Applying for a full-time English teaching position at a Japanese university can seem overwhelming. Each university seems to have its own set of documents, each designed to be as complicated and confusing as possible. There is also the dreaded three publications requirement; something not usually required for most EFL/ESL positions around the world where the focus is more on teaching experience. To make it even worse, there is little to no guidance about what constitutes a publication nor how they are evaluated.
For many part-time teachers and those new to Japan, this three-publication requirement can be a major obstacle when applying for a full-time teaching job, especially if time is short. In this Writers’ Workshop column, I will explore some of the options available, focusing on the ease and speed of getting published in this context.
Obviously, the “holy grail” of publications would be a research-based article in one of the large, well-known, peer-reviewed international publications such as TESOL Quarterly, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, JALT Journal, or JACET Journal. However, as ideal as publications, these high-impact journals would be, the very low acceptance rate and lengthy submit-to-publish times make them unlikely options for most teachers just starting out.
Book Reviews and Practical Teaching Papers
Other options often available include book reviews, shorter non-research-based pieces, and lesson activities like those found in the My Share column in this journal. While there is still competition for these publication opportunities, they are easier to find and have a much shorter time frame.
JALT Special Interest Groups (SIG) and Chapter Journals and Newsletters
Many of these organizations have their own publications and are often hungry for new members and contributions. I recommend checking out the resources at the following URL and find an organization that interests you: https://jalt.org/main/publications
Many universities have their own journals, and some of them allow part-time teachers to submit. Many of these journals are also peer-reviewed but are usually easier to publish in and can have a time frame of less than a year. If you teach part-time at a university, I recommend finding out if it is possible to submit to the in-house journal. If not, another option is to collaborate with a full-time teacher or reach out to other part-time and full-time teachers in your network to find a partner.
For you full-timers, I would encourage you to also reach out to the part-time teachers in your network and offer to collaborate. This is a great way to support your colleagues while simultaneously advancing your own career. I have successfully worked with four part-time teachers in this way to publish in my university’s in-house journal. Mutually beneficial professional development is the way to go.
Graduate School Thesis
As part of my research for writing this column, I spoke with a friend who serves on a hiring committee at a Japanese university for his perspective on publications, and this was one of his suggestions. He said that a solid and well-written MA thesis indicates the ability to research, edit, write, and stay the course; things that hiring committees view positively.
This is probably the fastest and easiest option available for newcomers and part-time teachers for publications. Many conferences offer presenters the opportunity to write a short paper based on their presentations for publication (usually online) after the event. This is a win-win opportunity as it provides both a conference presentation and a publication for your CV.
In the end, having three publications is just one of the requirements when applying for a full-time teaching position. Of course, it can be very competitive for full-time jobs, and some publications carry more weight than others which can make a difference when a hiring committee evaluates your application. However, you will have to consider your own situation in regard to how much time, resources, and energy you have and decide what you are willing and able to do.
If you have any questions or comments, especially for other options I did not address, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.