Purposes of Nonfiction Written for Professionals - From Unpublishable to Publishable - Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Purposes of Nonfiction Written for Professionals
From Unpublishable to Publishable
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

There is a useful distinction between writing about (a topic) and writing for (an audience). Writing about is like making the menu; writing for is more like preparing and serving the meal. In their classic studies of composition, Flower and Hayes (1981) found that the degree of audience awareness was a critical variable that differentiated effective and ineffective writers. Kenneth Henson (2007) has been interviewing editors for decades and reported, “I always ask the editors to tell me the most common, serious mistake that their contributors make that leads to rejection, and they always say that it is their contributors’ failure to know their readers” (pp. 781—782). Effective writers answer the question, Why bring this specific audience and material together? Respond to the questions in Activity 2.1 as a way to identify some general characteristics of the audience for scholarly publications.

Activity 2.1: Readers of the Professional Literature

Imagine that you are looking through the latest issue of a professional journal. Are there some authors whose writing you admire so much that you would read just about anything with their name on it, even if it were well outside your area of interest? What characteristics of writing would cause you to:

· Stop and read the entire article?

· Become annoyed and move on to something else?

· Request permission to duplicate the article and use it in your work?

· Write a letter to the editor?

Compare these thoughts with Table 2.1, major reasons to read the professional literature.

Table 2.1

The purposes of professional literature

Reason to read the professional literature

Implications for writers

To keep current in the field

References need to be up-to-date (e.g., most references published within the past 5 years and a few classic sources)

Sources need to be authoritative and primary; for example, textbooks are considered to be secondary sources

Review of the literature is thorough, yet selective

To use in work (e.g., teaching, research, service)

Resources are critically evaluated and relevant to the audience

Practices that are endorsed are supported by theory and research

Recommendations are clear, concise, and accessible to practitioners in the field at various levels of training (e.g., avoid excessive jargon)

To stimulate thinking and have something to talk about

Writing reflects originality and advances the conversation on the subject

Manuscript presents a logical argument

Resources are critically evaluated and synthesized for the reader

The focus of the manuscript is matched to the readership of the outlet