Notes from the Professional Skills Panel on Publication
April 16, 2008
Speakers: Molly Hardy, Erin Hurt, Ann Cvetkovich, John Rumrich, James Cox
- 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.