Advice for Getting Published in Academic Journals: Be Curious
Perhaps a more authentic problem statement is “How to represent our wonderings most accurately", so that when we “Get Published,” we both enjoyed the journey and the end result aligned well with our interest and passion. Ideally we, as academics have ventured into the academe as thinkers, connecting and applying our ponderings. Writing is an outcome of those ponderings and the better and more aligned the writing, the more clear we are at sharing our notions, thoughts and at times, crazy ideas. So, perhaps “Getting Published” is not the goal, but a side effect of an enduring culture of questioning. We encourage our students to question, to collect data (using reliable/valid instruments), then make inferences based on that data, and ultimately make sense of the findings in a way that could be generalizable to other similar settings. The writing before, during, and at the end is a means of tracking our thoughts and hypothesis. The writing should not dictate the direction of our inquiry, but to help us stay on track of our direction and ultimately to communicate to our audience.
Therefore, In Short ...
Be curious. Sustain your curiosity to create investigative experiences, which further fosters inquiry. Capture (write about) your curiosity. Reflect on your curiosity. Share, debate, and argue with colleagues about your curious findings. Identify and follow tangents, realizing many will fail. Embrace the failed events. Write about both the successes and the failed events. Perhaps ask a Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance.
How Center’s for Teaching and Learning (CTL’s) Can Help
There are many ways that we can address these approaches to publishing, although one common ingredient is interaction with colleagues. Many universities have created Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTL), with varying success and impact. The mission of CTL’s also vary in their approach and what they can offer to faculty. Many CTLs offer the following services, which could be helpful in publishing in academic journals and even if yours does not, chances are, they would be very open (and eager) to offer these services if faculty suggested.
Institutional Review Board(IRB) assistance to those who need to submit for IRB approval before collecting data on their research;
Models for researching teaching, as in Boyer’s (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered, where he identified the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), one of four types of scholarship:
- Writing Circles, which provide a dedicated time and place for faculty to write, in addition to other insightful, scholarly colleagues (outside of the discipline) who can review and provide suggestions for readability. These circles also provide a method for accountability to help us maintain a writing schedule, which emphasize the communities of practice model;
- New Faculty Writing Programs, which bring new faculty together to help them create a habit of writing as well as provide a quiet, consistent space for writing and at times, reward and recognition programs;
- Higher Education Short Courses, which can help identify more efficient (and engaging) instructional approaches, that could open more time for writing;
- Opportunities to mentor other faculty who are new to writing - in this mentoring, just as when reading/reviewing manuscripts, we become better writers;
Centers can assist with project and time management skills; navigating through academic schedules; and perhaps even a Faculty Fellow opportunity, which would free up time to write and share your findings with colleagues through the Center.
Some CTLs can assist in searching for, reviewing and identifying appropriate grant opportunities to apply and secure funding for research and subsequent writing for publications. In addition, some grants require an outreach and/or instructional component, which the CTL could address and commit to assisting when the grant is funded.
Other Ideas to Consider
Ultimately, find a way to be persistent. The old saying is old because it seems to be effective, ‘if at first you do not succeed, try, try again. If one journal does not accept your manuscript try another. There is a story about a famous poet, who would walk to his mailbox with a stamped envelope addressed to another journal, as he commonly found a rejection letter of his prior submission. He casually took the rejected poem, slipped it into the new stamped envelope and placed it back into the mailbox to resubmit.
Be timely. Once you receive reviews of your manuscript and if they are anything but Rejected, stop what you are doing and address the comments to send back to the journal editor as soon as possible. You worked hard on the research, the writing and now when you are near the finish line, address the comments quickly - include a supplemental sheet organizing the reviewers' suggestions and how you have addressed each and return the updated manuscript offering any assistance and/or asking if there is any further material, which can assist in the process. Likewise, do not be afraid to contact the editor, after their normal due date for review and ask for status updates. Editors are typically faculty members, who have taken on this important responsibility and are just as busy as you with their research, teaching and service responsibilities.
For those who are comfortable with using some mainstream technology, identify colleagues to work with remotely. Through the use of low threshold, free teleconferencing programs, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Face Time, WebEx, Go-To-Meeting, Fuze or Meeting Burner, many of us are only a click away.
One final suggestion to increase the efficiency of your curiosity (and get published) is to take conference presentations and turn into a manuscript for publication or to apply to conferences that provide peer reviewed proceedings. Implementing the feedback you receive during the conference presentation will help you refine your manuscript and polish your ideas.
Overall, I recommend that we all try to enjoy pondering and sharing our ideas. If we try to “get published” and/or force ourselves to write, chances are that even if we accomplish this, we will not enjoy it and ultimately produce less than the quality work that we all aspire.
Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities for the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Jace Hargis, PhD
University of California San Diego
Director, Center for Teaching
San Diego, CA USA
Melissa M. Soto, Ph.D
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182 USA