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Top academic article mistakes
by Joseph Gatt
2015-02-06 09:28:22
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Since I’ve published, a lot of people send me academic articles and ask me feedback on their articles. A lot of times they are articles that were rejected and they want to know the reason. This article will point out the frequent mistakes that I see in academic articles pertaining to the humanities and hopefully help those who write academic articles get published next time around.

academia01_400The mistakes are in the order of frequency that I see them.

DON’T write an article simply by gathering facts. That’s the most frequent mistake that I see. We can all go to the internet and gather facts which we then turn in an academic article. An academic article is an article where we collect our data ourselves, analyze it ourselves and come up with conclusions. If you want to write an article by gathering facts, save the article for a magazine or a newspaper.

DO read the guidelines each publication has. Guidelines vary from one publication to another. Some are very strict about ethical guidelines and want to make sure you proceeded in an ethical way. Others want to make sure they can have a look at your data to see if you haven’t bent any rules while analyzing them. Others want relevance for their audience.

DO submit your article to relevant publications. In the world of academic writing, no publication is open to all articles regardless of the discipline or sub-discipline. For example, an article on Chinese education will be rejected by a journal on American education, but might be accepted by an American journal on Chinese social issues.

DON’T use too much jargon. As surprising as it might sound, a lot of publications won’t publish articles that use too much jargon the audience might not be familiar with. I’ve always been advised to use full sentences rather than mathematical symbols for example.

DO summarize your findings rather than include all your findings. Save your findings for a book. If you’ve done an in-depth study, most journals will not be interested in all the details. Summarize, and only mention the salient points of your study rather than trying to include everything.

DO contact the journal before you submit, and ask them what the next theme of the issue will be. Sometimes you will be surprised by a rejection when you wrote an excellent article on a very relevant topic, simply because the journal had a thematic issue and that your article does not fit into the theme.

DON’T submit outdated studies, unless it’s for a history journal. Your data should be fresh and should have been collected in the last 2 or 3 years, and should be relevant to today in the eyes of the reader. A pre-9/11 article on Al-Qaeda would have been irrelevant and hard to publish post-9/11 if there was no update on 9/11.

Finally, needless to say, DON’T include your own opinion about the study or findings. We all have opinions about our study or findings, but unfortunately they are completely irrelevant to the study. 


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