The time will come when you have been in your new academic position for a few weeks or months, and your head of department wants to know when you can produce a paper in a respected journal. This is the beginning not only of your departmental teaching career, but also of your publishing career. It’s time to take another look at your research material and try to publish some of it. The following is a rough guide to a few of the things you should now be thinking about.
- What parts of my thesis would make good journal articles? Should I try to summarise my main thesis, or pick a chapter and re-jig it to suit a particular journal’s style or content? As a place to start, either approach is good although make sure you don’t condense your thesis idea too much for it to become uninteresting. Read through your thesis again and decide what the best approach is for you. That way, you’ll soon get an idea of what feels right.
Selecting an academic journal to publish in
- What makes a particular journal a good one, and how do I go about choosing? The only easy answer is to look at the common literature for your subject by trawling through the most well known journals and selecting three or four to pitch your ideas to using “query letters”? Remember that some will be peer reviewed and some won’t, so the respect they command in the world of academia varies, too.
Understanding journal formats and convention
- Editorial and general submission guidelines vary widely, so it’s always best to ask for an “editorial guidelines” sheet when you send out your query letters. This is necessary in order to find out exactly what editors are looking for and will save re-writes later. If a website is also connected to the journal, this is another source for discovering their submission guidelines. Above all, be consistent e.g. if you use American spelling at the beginning, use it throughout.
Tools of the Writing Trade
- Each writer has his/her own style. Some use a pen and pad, others use the Microsoft Office suite. Some like to take copious notes, have set times to write, or write in an ad hoc manner. At the writing stage, there is no right or wrong way. What’s important is that you find a style that works for you and, when you are ready for submission, make sure you have a checklist of what the editors want.
Dealing with rejection and re-submission
- What do you do if your paper gets rejected? Where do you go next? Don’t give up. Just as what counts is not the “boxer in the fight”, but “the fight in the boxer”, so it’s necessary for a budding academic to keep on creating ideas and submitting them until one is accepted. It’s really up to you to make an editor see your talents. Learn from any feedback. If the article ideas are good, sooner or later they will find an audience.