Writing a Refereed Journal Article: A Personal Perspective on Strategies for Doctoral Students

Develop a Set of Realistic Expectations

  •  X (4?) articles accepted, in press, or published before completion of DPhil
  • 2 or more in peer reviewed journals or equivalent outlets
  • book chapter(s) are good, more valued with other professional journal articles

(Co-)Authorship issues vary across disciplines, but in Internet Studies:

  •  One or more single authored publications idea
  • Co-authored publications fine, but not only co-authored publication
  • Agree a strategy to manage co-authorship over two or more works (don’t agree to be the last co-author on all publications, unless that is fair
  • Co-authorship is growing more common with team-based research

Present Your Work

  • Present any piece being developed for publication
  • Discover flaws and missing links, ordering problems in the argument and its presentation, in addition to getting feedback
  • Often the source of suggestions of appropriate journals, even invitations to submit to a particular journal
  • Don’t present too many conference papers relative to your publications – suggesting a lack of focus on getting your work published

Be Your Own Toughest Critic on whether Your Idea or Analysis is Publishable

  • Is it an original contribution (empirically (new data set, new operational definitions, original observations or case studies), theoretically, otherwise)?
  • Is it sufficiently important? A relatively simple contribution might merit a blog, or a research note, but not justify the time required for a full journal article.

Prioritize your Time, but be Flexible

  • Focus your attention on the most important original contribution you can make, rather than saving it for future publications
  • Create files, stacks or folders for other ideas, papers, which might rise or diminish in significance over time.
  • Keep your priority, but if you can’t make progress, don’t stop writing. Move to another paper, where you feel able to make progress.

Follow a Simple, Clear Structure Reflecting Basic Research Processes

  • Problem, research question, literature, approach, methods, findings, limitations, discussion of implications and further research
  • Explain what you are going to do. Do it. Tell the reader what you’ve done.
  • Do not write a mystery novel.

Literature Review

  • Essential Element, but don’t Over Kill
  • Are you aware of relevant research?
  • Has related research been published in the journal you are considering?

Carefully Consider the Journal(s) in Which to Choose to Publish

  • Centrality to your work based on Track Record of Published Articles
  • Links to the Academic Community of the Editor, and Editorial Board (Have you read or heard of these scholars?)
  • Do you publish in refereed journals in your field of specialization?
  • Among the fitting journals, it is best to have your article accepted in one with a higher impact factor, and indexed by the right sources.

Write for the Chosen Journal

  • Follow the journal’s style guidelines
  • Keep to guidelines on length, word count
  • Do not submit to another journal while being considered by your chosen journal. This may cause you to think twice about submitting to some journals, such a one noted for slow turnaround of reviews.

Respond to Reviewers

  • Good luck on first review and chosen set of reviewers
  • Most journals will return your manuscript to the initial reviewers, so it is practical to focus on understanding and being responsive to review
  • Explain how you’ve responded to reviews, particularly when reviewers offer contradictory suggestions.
  • Don’t be discouraged by critical reviews, and don’t blame the reviewers, if your writing has not convinced them of the merits.
  • Be attentive to positive reviews: Why did the reviewer like your piece?
  • If unsuccessful, consider an alternative journal, in light of the reviews.

The Importance of Focused Time

  • Not Alcohol, Drugs, or Sleep Deprivation
  • Time on Task in Revision after Revision[1]
  • Consistent Discipline in Reading and Organizing Notes and Research
  • Record your ideas, notes, readings, systematically. Read: C. Wright Mills, ‘On Intellectual Craftsmanship’[2]
  • Focus on the Article, get feedback from colleagues who read or discuss your ideas, and revise, and revise again.

 

 


[1] Take a look at Galbraith’s wonderful essay on Writing Typing and Economics: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1978/03/writing-typing-and-economics/305165/

 

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