Resources for Publishing Your Research in a Peer-Reviewed Undergraduate Journal

Author: Lucy Britt, Assistant Professor Bates College Politics Department

Interested in publishing your research project in a peer-reviewed undergraduate journal?

These are student-run journals, often with a faculty advisor, that model the peer-review system used by professional academics but that publish undergraduate students’ research. The editors and reviewers are typically all undergrads.

First, you would choose a journal. You might want to think about the “fit” between your project and the mission of the journal, which you can usually find in a page on the journal’s website labeled “About.” If your project is interdisciplinary, then a more generalized journal that takes submissions from multiple disciplines would be appropriate. If it’s political science-specific, there are good options that cover political science broadly as well as options that cover specific topics, subfields, or themes within political science.

Here are some undergraduate (there might also be a few graduate student journals in there too), peer-reviewed, academic journals, some of them political science-specific and some of them more general:

When you’re choosing which journal to submit to, you also might want to consider:

  • Page or word limit. Would you have to spend a lot of time editing your paper to be short enough or long enough for this journal?
  • How updated the website seems. If the last issue of the journal or the last call for papers posted on the website is from 2016, you might want to skip this journal – they might not get back to you anytime soon!
  • Whether the journal has policies about not submitting your paper to another journal at the same time or policies about whether pieces that have already been partially published in another venue can be published in their journal

Next, you would submit your paper to the journal. Some journals have portals for submission and some have an email address that you just send your paper to.

Next, you wait. Ideally the journal would 1) have a timeline for how long you should expect to hear back from the journal and 2) actually follow that timeline. That is not always the case! These are undergraduates and the journals often operate as a student club, so keep in mind that they might be less responsive in the summer and the winter holidays. You should expect either an email confirming receipt of your paper or a confirmation page in a portal; if you don’t receive one of these after a couple weeks (during the semester) you can contact the journal for a confirmation. If it’s been a couple months and you haven’t gotten an update on your article beyond the confirmation they received it, you can contact them to ask about its status. During this period, the editors take a look at your paper and will either reject it immediately (a “desk reject”) or send it out to reviewers (other undergrads). Then, the reviewers will typically decide to accept it without changes, ask you to make some major changes and resubmit to the reviewers for another review (a “revise and resubmit”), or ask them to make some more minor changes and resubmit (a “conditional acceptance”). Make the edits that the reviewers and/or editors ask you to make, write a short letter or memo explaining the edits you made based on their requests, and turn it back in!

Finally, you will hopefully receive an acceptance. If you don’t, you can consider any feedback you got with the rejection and try it all over again in another journal. Once your article is published online, you can share it with your advisors, Tweet about it, link to it on your resumé and LinkedIn site, and brag about it in job and/or grad school application materials!