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Where to publish your research article: Science and publication

Information and resources to help you make important decisions about where to publish your research.

Why publish?

Publication is a significant form of communicating the results of scientific inquiry. It is necessary for a researcher who is starting out to adjust to the idea of publishing articles frequently. If the articles deal with the themes of the dissertation, publishing is a good way to get valuable feedback on the contents of this larger project.

If you do not publish your research outcomes no one will ever know of its existence. Producing publications is not easy and it is not in fact research, but it is essential to your research effort, as future grants, promotion, and other job opportunities will depend upon the substantial high-quality research outputs documented in your CV.

Unless you have documentation of the acceptance of your research outputs by your peers, you will be unable to prove to potential grant funders, promotion panels, NRF rating committees just how good your research output is, or indeed, even if you have been productive at all.

This guide provides information and resources to help you make important decisions about publishing your research.

Before publication, think about ...

  • The agreed form of the institution’s name (Stellenbosch University) and your research group
  • Co-authoring and the order of names
    • Only individuals who made a substantial intellectual contribution may be listed as co-authors.
    • Others are acknowledged.
    • Check with your department and with the journal how they want co-authors to be listed.
  • Author guidelines. Make sure you comply with requirements for individual publications.
  • Early rejection is often due to poor preparation
    • Failure to meet submission requirements
    • Incomplete coverage of the literature
    • Poor language/grammar use
  • Copyright issues, both as a producer (your rights) and a consumer of information (other's rights)
  • An article may only be submitted to one journal at a time!

Principles of scientific publication

It is commonly accepted that scientific publishing is regulated by a set of principles. The order that is afforded by these principles distinguishes scientific literature from popular literature:

  • The reported findings must be original, i.e.the first report of such findings.
  • Reports must contain sufficient detail of the methods and materials used in the study to permit replication in the hands of other scientists/scholars.
  • Integrity of reporting requires that no inconsistent data are omitted or fabricated data presented, and that no plagiarism is committed.
  • Statistical analysis must be thorough and reasonable.
  • The existing relevant literature must be appropriately and fairly cited.
  • Only persons who have contributed directly to the production of the work at an intellectual/conceptual level should be listed as authors.
  • Speculative deductions and postulations must be clearly specified and kept to a minimum.
  • Funding sources and possible conflicts of interest should be declared.
  • Author affiliations must be provided which reflect both the period of the study and the present situation.
  • Priority is accorded from the date of acceptance of the publication of an article (which should be indicated in the final article), not from its date of receipt as a submission, i.e. the peer review must have already taken place.
  • Errors detected after publication should be corrected or retracted in print in the same journal.
  • One full record is preferred over a series of scattered short publications.

Source: Prof Wieland Gevers (RLC Academy, 2011)