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Manuscript Success by Leslie H. Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN - Business & Economics
If you have a desire--or a need--to publish in the professional literature, including nursing, then this is the book for you. Dr. Nicoll has developed a systematic process to guide you through the steps preparing a manuscript suitable for publication in an academic journal. The process begins with the initial idea, how to craft that into a suitable topic, then moves to selecting an appropriate journal, developing a detailed outline, and writing the first draft. Exercises and worksheets for each step of the process are included. Dr. Nicoll has developed the Manuscript Success process based on her work as an editor assisting clients through her business, Maine Desk, and writing retreats she has led for the National League for Nursing and the Department of Clinical Nursing Science at the University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland. The book is designed to be a standalone resource for aspiring authors but can also be used as an adjunct to professional manuscript coaching that Dr. Nicoll offers through her business, Maine Desk. Details on the latter can be found in the book.
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Step One: Selecting a Topic
Selecting a topic for your article is key. If you have a lousy idea, one that will never be of any interest to any audience, then it is never going to get published. It is as simple as that. The salient point, then, is to figure out how to take your idea and turn it into something engaging and interesting that will catch the eye of an editor.
Read that last sentence again: catch the eye of an editor. Many potential authors say to me, “I want to reach hundreds of readers.” Keep in mind that as an author with a submitted article, you have a handful of readers: the editor, a couple of reviewers, perhaps someone on the editorial board. That’s it. They are the gatekeepers. Once your article has been accepted and published in a journal, then it will be available to thousands, maybe millions, of readers. But at that point, your work will have been long done. When you sign off on your finished article, it goes out of your hands and the production minions take over to proof, edit, fact check, design, and ultimately transform your manuscript into a published article that is indexed, distributed, and (hopefully), read.
It may be hard to believe but editors actually don’t want to publish boring journals. We look to have a variety of articles on topics that will be of interest to our readers. We want well written articles that share cutting edge knowledge or tried-and-true topics that are presented in new and innovative ways. What do I mean by tried-and-true? Pain management is a good example. That is a topic that is never out-of-date. But just writing the same old, same old will not intrigue an editor. You have to find the angle that is fresh and different.
Let me clarify the role of editor vs. peer reviewers. First off, all scholarly or professional journals use some sort of review process. Editors rely on reviewers to ensure that the information in a manuscript is accurate, current, appropriate, ethically sound, rigorous, and, last but not least, interesting. Feedback from reviewers is very important in the manuscript selection process. However, what reviewers don’t have is the big picture of the journal—that’s the editor’s domain. In addition to the review comments, the editor also considers how your topic fits in with what’s been published previously and what’s in the pipeline for the future, as well as what readers have expressed interest in. Thus, a manuscript may be positively reviewed for accuracy but still get dinged because it’s boring, poorly written, or an overdone topic. Your challenge, then, as an author is to make sure your paper is both accurate and appropriate as well as interesting and fresh.
Manuscript SuccessBy: Leslie H. Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN