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
The first time that I received three independent and anonymous peer reviews on a book manuscript, I had sufficient foresight to go out to my car and read them rather than remain in my university office. The experience was so memorable that, to this day, I can point out the exact parking space where that event took place. Although most of the comments were far from complimentary, the editor’s letter indicated that she was willing to give me another chance rather than terminate the project. After your work has been criticized, it is difficult to remember that peer review is the cornerstone of scholarship. Without a doubt, negative comments sting. The challenge is to use those barbs to spur you into action that will improve the work. Persistence in getting work published does not consist of just flinging the same manuscript into the review process repeatedly with the faint hope that eventually, it will be accepted.
Higher education is, in many ways, grounded in the peer review process. When college students plan a class presentation together or read and respond to one another’s work, they are learning how to take others’ perspectives into account and use their input to improve the work. When a graduate student submits a thesis or dissertation to the committee and responds to recommendations for improvement, it is a form of dress rehearsal for the peer review process used by respected scholarly journals and publishers. Widely published academic authors have learned to handle peer review with poise and aplomb rather than treat it as a personal attack and ego threat. They are sufficiently mature to realize that it isn’t a simple matter of others being “on their side” or “liking” what they have written; rather, peer review and editing is an appraisal of the thinking on paper and the effectiveness of the presentation of ideas. Instead of being wounded by reviews, think of them as troubleshooting. Avoid dwelling on the disappointments of peer review and capitalize on its contributions to improving your scholarly work. At its best, peer review ferrets out the flaws, enhances the accessibility of the work, and makes you look smarter.
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