This is going to be a long entry. Just so you know, it will cover peer reviewed journals and some examples for the type of timeframe you might expect from submitting an article to seeing it published. Of course, it varies widely by journal.
- You may get helpful feedback from the journal editors for improving your chapter before it goes to your committee.
- You might get to take your paper to a conference and test it out on an audience of your peers, giving you more ideas about how to proceed and feedback about what's working (or not working).
- Your committee might be less inclined to significantly change that part of your dissertation if it is already published (hey, it could happen!)
- You'll build up the publications section of your resume and get a head start on the process of eventually publishing your dissertation as a book.
First you need to find a peer reviewed journal for submitting your work.
What does "peer reviewed" mean? It means that every article the journal publishes is sent to a panel of professionals, usually the top academics in a given field, spread across several universities throughout the nation. All of the members of the panel read the articles carefully before accepting them for publication. This means that the quality of the published articles is trustworthy - that the journal maintains a certain standard and that several people in the field have carefully looked through the articles before publishing them.
You know what you're getting with a peer reviewed journal - it's a reliable, credible, trustworthy, consistent source.
As a researcher, you should be focusing on peer reviewed journals when you're doing your literature review. As an aspiring published scholar, you should also be sending your work to peer reviewed journals for their consideration.
How can you tell if a journal is peer reviewed? Well, one easy way is to get your hands on a copy of the journal and look inside the front cover. Look for a list of Editors, Advisory Editors, or the Editorial Board. If there's a long list of names and their scholarly affiliations (well-known universities), then you've got a peer-reviewed journal.
By this point in your program, you'll be expected to know what the major associations and publications in your field are (for example, AAR for Religion or MLA for English). But if you don't know, that's okay - just ask. It's better to find out now than to pretend you know when you don't. Find a professor you're comfortable with and say, "You know, I should know this...but which professional organizations would recommend that I join?" or "What would you say are the most important conferences for my field?"
If you're too embarrassed to ask a professor, consider talking to a classmate who is further along in your program than you are.
Once you find out which journals you should be reading, take a look at them - what kinds of articles do they publish? How long are they? What are their submission guidelines? (you can usually find this information on the inside cover, the first few pages, or on their website) Think about whether or not a chapter of your dissertation might fit the type of thing they publish.
Another idea to consider is doing a book review. A book review is basically like any review you'd read in the newspaper: short (usually 250-500 words), covers the basics about what its about, how well it accomplishes its task, etc. Many journals are hungry for people to write book reviews, and book reviews are often easier to get published than articles.
You might write to a journal editor and say that you're interested in writing book review for them and see if they have any books they need reviewed. Or you might do a review for a recently published work and send it to them to see if they need reviews.
You might be thinking, "How the hell will I have time to do that on top of everything else?!"
Well, you can kill two birds with one stone: look at the books you have to read for your dissertation. Were any of them published in the last two years? If so, you could easily read it for your dissertation research, keep notes, then write a little book review for it and submit it for publication when you're done. You've got to read that book anyway - might as well get a little something extra out of it!
For anyone who is reading literature related to Women's Studies: Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal is based here at CGU and is always looking for people to do book reviews. So if you're reading any recent books that would be of interest to feminist scholars, definitely contact the journal about doing a book review for them.
During our recent meeting, someone asked, "How long does the process take?" Well, it really varies. But it probably takes longer that you'd imagine.
Here is a sample timeframe I experienced for submitting an entry for a book that was going to be published:
2/22/05 - I see a CFP asking for short entries for a reference book that is going to be published. I submit my entries and they are accepted.
7/7/08 - I receive e-mail letting me know that the book will be published at the end of 2008.
8/8/08 - Still waiting!
Lapse time: Three years and counting... (this can't be normal!!!)
2/3/07 - I first see a CFP for a conference happening in July.
3/1/07 - Deadline for submitting an abstract. I choose a paper I've written for a class at CGU.
7/13/07 - I present the paper at a major conference. At the end of the conference, the organizers invite participants to submit papers that were presented at the conference for a special issue of their journal.
7/31/07 - The deadline for submitting papers. I submit.
3/18/08 - I decide its ridiculous of me to chicken out. So I e-mail the editors, acknowledging that I've missed the deadline and checking to see if they'd still accept a submission. They say they will.
3/24/08 - I submit the revision.
5/14/08 - My essay has been accepted! But not by the journal I sent it to! They're actually publishing it in a sister journal. They accept my essay, conditional upon accepting their suggested changes using "Track Changes." It involves me clicking "yes" multiple times. Awesome.
7/30/08 - An editor from the new journal e-mails me for two corrections.
8/25/08 - Still waiting to find out what issue it will be in.
Lapse time: 1 year and counting...
Turn around time for creative submissions (a very different process from academic essays, but might be important for some of you doing Fine Arts degrees or wanting to keep doing your creative work on the side)
Submitted 11/15/04, rejected 12/15/04
Submitted 11/22/04, rejected 3/29/05
Submitted 11/30/04, accepted 2/13/05
Submitted 12/15/04, rejected 1/13/04
Submitted 4/9/05, accepted 6/1/05
Submitted 4/2/05, rejected 6/30/05
Submitted 10/20/05, rejected 11/15/05
Submitted 3/24/06, accepted 5/6/06
Submitted 11/18/06, accepted 2/17/07
Submitted 3/19/08, rejected 6/10/08
Submitted 4/21/08, rejected 7/1/08
Submitted 6/11/08, accepted 8/11/08
Typical Lapse Time: about 3 months
You'll also notice a decent amount of rejection in there. Toughening up your skin is a great, great thing to do. I recommend creating a "rejection letter" collection. Or wallpapering your bathroom with them. That way, when you get a rejection letter, it's weirdly kind of a good thing ("Now I can finish papering the right wall!")
So as you can see, it can take awhile. But don't let that discourage you! If anything, it is even more of a reason to start the process if you haven't already. Send stuff out into the ether, forget about it, and you might be pleasantly surprised in a few months. And if not, that's cool too. There's no shame in a rejection letter - that's simply an opportunity to send your piece somewhere else. There's a home for it somewhere!
(By the way, these cheeseball photos of motivational words? I totally took them in Honnold Library. Did you ever notice them there before? Me neither!!!)