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“A word after a word after a word is power.”

–Margaret Atwood


  • Use the five rights to choose a publication for your article idea.

  • A query should promote your idea and why you should be the one to write about it.

  • Match the tone of the query to the tone of the publication.

When you choose a dressing for a wound, you carefully weigh the options to determine the best match for the patient. For example, you would never put a transparent film dressing on a wound with a lot of exudate—it just wouldn’t do the job.

In the same way, you need to carefully select the publication, such as a journal, where you want your article to appear. After you decide that, you should see whether the publication editor accepts queries or reviews papers only after they’ve been submitted. If the editor is open to a query, your next step is to prepare a query letter (ironically, sent via email) to see whether the editor is interested in the article. But first, take a look at what goes into selecting the best publication fit for your idea.

Q Is the term “journal” limited to peer-reviewed, academic, scholarly, text-heavy publications?

A Journals vary in “look” and tone. Some journals look more like magazines, even though they are publishing scholarly or evidence-based material. The term “journal” is a broad one, which means that more and more nursing information is accessible to more and more nurses. Although this chapter uses “journal” because most nurses are familiar with the term, the principles discussed also apply to other publications. For example, as you read, you’ll see you can often substitute the words “publication,” “website,” or “news letter” for the word “journal.” Consider many outlets for your writing.


The good news for authors is that there are more than 245 nursing journals in the Directory of Nursing Journals (, a vetted list from the International Academy of Nurse Editors (INANE & Nurse Author & Editor, 2019). While not an all-inclusive list, it shows that you have plenty of opportunities for getting published. The easiest place to start is your own mailbox (physical or online) with the journals you currently receive and know the most about. You might also take a trip to your area nursing school’s library—or, if you are fortunate to have one, your organization’s medical library. In addition to the INANE site, you can go online and check out these sites (an * indicates those of most value for nurses):

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