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Preparing Manuscripts for Publication. Detmar Straub Georgia State University. Agenda. Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals The journal review process Top ten reasons why “A” journals accept your papers Planning and executing the study Preparing for submission Submitting

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preparing manuscripts for publication

Preparing Manuscripts for Publication

Detmar Straub

Georgia State University


Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals

The journal review process

Top ten reasons why “A” journals accept your papers

Planning and executing the study

Preparing for submission


Monitoring the review process

Revising [Allen Lee]


To publish or not to publish, that is the question.

“Publish or perish” is too harsh.


Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals

  • Most schools are still insisting that their junior faculty publish in the established top journals in the field
  • From a career standpoint, this should make sense to you as well
    • Pubs are portable; teaching evals somewhat; service to discipline somewhat; service to institution, not, not, not

Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals

  • Publications and tenure
      • Tough to publish in very top journals
      • Sources: Athey and Plotnicki (2000) & Chua et al. (2003)


Athey, Susan and John Plotnicki, "An Evaluation of Research Productivity in Academic IT," Communications of the AIS, 3, 7, (2000), 1-20.

Chua, Cecil, Lan Cao, Karlene Cousins, and Detmar Straub. "Assessing Researcher Production in Information Systems." Journal of AIS, 3, 6 (January, 2003), 145-215.


Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals

  • Athey and Plotnicki (2000) examined 2763 articles from 942 IS authors over a 5 year period (1992-1996)
  • They argue on page 10 that:

"Only 42 universities had five or more ... articles in 5 years in the top journals …..

Unless authors at the same university decide to write jointly authored papers, the probability of three untenured faculty in the same department publishing two or more top tier articles in 5 years is very low."


Sample: over 26,000 journal articles coded for the 58 in journal basket

Difficulty of hitting the “A” journals

Sample: 1929 IS faculty published during the period 1990-2000

Chua et al. (2003)


Why is it so hard? Because the process is…

  • Rational (about half the time...DWS) but fiercely competitive
  • Ideological
  • Organizational
  • Political

....Based on: Frost, P.J. and Taylor, R.N. "Partisan Perspective: A Multiple Level Interpretation of the Manuscript Review Process in Social Science Journals," In Publishing in the Organizational Sciences, Irwin, Homewood, IL, 1985, pp. 35-62.

2. The journal review process


My List (an editor’s and reviewer’s viewpoint)

Its basic idea is exciting (Blue Ocean strategy).

Its research questions are nontrivial.

It hits themes that are popular.

It sufficiently uses or develops theory.

It effectively uses or applies new methods.

It follows a recognizable formula.

It has a respectably large, field sample (empirical, positivist work).

It does not counter the work of major movers and shakers.

It covers the key literature sufficiently.

It is clean (grammatically, typographically, appearance).

3. Top ten reasons why “A” journals accept your papers






Has a good theory base that is applicable

Interesting topic that makes advances in the field (contribution-academic and practice)

Good research design (well executed)

Well presented and written

...Based on: Straub, D.W., Ang, S. and Evaristo, R. "Normative Standards for MIS Research," DATA BASE (25:1, February), 1994, pp. 21-34.






Theory base

Well written


...Based on: Daft, R.L. "Why I Recommended That Your Manuscript be Rejected and What You Can Do About It," In Publishing in the Organizational Sciences, L. Cummings and D. Frost (Ed.), Irwin, Homewood, IL, 1985, pp. 193-209.



    • “N matters. N+1 is needed for tenure.”…according to Paul Gray (Prof. Emeritus, Claremont)
    • It’s fun! And entrepreneurial!
  • Develop a line of work for which you become recognized as the expert
  • “Quick and dirty” ???
    • New directions?
    • Only quality work!

4. Planning and executing the study



    • They have good data.
    • They have certain skills you don’t have (e.g., methodological, writing talent).
    • They want to provide support (e.g., dissertation chair).
    • It’s the key to being more productive.
    • It’s a good learning opportunity.
    • It’s more fun.
  • But it can be a major source of conflict!

4. Planning and executing the study


A bona fide contribution by co-author?

  • Why can’t I be first author?
    • Someone else first thought of idea
    • Wrote first draft
    • Collected the data
    • Was second author on last paper
  • Why aren’t they doing what they said they would do…when they said they would do it?

4. Planning and executing the study

interesting papers contribution
Interesting Papers (Contribution)
  • They are different in some significant way
  • Basis for making a paper interesting
    • Subject (effect on practitioners)
    • Method
    • Theory (effect on scholars)
  • But they can’t transgress the status quo too much!!
  • And, where would our field be if we didn’t study a topic more than once??

Why is this important?

  • Why is it interesting?
  • Research design issues
    • Theoretical base
    • Constructs and their operationalizations
    • Methodological approach
    • Sample
    • Analysis

4. Planning and executing the study






Phenomenon – research question – theory – framing

  • How do I take a phenomenon and turn it into an interesting research question?
  • How do I theoretically frame the research question?
  • How do I create my own space: the research gap?
  • How do I then communicate my contribution?

Celebrating papers for their methods is like “admiring Mount Rushmore because of the dynamite and shiny black jackhammers that chipped the faces out of the cliff .”






4. Planning and executing the study


The easy part?????

  • Analyzing the data may not be as simple as you had planned

4. Planning and executing the study


Avoid hot-off-the press submissions

  • Find the right home
  • Do your homework
  • Consider hiring a language editor
  • Review (and learn)

5. Preparing for submission


Research is

like a


Enjoy it!

  • Avoid “Hot-off-the Press” Submissions
      • Present at workshops
      • Have colleagues review
      • Write and rewrite

5. Preparing for submission


Write and Rewrite

  • Writing is VERY difficult but we become better at it over time (although it does not become easier!)
    • Do not re-create the wheel
    • Find a paper that you like (from a top journal) and study why it is written that way
    • Have your heroes that you copy and learn from (but don’t plagiarize them!)




5. Preparing for submission


Considerations in finding the right home

    • Target audience of journal
    • Methodologies used in journal articles
    • Type of articles published in journal
    • Editorial board of journal
    • Quality of journal and article
    • Message you want to send
    • Turnaround time of journal

5. Preparing for submission


6. Submitting

The editorial objective of MIS Quarterly is the enhancement and communication of knowledge concerning the development of IT-based services, the management of information technology resources, and the economics and use of information technology with managerial and organizational implications.


Dennis Galletta, President, Association for Information Systems (AIS website at accessed on November 27, 2007)

“AIS encourages members, as well as deans and department chairs, to treat a ‘basket’ of 6 journals as top journals in our field.…This list was adopted from a formal statement by the ‘Senior Scholars Forum’ as of 23 April 2007. The six journals in the list are, in alphabetical order:

European Journal of Information Systems

Information Systems Journal

Information Systems Research

Journal of AIS

Journal of MIS

MIS Quarterly”

6. Submitting: Quality Considerations


The Effect of Longevity on Quality Considerations

  • High barriers to entry into the top journal ranks
  • Reputations built over a long period of time
  • Once established, hard to lose

6. Submitting: Quality Considerations


Journal Impact Factors

  • The journal impact factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year (JCR is the "Journal Citations Report" from Thomson’s ISI Web of Knowledge).
  • An impact factor of 1.0 means that, on average, the articles published one or two years ago have been cited one time.
  • Citing articles may be from the same journal; most citing articles are from different journals.

6. Submitting: Quality Considerations

6 submitting
6. Submitting

Table 2. ISI Impact Factors (2007; accessed June 11, 2007)


Table 2. Re-Analysis and Aggregation of Lowry et al.’s (2007) Citation Tables of the Period 1990-2004

Source: Lowry, P.B., Karuga, G.G., and Richardson, V.J. "Assessing Leading Institutions, Faculty, and Articles in Premier Information Systems Research Journals," Communications of the Association for Information Systems (20:Article 16) 2007, 142-203.

6. Submitting: Quality Considerations


Reviewer #3

Reviewer #2

Reviewer #4

6. Submitting: Editorial Boards

Reviewer #1


Reviewer #3

Reviewer #2

Reviewer #4

6. Submitting: Editorial Boards

Reviewer #1



Izak Benbasat, University of British Columbia

Robert Fichman, Boston College

Varun Grover, Clemson University

Rudy Hirschheim, Louisiana State University

JuhaniIivari, University of Oulu, Finland

Robert Kauffman, Arizona State University

Frank Land, London School of Economics, UK

Jeffrey Parsons, University of Newfoundland

Suzanne Rivard, HEC

Bernard Tan, National University of Singapore

Yair Wand, University of British Columbia 


Henri Barki, HEC, Montreal

Alan Dennis, Indiana University

Shirley Gregor, Australian National Univ.

Varun Grover, Clemson University

Al Hevner, Univ. of South Florida

Chris Kemerer, University of Pittsburgh

Dorothy Leidner, Baylor University

Joe Valacich, Washington State Univ.


Ellen Christiaanse, University of Amsterdam Robert M. Davison, City Univ. of Hong Kong Pat Finnegan, University College CorkLiisa von Hellens, Griffith Univ., Australia

Debra Howcroft, University of Manchester

ISJ (continued)

Rueylin Hsiao, National Univ. of Singapore

Jan Pries-Heje, IT University, DenmarkEmmanuel Monod, Paris Dauphine Univ.

Nancy L. Russo, Northern Illinois Univ.Carsten Sorensen, LSE

Duane Truex, Georgia State University

6. Submitting: Editorial Boards


Use specified format

  • Follow instructions about submitting
  • Nominate reviewers and editors when given an option
  • Be sure to get confirmation of receipt

6. Submitting


Scholar One System: Manuscript Central

7. Monitoring the Review Process


Make sure your paper has been received.

  • If available, use journal tracking system
  • Follow up if you haven’t heard anything
    • Three months for initial inquiry (or less)
    • Approximately every month thereafter
  • Be polite!

7. Monitoring the Review Process



Ms. Jennifer Syverson:

We submitted electronic document file attachments of the revised version of our above manuscript along with "Responses to SE, AE, and the Three Referees" on the 14th of October, 2003. We have not yet received your acknowledgment. We would appreciate if you would let us know if these have been sent out for the 2nd round of review. If you want the .pdf versions, I can send them out to you as well. With best regards.


I have your paper... unfortunately, there is a labor problem at Minnesota (strike) and Jennifer is on the picket line. So, she has not been available for the past ten days. I will shortly look at your revision and then initiate the review... I have been swamped with writing SE letters on the 70 submissions to the MISQ special issue for which this week is the self-imposed deadline for first round decisions. Bottom line is that I have your review and I will get to it soon.

V. Sambamurthy

7. Monitoring the Review Process



I understand that you have conveyed your apprehensions to Jennifer about the delay on your paper's review. About two weeks ago, I asked the Associate Editor to proceed without a review from the delinquent reviewer.

I am awaiting a recommendation anytime now... my apologies for the delay and the consequent anxiety that you might have incurred.


V. Sambamurthy

7. Monitoring the Review Process


Is It a Rejection? Or Is It a Rejection?

  • Sea Story of Management Science "rejection"
  • Read the letter carefully, and if you are unsure, email the Editor and ask point blank if they are inviting resubmission or not

7. Monitoring the Review Process

receiving the final decision
Receiving the Final Decision


7. Monitoring the Review Process

good news
Good news
  • Celebrate
  • Take care of details (galleys)
  • Update your CV
  • Treat yourself when it is published
  • Plan your next project: Go back to Starting Stage

7. Monitoring the Review Process

not so good news
Not So Good News
  • Put it the letter in a drawer

for a week or so

  • After a week or so, carefully read rejection letter and plan how to proceed
  • Go back to Starting Stage

7. Monitoring the Review Process

concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts
  • Publish early and publish often.
  • You learn to write by writing.
  • Be realistic about where your paper fits. Not everything you do is A level work.
  • If you never get a rejection letter, then you aren’t trying hard enough
  • Write a good dissertation…. And draw from it
Try, try again
  • The reviewing game is just that, a game
    • The reviewers you get are a random sort, in general
    • Very seldom will different journals use the same reviewers (other than heavily cited individuals, who may not agree to do it anyhow), and if they are the same, these reviewers should excuse themselves in that they can likely not give the paper a fair reading

Have someone else go over your work before submitting it!

Individual Characteristics of Certain Journals?

Contention: Journals as entities do not have personalities. They are not people and, therefore, cannot “like” something.

The reviewers might “like” certain things, but it is by no means clear who your reviewers might be for any given paper.

Individual Characteristics of Certain Journals?

MIS Quarterly

- Allen Lee (based on consensus of the SEs) announced that measurement/ instrument papers that do not introduce new constructs, but only test existing ones will not be reviewed

This is relatively rare, though.

Individual Characteristics of Certain Journals?

- Other than that?

Most any IS journal can handle most any type of research

See if there is someone on the editorial board who is known in your subcommunity

If so, recommend that person for the handling of your paper

Individual Characteristics of Certain Journals?

Management Science's IS Dept.'s mission (if my notes are accurate):

"The department seeks to publish high quality research in information systems, which may draw on a wide variety of disciplines including economics, mathematics, psychology, sociology, and statistics."

Individual Characteristics of Certain Journals?

- The AEs run the journals (an idiosyncratic view, perhaps)

- Their choice of reviewers influences the reception of a paper, but their foresight is not always perfect

- So to some extent it is a random, and only partly (at least) rational process