Applications for university positions are not only under the scrutiny of professors in English departments, but also from professors across various fields. A common frame of reference for these professors is peer-reviewed journals. As it becomes increasingly crucial to be published, challenges abound gaining extra lines in your CV–not just any lines however. Nowadays the impacts of journal publications are more important than ever when it comes to university job applications. This article summarizes key points to consider in order to get your papers published.
- Overcome writing obstacles.
- Pick suitable journals by reading previous articles in them.
- Follow journals’ submission guidelines to the letter.
- Get papers reviewed and proofread prior to submission.
- Submit necessary documents, and if requested to revise, resubmit and respond constructively.
- Wait patiently for feedback and final results.
Writing Can Be Daunting, and There’s So Little Time.
Writing for academic publication is challenging, and there is also fear of failure (Lee & Boud, 2003). One way to overcome initial trepidations is to collaborate with more experienced writers. Experienced writers have gone through various steps for publication, and no doubt rejections, in their earlier years of submissions. With each step however, they have become more knowledgeable of types of writing suitable for certain publications. So seek opportunities to co-publish with academics who have similar research interests.
There is also good news from informal discussions with journal editors, who occasionally express willingness to work closely with authors to bring papers to a publishable level even if manuscripts require major revisions. For a collection of informative resources bookmarked and tagged for writers interested in academic publication, peruse Diigo bookmarks (https://groups.diigo.com/group/jalt-writers-peer-support-group).
Scheduling and perfectionism (McGrail, Rickard, & Jones, 2006), teaching, administrative responsibilities, and procrastination (Milem, Berger, & Dey, 2000) are writing obstacles we may all be familiar with. Hence, one key to successful writing is to maximize the smaller blocks of 15-60 minutes of time available (Boice, 1990), and to continually practice academic writing (Goodson, 2017).
Select Suitable Journals.
When selecting target journals, it is important to be sensitive to whether they are recognized by your institution, or your future target institution. For instance, Renandya (2014) listed international journals that may interest academics aiming for recognized publications in TESOL and applied linguistics. The JALT Writers’ Peer Support Group (PSG) also curates a list of venues for publication (PSG, n.d.). Peer-reviewed articles tend to receive more weight than non-peer reviewed articles. In certain cases, peer-reviewed journals are more highly-regarded than non-peer reviewed journals or conference proceedings despite the time and effort necessary to write the latter.
For novice writers, however, publishing in conference proceedings may be a manageable first step. Don’t hesitate to submit proposals, present at conferences (Muller & Talandis, 2019), and subsequently submit papers for proceedings (Moore, 2017). Ideally present at conferences where papers will be published as journals rather than proceedings. One example is the JALT Conference Proceedings which became the JALT Postconference Publication in 2016 (https://jalt-publications.org/proceedings). This came about in recognition of institutional policies to count journal articles as one paper whilst proceedings are considered of lesser importance, thereby handicapping potential applicants or those in line for promotion.
For the field of language teaching in tertiary education, the OnCUE Journal publishes a special conference issues in its numbered series (e.g., https://jaltcue.org/Journal_10.2), and the PanSIG Journal accepts articles on broader themes (http://pansig.org/pansig-publications). These are among a few organizations which have moved towards using the term journal instead of proceedings.
Follow the Submission Guidelines.
Once you have decided on a journal, read the submission guidelines word for word and act accordingly. Make sure your word count is within the required limit. Check each section is balanced, and if your manuscript is over or under the word limit, consider sections that can be reduced or expanded. If you are writing a research-oriented paper, you will have an Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Research Question, Method, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and Reference section. Make sure the content in each section reflects the corresponding headings. When writing a teaching-oriented paper, study a number of papers in journals similar in content to your own research. Extract the basic format, genre features, and style of writing, then apply them to your paper. Issues compiled by Yoshida (2018), who summarised survey results from various JALT SIG publication teams, typically related to APA style and structure.
For research-oriented papers, writers should describe the method in sufficient detail to allow other readers to replicate studies. In my editorial experience, common queries to authors focused on: a) missing sections, b) content unrelated to respective headings, c) faulty citations and references, d) lack of clear introductions and smooth transitions, and e) missing details. In some papers, though most of the relevant information was present, the methodology was mixed into results, or the literature review section was completely missing but references to academic papers appeared sporadically throughout the text. In such cases, reorganization would make the manuscript more clear and concise, and all revisions should follow the APA or other required format.
Get Informally Reviewed and Proofread.
Rather than submitting your manuscripts to journals and being rejected, have your papers informally reviewed for feedback. The PSG is a good place to submit papers for review prior to submission. It is a group of professional volunteers who supports academic writers by providing feedback and advice on papers, in order to help develop their manuscripts to an ideally publishable quality (Beaufait, Edwards, & Muller, 2014). The service operates online and is open to any JALT member (http://jalt-publications.org/psg).
Whether you are in the first draft of your paper, or have already submitted to a journal and have been asked to make revisions, the PSG are ready to be readers. The process is simple. Writers can contact the PSG expressing intention to submit a paper for review (http://jalt-publications.org/contact). The PSG Coordinator will assign writers’ manuscripts to one or two readers who will subsequently provide constructive advice primarily on organization, content, and clarity. As with most writing centers, which the PSG are in a sense, but more so as professionals helping professionals; rather than offering proofreading services, they recommend that writers ask colleagues or trusted academic friends to do the proofing.
Submit and Revise.
Once you get a second or third pair of eyes on your manuscript and have revised it to suit your aims and needs, you should feel more confident to submit to a journal. If you are an experienced academic writer, you may receive acceptance immediately. In many cases editors accept manuscripts with minor or even major revisions. Take their feedback and accept it proactively. The key is to respond to each and every comment or suggestion you receive. Reviewers will query you on the logic, content and clarity of your manuscript. If you have made statements you can justify as correct, it is unnecessary to agree to every comment or change suggested–as long as you explain your responses succinctly.
Patience Is a Virtue.
It can take weeks or even a couple of months to receive a response to your manuscript. In most cases, the editors or peer reviewers are juggling other daily duties whilst voluntarily reviewing and responding to multiple submissions simultaneously. Once revisions have been accepted and your publication is guaranteed, the actual production will take more time as manuscripts are handed over for final copyediting, proofreading, and formatting. Though turnover time from submitting your paper to having a copy of your publication in hand (or online as the case maybe) varies from journal to journal, new lines in your CV will be well-earned and satisfying accomplishments.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of a peer-reviewed article on your CV to secure university teaching positions, whether part-time, full-time, or tenured. Time traveling to my earlier years of publication, I recall an offer from a more experienced scholar to co-author a paper. At that stage almost 15 years ago, it was difficult to imagine building a CV with publications in peer-reviewed journals. Further along the line, my knowledge of academic writing grew through involvement in peer-reviewing and editing opportunities. Expected and unexpected turning points in life may add to the hesitation of drafting manuscripts and submissions, so break down the goal into reachable chunks and slowly but surely keep moving forward by ticking off items on your checklist one by one.
Beaufait, P., Edwards, L., & Muller, T. (2014). Writing for academic publication: Participation and collaboration. In R. Chartrand, G. Brooks, M. Porter, & M. Grogan (Eds.), The 2013 PanSIG Conference Proceedings (pp. 339–346). Nagoya, JP: JALT.
Boice, R. (1990). Professors as writers: A self-help guide to productive writing. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
Goodson, P. (2017). Becoming an academic writer: 50 exercises for paced, product and powerful writing (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
JALT Writers’ Peer Support Group [PSG]. (n.d.). Various venues for publication. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/4khyQv
Lee, A., & Boud, D. (2003). Writing groups, change and academic identity: Research development as local practice. Studies in Higher Education, 28(2), 187–200.
McGrail, M. R., Rickard, C. M., & Jones, R. (2006). Publish or perish: A systematic review of interventions to increase academic publication rates. Higher Education Research and Development, 25(1), 19-35.
Milem, J. F., Berger, J. B., & Dey, E. L. (2000). Faculty time allocation: A study of change over twenty years. Journal of Higher Education, 71(4), 454–475.
Moore, C. (2017). Publishing conference presentations. The Language Teacher, 41(3), 42–43. Retrieved from https://jaltpublications.org/sites/default/files/pdf/the_language_teache...
Muller, T., & Talandis, G. (2019). Tips for getting started in academics: Creating a successful conference proposal. The Language Teacher, 43(2), 32–34.
Renandya, W. A. (2014). Choosing the right international journal in TESOL and applied linguistics. ELTWorldOnline.com, 6, 1–17. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/2064493/Choosing_the_right_international_journa...
Yoshida, A. (2018). Tips from JALT SIG publication teams. The Language Teacher, 42(2), 38–40.
Suwako Uehara is an Associate Professor at The University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, Japan. She is currently one of the editors for the OnCUE Special Conference Issue. Her research interests include teaching methods, creativity, technology, 21st-century education, and writing centers.
It has been a pleasure and privilege to assume the Writers’ Workshop helm for a year. As interim editor, I have gained insights on TLT difficult, at best, to acquire otherwise. I am grateful for unwavering guidance from Caroline Handley, TLT Assistant Editor when I boarded, thoughtful suggestions from Jerry Talandis Jr., former JALT Publications Board Chair, and immeasurable support from Malcolm Swanson, TLT Web Admin. and Editor, who has tended lines and trimmed sails to keep TLT shipshape and on course for years. With relief, I now relinquish the helm to PSG peers, Theron Muller and Jerry.
— Paul Beaufait