scholarly publishing

Effective Scholarly Publishing: Print vs. Digital

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

January 19, 2023

Publishing is a big part of academic life. The term “publish or perish” is one that analysts, historians, scientists, and other researchers have heard so often it’s become a cliche. When you have an interesting finding or analysis you want to share with the world, you are most likely to turn to a print or electronic journal. Journals dedicated to serious study of the sciences, arts, humanities, and other academic subjects fall under the banner of scholarly publishing.

What Is the Purpose of Scholarly Publishing?

The main purpose is to share the results of recent research. In some cases, a scholarly publishing article takes a fresh approach to the existing research findings to come up with a new understanding of it. Scholarly journals publish occasional review articles that cover the current state of knowledge of a particular field.

Getting published in a scholarly publishing journal is considered prestigious because these journals are peer-reviewed. That means a group of experts in the field read the article before it’s considered for inclusion by the journal editor. If these experts say it presents important and fact-based findings, it will get the go-ahead. If they don’t, the journal will reject it.

What Defines a Scholarly Article?

A scholarly publishing article focuses on the work of one person or a group of people working on the same problem. Most follow a strict format that includes the following sections:

  • An abstract summarizing the article
  • Information about the authors’ backgrounds
  • Description of the method used for research
  • Tables, charts, and graphs
  • Considerations for future research
  • Final concluding summary
  • List of references

What’s Your Style?

A scholarly publishing article must include citations to supporting literature for every statement. Each academic profession has its own style guide that authors must follow. Each style guide provides rules about style issues like capitalization, proper use of abbreviations, preferred punctuation, formatting, references, headers, and more.

If you’re going to publish in a scholarly publishing journal, you must follow the conventions of that field’s style guide. They all take a different approach to citations, formatting, punctuation, and other matters of style. Some of the best-known publication style guides include the following.

  • Associated Press (AP) Stylebook: The AP guide is the bible for journalists, public relations experts, and corporate copywriters. Any working writer should be familiar with the AP Stylebook. However, it is not used in academic publishing.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual: This is used by most social sciences. It also includes guidelines for clear, concise writing.
  • American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style: This is used in all fields of medical and scientific publishing. It includes rules on medical terminology, graphs, and measurements.
  • New Oxford Style Manual: The longstanding guide combines two previously separate style manuals into one. It is indispensable for anyone writing for a British publication or editing in British English.
  • Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook: This guide provides detailed instructions on using MLA style, which is the most used style for arts and humanities journals.
  • IEEE Editorial Style Manual: This manual is used by writers in technical fields, including engineering, computer science, and related fields. It focuses heavily on the use of numbers, equations, and formatting.
  • Chicago Style Manual: Published by the University of Chicago, this is the preeminent guide for most literary and academic book publishing. It is a go-to resource for anyone who plans to professionally write and edit in American English.
  • The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation: Published by several law schools, the Bluebook is one of the oldest style manuals still in existence. It is a guide for proper citations and references in legal writing. The Bluebook is famously difficult, and law students share similar stories of their struggles to master it.
  • AWLD Guide to Legal Citation: Developed in 2000 as a user-friendly alternative to the Bluebook, this style guide is published by the Association of Legal Writing Directors. Many court systems, law schools, and legal journals have adopted the ALWD as their style guide.

How Does Scholarly Publishing Differ from Commercial Publishing?

Articles in scholarly publishing journals are different from those in commercial newspapers and magazines. Here are some of the key differences.

  • Timing: Most newspaper articles are produced quickly, and reporters often file stories the same day that something happens. Magazine articles may take a month to report on events, and their coverage is usually more in-depth. Scholarly journals, on the other hand, can take months or even years to go from the initial idea to the final publication.
  • Appearance: Scholarly journals don’t have infographics, photos, or other images that make newspaper and magazine copy livelier. They might include charts and diagrams, but these are included for clarity rather than appearance.
  • Formatting: Scholarly journals follow strict formatting guidelines and include citations to reference works. Today, it’s common for online articles to link to other sources, but that is a recent development.
  • Fact-checking: All academic journal articles go through a peer-review process. This involves experts in the field who attempt to verify the information in the article and determine if it’s worthy of publication. Newspapers and magazines employ fact checkers but don’t rely on peer review.
  • Language: Newspapers are meant to be read and understood by the average person. Scholarly articles are aimed at people who are experts in a particular field, so they tend to be heavy with jargon and specialized terminology.
  • Business model: Newspapers and magazines are heavily dependent on individual sales, subscribers, and advertising sales. Scholarly journals are primarily funded by library and university subscriptions.

Why You Should Publish Your Scholarly Article

If you are in an academic field, scholarly publishing can benefit you in several ways. Whether you’re just starting out or midway through your professional life, you’ll benefit from taking the time to write and get published.

  • Advance your career: Academic departments take published works into account when considering people for hiring and promotion. Showing that you have scholarly publishing articles for your research and analyses in prestigious journals will impress the hiring committees. It shows a strong work ethic and commitment to your field.
  • Become an expert: Leading experts in scholarly fields are those who have published a lot of well-regarded articles. Becoming an expert in your field opens opportunities and may allow you to become a “public intellectual” who shares your findings with the general public.
  • Get funding: If you want to get funding for a particular research project, your experience in your field will be part of the evaluation.
  • Sharpen your focus: Testing your research ideas can help you focus on your work and clarify your objectives. Putting things down in writing always helps with focus and goal setting, and those will help advance your studies and your career.
  • Get important feedback: You can’t just do your research and write in an echo chamber. Getting feedback from experts in the form of peer review can help you determine if your approach is valid or if it needs some tweaking.
  • Share with others: Sharing what you’ve learned will help others advance their own research and contribute to the body of knowledge in your field.

How to Find the Right Scholarly Publishing Company

When you look for the right journal, start by looking at what you read in your field. Which journals are your trusted resources? Whose staff of experts do you have high regard for? Those are the journals you should approach first.

Consider what types of articles the journal accepts. Do they want basic research, applied research, or review articles?

Get familiar with the formatting requirements, submission requirements, and citation style each publication uses. Most of them will use one of the manuals listed above. If you plan to publish often, get a print or online copy of that manual.

Are Print and Electronic Journals Equally Prestigious for Scholarly Publishing?

Scholarly publishing is expensive, which is why it’s mostly done by universities and large, scholarly publishing houses. The trend toward electronic publishing has made journal production more affordable. Electronic journals are also more accessible to researchers.

In the past, electronic journals were considered less prestigious than print-only scholarly journals, but that is no longer true. Today, most scholarly journals have both print and electronic versions, and most people read the online versions only. You can feel comfortable publishing in either type.

Get Your Publishing Career Off to a Good Start

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief guide to scholarly publishing. At Publishing Xpress, we specialize in working with writers in all fields If you plan to publish your research findings in a printed book or other printed format, please contact us.

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