Where to start:
Conference or Journal?
In some disciplines, like computer science and engineering, it is more common for researchers to submit papers to be presented at a conference than to submit an article to a journal.
Open-access journals differ from subscription-based journals in that their content is free for everyone to read. There are several types of open-access journals—while some require authors to pay an article processing charge to cover the costs of publishing, many are completely free to both authors and readers. Some journals offer both a traditional subscription version and make some articles available open-access—this is called a hybrid publishing model.
Legitimate open-access journals follow the same standards for rigorous publishing that traditional subscription-based scholarly journals do. Their inclusion in a subject-based literature index like Chemical Abstracts or a directory with strong inclusion criteria like the Directory of Open Access Journals means that they have been reviewed by experts and judged worthy. These journals will be transparent on their websites about their editorial oversight, affiliations, selection criteria, peer review process, and any charges to authors.
While some online journals have questionable practices (see the "What is a Predatory Publisher?" tab for more), open access publishing does NOT equal vanity publishing!
Serving as a peer reviewer can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the scholarly publishing process. The American Psychological Association's Science Student Council has created a guide for grad students about becoming a peer reviewer:
...And why should you have one?
An ORCID is a unique identifier assigned to an author, like a Social Security Number. It's a way of distinguishing between authors with similar names, and determining if two different versions of a name actually belong to the same author (eg. if a name changes due to marriage).
Publishers are starting to require that authors include their ORCID or sign up for one during the submission process. Why not create your ORCID now?