Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
From Outsider to Insider in Scholarly Publishing
Writing as Professional Development
Misconceptions about the roles of reviewer and editor are commonplace. The work of reviewers and editors frequently is referred to as a “black box”—an allusion to a complex, mechanical device that evidently performs an important function yet remains mysterious and defies explanation. The purpose of Chap. 12 is to establish the indicators of quality in manuscripts. In addition, it supplies readers with a glimpse of the inner workings of manuscript evaluation so that they can use these insights to improve acceptance of their written work. Chapter 12 explains the gatekeeper function of the peer review process and how to become a peer reviewer for various types of manuscripts. In addition, it examines the ethical issues surrounding the treatment of other scholars’ work. The chapter concludes with advice on seeking out different editing roles, such as guest editor of an issue of a journal, editor for a journal, editor of a book, or editor for a series.
Early in my higher education teaching career, I had a call from the Dean’s secretary to arrange a meeting. He had received information about a grant project at Ohio State University for recently hired faculty members who were women and minorities. Applicants were required to fill out a form and submit two manuscripts; one that had been published and one that was a work-in-progress. The professors selected would have all expenses paid to attend a full week of training on writing for professional publication during the fall. In January, they were obligated to return for a 3-day follow up with two polished pieces of writing in hand—one journal article and one grant proposal. Nearly 40 years later, three things about that experience stand out in my mind. The first was a one-page document distributed to the group; it revealed all of the changes that an editor had made to an author’s opening paragraph for a journal article. The second memorable experience was a panel discussion with four journal editors; I wrote down—and still recall—some of their comments, such as Lester Mann’s fundamental criteria for a publishable manuscript: “Is it new? Is it true? Is it important?” The third enduring aspect of participation was finding a collaborator (Bromley, 2009); she was a published author and reviewed my work with a kindly, yet critical eye. This experience still speaks to the supports that academic authors need to make the transition from outsider to insider in the world of scholarly publishing: constructive criticism of written work, expert advice, and helpful examples.
Yet even with such supports in place, there are intermediaries who will determine the fate of each manuscript submitted; namely, peer reviewers and editors. These experts are neither friends nor foes. Rather, they are charged with the responsibility of appraising the quality of works submitted for publication and determining if the work is a good fit with the outlet.
This chapter begins with the defining characteristics of quality in publications. Next, it addresses what is widely regarded as the cornerstone of academic publishing: peer review. Then it describes the process of rendering decisions about manuscripts and the author’s role in responding to those decisions. Next, it advises authors on how to interact more successfully with editors and how to become reviewers and editors themselves. The chapter concludes with ethical issues in academic publishing.