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Faculty Research & Scholarly Activity: Publishing & Dissemination

Tips and resources for getting started, reviewing the literature, choosing a method, and sharing the findings of scholarly activity and other research projects


Sharing the findings of a project is arguably the most meaningful stage in the research process; this is when you formally contribute to the conversation on your topic and receive feedback from your colleagues and the broader academic and professional community.

The most common forms of research dissemination are:

  • Publishing a write-up of your project in a trade or academic journal, also referred to as a peer-reviewed article
  • Presenting your project and its findings at a professional or academic conference

Researchers often choose to disseminate in both of these ways; it is common to present preliminary or initial findings at a conference, followed by a more detailed, formal write-up in a journal.

However, there are many avenues to entering and participating in scholarly communication. Dissemination can extend much further than the above; it can also include activities like building a presence and connecting to the public through social media platforms like Twitter or Mastodon, sharing your work by appearing as a guest on podcasts and other media, or simply ensuring that your ORCID profile is up-to-date.

Overall, it's best to engage in a mix of both formal and informal scholarly communication practices, and seek out opportunities for peer review and feedback in particular.

As mentioned above, the most common modes of dissemination are academic journals and conferences. Deciding where to publish or present your work depends on a number of factors, such as your field of study and your desired audience and impact.

Here are some questions and strategies to consider:

  • Who is your intended audience? Where's the conversation in your discipline / industry?
  • What do you read? What publications appear in your own citations?
  • Is there a listserv or email list that you have subscribed to where you can ask for recommendations or monitor calls for submissions?
  • Is openness required or important to you?

Choosing an appropriate outlet can be a time-consuming process. Your Library Liaison or the Research & Instruction Librarian can assist you in finding and assessing the quality of publishers and organizations.

It is crucial to be discerning when selecting how to share your work because of predatory publishing and conferences, which are bad actors that exploit the "author pays" model of open access publishing that asks research funders and/or authors to pay a fee to disseminate their work openly. While this is a legitimate model of publishing, predatory publishers pose as high quality open access platforms but fail to deliver meaningful editorial functions and peer review at the same level of rigour and service that reputable publishers and organizations provide.

There are a number of ways to determine if a publishing or conference opportunity is legitimate or not, such as checking if a journal is indexed in a library database or the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Below are additional resources for guiding you through this process:

Submitting your work

Once your have selected an opportunity to disseminate, it is important to tailor your work according to the platform. This means, for example, carefully reading through the author guidelines and following a particular structural format or citation style when writing up your research.

Here are some tips for successfully navigating the submission process:

  • Read the submission guidelines carefully; these are typically found on the platform's website
  • Review previous presentations or articles published in the platform, noting the content, tone and structure used
  • If you have co-authors, establish authorial roles and responsibilities prior to submission, assigning a first author and corresponding author if needed
  • Ask a colleague or reach out to your Library Liaison or the Research and Instruction Librarian for feedback
Navigating peer review

Peer review refers to the process whereby external experts assess the quality of your work before it is accepted for publication in an academic or trade journal. As described by Kelly et al. (2014), peer review "functions to encourage authors to meet the accepted high standards of their discipline and to control the dissemination of research data to ensure that unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations or personal views are not published” (p. 227).

The peer review process is rigorous and can often be intimidating for new researchers. Here are a few helpful points to keep in mind:

  • The role of reviewers is to provide constructive input and help improve your work; keep an open mind to implementing suggestions wherever possible.
  • Consider and respond to all comments; while it's not necessary to implement all reviewer suggestions, it is always necessary to be respectful and detailed when responding to a particular suggestion.
  • Remember it's your responsibility to explain your research / analysis to the reviewer (and ultimately the reader); often a critique of your work can be resolved by simply providing more detail or revising the text.
Negotiating agreements

When you create a piece of work, whether it be creative or academic, you become the exclusive copyright holder for that work. You can then decide what to do with that copyright. 

Many publishers ask authors/creators to sign publishing agreements that transfer some or all of their copyright to the publisher. Although the author/creator is still attributed, they are no longer able to share their work as they see fit, including in course packs or with other scholars and/or creators.

These agreements are negotiable and there are resources available to help you in this process. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has provided a pre-written addendum for authors to attach to contracts in order to retain some of their rights. The Canadian version of this addendum is linked below.

For more information on negotiating your rights, contact SAIT's Copyright Officer or the Research and Instruction Librarian.

In the context of scholarly publishing, Open Access refers to research outputs that are distributed online and free of cost or other barriers.

Most journals own the rights to the articles they have published. This means that anyone who would like to read the article must pay money to do so. In addition, institutions (such as libraries) must pay licensing fees to get access to these articles for staff and students. Publishing your work open access means that other researchers can find your work more easily, students will have access to the research, and individuals not affiliated with academic institutions can view the research.

Many grant programs, including those awarded by the Tri-Agency of Canada [the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)], require recipients to make their research freely and publicly accessible within 12 months of initial publication. One way to ensure this requirement is met is publishing in an open access journal. 

Writing & Publishing Resources

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