The Practical Article as Continuing Professional Development - From Professional Experience to Expert Advice - Conference Proposals and Article Types

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

The Practical Article as Continuing Professional Development
From Professional Experience to Expert Advice
Conference Proposals and Article Types

One harmful stereotype about university faculty is that they are “ivory tower” types who are divorced from and oblivious to the practical realities of their respective disciplines. In stark contrast to that perspective, interviews with published authors and editors indicated that they valued the contributions of high-quality, practical publications:

· “whether you think of yourself as a very hard line researcher or not… you need to think that not only are you writing about your research but also writing about implications of your research for practice”

· “we have to see our publications impacting the policies and practices in the field”

· “it has to have value to the professionals who are practicing in the field. I think you need to offer ideas that will help them in their day-to-day practice”

· “advance the field and …put new information out there, especially for practitioners to use” (Jalongo 2013b, pp. 70—71)

Activity 6.1: Questions to Guide Practical Article Development

As you think about a practical article that you have written or plan to write, does it:

· Inform the reader and educate about a new or improved method?

· Provide a persuasive, authoritative, and current evidence base?

· Encourage readers to question what is taken for granted?

· Show readers how to apply these ideas to their practice?

· Engage readers from the very start?

· Provide a readable and concise presentation of the material?

· Respect readers’ prior knowledge, yet nudge them to make a change in behavior that would improve practice?

· Reflect the article style, headings, length, and types of visual material in the intended outlet?

· Leave readers with a sense that that they have benefitted from taking the time to read the article?

As the questions in Activity 6.1 suggest, a practical journal article is written for an audience of professionals in the field. Its primary purpose is to be helpful—to provide the reader with current information, persuade the readers to incorporate research-based strategies into their work, to save them time and effort in locating the tools necessary for continuous improvement, and to supply them with evidence to support the practices the author is endorsing. A profession also has certain characteristics that distinguish it from “just a job.” When we say that someone is a professional, we also are referring to an intrinsic code of ethics, values, commitments, and responsibilities that guide thoughts and actions. Table 6.1 identifies the characteristics of professionals, why they read the literature, and what this means for authors of practical articles written for fellow professionals.

Table 6.1

Why professionals read practical articles

What are the characteristics of professionals?

Why read the literature?

How does the practical article contribute?

Have extensive/intensive training and specialized knowledge not possessed by the layperson and a commitment to lifelong learning

To develop, sustain, and extend professional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values

Updates knowledge with current, authoritative information

Acknowledges traditions in the field

Respects practitioners’ professional experience

Identifies “puzzles of practice” that are particularly difficult to address

Possess skill repertoires that allow them to exercise greater autonomy in decision-making

To validate effective practices, be inspired by the excellence of others, and replace less effective practices with new ones

Persuades readers to expand skill repertoires through evidence-based recommendations

Includes examples (i.e., examples, cases, anecdotes) that “ring true”

Conveys ideas succinctly (e.g., figures, tables, charts, graphs, photographs, work samples)

Makes material relevant and immediately applicable (i.e., checklists, additional resources, self-assessment tools)

Adhere to an ethical code, comply with standards for effective practice, and perform a gatekeeping function (admission to/expulsion from the field)

To enrich and enlarge the mission of the profession

Reflects the values and professional dispositions valued by the field

Addresses trends, issues, and controversies in a balanced way

Anticipates the challenges implicit in changing professional behavior

Supports practitioners in complying with agreed upon professional standards

Guides practitioners in how to avoid the pitfalls

Engender respect in the larger community through an altruistic commitment to the greater good

To preserve and promote the integrity of the profession and credibility in the community

Provides thought-provoking ideas that encourage reflection in practitioners

Supports professionals in acceptance of responsibility for preparing the next generation of professionals

At the heart of all professional development is learning, defined as a relatively enduring change in behavior that results from experience. A successful practical article rests on key elements of the learning process (Zull, 2006) as illustrated in Fig. 6.1.

Fig. 6.1 The learning process and the practical article (Source for the four stages Zull, 2006)

Online Tool

Read the article “Writing for publication: A practical six step approach” by Driscoll et al. in the International Journal of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing, 15(1), 41—48