A Doctoral Students Publication of a Practical Article - 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

A Doctoral Students Publication of a Practical Article
From Professional Experience to Expert Advice
Conference Proposals and Article Types

While conducting an information session about the doctoral program for prospective students, the program director said, “Although I don’t want to make unsupportable claims and suggest that all good things will come to you through doctoral study, I will tell you that Dana Miller, one of my advisees, not only earned her degree but also got published, found true love, and got a puppy. Here’s the story: Dana is a writing coach for a school district; this means that she works with other teachers to make writing an integral part of their classes. One 7th grade teacher wanted to improve student engagement in a history unit on the Holocaust. Dana recommended first person writing as a way to increase student engagement and the two of them agreed to contact the Holocaust museum for historical photos and biographies of Jewish children whose lives were forever damaged by the Nazi regime. The assignment for the seventh graders was to read the biography and, based on the facts supplied, to write journal entries in the first person, as if they were that child from long ago. After the project was well underway, a student named Ariel approached Dana and said she was afraid she might be “doing the assignment the wrong”; she had Googled her person, found out she was still alive, and they had begun corresponding over e-mail. Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbach did not live very far away from their rural Pennsylvania school. This news created considerable excitement amongst the faculty and students. Working together, they raised the funds to support the Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbach’s travel, she made a personal visit to the school, and her quiet strength made an everlasting, positive impression on the students. Dana genuinely wanted to share this story.

Figure 6.4 is an overview of Dana’s practical article. Notice that, even though she did get to share her story, the article did not take an “all about me” approach. This aspect of writing the practical article is frequently overlooked. If the manuscript focuses exclusively on one person’s experience, it becomes more difficult for readers to see how it applies to them. For example, if the article had discussed the Holocaust as the only topic, then those who do not teach this unit would feel excluded. When writing practical articles for national publications, write them for a wider audience than your workplace or the local newspaper. To some extent, this calls upon authors of practical articles to generalize the event. This is where the review of the literature comes in because it can identify some of the more general characteristics that are applicable across specific situations. At my suggestion, Dana provided a theoretical base (Table 1), many examples of other types of first person writing assignments in history (Table 2), and a thorough literature review. Including these elements makes the work accessible.

Shortly before Dana was scheduled to defend her dissertation on methods of teaching vocabulary, she called. She and the teacher who had worked together on the project had fallen in love and were now married. So, she truly did earn her doctorate, was published, found love, and got a Yorkshire terrier puppy; it was a dissertation gift from her husband.

Activity 6.8: Evaluation of a Practical Article

Given that peer review is a fundamental practice in the assessment of scholarly work, have a peer review your manuscript for a practical article using the rubric in Table 6.4.

Table 6.4

Scoring rubric for peer review of a practical article






Is written more as a master’s-level paper for a class assignment or textbook-type of style

Shows some evidence of the transition to the structure of a publishable article

Clearly has the structure of a professional journal article, including the introduction/conclusion, pronouncement paragraph, specific headings, and figures/tables/charts/graphs as appropriate

Audience appropriateness

Fails to take the diverse readership into account

Considers the backgrounds of the readership

Communicates effectively with the intended audience and supplies the right kind and amount of material

Logical argument

Fails to define key terminology, identify the issues, and/or supply recommendations

Supplies some definitions, explains the issues, and/or makes an attempt at recommendations

Begins with expert definitions, clearly identifies the issues, and offers research-based recommendations


Does not advance knowledge in the field and is a rehash of existing publications

Offers some fresh perspectives on existing content

Reflects insight, originality, and unique perspectives that serve to advance the field

Literature review

Review is inadequate and relies extensively on secondary sources (e.g., textbooks) or websites

Review is sufficient; however, the level of application, analysis, and synthesis is lacking or the review is dated

Review is thorough, includes both classic and current sources; ideas are applied, analyzed, synthesized, and critiqued


Makes statements without marshaling authoritative and persuasive evidence

Supports most statements with authoritative and persuasive evidence

Consistently supports ideas with appropriate material from the professional literature, including empirical research


Is a general discussion without headings that are specific and signal the main sections of the paper; paragraphs need to be reordered

Includes some headings; however, they are too general or not helpful in guiding the reader; paragraphs are generally arranged as they should be

Includes specific and helpful headings and subheadings that serve to guide readers through the piece and enable them to preview the entire work; each paragraph flows into the next seamlessly


Lacks a consistent focus throughout

Has a focus; however, it needs to be sharpened and more consistent

Has a clear and interesting focus that is evident throughout the entire piece

Part of becoming more skillful as an author is learning to edit your own work to a greater extent. Use the questioning framework in Table 6.5 to assess a practical article that you have drafted.

Table 6.5

Self-assessment of a practical article

Let your article “get cold” by not working on it for a few days. Now return to it with a critical eye and ask yourself the following questions

Title—is it specific? Does it have a clear focus? (it should not sound like a book title). Does it set readers’ expectations appropriately for what they will learn? Read the title carefully, now read the abstract. Is there a good match or could it be improved? How?

Abstract—is it a concise summary of the entire piece and not just a paragraph lifted from the manuscript? Does the abstract do the article justice? Does it pique interest in reading the entire work without being cryptic?

Introduction—did the introduction build interest? Did it stride confidently into the topic and focus rather than include a lot of throat-clearing prose? Did it use the inverted triangle structure?

Pronouncement paragraph—does the manuscript include a pronouncement paragraph? This is very important: look to see if what is previewed there actually matches the main headings of the article. Do you have any recommendations for improving this alignment?

Main headings—are the headings specific to the focus of the article? Are they consistent in format (e.g., all stated as questions, each begins with a verb, etc.? Do they effectively guide the reader through major shifts in the argument?

Body of the manuscript—are there no more than 3—5 main headings? Are they evenly balanced in terms of length? If not, could two short sections be combined or one long one subdivided?

Literature review—is the evidence base current and authoritative with just a few classic sources? Does it use original sources rather than textbooks? Is the review of the literature thorough, current, persuasive, and synthesized? If not, what needs to be done to improve the work?

Transitions—as you read through the article, pay attention to the last sentence of each paragraph and the first sentence of the paragraph that follows. Are the transitions smooth? If not, indicate on the article where this needs to be improved

Examples—do the examples provided resonate with the experience of professionals? Scan through the work and underline the examples. Were there too few? Too many? Were they too long? Indicate places where examples are needed

Visual material—did the author make use of figures, tables, charts, graphs, or other visual material? Are they helpful and worthy of publication? Are they original and focused very specifically on the topic of the article?

Length and clarity—is there any place in the manuscript that is too wordy, a place where your attention began to wane? Please indicate the page(s) and paragraph(s) that need to be condensed further. Conversely, are there some places where the material requires further development?

Conclusion—did the conclusion: (1) briefly “recap” the main ideas? (2) move from specific to more general ideas? (3) revisit the main thesis that was explained in the introduction? (4) give a genuine sense of wrapping everything up and sending readers on their way? Do you notice the right-side up triangle structure?

Additional resources—did the author carefully select other, particularly helpful resources such as websites, videos, and books? Is there a full citation in the appropriate referencing style? Is there a brief annotation?