I have not published any papers yet, and I was wondering on the process of writing and publishing an academic papers on different fields, and their differences. I have seen some related posts here, but none that fully summarizes the steps one typically takes to write/publish a paper. I'd like to see how this process may differ in various fields.

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    Your list looks good, but it's worth specifying what field you have in mind, since practices can vary quite a bit between fields. For example, my impression is that in economics, it's common for a draft to spend quite a while as a "working paper" getting feedback before being submitted for publication, while in medicine most papers aren't circulated at all before peer review. Apr 20, 2017 at 18:01
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    It really depends a lot on the field: I certainly don't do steps 4 and 5, and I've never heard anyone in my field doing it. And I also really don't do 1: ideas come up more from discussions with colleagues. Moreover, point 2 looks a lot like: let's try and see what happens. Given the cost of certain experiments, I usually start experimenting when I have a certain confidence that the idea will work. Apr 20, 2017 at 20:17
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    A lot of times the idea from #1 comes from your advisor's grant that he/she is paying you with. Apr 20, 2017 at 22:18
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    I would mainly just point out that while it seems like there should be some order, most of the process can actually happen in almost any order (at least, before the publication part). Also note that your listed method flow is actually an experimental method flow; many types of research do not use hypotheses in this way, especially qualitative research methods, as well as archival research, some meta-analyses, exploratory analysis, some varieties of ethnographic work, etc.
    – BrianH
    Apr 20, 2017 at 23:31
  • Nice outline. Why don't you transfer it to an answer? // Suggest adding: keep track of the specific sources you use as you go along, so making the bibliography isn't so painful. // Sometimes the whole process starts with making corrections (for oneself) to a paper one is reading. // In some fields, you can write a paper about the methodology or instrumentation you developed while working on something specific. // Sometimes the germ comes from attending a seminar, considering a specific case, generalizing some other work of your own or someone else, someone asking for your help with something. Apr 20, 2017 at 23:41

2 Answers 2


I would say all good research follows the general scientific method, or a tailored version thereof. In some fields the type of experiment and types of analysis are different but I wouldn't say this changes anything major. Research is research after all. The science buddies website is a good starting point to read up on the scientific method.

The answer by @Hosea is a mini version of the scientific method. I'm in the field of engineering and the same process pretty much applies (though in industry you typically do work and then see if you can also publish a paper on it).

In short the scientific method is as follows (from the science buddies website): The scientific method

If you are aiming for a certain field or journal, read some of the most cited papers over the last year or two in that field or journal, and extract the style, outline, argument and logic flow from there. Your supervisor should also be able to advise you there.

Where you would see a big difference to the scientific method are in the "soft sciences" like humanities and languages.


In the field of Economics:

  1. Read a lot about a field you are interested in, and come up with an idea/hypothesis for a paper. Perhaps talk to your colleagues to generate an idea.
  2. Start experimenting and modelling to see if your hypothesis is true. Countless trial and error here, until you obtain satisfactory results.
  3. Write about the results you've obtained.
  4. Once you have a draft of working paper, try talking to other professionals in the field to see if they have any insights. Attend some workshops/conferences to present your draft and get feedback.
  5. Edit the paper according to the feedback you've received until you feel that it's of sufficient quality to be published.
  6. Choose a publisher/editors to review your paper. If they accept your paper, then revise your paper according to their suggestions and congratulation! You have published a paper.
  7. If they reject your paper, revise your paper and submit it elsewhere.