In an academic environment, publications are the most important formal means of communication. They are used to make research results public or to share an overview of the state-of-the-art in a research field. Publications and their citations are also used to determine researchers’ impact and, therefore, greatly influence their career opportunities. It’s important to know as a potential author how to choose the right publication type to influence it’s impact.

Source: Why Open Research (n.d.). Publish where you want

Why do academics publish?

For students, the reason for publishing is clear: it is a requirement for graduating. Researchers usually publish because they want to advance their particular scientific field and share their research results and knowledge with others, but also because they need to in order to progress in their careers.

See Impact to find out how the numbers of publications and citations are measured and analysed.

What do academics publish?

Type of document Author What and why
Conference posters and papers Researchers (sometimes Master students will contribute First research results
Journal articles, reviews Researchers (sometimes Master students will contribute Overview of the “state-of-the-art” or further research results
Research data Researchers (sometimes Master students will contribute Data linked to publications, guaranteeing the transparency of the research and the reliability of the publications
PhD thesis Reseacher Full results of a PhD project
(Text)book Reseacher Overview of a subject (aimed at students)
Edited volume Reseachers Collection of articles by different authors who approach one subject or theme from different angles

Publishing a journal article

Journal articles form the majority of scientific publications. Their format is quite fixed, because they are intended to quickly and clearly communicate information. Readers know what to expect and can easily find what the article is about, who wrote it, where the authors work and what literature was used during writing.

Selecting a journal

When publishing a journal article, you need to select a journal to submit your article to. This choice is based on:

  • the scope of the journal: does your article fit in?
  • the quality of the journal: what is its impact factor and are its articles included in well-known databases such as Scopus, Web of Science Core Collection?
  • the policy of the journal with regards to peer review and Open Access: do you agree with their policy?

Peer review is the review of an article by “peers” or equals: fellow researchers, who determine whether the article is good enough to be published.

Peer review is assessment by two or three fellow scientists. They give their opinions on the article in order to advise the editorial board whether the article should be published, perhaps after major or minor revision by the author.
The editorial board then decides that the article:

  • will be published unaltered
  • will be published once the author has made the necessary minor improvements
  • is not yet suitable for publication, but will be re-assessed after major revision by the author
  • is rejected.

Many scholarly journals describe their peer review process on their websites. Sometimes, they include the proportion of submissions that are rejected. A rejection rate of 40-90% is common, so don’t take it personally, but use the feedback to improve your article.

Some journals offer an alternative to the traditional peer review process, such as an open peer review process where a submitted article is published before being reviewed and readers can add their reviews online.

Publishing 021

In the traditional publishing model, publishers depend heavily on work performed by researchers for free: the researchers write the content of the journals, they peer review other researcher’s contributions and they work as editors. After all that work, their universities pay subscription fees to publishers to get access to the resulting journals.

From the 1990s onwards, an Open Access movement was started, which aims to make access to scientific information free for all. Universities in The Netherlands and abroad support Open Access.

Open Access publishing means that access to the information is free for readers. This has several advantages:

  • Scientific information is available to countries and scientists with smaller budgets, not just to rich countries and scientists.
  • Open Access boosts the impact of a publication. Wider access leads to more readers, and when a publication is read more, it will also be cited more.

In an Open Access publishing model, the costs of publishing the material are paid by authors, their employers (universities) or funding agencies (organizations who fund research and research publications). Funding agencies increasingly demand that results are available as Open Access publications and they increasingly include a budget for Open Access publishing in their research grants.

There are two main versions of Open Access publishing:

  • The “Gold” route, also known as “publishing Open Access”:
    publishing in an Open Access journal or on an Open Access platform. This means that the publication is immediately freely accessible.
  • The “Green” route, also known as “archiving Open Access”:
    publishing in a subscription based journal or on a subscription-based platform, but including a final version of the publication in a university repository or on an Open Access platform. This means that it is freely accessible via a detour.

TU Delft staff and students can add their publications to the TU Delft Repository.
TU Delft requires its researchers to publish in Open Access (i.e., at least the “Green” route). For more information about the TU Delft policy, see the Guidelines in the Open Science Guide (


For a quick overview on how to write a scientific paper, take a look at Infographic by Elsevier

If you would like to learn more about scientific writing or practise your written English, check this online Scientific Writing Resource by Duke Graduate School


TU Delft. (n.d.). Open Science: manage your way to Open Science. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from

Why Open Research. (n.d.). Publish where you want [Image]. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from

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