Q: How can a beginner publish a paper in a good journal?
It is believed that, to publish a paper in a good journal, you need to have a good past in publication. Even if your work is worthy, it will be considered only if the author is recognized. How can a fresher get a good publication?
While there is no denying the "publish or perish" culture of academia, it does not mean that journals do not value quality work for its own worth. True, beginners typically have to struggle to publish in a good journal, but often that could be because their work, even when it is of good quality, often lacks the finesse and the attention to detail that an experienced researcher’s work has. Having said that, there is a first time for everyone, and while you might face a few rejections initially, if you make the changes suggested by reviewers and keep improving your manuscript every time, you can hope to get published in a good journal eventually.
One way to get a head start is to publish one or two papers with your supervisor as the co-author. Since he/she is likely to have a substantial number of publications to his/her credit and is probably a known name in the field, it will be easier to publish in a renowned journal.
Even if that's not possible, it's fine. Hard work and dedication will help you achieve your desired goal. Focus on the quality of your work. Explore the gaps in the existing literature and try to find a unique research question. While conducting experiments and collecting data, you have to be extremely meticulous. Attention to detail is necessary to get results that can be replicated. Making detailed and well-organized lab notes will be helpful when you are writing your manuscript.
There are many resources online that can help you understand how to go about writing your first research paper. Here is one such resource. With over 50 articles and several video tutorials, it is a curated list that covers all aspects of writing a research paper, including ethical considerations, style and formatting guidelines, structure of the paper, and more.
Once your manuscript is ready, you have to select a suitable journal. Make sure you stay away from predatory journals and publishers. There are several online journal selection tools to help you with this; for example, Elsevier Journal Finder, Springer Journal Suggester, etc. In addition, your reference list is also a great place to start looking for target journals. You can send pre-submission inquiries to 3-4 journals at the same time and then submit your paper to the one that shows genuine interest. Once you have submitted to a journal and have received peer reviewer comments, you should try incorporating the reviewers’ suggestions as far as possible. This will help improve your manuscript, and even if your paper is rejected initially, it will eventually be published.