Notes from an Editor: How to Get Your Academic Article Published Part 1

Dec 1, 2019, I was honored to take over editorship duties of Bulletin for Biblical Research, a periodical under the auspices of Institute for Biblical Research. BBR has been around for over a quarter of a century and has consistently produced fine articles and publishes numerous insightful book reviews. If you aren’t a regular reader, check BBR out.

As I have learned how to navigate the BBR editorial process, it has given me pause to consider my own experience of publishing academic articles. I have had some success in this area, but also many rejections—more than I care to admit. Some “rejects” were eventually published in less prestigious journals, others never made it into the published world. Now that I am on the “other side” (in the editor’s role), I see more clearly some of the mistakes I made as an early career writer. Thus, I am launching a blog series geared towards helping academics improve their chances of getting their articles accepted (at BBR—please do send your best work to us!—and also elsewhere).

Choose Your Journal Wisely

There are many good biblical studies journals out there, but each of them has their unique niche or preferred sub-disciplines. Selecting carefully which journal you send your article will save you time and needless rejection. Do not take the shotgun approach and randomly choose your “favorite” journal. Do a bit of research on the best “fit” for your article.

Check journal descriptions

Read the journal’s description on its webpage. This will give you a good sense of its orientation.

Examine the editorial board members

This is going to give you the best sense of whether your work resonates with the journal. Are the board members the kind of people you are citing and interacting with?

Read recent issues

For the main 2-3 journals you are considering, read the last few issues to see what kinds of topics and methods are commonly employed. This will give you a good sense of “fit.” You might even want to do a search for whether that journal has treated your passage or topic before.

Phone a Friend

Recently I wrote an academic article and I was considering which journal to send it to. I had a text conversation with my buddy John Goodrich (who has significant experience in getting articles accepted in world-class journals). He helped me sort out which journal(s) to prioritize. That conversation brought clarity to my decision.