Nov 28

How to Publish Your High School Research

How to Publish Your High School Research

The best high school students are increasingly using academic research publications to set themselves apart from the competition when applying to colleges. However, many students are confused and unsure of what publication is and how to approach it. The purpose of this guide is to serve as a springboard for any students interested in conducting research and publishing.

What does it mean to have your research published?

What exactly does publication mean? Simply put, publishing your research signifies that it has undergone an exhaustive peer review process that has evaluated, criticized, and ultimately accepted it as legitimate. Science-related publications serve as doorstops to the outside world. A research article has not yet undergone a thorough, external analysis of the research if a journal has not published it.

Peer review is a procedure that publications utilize whereby other scholars working in the same field evaluate a paper and its contribution and provide input to the authors. This procedure is frequently double-blind, which means that neither the author nor the researcher is aware of the other’s identity.

Is publishing a high school student’s research possible?

Yes, to answer briefly. The more comprehensive response, which is provided below, is that there are numerous distinct sorts of journals, each of which has its own selectivity rates and rigor standards. Similar to colleges, certain publications are very competitive and offer the author a powerful external signal. Some journals offer a weaker signal because they are less competitive.

There is a growing number of journals for high school students that are devoted to college- or high school-level research. These journals are more approachable (though still challenging) for students to get into since they are aware of the limitations of high school students and their capacity for research. Below, we’ll look at a few different kinds of those journals.

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Why publish your high school research?

But why even bother with publication? Is it truly important? Again, the quick answer is that it does. Publication in a prestigious publication, such as the Concord Review, can send an important message about your work to a college admissions officer.

Consider the identity of the admissions officer as one factor (for US universities). These individuals are typically generalists, meaning they have a diverse background but lack the depth of knowledge typical of researchers in many subjects. This implies that they have trouble telling good research from bad. What criteria are strict and what is merely listed on an application?

This implies that while assessing research or passion projects, admissions officers look for signals. Was the project chosen for a prestigious journal? Has it been subjected to a process of peer review by reputable scientists? Was it directed by a scholar the admissions officer would trust? Did the research mentor guide mention the student favorably? These are all signs of hope. Although not the only means of demonstrating aptitude, publication is one of the most significant for emerging scientists.


What kinds of studies can be published?

Most research disciplines can be published. However, the range of your possibilities will be greater the more unique research you can conduct. In other words, for a literature review to be accepted for most publications, the writing and synthesis must be quite solid. The standard for rigor in student publications is typically slightly lower if you conduct new data analysis or some other type of data collection because these tasks are more challenging.


Target Publications by Types

There are safety journals, target journals (which are the most selective), and research journals. Briefly stated, the rigor and selectivity of journals vary. The stronger a signal a journal provides, the more selective it is.


Highly Selective Publications for High School & College

The first kind of journals that students should consider are publications for high school and college audiences that are extremely selective. The Concord Review and the Columbia Junior Science Journal are two examples of these publications. For instance, a Lumiere student’s research was recently accepted to the tough college-level Cornell Undergraduate Economic Review, which publishes university-level economic papers. This student’s publication in the journal as the first high school student ever was a strong indication.

These journals have both a peer-review procedure and a finite number of openings. For instance, The Concord Review only publishes roughly 45 of the 900 student research papers that are submitted each year. Similar to this, the Columbia Junior Science Journal releases 10 to 20 papers annually. The majority of these publications will demand original research or some kind of data collection.

Rigorous, peer-reviewed publications for high schools

Publishing that has undergone rigorous peer review is the next level of journals. Peer review is a feature of these journals, including the Journal of Emerging Investigators and the Journal of Student Research. The types of papers that can be submitted to these publications must meet certain criteria (e.g., some will accept new data analyses, some will accept literature reviews). Although some publications do not have a set number of slots, they do have a standard for the kinds of research that they will accept.

Students will submit their papers to various publications, and the journals will either assign reviewers or ask you to suggest some. These reviewers will be PhD-educated specialists in the topic. The reviewers will then reply with their feedback. Among these journals, The Journal of Emerging Investigators stands out as one of the most demanding and giving students the most thorough, critical comments.


Pay-to-Play Journals of Research (AVOID THESE)

Finally, some journals are essentially “Pay-to-play,” which means that any work can be submitted as long as a charge is paid. These publications not only lack academic integrity, but they may also send the wrong message to admissions officers. 

If there is a significant submission price (some journals charge a small fee to cover their costs), that magazine is probably bogus. That is OK, especially if they have a waiver for financial aid. It is also a hint that the publication is not rigorous if any manuscript you submit gets accepted without any changes or criticism.


Publications at the PhD Level in a Field

Lastly, there are publications that professors or PhD researchers aim their study at. These journals are extremely picky, and it may take years of back-and-forth before a manuscript is accepted. Generally speaking, due to their difficulty and time commitment, we do not advise high school students who are engaged in independent study to focus on these periodicals. The most typical method of targeting these publications is to assist a researcher with their research while being acknowledged as a supporting author on the project.


Alternative Publication Methods

There are additional venues for showcasing your findings outside journals. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of those.


Publications by practitioners

Targeting reputable practitioner journals is another method to promote your work. Non-researchers visit these locations to learn about new developments. For instance, a Lumiere student summarized his research on Open Innovation and the Ventilator Market in a piece that was published in Tech In Asia (Tech In Asia is the Tech Crunch equivalent in South East Asia). Online magazines like Forbes or the Financial Times, regional newspapers, or blogs like the Huffington Post are some examples of additional professional publications that could be targeted. Publishing in these places typically necessitates direct communication with an editorial manager, who can decide whether or not your work is appropriate. You’ll need to conduct some web research to find these editorial managers, then write them a pitch email outlining how your work relates to their readership. Another strategy to entice the editors is to offer an “exclusive.”


Conferences on Research

Research conferences are an additional venue where you can present your research. In some disciplines, such as computer science, conferences are more frequently used for the publication of research than journals. Research conferences have the advantage of frequently accepting research abstracts rather than full-length research articles, which reduces the effort needed to get approved. Additionally, many conferences strive to attract more researchers, which again simplifies the admissions procedure. The Harvard Science Research Conference and the Sigma Xi Annual Meeting are two examples of conferences that high school students can look at. Based on your research paper, you should look for conferences that are specific to your topic.



Last but not least, entering your research into a student competition is a typical technique to present your work. Students frequently present their work in science fairs like ISEF Regeneron. But there are hundreds more, such as the STEM Fellowship Competition, the John Locke Essay Competition, and the Genius Olympiad (Environmental Issues).

Competitions can be one of the most effective platforms for showcasing your work because they send a clear message. Being able to describe winning a contest with hundreds of competitors in your application demonstrates your exceptional talent. Additionally, contest entries can frequently be submitted in parallel with those for other research papers (be sure to check your publication’s requirements first!).


The Verdict: Publication Can Have a Big Impact

If you have already completed a research article, we strongly advise you to consider submitting it to periodicals targeted by students in high school or college. You have spent the most of your time working on the research paper itself. Therefore, it would be very beneficial for you if you could spend an additional 10 to 20 hours presenting your study.


Q&A Regarding Publications
  1. Does publishing my study make it more influential?

No, but it offers a valuable indicator. It’s uncommon and noteworthy for pupils to conduct independent research to demonstrate their breadth of knowledge. If you can publish that research, it gains an additional level of outside legitimacy.

  1. Can a research project that is a literature review be published?

You will need to consider which target journals allow that, though. For instance, while the STEM Fellowship Journal and the Journal of Student Research both allow literature reviews, the Journal of Emerging Investigators does not. In general, the wider the variety of publications you can target, the more original research you conduct (i.e., data analysis, data collection, etc.). Having said that, some subjects (such as astrophysics) can be very challenging for high school students to do new data gathering, therefore for those fields, a thorough literature study is typically the best option.

  1. Do publications targeted by high schoolers and college students differ in any way?

No. Publications are similar to colleges. Some are well-known, picky, and rigorous, while others are not. The idea is to find a journal that is as selective and reputable as possible and that you can be accepted into. Pay-to-play journals should be avoided because they may reflect poorly on you and your application.

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