Advice on getting your journal article published

Literacy Research Discussion Group 23 October 2018

This blog post, originally a handout, was started off by Julia Gillen and then contributed to by other members of the LRC including Uta Papen and David Barton who were also present at the meeting. Many thanks to all those who helped with ideas, questions and responses.

What shall I publish?

You could publish one aspect of your study  such as research design, methodology, literature review (especially if systematic) or a mini study ie outline and response to 1 RQ.  It could be the majority of an MA thesis or discarded chapter of PhD thesis, that is a good piece of work but that better sits outside the coherent final work.

What shall I do before I publish?

Conference papers can be excellent as they move your work along and help you structure it.  You might make useful contacts at a conference and get helpful feedback.  Alternatively, you may be disappointed in the quality of feedback, as audience members are generally listening for their own purposes rather than thinking of helpfulness to you.

Writing retreats help many people.  Don’t pay – organise one yourself!

Where shall I publish?

Chapter in edited book, – advantages & disadvantages  – can be accessed through a call.

Special issue of journal – very good if fits. Similarly, one can respond to calls.

A good aspect about these is that they force you to work to a deadline.

Freestanding journal issue.

Choose journal early as this shapes so much of the process.

Ensure journal is academically respectable, not a predatory journal

Research the journal including aims and scope, previous articles around your topic or methodology, editors and editorial board.

To what extent should we take notice of impact factors?  This is difficult.  Many of us are pressured to go for a journal with an impact factor above 1 or to put it another way, this may be useful in job applications and promotions.  However most agreed it can’t be the only thing that counts including because there might be stronger features that lead you to choose a specific journal.

Is there some overlap between your citations, those of relevant studies even the editorial board? If none, this could be the wrong journal for you.

How shall I write?

Look at models or organisation, structure and voice especially from target journal and significant predecessor studies.

Work out what you have to offer that is new and ensure this is highlighted.

Put the article aside for a while (say a week) so that you can revise with a fresh eye.

Get at least one critical friend to read your article.

Reviewing and submission

Devote attention to the journal’s instructions to authors and every tiny detail of their submission process in respect of text, referencing, structure, cover letter, figures, blinding references etc.  – but be aware these might not be exactly the same as you encounter during submission. Submission can be a lengthy process.

Don’t be tempted to put a preprint on or researchgate at least until your article is published.  It is possible that a journal, even if it has provisionally accepted your paper, will then reject it owing to “prior publication”.

How journals review

Roles of assistant editors, editors, editorial board, external reviewers vary.

Differing policies and practices: Journals vary in how they elicit reviews and how they react to them.  Some editors are more helpful than others in advising writers what to do when reviewers’ opinions conflict in some way; others just send them all along.  Nevertheless, you can ask advice from the editor.

How to interpret the response to your article & remain resilient

Desk rejections – This could be because of an editorial policy (e.g. “Let’s not accept any more articles about X/ with N methodology for a while”) that you could be quite unaware of, so don’t be unduly upset.

Demands for revisions/tentative & uncertain acceptances.

How to correct

Remain undefensive, grateful and respectful.

Take great care over Letter/list describing corrections & the corrections.

Move onto another journal if necessary.

How to celebrate….  Oh that’s up to you!