It is winter break on campus and the time of year when academics try to finish up that paper, or the revisions of that paper. There may even be some time for reading, so we want to help with some tips and tricks for getting your papers into a better quality journal.
Successful academic writing: 1% inspiration, 12.51% perspiration, 13% omission, 30% citation, 50% procrastination, 90% nonnegotiable deadlines.
— Shit Academics Say (@AcademicsSay) April 5, 2014
The advice for writing better papers comes from a recent ERSA Economic History workshop at which James Fenske presented some ideas about how to publish better economic history work in top Economics journals. His approach was to look at some famous economic history papers in top journals and see what they have in common. Talking about top-5 journals is daunting, but we believe that the principles also apply to much lower level efforts. This is advice for aiming just a little bit higher. The errors and omissions in what follows remain our own.
First off, your paper needs a good motivation. You need to explain to people why it matters. Often this means pitching it to a more general audience. The better journals have a wider readership and you have to convince them that your work is interesting. The four other specialists in your field may know that your are pushing the boundaries, but if you cannot explain it to everyone, they will not look at it. This may also mean linking to broader themes and current issues. It will depend on the field, but in the broader field of economics it means that you need to link to themes like institutions and issues of conflict, trust, social capital, human capital externalities and the roots of development. More…