Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
From a Research Project to a Journal Article
Conference Proposals and Article Types
Very few dissertations make a successful transition to an article or book, even though degree recipients are encouraged by their committee members to pursue publication. From an editor’s perspective, the problem here is that the authors of these lengthy documents do not know how to distill a work to its very essence or how to revise it for a readership beyond the dissertation committee. Although this problem has been discussed in the literature, practical guidance has been lacking. This chapter explains how to plan a study, collect the data, and fashion it into a research article. The chapter offers a widely accepted structure (IMRaD) that guides the writing of a research report and supports publication from the outset. It clearly explains how to write the title, abstract, and each section of a research report. In addition, it offers a checklist for self-evaluation of a research manuscript and a series of steps necessary to prepare the work for publication. The many activities included have value both for inexperienced and experienced writers.
Of all the contributions that scholars can make to the literature, original research is widely regarded as the most prestigious because it is advances thinking and uses the scientific method. Consider the situation of a professor who has gathered survey data for six semesters from the students enrolled in various sections of a course that he teaches regularly. A colleague suggests, “Why don’t you try to publish this?” so he attempts to heed that advice. The response from reviewers, however, is disappointing.
The editor’s decision is “major revisions are required”, but the professor abandons the project instead. What is worse is that he decides he “just isn’t a researcher” and secretly worries that he will not have enough published scholarship to be awarded tenure. What went wrong here, exactly? There are several things.
First of all, the author seeking publication failed to think back to doctoral dissertation days when he was required to develop a theoretical framework, complete the institutional review board process, and write about the limitations of the research. Even though the dissertation is a sort of “dress rehearsal” for writing research, he did not transfer and apply that learning to writing a journal article. Second, he did not do his homework on the journal. If he had studied several published examples of survey research, he would have known that discussion of survey design and development was included, as was the IRB approval process. Third, the professor did not understand the process of manuscript development. If he did, he would have asked knowledgeable and trusted colleagues to review the work prior to submission; he also would know that a request for revisions is the most common decision from an editor. Fourth, the professor allowed himself to become overwhelmed by the comments rather than taking a step back and considering how he might address each one. Yes, it would take additional work but he had received clear direction on what would be necessary to earn the acceptance of the reviewers.