10.3 Step 3: Before submission: Have you missed any papers?

There are few things that annoy a journal editor more than to receive a paper for their journal that neglects to refer to relevant papers in the journal in question. I am not talking here about the practice here that some of the less scrupulous journal editors practice: asking you to cite papers from their own journal simply to increase their journals ISI Journal Impact Factor. This is not a practice I approve of. However, journal editors are rightly annoyed if you have failed to incorporate relevant prior papers from their journal. By publishing in a certain journal, you are contributing to a conversation (see also Huff, 1998). Not acknowledging the other conversation partners is plain rude.

If this search finds that the journal you intend to submit your paper to has never published anything on the topic of your paper, you might wish to reconsider your choice. Remember: You wanting to submit to the journal, because it is the top-ranked journal in your field is not a good enough reason! If there is no prior published work on your topic in the journal, reviewers of the journal might not be familiar with this field and might not be able to evaluate its merits. It might also mean that the readers of the journal might not be interested in reading your work, even if it does get accepted. Maybe it is a sign you should go back to step 1 to examine which journals publish on your topic?

Of course there can be very good reasons to want to introduce a particular stream of research to a new audience, but realize that this is not usually an easy way to get your paper accepted. Academics (and people in general) often find it difficult to relate to ideas that have no connection at all to their knowledge base. Please note that it is not necessary that your paper is complimentary about prior work published in the journal. One reason you submit to a particular journal might be to critique an important paper published in that journal.