.
  • Archiving – You can have a permanent record of your work.

To this list from Prof. Soares’ presentation, we would also add that the peer review process itself is a way of strengthening the quality of your work: you get feedback from other experts on how to improve your findings and how you communicate them.

While we, of course, want you to consider publishing your work in Can. J. Chem. Eng., Prof. Soares also offered some advice on how to choose where to publish. One good way is to look at the References sections of current important papers in your field and see where those articles come from. Once you have narrowed it down to journals whose scope fits with your research, ask yourself:

  • Who is this journal’s audience?
  • What is the average time to first decision? (~30 days for Can. J. Chem. Eng.)
  • What is the journal’s reputation in your field?
  • Are there publication charges? (Can. J. Chem. Eng. does not charge for standard publishing)

Now that you have a target journal, the next step is making sure that you adhere to the journal’s requirements and that you convey the impact of your research through your cover letter, title, abstract, and keywords. Ensuring that these items are well-written and accurately depict your research will hopefully mean that the Editor-in-Chief passes your article on to the associate editor who covers your research area; that associate editor will then choose appropriate peer reviewers. In later articles, we will focus on what happens to your paper in different publication process stages.

In her presentation, Ricci picked up on the post-publication life of your article, focusing on how important search engine optimization (SEO) is for making sure that readers locate your work. Ricci reminded us that most readers find research papers from a Google search, so you must optimize your title, keywords, headings, and abstract to make sure that your article will be picked up as relevant.

Ricci also emphasized that your job as an author does not end once your paper has been published. You can help determine the impact that your work will have by building links. She suggests that you link your article across social media, networking, and institutional sites. With Wiley’s author services, you can also share you work with colleagues and encourage them to link to your article. Ricci also recommends citing your article in your own work when appropriate and even listing your article as a reference on Wikipedia.

Can. J. Chem. Eng., Wiley, and the CIC also work hard to promote Can. J. Chem. Eng. articles after publication through our @CanJChemEng twitter account and other CIC platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and right here in the CIC News. We are especially excited to feature Can. J. Chem. Eng. articles published by CIC members on CIC platforms as news stories. Let us know if you are a member when you publish with us and we’ll work with you to promote your research to our CIC community.

In our next publishing story, we will focus on the initial submission process.