Getting published is an important part of an oncology nurse’s professional growth, but it can be intimidating to get started. Who do you contact? Where do you submit your manuscript? How does the process work? It may seem daunting, but getting published is achievable—and it can do wonders for your career in the long run. 

Is a Mentor Your First Step?

Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN, Oncology Nursing Forum editor, has an unequivocal love for writing. But even if you love writing or just want to write to get published and expand your professional development, acquiring a mentor can be helpful when you’re getting started.

According to Katz, mentoring can be formal or informal; informal mentors include colleagues, coworkers, and even friends. Strong writers or readers can provide feedback, even if they are not involved in oncology nursing. The Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing also provides a mentorship program that pairs novice writers with seasoned authors. More information is available at content/writing-mentorship-program. 

Collaborate and Listen

Collaborating on a project is an exciting way to get new ideas from different people, but before you get into the thick of it, be sure to identify roles and responsibilities.

“You need to know who is contributing what,” Katz said. These types of points include who should be the contact for the published work, what order the authors will be listed, what duties everyone will assume, and if a contributor should be an author or an acknowledgement. 

What Should You Write About?

Before you submit work to a journal, you need to know your audience: What are the implications of your content on your readers, and how can readers apply your content to their own practice or setting?

Ellen Carr, RN, MSN, AOCN®, Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing editor, suggested visiting the journal’s website and mission statement to better understand if your work is a good fit for that specific publication. Carr noted that an idea may be appropriate for a lot of venues, but not all venues are appropriate for your work.

At this point, Katz said, it is all about building your portfolio. “Reflect on your practice—that’s a great place to start,” she said. By focusing on your passions, you can better hone in on what the message is for your readers. Unique case studies, new instruments or tools, and stories of patients and families are great topics that are interesting to delve into and are fascinating to read.

Katz said that writing a book chapter is a good alternative to writing a journal article. However, when working with a book publisher, you must be cognizant and respectful of the timelines provided. Katz added that “life’s a negotiation” and you can always discuss timeline concerns when they are being developed at the beginning, but once you agree to a timeline you need to make sure to stick with it. If you’re looking for a smaller start to publishing, consider the following:

  • Newsletters
  • Consumer publications
  • Peer-reviewed publications (e.g., letters to the editor, case studies, literature reviews)

As your career progresses and your authorship experiences grow, you can go from coauthored articles and single book chapters to speaking engagements, single book and article authorship, and even participation on a peer review board or editorial board. 

Not All Publishers Are Created Equal

Getting published is an exciting prospect but be wary of the choices out there. “Not all publishers are created equally; you’re going to have to do a little research,” said Leslie McGee, MA, ONS senior editorial manager.

“Predatory publishers” have increased significantly in recent years, according to McGee. They charge a lofty author fee for a minimal return to the author and often use the same or similar titles of established publications to allude readers and prospective authors. When reviewing publishers, be wary of quick turnaround times (a timeline of several weeks rather than several months could be a red flag) or grammatical and typographic errors in already published work.

In a worst-case scenario, if you submit your work to these types of publishers and they close, your hard work could be lost forever. 

Before you submit your work, be sure that the publisher’s or journal’s expectations align with yours. “Talk to colleagues and other people who have published” to get more information on journals and their reputations, McGee said. 

Author Guidelines and Resources

Reviewing author guidelines can be a headache when all you want to do is submit your work for publication, but those guidelines are there to help, not harm. “Author guidelines are not there to make your life a misery,” Katz said. “They are there to help you. If author guidelines aren’t there, it can lead to irritation and can complicate the process.”

“Don’t get upset if revisions are needed,” McGee said. “It’s rare for a manuscript to get accepted with no edits.” “We want the feedback to you to be helpful and constructive,” Katz added. When you do get edits and suggestions back, it’s best to turn around the updated work quickly because “if you sit on it, it can become overwhelming,” Katz said.

One of the most important points to remember is to seek assistance if you’re having trouble. Feel free to get advice from fellow colleagues, editors and journal staff, or industry-related publications. ONS peer-reviewed journals such as the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing (located at and the Oncology Nursing Forum (located at do not request author fees and can be great resources to start getting comfortable with the publishing process.