Tips for Undergraduate Students Who Want to Publish Their Research

Many undergraduate students are looking for opportunities to strengthen their CVs or graduate school applications. Publishing their research in an academic journal or other similar platforms could help these students stand out.

In this post, I share a few tips undergraduate students should consider before submitting their work to a publication. Then, I will list a few publications and platforms that will publish works in the social sciences, political science, and international relations.


What type of article are you trying to publish? If it is a short piece, between 800 and 1,500 words, you should submit this type of content to academic platforms that publish blogs or opinion pieces. Actually, many of the journals listed below publish both types of media. You could also see if your university’s student-run newspaper is willing to publish your essay.

For those students who aspire to publish longer research papers, they need to research journals’ submission requirements. Some publications are looking for papers that are around 3,000 words in length, while others are looking for longer manuscripts. If your paper is around 2,500 words don’t try to expand it by an extra 2,500 words to meet a journal’s criteria. Instead, look for journals that are looking for papers that fit your existing work.

Get familiarized with the journals listed below and read some of the recently published papers. Ask yourself: does your paper “look” like the articles published in these journals? Is your paper organized similarly to these articles? Does it include data visualizations? Knowing what journals are looking for will help you revise your work.

Citation systems matter! Unfortunately, there is no universal bibliographical system or style guide. Each journal embraces its own system. One way to address this issue is to use applications like Zotero, which will allow you to quickly reformat your paper’s bibliographical system. If you did not use one of these applications, then you need to manually reformat your citations and bibliography according to the journal’s submission criteria. While this is sometimes a painstaking process, it is also an opportunity to check all the citations and add any that you may have accidentally left out.

Which paper should you consider publishing? There is no correct answer. But, I think you should consider papers written for upper-level courses. Your paper should have received a high grade. As a professor, I strongly encourage you to talk to your professors and talk to them about your desire to publish in an academic journal. Many of them will be willing to re-read your paper and give you feedback. Also, you should ask your peers to read the paper and offer suggestions. Remember, your paper will be reviewed by the journal’s editors and possibly other reviewers. So don’t be afraid to get people to read your work before submitting the manuscript.

Never submit your first or second draft to a publication. Writing entails a process of revisions and rewriting. You need to make sure that the paper has a strong thesis statement, that it connects to theoretical debates and that offers answers to important puzzles in your field of study. Thus, if you wrote a really strong paper for a class, you may still have to invest a few more weeks to revise the paper.

Most colleges and universities have a writing center. Once you are happy with the manuscript, make an appointment with a fellow in the center. While writing fellows may not be experts on your research topic, they are well-versed in what I like to call the “mechanics of writing” (e.g., grammar, tone, organization of ideas, etc.). If the fellow provides any feedback, you should make the necessary changes to your manuscript.

Before researching undergraduate journals outside your institution, you should find out if your college or university has a publication that will publish your work. At Drew University, we have a few publications that publish students’ research, including The Drew Review, Insanity’s Horse, and Ma Parole!

Links to some journals:

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I have included journals and other related academic platforms, which have been recently updated. Unfortunately, many student-run initiatives fizzle over time. Thus, it is always a good idea to check the publication’s track record before submitting a manuscript for consideration.

Concluding thoughts:

Do you know any other publications that should be added to this list? If so, feel free to leave a comment below.

One final piece of advice. Students who want to publish their research should not send their work to publishers that charge a processing or publication fee. While some reputable journals do charge these fees, many publishers have become what librarians at Simon Fraser University have called “predatory publishers“.

To conclude, here is a list of resources that can further help students revise their essays and other tips and tricks.

  • Here is an interesting article on why undergraduates should consider publishing their work prepared by Indeed – the career company.
  • Librarians at SUNY Stony Brook’s Library have recently prepared a comprehensive list of journals that will publish undergraduate research by field of study.
  • As undergraduate students revise their manuscripts, they should keep in mind the style guides prepared by professional academic associations. Political science and international relations students should consult the APSA Style Manual closely.
  • Taylor & Francis which publishes thousands of academic, peer-reviewed journals has developed guidelines on how to write and structure an article for an academic journal. While this document was not probably written with undergraduate students in mind, the recommendations are nevertheless very useful!

About the author:

Carlos L. Yordán is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Drew University. He is also the director of the Semester on the United Nations.

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