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RNJ Corner: Successful Publication is in the Preparation

The Rehabilitation Nursing Journal (RNJ) contains educational content that focuses on contemporary rehabilitation nursing practice across the continuum of care and the lifespan. The journal is published every other month and provides opportunities for professional development, as well as a forum for the dissemination of information pertinent to practice, education, research, and administration. RNJ editors strive to provide a journal that disseminates timely information and new trends in practice each issue.

In this issue of RNJ Corner, RNJ Editorial Board Member, Leslie Neal-Boylan, PhD APRN CRRN FAAN, provides tips for honing in on your manuscript submission process—starting with the planning.

What does it take to be published in a respected peer-reviewed journal such as Rehabilitation Nursing?  

Publishing requires intestinal fortitude, an ability to handle rejection and use it to your advantage, an interesting or innovative idea, and a mentor. Everyone who is published in a scholarly journal has their own process. Some develop outlines and topic sentences and frame the entire article on paper before they begin to write. Others, like me, formulate it in their heads, and when they sit down to write, the words come forth in a torrent. However, writing is perhaps the least important part of publishing an article; I think the preparation is most important.

What are you going to write about? Do you wonder if something in your clinical practice could be done better or differently? Is there something someone said or that you read that sparked an interest? Don't automatically assume someone else has written about the topic. Immerse yourself in the literature. Has anything been written that presents the topic in the way that interests you? Take the issue of stroke, for example. There is a lot of literature about this topic because there are so many ways to examine stroke. Some examples: How do patients personally experience stroke? What are nurse perceptions regarding caring for stroke patients? What is the experience of caregivers of persons with stroke? What therapeutic interventions work with stroke patients?

You can see that the topic of stroke can be examined in different ways depending on what you want to explore and the question you want to answer for yourself and your readers. Pick a perspective or aspect that has not yet been explored. If you will be conducting research and you are not a researcher, be sure to work with a researcher who can help you design the study and conduct it correctly and appropriately to answer your research question. Non-research articles are written to inform nurses and other healthcare professionals about interesting patient cases, legal implications, clinical tips and pointers, policy changes, and similar topics. Try your hand at one of these articles before publishing research unless you have a research mentor who will guide you. Find a mentor who is willing to help you succeed and listen to them.

Choosing the right journal is vital.  

If you have read the journal and are still unsure if your article would be of interest, query the journal editor. Many authors waste valuable time submitting to journals that don't publish the kind of work they want to submit.

Once you choose the appropriate journal, following the author guidelines from the beginning makes things easier in the long run. Don't assume the editor or reviewers will overlook their own guidelines. Make sure your mentor proofs each of your drafts.

When you and your mentor think you have a finished product, submit the manuscript with pleasure. Revel in your accomplishment and wait for the reviews. If you've done the preparation well, you are likely to be asked to revise your manuscript. If not, it is likely to be rejected. This is when intestinal fortitude comes in. Take a deep breath and learn from your mistakes. Use the rejection to your advantage. Analyze your mistakes and improve upon them next time. You WILL succeed.

Written by: Leslie Neal-Boylan, PhD APRN CRRN FAAN, Rehabilitation Nursing Journal Editorial Board Member

Would you like to become a peer reviewer for RNJ? 

If you'd like to become an RNJ reviewer, please fill out an application during ARN's call for volunteers. Though the call is not currently open, you can learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities. 


  • ARN member in good standing
  • published author
  • baccalaureate degree

General Information  

RNJ reviewers are assigned manuscripts to review by the editor and associate editor. RNJ is always looking for qualified and interested reviewers to provide detailed, well-thought-out reviews to our authors. The work of peer reviewers is done electronically. 

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