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How to Get Published: A Guide to Human Rights and Social Justice Journals: I. Getting Started

Getting Started

  • This guide assumes that a research topic on human rights and social justice issues has been identified and a significant portion of the research is underway.
    • This guide is not suitable for the purposes of coming up with a research question, creating a research plan, or general writing advice.
  • This guide is aimed at undergraduate students, law and other graduate students, and recent alumniwho wish to publish their research related to human rights and social justice.
  • This guide may also be helpful for students currently writing seminar papers and who want to publish in the future.
  • This guide may also be helpful for publishing in other related fields such as international law, political science, international relations, public health, history etc.
  • For any questions, concerns or feedback, please email

Frequently Used Terms in Publishing

Author Assignment Agreement:

  • A type of contract between the author and the journal where their work has been accepted. Under Author Assignment Agreements, sometimes also referred to as Author Agreements, the author assigns or transfers the copyright to their article to the journal’s publisher.

Author Licensing Agreements:

  • A type of contract between the author and the journal where their work has been accepted. Under Author Licensing Agreements, the author retains the copyright to their article and licenses its non-exclusive use to the journal’s publisher. Authors often retain the copyright to their work through such agreements. 

Article processing charges (APCs):

  • charges imposed by a journal on the author in order to cover the cost of publishing the journal available for free immediately on the journal’s website. 


  • Articles published in closed-access or traditional journals are not available for free to researchers. Such journals typically require institutional access or active subscriptions to the journal or publisher before researchers can read the published articles. The option to purchase individual articles is typically available as well. 

Law reviews:

  • Law reviews are scholarly publications, usually edited by law students in conjunction with faculty members. They contain both lengthy articles and shorter essays by professors and lawyers, as well as comments, notes, or developments in the law written by students. 

Open access:

  • Open access journals are available to anyone free of cost or other barriers. Authors who wish to publish their article in open access may incur article processing charges by the journal in order to cover the costs of open access publishing. These charges are often significant.

Peer review:

  • evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field. In the context of submissions, peer review denotes the process by which journal editors judge the validity, significance, and originality of the submitted article.

Rolling submissions:

  • Journals may accept articles until a certain deadline, or on a rolling basis. Rolling submissions indicates that the journal will consider for publication articles whenever authors submit them.  

Search engine optimization (SEO):

  • SEO is a strategy used in online marketing to improve the findability of websites and documents in search engines.
  • In the context of publishing, it refers to the process by which publications can more easily be found in academic search engines and databases. Authors can improve the visibility of their work by adjusting titles, keywords, and abstracts so that they are easier to find by a search engine. 

Special issue:

  • A “special issue” is an issue of a journal that focuses on a specific area of research that has a broad appeal and falls within the aims and scope of the journal. For example: Volume 21, Issue 3 (2022) of the Journal of Human Rights is a special issue under the title: “Beyond Complacency and Acrimony: Studying Human Rights in a Post-COVID-19 World.”

Academic Writing and Editing Guides

Although this guide is specifically aimed at publishing existing work, learning how to write well and how to revise and proofread your work will go a long way. Virtually all journals have a peer review stage which will evaluate the quality of writing, among other things. For more information on peer review, please consult Section IV – The Peer Review Process.

Below are some helpful resources about polishing your writing and revising your work.