Social Workers Write

Publishing Journal Articles
Claire McMurray, Ph.D., KU Writing Center
Types of Academic Publications
Book review
Trade or professional
Response article
Theoretical article
• Social science research
• Quantitative
• Qualitative
• Interpretive
• Natural science
research article
• Article in the humanities
• Edited collection
• Book chapter
• Book
Journal Articles: Where do they fit in?
Narrow scope, context, claims
20-40 pgs.
Often published 2-3 years after submission
Carefully organized around a single significant
• Submitted one at a time
They usually do one of the following:
• Say something new about something old
• Approach new evidence in an old way
• Approach old evidence in a new way
• Pair old evidence with old approaches in a new
The Golden Rule of Journal Articles
Targeting: Types of Journals
Academic vs.
Targeting: how to investigate
Ask advisor and colleagues
Conduct a shelf search
Check citations/bibliography
Join associations in your field
Check electronic databases and
subject librarian
Check electronic archives
(JSTOR, Google Scholar)
Check websites of large academic
publishers (Oxford, Cambridge
University Press, etc.)
“Journal Seek”
Should have a list of at least a
dozen possible journals
Targeting: how to evaluate
• Use print versions in
• Look at rankings (but
don’t just target the most
• Privilege peer-reviewed
• General questions to ask
• Specific questions to ask
Targeting: next steps
Investigate each journal’s fit
Organize information about each journal
Create a “ranking” for sending out your
article, choose one to begin with
Talk to anyone you know who has published
in the journal
Skim a few issues and analyze an article
Send query emails to 2-3 editors
Consider using similar title, structure,
subheadings, length, scope, tone, and
“spin” as in your journal of choice
Consider citing journals from that field
(or the journal itself) and/or scholars on
that journal’s board
Never forget the journal’s intended
It is helpful to write using forecasting,
signposting, and signaling
Reasons for rejection
 Inappropriate journal
 No argument
 Focus too narrow/broad
 Off topic
 Not scholarly
 Too defensive
 No sufficiently original
 Poor structure
 Not significant
 Theoretical or
methodological flaw
 Too many grammar/spelling
Keep trying and don’t
lose hope!
A 40%-60% rejection
rate is standard. It can
reach 90%+ for
prestigious journals.
And now for a hands-on activity…
The instant thesis maker
When disagreeing with a current theory:
Although ______________(general statement, opposite opinion),
nevertheless __________________________ (your idea/thesis)
because __________________________ (examples, evidence).
When agreeing with a current theory:
Many scholars argue that ________________ (your idea, thesis)
and I agree because _________________(examples, evidence).
Structuring journal articles
 Outline a model article in the journal and use as a guide
 Suggested structures: known → unknown
simple → complex, uncontested → contested
general → particular, past → present
 Use subheadings
 Use summary
 Avoid discovery or “mystery novel” structure
 Organize around your main argument
 Stay on topic
 Develop examples evenly (balance sections)
 After writing, outline your own article (reverse outlining) or
draw a map of it
 Have someone at the Writing Center read it
Submitting your journal article
Submit cover letter to
editor on letterhead
Put article in journal’s
style, following
guidelines and citation
method exactly
Consult pgs. 181-182 in
Belcher’s book for full
list of dos/don’ts for
electronic and print
Congratulations on a
big step!
Journal Decisions
Revise and resubmit (minor issues)
Revise and resubmit (larger issues)
Rejection (will entertain a resubmission)
Rejection (complete dismissal)
Belcher, Wendy. Writing your Journal
Article in 12 Weeks. Thousand Oaks,
California: SAGE Publishing, Inc., 2009.
(available at KU Library)
Murray, Rowena. Writing for Academic
Journals. New York: McGraw-Hill Open
University Press, 2009.
(available at KU Library)
Need some encouragement?
Come visit the Writing
Center for more help!