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Academic Publishing Demystified

This guide has been developed specifically for graduate students who wish to learn more about academic publishing.

Can I get help with writing?

Beyond the support and mentorship offered by instructors, supervisors, and peers in your discipline, you may be seeking assistance in developing good writing habits, improving your written communication, or finding a supportive community to write with.

The Student Support Centre offers a number of different options for graduate students:

Many students and mentors discussed other helpful ways to learn the craft of writing:

  • Look for a journal club in your lab, department, or faculty. Journal clubs can help you identify important journals in your discipline, learn the anatomy of a journal article, and have discussions with peers about strengths and weaknesses of different journals.
  • If appropriate for your situation and discipline, look for opportunities to co-author a piece with a more experienced academic author. This can help you learn about academic writing and publishing in a more supportive environment.

Citation Tools

Libraries and Cultural Resources provides support for two citation tools. While there are many citation tools available, these tools have been selected because of their functionality and their compatibility with campus IT infrastructure.

  1. Zotero (free): Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, annotate, cite, and share research. Available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS. More information
  2. Endnote (paid): Some users prefer the functionality of Endnote, and the library continues to hold workshops and provide support. More information.

Writing: Your Questions Answered

Who gets to be first author on a paper?
This is a very difficult question to answer on a general guide! The conventions of ordering authors differs greatly from discipline to discipline, individual researchers may have their own conventions that don't follow disciplinary "norms," and the practice of co-authorship itself is quite rare in some disciplines.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) offers this helpful baseline: "Two minimum requirements define authorship across all definitions – making a substantial contribution to the work and being accountable for the work and its published form" (COPE, 2019).

Generally, if you're working with co-authors, it is a good idea to have a conversation about author order before you begin writing a paper together. Some research groups will use tools like a points system or a matrix to help make these decisions. Publishers may also have their own specific criteria for what constitutes authorship, this should be located in the "instructions for authors" section of their website.

That being said, here are some helpful resources to help you learn more about the ordering of author names on publications:

Resource recommendations

During our focus groups, both faculty mentors and graduate students provided recommendations on books and other resources that had helped them in the past. Where available, links to borrow the books from University collections are provided.