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Academic Coaching & Writing

II. Identifying Your Article Topic, Article Type, and Audience

May 09, 2019 by Dr Sally

There are three important considerations when you set out to write an article for publication. First, you need to decide on a topic for your article. Second, you need to identify the type of article you aspire to write. Third, you need to determine the audience you would like to reach with this publication. Once you have addressed these considerations, you will need to determine which journal best aligns with your needs and goals.

Identify Your Topic

Before selecting a journal for publication, you will need to decide on the topic of your article. Are you seeking to publish a part of your dissertation work or is this publication an independent research project? Is it part of a larger research project? Which question(s) are you answering with this article and how does this advance knowledge in your field of study? If it is a theoretical piece, are you proposing a new model or reviewing the literature to determine what is already known and what questions remain?

Decide on Your Article Type

Another necessary step toward selecting the right journal is to decide on the type of article you intend to write, since this may lead you to eliminate potential journals that do not publish the kind of articles you want to write. Are you writing a regular research article or are you writing a brief report? Are you writing a commentary or theoretical piece? Do you intend to present cutting-edge data?

Determine Your Target Audience

Another important decision you face is determining the audience for your article. Do you want a very specialized audience or a broader audience? Do you want to reach scholars in your region or internationally? Is your audience used to a specific type of research (i.e., quantitative or qualitative)? In other words, what is your field’s mindset, and does your work fit in with that mindset or does it challenge that mindset?

Activity 2: Identifying Your Article Topic, Article Type, and Target Audience

In the activity in the previous post, you took a preliminary step in clarifying your career goals and thinking about what you want to accomplish with the publication of your article. In this activity, you will identify the key elements of the article you hope to publish—article topic, type of article, and audience. Ordinarily, in the midst of this decision-making process, you might be considering various options, but for the purpose of this activity, identify a single topic. Then use that one topic as the basis for determining the type of article you intend to publish and the audience you intend to reach with your article.

The table below is provided to assist you in this process. Either print this page and complete the table by hand or, if you’re skilled at setting up tables, create your own in your preferred program and complete it on line.

Activity 2: Article Elements

Article Topic


Article Type


Target Audience


Once you have identified the key elements of your article by completing the Activity 2 table, you can begin the search for an appropriate journal to publish it. The next blog post provides suggestions for beginning your search and factors to consider in determining which journal best aligns with your goals.

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