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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

April 2008

Notes from the Professional Skills Panel on Publication

April 16, 2008

Speakers: Molly Hardy, Erin Hurt, Ann Cvetkovich, John Rumrich, James Cox

Student Advice:

- Confronting anxiety about publishing

  • Remember that everyone gets those harsh rejection letters at least once

- Revise and Resubmit:

  • When you get resubmit, address all the points that were made in your readers’ response so that, upon re-reading, the editors know you’re attending to everything

- Where to send?

  • Could different groups collate a list of journals in each field (see Lists of Top 5 Journals in each field on Prof Skills page)
  • On selecting a journal: narrow to 3-4 journals and read through the past 5 or 6 issues

- Constantly have something in the works—either out or being generated, revised, etc.

  • Since the review process is sometimes (usually) so long and arduous and we’re encouraged to have something published (or at least accepted) before going out on the market, it’s a good idea to be working something up
  • At the same time, you don’t want to send something out that you haven’t put a lot of work into. Many pieces (e.g. MA report, etc.) have been revised and reworked several times

- Create deadlines for working a seminar paper into an article

  • Get a professor on board to create accountability

Faculty Advice (Each faculty panelist is serving or has served on the editorial boards of journals in their respective fields):

- Confronting anxiety about publishing:

  • Develop a tough skin
  • Don’t take the reviews you get personally (see notes below about difficulties of the review process)
  • "Be practical and tactical"
  • Practice: even if your essay doesn’t get accepted use it as motivation; turn that rejection into an advantage

- Journal Selection:

  • Rather than necessarily going for the most prestigious journal, just try to get published because the process is similar for each and going through that process is a source of professionalization in itself. The practice never hurts
  • Perhaps identify journals associated with different departments; if you can determine who’ll be reading your article, you can probably play to their interests (or to their egos)
  • Generalist journals without a particular bias may be a good starting level since they often have a relatively expeditious review process; if your work is too specialized they’ll let you know
  • Do you want to submit to a journal that accepts 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 50? Be clever about how you decide

- Editorial perspective on article selection:

  • Selection rate low, but there are also many submissions that just don’t fit the journal’s ethos
  • Likelihood of getting accepted increases when the article fits (see advice above for gaining a fluency in the journal’s content, etc.); ask yourself, does this make a large intervention in the field.

- Editorial perspective on review process:

  • Difficulty of finding good readers
  • Problems with communication between authors and editors; what are the codes of etiquette for talking to people you don’t know?
    • Often leads to the impersonal nature of many response letters
  • Length of time:
    • Since we all have a lot of work, it’s time-consuming to lay out constructively what a paper/author needs to do in revision, etc.

- Publication and Recruitment

  • There’s nothing that gets you recruited more effectively than good publications in strong journals: a good reader response turns more heads than a letter of recommendation
  • At the same time, consider your institutional affiliation and the environment you’re in—what does “I’m getting my degree from UT English” mean to a recruiter?

- Use your professors

  • Lean on mentors and advisors for substantive and detailed guidance on your work.

- Special issues:

  • Other publishers pay attention to special issues so articles often get tapped for larger publications

- Making your publications work for you

  • Establishing familiarity with the process and getting into one journal can sometimes lead to positions as readers or assistants to editors, etc.
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