Part 2: A Perspective Publisher’s Kick Start Guide

In the previous post I highlighted things one can do to prepare for and begin writing a manuscript for a publication. In this I will give a few more tips on writing and then go into a discuss about working with reviewers and editors. Issues journal reviewers and editors run into include inappropriate citations and untimely submission of revisions. This piece, will talk about each of those items and more in depth.

A Few More Words on Writing

At this point you may have potential identified publication venues and began writing. Others may be stuck, struggling to express ideas in a clearer manner, and even trying to figure out what to cut out. Here are three (3) works the speakers said would help you accomplish this.

Although those works primarily focus on the scholarly environment, the advice offered is useful for all venues. Listed below are several points you should pay attention to during the writing process and things that can help you move beyond point “stuck”:

  1. Stuck?: Being able to write takes practice. The best way to get that practice is to establish good writing habits. Not sure how to do that? Start with Leslie J. Reynolds advice:
    1. Develop a routine: create a time block & stick to it
    2. Write regularly: once you submit, start on the next project
    3. Create goals with deadlines
    4. Proofread before submission
  2. Throwing words out: Putting ideas on paper can sometimes end with pages of writing. This does not mean you have explained it clearly nor that everything you wrote is necessary. Be sure to go back through and remove necessary words.
  3. Grammatical Errors: Do not let grammatical errors be the reason your ideas get loss or your reasons lose their strength. Learn to effectively apply basic grammar rules! It will do wonders for your efforts to get noticed as a published author.
  4. It will NOT be perfect the 1st time: Being a proficient writer does not exempt you from having to revise your work. After you are done writing have someone (classmate, colleague, family or friend) read it and provide feedback. Do not be surprised if they return with a laundry list of suggestions. Being so close to your content can sometimes cause to you leave out things. Believe me when I say, “they’ll point it out!”
  5. Who are you writing for: When writing, its good to have an audience in mind. Writing for computer science students and writing for a 3rd grade students require different styles. Keeping this in mind can help you select the appropriate language, examples, etc. Ideally, you want your writing to be accessible and enjoyable to all age groups and across different disciplines. Yes, it a loft goal, but why not aim for it? Start small.

Regarding Reviewers

It is likely that you have heard or been a “victim” of reviewers. Contrary to what many believe they are not their to make life difficult or torture you. Reviewers are their to ensure the relevance and quality to a submitted work and there are things you can do to aid them.

Citation

The importance of acknowledging the work of others cannot be over emphasized. Neglecting to do so gives the appearance that you are responsible for developing or coining a concept or idea and is considered plagiarism. In many circles (inside & outside of academia), failing to cite is considered a serious offense that can be a fatal blow to your creditability. Equally important is doing it correctly. Be sure to pick one citation style and stick to it.

These are issues that can be easily avoided. There are several offline and online guides to help you correctly cite your resources and avoiding plagiarism. Amongst them are:

Don’t really have time to make sure your commas and periods are in the appropriate places? Want to make sure the author’s name is spelled right every time? Then try any of the automated tools listed below. BUT, don’t rely on them. Always go back and double check to make sure the computer did not screw up!

  • EasyBib: EasyBib helps users format sources quickly and accurately.
  • BibMe: Like EasyBib, BibMe supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting.

Copyright Terms

Pay close attention to the terms of use! Ask questions and make sure you understand how your work will be used and what rights you have to your own work. This is important since most times, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement sign over all rights to the publisher.

The other part of this is using copyrighted stuff in your work. It is the author’s responsibility to secure permission to use copyrighted stuff. Depending on the journal, evidence of authorization can be provided verbally, by fax or by email.

Revisions

If you haven’t figured it out yet, revisions is the way of life for writers. The panelist all agreed that it was not uncommon to have to revise even the best paper. One even mentioned that there can be as many as 90 different questions/ comments about one manuscript and followed the it up with, “It’s good for you!” Essentially, it is in the writers best interest to accept the editors suggestions, if they want their work included in that publication that is.

I don’t agree with this statement in its entirety. If the changes do not cause your voice to get lost or you are hard pressed to publish something, go ahead and do it. However, if the amendments dilute what you were attempting to convey, then find a different publication to submit it to. Alternatively, push back. Let the reviewer and/or editor know why you did a particular thing and see what happens.

As a writer you may go through a few cycles of editing. Don’t let this discourage you. Furthermore, it is essential that you make changes in a timely manner. Editors face the pressure to meet journal production deadlines and include well written pieces. Don’t be the reason they have to wait.

You are Almost There

As it turns out, there was more to say about writing than I initially assumed. Rather than try to squeeze information about the actual submission process and what to expect from reviewers/ editors, I will stop here. Part (3) three will focus solely that.

If you have any questions, comments or want to share something I left out use the comments section below.

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