Writing forpublication inpeer-reviewedacademicjournalsUsing the Journal “Interactive LearningEnvironments” and personalexperience as an illustrationDr Sue GreenerEditor, Interactive LearningEnvironments
And a few notes on each step from my own experienceSix steps to publication1. Where do I start?2. Choosing a journal3. Academic style and format4. The peer review process5. Most common reasons for rejection6. Life after rejection – dealing with criticism and changes
Step 11. Where do I start? Why do I want to publish? Career – funding requirement – knowledge contribution – key message/target audience – co-writers What do I want to publish? Practitioner article – research report – evaluative case study – qualitative study – experimental or quasi- experimental study – opinion piece – book review – systematic literature review – conceptual paper – whole or part study So where should it appear? Professional magazine – book - book chapter – thesis - conference paper - seminar for colleagues – blog - book review for journal - academic journal
Personal notesChapter 1: where did I start? The first idea was a lunchtime discussion with colleagues about a mutual interest in learning technologies We started a research group and began to present seminars to colleagues, developing our ideas through feedback We also researched the literature around staff adoption of technology in Higher Education At the same time I began to study part-time for a doctorate in Education, which began to offer me opportunities for publication
Step 2 Choosing a journal Research the journals in your field Is Impact Factor important to you? Which were most relevant to your No. citations received in year x to articles thesis or research? published in years x-1 and x-2 articles published in years x-1 and x-2 Use your library and read a range of journals Some journals use a 5 year rather than a 2 year Impact Factor but the Use Google Scholar to search for keywords in your research and find out same principle applies which journals publish around them Thomson Reuters Citation index most Check the journal’s aim and scope – commonly used don’t make it fit, choose the best fit If you have already written most of your paper, consider journals you have Must it be international? already cited Must it be “open access”? Talk to supervisors and colleagues, go Does the editor accept abstracts for to journal websites and download free comment? issues Does your chosen journal have a favoured methodology or research approach? Consider a shortlist and keep it in case your first choice doesn’t like the paper
Personal notes Chapter 2: how did I choose journals? I started with journals I knew which published in my field – because I was citing articles from them But how to find the best ones? I asked about Impact Factors and used Thomson Reuters Citation Index for this. But it’s hard to work out what kind of factor matters. And not all journals have Impact Factors as they are not in the relevant databases. My colleagues could recommend business journals but my research was in education, so it was mainly searching for articles relevant to my field and following up the journals they appeared in online to check aims and scope. I read a lot of sample papers before choosing Calls for papers are often tempting but they will rarely be offering exactly the right journal or Special issue for your paper or research, so be cautious – it’s better to find them yourself
Step 3Academic style and format Critical friend? – getting the tone right – authoritative but clear Only one journal can publish your paper Author guidelines – ignore at your peril! Font, headings, spacing, margins, keywords, but most of all length Does your article cite something from the chosen journal? Is your title clear? Conference paper titles can be humorous and catchy but in a journal this must give the right information to capture attention Your abstract is a shop-window for online search Reference style APA, Harvard or a variation – citation software can help Try not to self-reference unless necessary Grammar and spelling – use a native speaker or proof-editing service Electronic submission? Anonymised version – title page – separate figures/tables – author biographical notes Copyright or authority permissions – CrossCheck software may be used to detect plagiarism including self-plagiarism
Personal notes Chapter 3: developing academic style and formatting I really thought I could write …until I submitted my thesis! Be prepared for the whole world to be your sub-editor My background was in management and my style business-like – I tried to become more “academic” – that’s a mistake. Always aim for simple words and clear and short sentences. If you develop a conference paper and then have to prepare it for journal submission, there will be a lot of changes – in tone, in anecdote, in evidenced argument, in updating references, and of course changing the formats as required.
Step 4The peer-review process This is the prize – what all the If the decision is minor work is for, a mark of quality, changes, this needs to be re- being accepted by your peers submitted, the editorial team They often won’t agree with will check you did what you you were asked, if not, it may The process will take a long come back again. time – several months is normal If major changes required, Some journals do an initial papers can be returned three editorial review, you resubmit or four times over months, with any suggested even a couple of years amendments, and only then Only when they are happy will do they send out to blind the editor send to production peer-review by the publisher. Reviewers may need to be Then it depends on publishing chased several times policy – it may go straight Reviewers may disagree so online and freely accessible, additional reviews are sought, or online available on or the editorial team makes a subscription and/or into print. further review Print copies will be stacked Only then do you get a ahead and it can take a year decision. or more for the paper to come out in a printed journal.
Personal notes Chapter 4: peer-review I now review regularly not just for my own journal but also for four or five others I have learnt to use this as a great way to keep up to date as well as improving my skills of academic writing Sometimes being a regular reviewer helps your credibility within your own institution, and your career It is easiest to start by offering your services to a journal you regularly read, or volunteering to join an academic conference committee/review panel Most journals now offer a template on which to base your review, or at least some clear questions to answer – how does the paper relate to the journal, does the abstract really describe the paper. Is the author in touch with current literature in the field, is there evidence of rigorous research methodology, is there an original or creative contribution to the field?
Step 5Most common reasons forrejection Not relevant to journal Poor theoretical or readership or scope conceptual framework Wrong style – journalistic or Doesn’t follow academic too detailed/complex for conventions readership, or too usually background parochial for international /introduction, research readership question/aim/hypothesis, literature review, Does not follow author methodology, findings, guidelines: discussion, conclusions, On length, inclusion of limitations and further figures, document format research Poor style, grammar, Untidy or badly presented punctuation, English usage Libellous or in other ways Fails to offer anything new, unethical or fails to evidence claims Based on Author guidelines from Taylor & Francis
Personal notesChapter 5: rejection from aneditor’s perspective Rejection is never an aim – we try hard to find reasons to improve a paper – most authors spend a great deal of their time preparing these papers, so nothing is rejected lightly However, in my team, we believe that rejecting after initial editorial review makes more sense than offering false hope I reject about 75% of new manuscripts and still find enough papers to send to review and fill 6 issues a year. For good journals, a 70% rejection rate is normal, the best reject 90-95% And it is very rare for me to reject without some constructive advice – either on choosing another journal, or ways in which the author can improve their chances next time
Step 6Life after rejection, dealingwith criticism and changes Remember why you decided to publish? Original contributions to knowledge have to prove themselves against their peers If others have differing views, that is part of being a member of an academic community – your thesis must be defended, so must your article Usually there will be advice in the rejection Other relevant journals, style improvements, more literature to review, methodology to improve, or building a stronger argument Never take criticism personally – wait a while to calm down, then decide on next action It will rarely help to rebut criticisms after rejection. Though you can do this if you feel strongly about major or minor revisions It may be in your interest to try another journal or two before substantially re-writing your paper
Personal notes Chapter 6: life after rejection My very first submission was rejected – I Between those two events, I have learned a lot. I sulked for a while and it presented at 25 conferences (most took me 2 years to get up the courage to international), written 5 working papers resubmit to another journal. Preparing and for my university, reviewed for 5 delivering research seminars, and support journals and 7 annual conferences from other academics in research groups through membership of their scientific helped to rebuild my confidence. or programme committees, written The second time I aimed lower and found book chapters, e-books, book reviews, a journal which really seemed suited editorials, edited conference I read the author guidelines carefully and proceedings and most importantly updated my literature review, rewriting have mentored and supervised other some of the paper staff and students to publication. Since then, I have continued to be asked There’s nothing special about this – to revise papers for publication but now I you can do it too if you stay really value that feedback; if a journal determined to get your message doesn’t want a paper, I look quickly for across to the right audiences. another which might suit better and I Sue on her research journey never take it personally – that was a waste of my time and reflected more on my choice of journal than my paper. This video can be My first peer-reviewed journal article was found at http://bit.ly/131RbX published in 2008 – the same year as my V thesis. 4 years later I was invited to edit a My publications peer-reviewed journal and make those can be found at http://bit.ly/XnYJUH decisions myself.
Questions? Writing for publication in Now? peer-reviewed academic journals Later – S.L.Greener@ Using the Journal “Interactive Learning brighton.ac.uk Environments” and personal experience as an illustration Dr Sue Greener Editor, Interactive Learning Environments