Palgrave Teaching and Learning

by Sally Brown (Series Editor)

Getting yourself published

To be successful in academia, university teachers need to build a strong record of publications, both on topics associated with our originating disciplines and (ideally) on pedagogic practices. It can be difficult to juggle all the diverse elements of an academic’s role, but neglecting to publish can be fatal for academic advancement. It’s often hard to know where to start, but it can be really helpful to find an experienced writer who is prepared to mentor you through the early stages of your writing career. It is important that this is a reciprocal arrangement if it is to be equitable and sustainable, so perhaps offer to check references or proof read their work in appreciation of their help to you in developing an academic publication portfolio. If there are opportunities within your institution to attend workshops on starting to write for publication, take them.

Writing for publication is hard work and doesn’t happen without planning and preparation, but don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Get in the habit of writing very regularly, ideally daily, rather than waiting for big blocks of time, which can be sabotaged by illness or competing priorities. If you are completing or have completed a dissertation for a masters degree or a doctorate, this can provide a valuable quarry for you to source the basic elements of publications, but don’t expect just to submit unedited elements of your academic work without modifying it to match publishers’ requirements. You can find out what these are by looking at notes to authors on journal and book publishers’ websites. See for example https://www.macmillanihe.com/page/submit-a-proposal/ on publishing with Palgrave.

Knowing what to write about may be straightforward as many academics build their publications on the research that forms a key part of their job, but it’s helpful to use all your academic networks to help you work out what are the most current aspects and innovative perspectives on established topics. For academics in roles that don’t require day-to-day research, it’s important to focus your writing on areas where your interest is matched by your level of expertise, since if you are bored by a topic, it is likely to be uninteresting to your readers.

When writing for refereed journals:
  • Never publish in a vacuum: know where you are aiming to publish your work by carefully reviewing the available outlets in your field and do your homework on your targeted journal very carefully. Review back issues and aim to match your writing style and approach to that of the journal, as well as carefully following the author guidelines on the journal’s website.
  • Since every journal has its own particular strengths and preferences, consider whether your work should best be published in a major academic journal, or perhaps an emerging, less prestigious journal.
  • As some material has a more practical than academic bias, it may be advantageous to submit to a practitioners’ journal rather than a strictly academic journal.
  • Assess what may be attractive to the editor of a journal in the light of recent trends in the publication. Some topics move rapidly in and out of fashion.
  • For work that has a particular specialist audience, it is likely to be best placed in a specialist journal.

References

Day, A. (2008) How to Get Research Published in Journals, London: Gower.

Sadler, D.R. (2006) Up the publication road. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.

Thomson, P. and Kamler, B. (2013) Writing for Peer Reviewed Journals, London: Routledge.