How To Get Published As An Undergrad: Read Before Publishing

by CJ McDaniel // February 23  

Publishing is most times associated with Masters and PhD Students. Undergrad years come with a lot of academic stress. There are assignments to turn in, group projects, tests, and exams. An Undergrad’s focus is finish school successfully and hardly thinks of sharing his academic work beyond the classroom.

Only the ambitious will venture into non-graduation requirements like publishing academic work. If you have ever considered publishing or you do not know how to go about it, read on to get guidance on publishing and how to overcome the hurdles you may likely meet.

What Is Publishing?

As an undergrad, you need to turn in a research paper, which forms part of your curriculum. This paper will be reviewed and scored by your supervisor. Some other professionals in that field will also review it. If your paper meets the requirements given, they will provide it with a score, which will end it.

Some research papers may be of scientific or academic significance and would need to be made available to the public. You can do this in journals after it must have gone through editing. When such paper becomes available in a journal for the general public, it is published.

 Why Publish?

There are several reasons why you might want to publish as an undergrad. It could be to contribute to the development of an area in you have a particular interest. If you have put in a lot of research to an academic paper, you might also want to showcase your work for others to see and learn from it.

What To Publish

It would be best if you only published on a topic that you have good knowledge. Choosing a topic in an area of personal interest will help remove the boredom that comes with putting in long hours at a project.

An area of interest will also make the project more fun than work. Naturally, when you are working on something you love, you bring in better results. Remember that your publication will have your name on it.

People could have an opinion of you based on your publication. This is why you should be careful in choosing a topic. Do proper research, read about that area, and also get guidance from professionals in that field.

What you publish should be original and make a significant contribution to that field. It cannot be a mere reinforcement of another’s work unless you make an argument from an entirely new perspective.

When To Publish

If you’re still an undergrad, do not be in a hurry to get published. Your school work is essential, and you should not sacrifice it for a side project. Publishing will take your time, so you should be sure you have time to spare before you begin. Not having enough time might make you rush through your work. The result is a tardy job, and you may not be proud of it. Be patient to go through the theoretical and practical aspects of your research before concluding.

Where To Publish

There are several academic and non-academic journals you could showcase your work. You can talk to your lecturers to know what they read and what they cite often. This will give you an insight into which one has a broader reach. The quality and target of your work will also determine the appropriate place to get it published.

Different journals have different areas of interest. Disciplinary journals focus on various disciplines like history, law, politics, and the rest. Thematic journals are theme-based, irrespective of the field of the theme. Areas of Studies journals restrict themselves to particular regions.

Some of these journals are online for a wider reach. When you decide on a journal read their articles to know the right format for yours. These journals will have their requirements to get your article published; ensure your work meets them.

Examples Of Undergraduate Research Journals

Most university departments have journals. Some of them are open to submissions from students in other universities. All you need to do is meet their evaluation criteria. For the undergrad student, this can be a good starting point. A few of them are listed below:

  1. American Journal of Undergraduate Research (State University of New York, Oswego)
  2. Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal (Columbia University)
  3. Forbes & Fifth (University of Pittsburgh)
  4. Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (California Lutheran University)
  5. Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (Dartmouth College)
  6. The Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (Stanford University)
  7. Digital America (University of Richmond)
  8. Michigan Journal of Business (University of Michigan)
  9. Penn Undergraduate Law Journal (University of Pennsylvania)
  10. The Oswald Review: An International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Criticism in the Discipline of English (University of South Carolina, Aiken).

 How To Publish

Choose a topic – 

The first thing is to choose a topic to write on. Everything else hangs on this. It will guide you in choosing your supervisor and the area you should go scouting for information. Your topic is also a determining factor of where you will get published. Choose an area of your interest.

It could be novel or already explored, in which case, you will work on bringing in a new perspective. If you do not have adequate resources on that topic, you might consider changing it.

Choose a Supervisor –

While you might have several persons guiding you through your work, you need one person to supervise you. Your supervisor should be someone knowledgeable in that field. He should also be someone who has the time to attend to you. A very busy professor will not be of much use if you never meet with him to get coaching.

Put in Work – 

Getting published is hard work, so as an undergrad you will need patience and dedication to get the job done. Publishing involves collecting and analyzing data, lots of experiments that might go wrong and require you to start all over.

You need to read lots of related material. Reading will open your eyes to the different perspectives on that topic. You will also learn how to present your work and cite references properly. Once you have set out, you cannot afford to be lazy or lackadaisical. Your supervisor will expect you to show up at meetings and carry out instructions given to you.

Review your work – 

It is possible to make grammatical errors while writing. Go over your manuscript many times to check for these errors. You can also ask friends and your seniors to review it. Lastly, your supervisor should review your work and approve it to get it published.

Decide where to Publish – 

Your work might be good but not appropriate for a particular journal. You should have a good knowledge of the journal you choose and what they expect. Know their standard, their evaluation process, and work at meeting them. Decide where you want to publish your work.

The Challenges In Undergrad Publishing

Publishing, like every other project, has challenges. For the undergrad, these challenges may seem daunting. Some of them include:

Lack of interest: 

As a young adult probably exploring freedom for the first time, the last thing to think of is extra academic work. If they can pass their tests and exams, nothing else matters. This is why it is recommended you choose a topic of interest in your undergrad research.

Difficulty in finding a suitable supervisor: 

For the Undergrad to succeed at publishing his work, he needs an excellent supervisor to show him the ropes. To get one that will have the knowledge and also the time may be difficult. Without a good supervisor, the Undergrad can hardly succeed. School management should put mentoring programs in place and pair up students with seniors and lecturers. This makes it easier to develop a working relationship when the need arises.

Unavailability of research material: 

A good topic may suffer poor exposition because of limited material. The Undergrad may not want to go the extra mile where these resources are not readily available. The school should provide enabling environment that encourages undergrad research.

Conflict with Schoolwork: 

The Undergrad already has loads of school work to handle. There is a high probability this side project will conflict with it. The ability to manage time will be of great help. The supervisor can help draw up a schedule that will give room for both activities.

Rejection from Journals: 

As an undergrad, there is always the risk of getting your publication rejected. This can be not very encouraging, especially when a student has put in the effort to get the job done. The supervisor should review the work thoroughly before approving it for publication. The Undergrad should also be encouraged to read up on evaluation processes, so they don’t fall short.


If you are an undergrad and decide to publish, you must put in the work. Publishing requires putting in extra hours outside your academic work. It would be best if you did not do it in a hurry. Patience is key. Be patient to get all your facts right. Ask for clarifications and get ideas from others who have explored similar topics. When your publication is out, it should be worth your effort and make you proud.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!