GSBS Writing Studio Manuscript Preparation & Publication Ethics

How do you figure out what journal to publish in?

As a graduate student or postdoc, your first discussion about where to publish should be with your mentor. However, the following online resources can also help determine a journal's fit with the work you plan to publish. Type in key words and see what journal matches up:

What should you do once you identify a potential journal match?

  • Find the journal’s scope, mission, and objectives.  This is usually found under the “About Us” and/or “Instructions for Authors” sections of their website.
  • Be sure you understand the scope, impact factor, audience, reach, style, frequency of publication, review process, turnaround times, types of content published, and tools for authors for any journal you believe could be a good match for your manuscript.
  • Take all of this into account and discuss with your mentor, committee, and/or peers.    
  • Determine if doing a pre-submission inquiry is feasible and whether the journal accepts these.
  • Understand formatting requirements can vary greatly from journal to journal, so knowing ahead of time which one you are targeting might help save time!  

How do you start writing your paper to submit?

Tackling the writing process can feel overwhelming.  Before you start, spend some time understanding the best practices for undertaking this task.  Be sure to talk with your mentor and if needed, contact the Writing Studio for guidance.  Here are some great places to start in the meantime:

    What are "Publication Ethics", and why should you care?

    Authorship = Responsibility.  When listed as an author on an article or paper, you are agreeing to be held accountable for anything in that paper and your name states you are upholding publication ethics and avoiding anything that could be interpreted as fraudulent in any way.  Your name on a paper also means you understand and contributed to the concept of the project, methodology, data/results, discussion, and/or drafting/writing of the manuscript.  Finally, being named an author implies you have agreed to the final version of the paper submitted, as well as the designated “lead” or “corresponding” author.

    Why is this such a big deal?  The ethical publication of science is critical to maintain scientific integrity, public trust in science, your reputation, and your institution’s status and reputation.  Ignoring publication ethics can cost you both personally and professionally, and winning trust back from colleagues is extremely difficult.

    Publication ethics can be defined as “a self-regulatory mechanism insisting on integrity on the part of authors, peer reviewers, and publishers to establish higher standards of editorial processing for the scholarly journals” (definition taken from article found here:

    As a scientist and author, you violate the ethics of publication if you:
    1) Duplicate submissions (submission of same article to more than one journal at one time)
    2) Have multiple submissions (single manuscript submitted more than once to the same journal)
    3) Commit plagiarism
    4) Gift authorship (authorship to those undeserving)
    5) Ghost authorship (do not give authorship to those deserving)
    6) Perform “salami” publications (use one study for several smaller articles)
    7) Fabricate and/or falsify data, etc

    If it is feels wrong or could be perceived as questionable in any way, don’t do it!

    Violations by journals can include:
    1) Breach of confidentiality
    2) Not reporting conflict of interest
    3) Not maintaining objectivity
    4) Deliberately reviewing a paper in an untimely manner
    5) Rreviewing a paper with bias
    6) Allowing a paper to be reviewed by someone not considered an expert in the field  


    The word "Plagiarism" comes from the Latin word "Plagiarius" meaning "kidnapper".  The Oxford Languages dictionary defines it as "the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own". 

    Even if done on accident, plagiarism is a HUGE violation of publication ethics and can be extremely detrimental to your good standing in the scientific community as well as jeopardize whether you graduate and/or can get another job later.  Blatantly copying other people's work and even reusing your own work in another publication can constitute plagiarism.  Some tips to avoid plagiarism are as follows:

    • Always cite where you found information no matter the format (written, oral, pictures, videos, etc.).  Giving credit to others will help you avoid this problem.
    • Know and understand even paraphrasing others' words is considered plagiarism.
    • If you accidentally cite the wrong source (but had every intention of citing), this can be construed as plagiarism, so double and triple check your references. 
    • Check out Purdue University's "Plagiarism" website and the various pages there:  Purdue University's Plagiarism Website

    Predatory Journals

    Predatory journals are journals that specifically target you to publish in their circulation. These journals do NOT practice peer review, and lack transparency on every aspect of the submission, review, and publishing practice.  They are known to lie about where they are located and/or who is on the journal's editorial board (because there likely is not an editorial board!).  They frequently solicit potential customers over email with the promise of a quick turnaround time to publication for a fee.  Their ultimate goal is to make profit only and NOT to maintain the scientific integrity of publications. 

    To make sure you are not the victim of a predatory journal, know and understand fully how predatory journals work.  Always speak with your mentor or the GSBS Writing Studio before you make a submission of any kind (even an inquiry) to a journal that reaches out to you directly.  Some other great resources to check out include the following: