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How to Get an Article Published in a Nursing Journal

If you are looking for a way to advance your career, add substance to your resume, or become a published author consider submitting a manuscript to a nursing journal. I’ve been a nurse for over 16 years and published my first article in RN magazine 14 years ago.

Being a published nurse author has helped me advance my career by helping me land a job at Elsevier writing nursing textbooks, obtain several faculty positions, and find numerous jobs as a freelance medical writer.

Here I’ll share some tips I’ve gathered over the years on how you can become a published author.

nursing journalGetting Started

1. Choose a journal or magazine. Start by identifying journals or magazines targeted to your area of expertise. So if you’re an OR nurse and plan to write an article specific to your specialty, choose a journal like OR Nurse 2013 or Association of Perioperative Registered Nurse (AORN). Or if you are experienced in mother-baby nursing try American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing (MCN). Just start with a journal or magazine that matches your area of clinical experience.

2. Decide between a journal and a magazine. It’s important that you understand the difference between nursing journals and nursing magazines. Nursing journals are more likely to have a peer-review process where professionals review manuscripts that are research based and provide empirical evidence for the future of nursing practice. Nursing magazines tend to publish stories, reflections, case studies, columns, artwork, and poetry specific to nursing to research material.

3. Decide on a topic. Choose a topic that you enjoy, are experienced in, and has not been extensively covered in the literature. This means you’ll need to search online and print literature to see if there is a wealth of information on the topic you want to write about. Once you find a topic that is not extensively covered, then you’ll need to consider whether you want to send your manuscript to a journal or magazine.

4. Review the author guidelines. After you decide on a topic and the type of journal/magazine you wish to submit your manuscript, locate the author guidelines on the journal’s website.  The author guidelines give you the steps you need to follow to submit your work to the journal, the review process, and additional information you need to be successful.

5. Send a query letter. Many journal/magazines ask for a query letter, which you can usually send by email. A query letter is a short description of the subject and length of the article. In addition, many editors ask prospective authors to provide a short bio with a description on how they are qualified to write on a particular topic. You can send query letters out to several journals simultaneously but never send a complete manuscript to more than one journal/magazine at a time.

6. Write the manuscript. Now it’s time for the fun, creative part of this experience–writing the manuscript! This is a great opportunity for you to share your knowledge with others in the field. Disseminating knowledge will help to advance the nursing profession and improve patient outcomes. After you finish writing the manuscript ask a colleague or former professor to proof read it for you because you want your work to be as error free as possible before submitting it for review.

7. Submit the manuscript. Most journal or magazines prefer email submissions, making it easy to submit your work for immediate review. Once again, visit the journal or magazine’s website for information on how to submit a manuscript.

8. The review process. I’ll admit that waiting to hear whether you’re manuscript has been accepted is the most nerve-racking part of the entire process. Keep in mind that standard waiting times can range from 3 to 6 months–or longer. This is because when you send a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal they will send your work out to 3 or more different professionals. These professionals will review complete a blind review–meaning they won’t know your name or any other information about you– and then return the article to the editor when finished. This is why the length of time you wait to hear a response will vary depending on how long it takes the reviewers take to complete the work.

9. The end product. Once your manuscript is accepted for publication, you’ll need to wait several months to see your article in print– because most journals and magazines have 3 to 6 months of material already in line to be published. Just try to remain patient and before you know it you’ll see your work in print!

10. Never give up! If you’re manuscript is rejected over and over again–don’t give up! Continue to rewrite, edit, add a different angle, or ask other professionals for their advice on how you can strength your manuscript. Getting published can be a difficult and lengthy process but it’s also a great way to share your knowledge, advance your career, and contribute to the field of nursing.

I wish you the best in your journey toward publishing your manuscript!