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Publication without tears: Tips for aspiring authors - Emma Coonan


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Publication without tears: Tips for aspiring authors - Emma Coonan

  1. 1. Publication without tears Tips for aspiring authors EMMA COONAN JOURNAL OF INFORMATION LITERACY
  2. 2. • Down the rabbit hole? • Framing your article • On writing
  3. 3. Have you submitted an article for publication? Do you edit or peer review already? You might enjoy this Scholarly Kitchen article if so.
  4. 4. Down the rabbit hole Managing editor: Cathie Jackson Book review editor: Ian Hunter
  5. 5. Articles should be … • Research-informed and evidence-based • Designed around an arguable research question • Contextualised with reference to previous and current advances in IL thinking • Methodologically robust with a demonstrable research design Publication requirements
  6. 6. Articles should be … • Research-informed and evidence-based • Designed around an arguable research question • Contextualised with reference to previous and current advances in IL thinking • Methodologically robust with a demonstrable research design – more about this later! Publication requirements
  7. 7. • Relevance to the journal’s remit • Originality and interest to our audience • Title and abstract • Method • Use of literature and referencing • Clarity of expression and structure Peer review criteria
  8. 8. • Relevance to the journal’s remit – research- or practice-based investigations into information literacy • Originality and interest to our audience - useful contribution to knowledge or good practice? • Title and abstract – appropriate wording and length and informative? • Approach and method – appropriate? rigorous? • Use of literature and referencing – good analysis of literature? Good referencing or signs of plagiarism? • Clarity of expression and structure – clear exposition of argument? Logical structure? Spell out acronyms, avoid jargon! Peer review criteria
  9. 9.  Accept for publication without amendment - almost never!  Revisions required  Major revisions required followed by peer review  Decline submission – submit elsewhere Reviewer recommendations
  10. 10. Editor-in-Chief Emma Coonan
  11. 11. • Make a list of all the changes requested • If you can’t or don’t want to meet them, discuss this with Emma • Revise the paper (using Track Changes) and resubmit it • Include cover email describing your changes What to do with reviewer comments
  12. 12. Addressing these changes may unearth other suggested amendments - several rounds of revisions may be required What to do with reviewer comments You might also like this Storify on dealing with the “Ow” factor
  13. 13. • ‘Resubmit’ doesn’t mean ‘Reject’ It’s been known for authors to react as though they’re the same thing • Journals have a specific scope and remit If your article doesn’t fit, our container is the wrong shape! • We are writers too … and we know it sucks to have your writing criticised Remember …
  14. 14. Feedback should be constructive, comprehensive and courteous ... The role of peer reviewer is a privileged one and must be undertaken with empathy and integrity. JIL Author Guidelines
  15. 15.  “help[ed] to make a potentially very scary process a lot more manageable.”  “The author would like to thank …the reviewers, whose comments were invaluable.” Reviewing the reviewers
  16. 16. JIL copyeditors Lizzie Seals Sharon Lawler Helen Bader Lisa Hutchins
  17. 17. JIL Copyeditors’ advice • Use the publication template • Define acronyms and abbreviations on first use • Format your references using the journal’s house style • Ensure all in-text citations are given a full reference at the end, and that all references are cited in the text • Ensure diagrams and images are copyright-cleared and/or attributed
  18. 18. Framing YOUR article Author: You
  19. 19. What is a journal article?
  20. 20. Presentation vs. paper • Length! • Structure – conventional divisions • Tone and register – more formal • Use of evidence – more overt, interwoven throughout • Purpose – original contribution; an investigation, not a description
  21. 21. You might find this blog post useful too.
  22. 22. What could you publish? • Literature review – e.g. Tewell (2015), CIL 9(1) • Action research – e.g. Rothera (2015), JIL 9(2) • Measurable impact of practice – e.g. Hicks (forthcoming), JIL 10(1) Not about what you do but what your students do
  23. 23. Framing YOUR article
  24. 24. Tell your reader … • Context - you’re contributing to a dialogue • Approach and method that underpin the research • Rigour - the validity of your approach and findings • What/why/how of your research
  25. 25. What/why/how • What is your research? • Why are you doing it? • How are you doing it?
  26. 26. What/why/how • What is your research? What questions does it address (or ask)? • Why are you doing it? Why does it matter? What will it change? What interests/frustrates/niggles you about the topic? • How are you doing it? What’s your approach or method? How does it frame your findings? How does it help you mitigate bias?
  27. 27. PinctadamargaritiferaMHNT.CON.2002.893byDidier Descouens,Wikipedia.CCBY-SA4.0
  28. 28. On writing
  29. 29. • Keep focused Pin your hypothesis or question and your what/why/how analysis by your desk. Everything you write is directed towards answering the question. • Flatpack it Dive in wherever you feel you have something to say. Write up the section which comes most naturally and compile the sections later.
  30. 30. • Free-writing Don’t wait until you know what you want to say – get ideas out of your head so you can reflect on and develop them • Join (or start) a writers’ group You can read why I love them in this blog post. • Break it down It’s like eating an elephant!
  31. 31. • It’s iterative Draft, redraft, draft again (and see Lamott on first drafts!) • Find (or bribe) a proofreader This could be a colleague, friend or family member, but always get someone else to read it through! • Read critically to help you write critically Become a reviewer – or ‘buddy up’ with another aspiring author and support each other
  32. 32. http://patthomson.net/ http://explorationsofstyle.com/
  33. 33. Emma Coonan, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Information Literacy e.coonan@uea.ac.uk Twitter: LibGoddess Alice images by John Tenniel (public domain)

Notes de l'éditeur

  • Writing tips in final section – designed for easy ‘takeaway’ in case we run out of time!
  • How did you find the experience?

    Most people would say: slow! and rather involved! Stories of epic review times – months, years … It can feel as though you send your piece off and it goes into a black box (or maybe a black hole) and even when it emerges at the other end you still don’t really know what has happened inside that box.

    It can also be functionally – as well as creatively – challenging:
    “In order to finalize my submission, I had to negotiate a misleading and counterintuitive third-party platform; read and try to absorb several pages of arcane (and sometimes self- contradictory) format guidelines; categorize my article according to a rubric that did not make sense; follow an uploading process that left me, at several points, unsure of whether I would have the opportunity to include essential figures.
    “Never has the word “submission” seemed so bitterly apt as it did during this process.”
  • At JIL, as with all journals, all articles submitted are scanned by a human : ) A number of articles are declined at this first stage, usually on the grounds that they’re out of scope – for JIL this would mean not about information literacy – so one of the most useful things you can do when deciding to submit is check the scope of the journal and what it’s for.

    This is quite a broad-brush proceeding. If the paper is written (broadly) in an appropriately scholarly way and doesn’t fall outside our scope, we’ll assign it two peer reviewers.
  • Papers should contain an original contribution to the wider community’s understanding of information literacy (we’ll unpack what an “original contribution” actually looks like a bit later).
  • Even a lack of connection between data and conclusions may be salvageable, but if the research project itself has been designed unsoundly (or hasn’t been designed at all) there’s little I can do to salvage it. The moral of the story is: ensure you have a robust research design : )
  • This is what we ask our reviewers to look for and weigh up. These criteria will be similar for other journals.

    Here’s a bit more about what the JIL peer reviewers look for – how these criteria get used in our context …
  • The reviewers get 3 weeks to look at the work – and that’s assuming that the first two reviewers we’ve approached are able to review it! Pressure of work and the fact that all of this happens through goodwill, unpaid, and extra to the day job in our case, is what often leads to delays in getting back to authors.
  • I get the original article plus the peer reviewers’ reports and recommendations (plus any future rewrites, which may come to me first or may have a further two reviews attached). Generally reviewers will want some revisions – these are often clarifications, but can sometimes be larger, conceptual-level changes. But I pick out and balance the most salient points from both (or all) the reviews so that the author gets a clearly structured message about what needs doing.

    I also review the reviews … and the reviewers! OJS allows me to rate them.

    Again, I try to do what it takes to keep papers in – to bring them up to publication standard – rather than to put them out. This can feel like being a critical friend, or sometimes a proofreader-for-sense-and-clarity; sometimes it can feel like being a mentor. But there is almost always something worth publishing in every paper. If JIL isn’t the right place I’ll try to suggest where might be.
  • It’s emotive. We do know that.
    Storify: https://storify.com/explorstyle/acwri-twitter-chat-dealing-with-reviewer-comments

    Further author advice: “Embrace the criticism - give yourself a day or two to get over the "ow!" factor, then go back in a more reflective frame of mind”
  • At JIL we will always try to point up what we like and think works as well as what we think needs work.
  • “Embrace the ‘ow’ factor” (first-time author)
  • Once accepted, the paper is passed to copyediting … they are also very human : )
  • And then the copyeds might come back and bother you – unless you’ve gone for some easy wins from the start!
    The main issue is to follow the journal guidelines – format your paper in the way that you are asked (it’s like being a student all over again …)
  • Obviously, celebrate : )
  • But what does it all feel like from the inside?
    What could YOU publish, where will you take it, and how will it feel?
  • Let’s think about what a journal article IS and what it’s for.
    It’s a particular kind of communication container and it has certain characteristics.
    How is an article different – in feel, in purpose, as a read – from other ways of making your work public: for example, a conference paper?
  • For example, let’s compare a journal article and a conference presentation.

    Structure – there are more overt, often more rigid, conventions for how to sequence parts of your story (introduction/context/research question, literature review, method, findings, discussion, conclusion/reflection, further research opportunities). These may not appear as headings in the text, but most journal articles will contain most or all of these elements, usually in this order.
    Tone and register are usually more formal, and assertions are generally ‘hedged’ or qualified rather than being absolute
    Use of evidence – presentations often have references at the end rather than interweaving the evidence into the flow of the argument. Articles may not reference overtly all the way through, but will usually start by reviewing the literature in the topic and situating the paper’s aim and findings in dialogue with what’s gone before.
    Scope and purpose – a paper is usually a contribution to or advancement in knowledge (albeit a small one: another brick in the wall!) rather than a report, exchange of experience or update. Journal articles generally focus on a single topic of concern and look at it in a detailed way, making strong links with the wider context.
  • It’s a smaller container – it’s still a contribution to or advancement in knowledge but it may be a modest one: another brick in the wall!

    Articles generally focus on a single topic of concern and look at it in a detailed way – like a laser beam or a spotlight.

    Other differences pointed out in the blog post by Pat Thomson (http://patthomson.net/2011/10/29/are-you-experienced-at-writing-journal-articles/)
    fewer ideas dealt with (one or maybe two), and fewer major points made (three or four)
    a synthesis of research literature, not a review
    far fewer references – only those dealing directly with the paper’s theme
    theory used sparingly and explained in your own words
    fewer citations in the text – you can shortcut the ‘audit trail’
  • Tewell – a decade of critical information literacy; major themes, developments
    Rothera - action research project for an Oxford Brookes University Learning and Teaching Fellowship, which set out to investigate how undergraduate Primary Teacher Education (PTE) students find and evaluate information, what barriers they experience, and whether short online tutorials hosted in Moodle (the University’s VLE) could support them in overcoming these
    Hicks - This study explores student responses to a research assignment handout that was redesigned in light of the recommendations from a 2010 Project Information Literacy report
  • Grounds on which I will decline an article:
    ethical unsoundness
    lack of methological rigour
    lack of meaningful research question
    lack of original contribution (description, not investigation) – which follows on from the lack of a meaningful question
  • Take a few moments to think about aspects of your research that could stand alone; that would contribute to the dialogue; themes or topics you could explore in more depth or in a different context… ? Discuss in pairs (actively listen and feed back if there’s time). Take some time to make a note of what you’ve come up with.
  • Context: ensure you refer to the literature and place the work within a wider context. This helps your readers situate it with reference to their own knowledge and experience of the field, and it also helps to signal what you’ve done that’s different or new – your own contribution.

    Approach and method: this is so much more than choosing a scientific-sounding methodological label! How you approach your question, the framework you choose to work within, and how you design your data collection instrument, are what ensure the validity and integrity of your work. Get a guide book for your chosen method and use it as a tool to underpin your whole research process as well as the write-up.

    Rigour: You should also back up any claims you make with appropriate evidence (otherwise it’s just your opinion!). Some of this will come from the literature/the research context; some from your data. Bear in mind that your claims need to be proportionate to your findings : )
  • A handy framework for bridging the gap between product and process! These questions are useful in two ways:

    1. In the finished article, for situating the research in its context and signposting what the article’s contribution is; but also,
    2. In your own thinking and writing process, so you can be clear about the ‘big picture’ of what you’re doing.

    And each answer – or set of answers – feeds in directly to the major conventional sections in an article:
    The ‘what’ will inform your introduction
    the ‘why’ will, too, and will also help you to choose which parts of the literature to use to contextualise your work
    the ‘how’ is crucial for your methods section.

    This very simple framework can help your thinking and writing, as well as help structure your finished piece of work. You can expand the questions if you want to …
  • Take a moment to reflect on the potential piece you described to someone earlier – could you answer these questions about it? Do they illuminate it or help situate it at all?
  • Whatever else – don’t lose sight of your passion!
  • Tips for helping with the process mess – to help you get writing and keep writing (and stay on top of it)
  • It’s important – but hard – to keep focused on the ‘big picture’ (the research question or hypothesis) while you do the minutiae – the small-scale, step-by-step stuff.
  • It’s really important to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper – you have to get past those first drafts! Writing is a form of thinking: you don’t have to commit yourself to every word you write down; you can ‘try on’ different standpoints.

  • These are (word-for-word) the advice we also give to aspiring article writers.
  • Three great sources of real-world help about writing.