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How to publish a scientific paper: Submitting the manuscript

Choosing a journal

Identifying appropriate journals in your area

philosophical transactions

  • consider whether your paper is specialized (and if so to what degree) or interdisciplinary, and what journals best match your intended audience.
  • consider recommendations from colleagues and advisors
  • think of journals you read regularly and whether your paper would be a good fit
  • look at the journals in your reference list
  • for papers in biomedicine and life sciences, use the Yale School of Public Health's Journal Targeter tool Jot
  • think about whether you want to publish Open Access; see:
  • on journal websites read the Aims and Scope and the Author Guidelines, and note each journal's article types and data policies
  • search Web of Science, Scopus or Embase on your topic or on key researchers in your field and look at the source titles or journal titles in the left-hand menu:

Image (detail): Royal Society

Resources for evaluating journals

 Think Check Submit

Submitting the manuscript

Manuscript Submission Guidelines

origin of species title page

Read the author or manuscript submission guidelines carefully for any journal which you are considering. The guidelines will specify:

  • File formats for the manuscript, figures, and supplementary data
  • Whether you are required to use a template to format the article.
  • Whether the figures should be included in the manuscript file or submitted in separate files, and when.

Eight simple mistakes that can delay peer review (and how to avoid them) (PLOS ONE/Maria Gould)

Image (detail): Darwin Online

Cover letter

I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations, which have thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified, during a long course of descent, by the preservation or the natural selection of many successive slight favourable variations.

A cover letter is your opportunity to explain to an editorial team why they should consider publishing your paper, and will be their first impression of your work.

A cover letter should be no longer than one page, and should:

  • include the title of the paper and the article type (research article, letter/communication, etc.)
  • offer a brief summary of the research question investigated, and the novelty and significance of the results
  • use standard, searchable terms (keywords) to call attention to your work
  • state why the paper has been submitted to this particular journal
  • avoid simply restating the abstract

Many journals require statements that the manuscript is not under consideration elsewhere and has not been published before, and that all co-authors have approved the manuscript and agreed to its submission to the journal. Some journal publishers provide cover letter samples or templates in their guidelines.

Image (detail): Darwin Online

Retaining author rights

Copyright symbol


For questions about selecting and evaluating journals, publishing Open Access, or copyright and licensing, contact Scholarly Communication Services: