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I am taking a graduate class requiring that I submit a paper to a journal at the end of the semester. The professor sent out an email informing us that we can either hand off a copy of the paper in an addressed envelope to her, which she will then mail, or email her a copy of the submission receipt if we submit the paper electronically.

I feel uncomfortable submitting my paper at this time, and I intended to work on this paper with my advisor over the summer before submitting it to a journal.

My advisor told me that I should report this situation to the Chair and I did, but my complaint was passed off to the Director of Grad Student Services within my department. The Director informed me that she had talked with the professor, that the professor would not change the requirement, and proposed that I submit it to a journal and then just immediately withdraw the submission. That has been the plan, but I feel like my right to determine what happens to something that I wrote, my intellectual property, is being infringed upon by this professor.

Can my professor force me to submit my paper to a journal anyway?

1 Answer 1

If that is the stipulation of the class, then the best thing to do is to comply with the stipulation whether you feel like the paper is ready for submission or not. Treat this as an academic exercise. Should you refuse (which you have a right to do), but that will probably earn you an failing grade on that assignment. This request for submitting a paper to a journal appears to be common as it teaches students the process preparing a document and submitting to a journal. Another thing this type activity does is encourages students to write at a higher level. During my first graduate class, I had to do a book review and submit it to a journal.

Administratively, professors have deadlines of their own and have a timetable as when to submit grades. In this case, what does the professor do with your grade? Is your grade for the class marked as an incomplete? Can a grade be changed in the system after a certain date? The professor’s decision likely goes beyond that of wanting to see you have a published paper.

If your paper fails to meet the quality criteria of the journal or loses to the competition, it is likely that the journal will not accept it. Given this scenario, you can still work on the paper and bring it to a publishable state. One condition is that most journals will not accept a submission if the article is being considered for another journal. This can take anywhere to several weeks to several months.