A friend of mine with a Ph.D. writes to ask my advice regarding where and how to publish articles from a dissertation. This is a good and wide question, and one that is impossible to answer simply. Here is a list of strategies I use when trying to publish my own work and/or supporting doctoral students, advisees, colleagues, and friends about where to publish and how in the academic world:
- Read. If you are reading journals in the field then you will begin to notice which journals showcase content that is closely related to what you are interested in and get to know editors who may have similar views regarding what counts as a well written, thoughtful piece of scholarship. By reading journals you get to know the field and the authors publishing in that field. Who else is publishing on study abroad in Tunisia? Who else has published hybrid pieces of scholarship that include poetry? What online journals embed videos and allow for multimedia technologies? Who else has published another scholar working in a similar field such as landscape ecology or classroom interior design? You get to know the journals and editors by reading other journals.
- Search. Once you have identified a set of journals by reading them and finding matched content and/or style, then search through the most recent 3-7 years of publication to see what, if anything, has been published there that connects to your work. This is great information to put in a cover letter and shows you are familiar with the journal’s content. It also begins to train your eye and ear to the expectations of style and format in the journal so you can revise or write your own article accordingly. Notice how subheadings are used; the reference style; any patterns in content or form.
- Themes. A wonderful way to attract an editor’s attention is to submit an article that meets criteria for a theme issue. Not all journals have theme issues but some do. It gives you a leg up if the content of your submission is connected to the editor’s topic or focus.
- Mentors in the field. Who do you cite frequently in your own work? Where have those scholars published? Have you reached out to connect to these scholars as individuals, to thank them for their inspiration and foundational thinking which supports your own? You may have a dissertation committee or department full of mentors but another way to find additional and helpful mentorship is through the readings you do to prepare your journal article. These are real people who value knowing their work has reached and helped another scholar in the field. A simple note of gratitude or a query may go a long way to beginning a relationship that may realize itself in conference presentations and publications. Scholars are busy and you may not receive a response, but generally scholars are generous people who would be glad to know you have read their work and may share some free advice regarding places they’ve published in a similar area or experiences with journal submissions.
- Patience. Publication takes time. You must submit and then wait weeks, often months or even a year before you hear back from the editor who has also been waiting for reviewer feedback. In the meantime don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Dissertations spawn many different articles so while you wait for reviews on the submission begin a new piece, write a book review or think piece. Stay busy and in practice and submit something to another journal.
- Try, try again. If you receive a “reject”–read the response carefully and openly. Decide what is of value and what you may address before submitting the piece elsewhere. Get the same piece rejected twice? This may mean you need to reconsider drafting the article. Rejections can also be about how full the journal is, how busy the editor, or a personal preference so do not take a rejection as the bottom line but as a resource to inform you how the piece meets an unknown audience. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If you don’t succeed twice or three times, then it’s a message you need to revise or start a new piece.
- A publication by any other name. If you are struggling with longer research articles, don’t forget there are many types of publications in the academic world that can “count” on your resume. Book reviews may not be as esteemed as research articles, but they provide an important service to the field, deepen your understandings of a given text, and may connect you to other scholars and presses in unique ways. What about a think piece for a practitioner or applied journal? A poem? A news item for your professional organization? A blog post or newspaper editorial? Whatever you do, keep writing and keep your writing varied. Today, it may be just as important to have a piece that is “peer-reviewed” by a critical and scholarly journal as it is to reach a larger public audience with a piece written in vernacular language that helps real people access your scholarship.
- Ask your mentors and friends about their experiences publishing. Where have they published? How was this experience? How long did it take to receive feedback? What cover letter did they use?
- Collaborate. Publication can be difficult and lonely work and there are times when having a partner can help you focus, stay the course, and push one another to the finish line. You may ask a mentor or more experienced writer if they might like to collaborate. You may ask a peer who can give 50% and has as much interest as you do in publication. You may ask someone who works in a similar field. It’s wonderful if you can pitch an idea for collaboration and quickly develop a proposed outline, timeline and assigned roles. If the publication is important to you, don’t be afraid to take the lead. Maintain clear and consistent communication about the level of work each contributor provides and this should be accurately and respectfully represented in the order in which the authors are listed. When writing 50:50, the listing is alphabetical by last name.
If you are interested to learn what journals I like or where I have published recently, I give a partial list of 2015-2016 journal publications and encourage you to check out my c.v. online or “publications” at http://www.teachersactup.com
*Cahnmann-Taylor, Melisa (2017) ““I’m Not Talking to You” “You Don’t Have to!” Trans/scripting the Bland-Encinia Case,” Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal: Vol. 2 , Article 2. Available at: http://scholarworks.uni.edu/ptoj/vol2/iss1/2
**NOTE**This is an online journal with a superb editor who was quickly responsive and helped me improve the piece considerably through her editorial care. The journal accepts a wide range of genres including a “manifesto” and has theme issues.
*Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2016). Robinson Jeffers, Big Read, and Me. Georgia Review.
**NOTE**This is a literary journal that also includes essays and book reviews. I was honored to publish this essay as the acceptance rate is very low. I do have a relationship with the journal editors and this was helpful to the publication of this piece.
*Cahnmann-Taylor, M., Bleyle, S. & Hwang, Y. (2016) Teaching poetry in TESOL teacher education: Heightened attention to language as well as to cultural and political critique through poetry writing. TESOL Journal, 8 (1), 70-101.
**NOTE**This is a practitioner-oriented online journal for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). We worked as a writing team for many years and have varied publication outcomes from this project.
Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2016). Imperfect tense: An ethnodrama of Americans learning Spanish in Mexico. The Reunion: The Dallas Review, 6 (1). http://www.utdallas.edu/ah/reunion/index.html
**NOTE** I had seen a call for the publication of new plays in this journal and I had just completed mine. This publication from submission to print took a long time but it was worth the wait.
Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2015). Ethnographic poetry and the leaping bilingual mind. Savage Minds. Writers Workshop, Season Four blog post. http://savageminds.org/2015/01/26/announcing-the-spring-2015-writers-workshop-series/
**NOTE**This publication was queried from the editor and had a quick turn around. I enjoyed being a part of this dynamic and speedy online forum.
Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2015). Imperfect tense: An ethnodrama of Americans learning Spanish in Mexico. Centre for Imaginative Ethnography. http://imaginativeethnography.org/imaginings/literary-experiments-in-ethnography/c-june-23-misha-cahnmann-taylor/
**NOTE** this piece was also queried from the editors and this was because we are all working in circles that braid together social science investigation with creative genres of representation.
*Cahnmann-Taylor, M., Zhang, K., Bleyle, S. & Hwang, Y. (2015) “Searching for an entrance” and finding a two-way door: Using Poetry to Create East-West Contact Zones in TESOL Graduate Education. International Journal on Education and the Arts. http://www.ijea.org/v15.html
**NOTE**This piece is related to the TESOL journal piece listed above. We wrote from similar data for different audiences. This is an audience of scholars looking at the arts in all forms of education. The other piece is more specific to second language scholarship. “One” piece of research turned into several publications for various members of our collaborative team.