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Fifteen Guidelines for Helping Education Faculty Get Published in Peer-reviewed Journals

 

Joseph Sanacore, Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus

Donna Alvermann, University of Georgia

 

Joseph Sanacore

Department of Special Education and Literacy

Long Island University/ C.W. Post Campus

Brookville, NY 11548

Phone:  516-299-2125

E-mail:  joseph.sanacore@liu.edu

 

Donna Alvermann

Department of Language and Literacy Education

University of Georgia

Athens, GA 30602

Phone: 706-542-2718

E-mail: dalverma@uga.edu

 

 

            Getting tenure at most schools of education in the United States is usually a six- or seven-year process. Typically, junior faculty are expected to demonstrate excellent teaching, to engage in rigorous committee work, and to publish books and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Our experience in academe during the past three decades suggests that non-tenured education faculty sustain incredible stress as they simultaneously strive to become savvy about university politics, cope with low entry-level salaries, and juggle university expectations. Probably, the most challenging expectation for junior faculty is getting published. This milestone is considered a major requirement for gaining tenure, and tenure is viewed as a necessary foundation for being promoted and for advancing to leadership positions.

 

            We bring to this chapter fifteen guidelines that support faculty members’ efforts to publish in peer-reviewed journals. These guidelines are based on our experiences in writing, peer-reviewing, editing, and conducting related workshops and mentoring sessions (Alvermann & Reinking, 2003, 2006; Reinking & Alvermann, 2003; Sanacore, 2006; Sanacore & Alvermann, 2006). Our suggestions in this chapter are adapted from some of our previous work designed to help faculty increase their quality and quantity of articles in peer-reviewed journals. Although we value books and book chapters, we focus on journal writing because it is a priority in many schools of education. 

 

Guideline 1: Synthesize Your Dissertation and Condense It into a Manuscript Format

 

Doctoral dissertations represent not only important research experience for doctoral students, but also important contributions to the education profession. They are structured, comprehensive, and sometimes packed with jargon. Rather than sit on a shelf and collect dust, the dissertation can be transformed into a user-friendly manuscript of twenty-five to thirty pages and can be used as a published study in a reputable journal.  As expected, some dissertations consist of the type of data collection and data analysis that is appropriate for major research journals. Other dissertations have greater value for being converted to several shorter manuscripts. For example, a recent dissertation focused on improving middle school students’ literacy learning through interactive discussions, drama activities, and independent reading. The researcher is in the process of transforming this study (especially the comprehensive related literature chapter) into three manuscripts, each with its own introduction, related literature section, practical application, summary, and reference list. The potential for publishing these three manuscripts in a practitioner journal is increased when careful editing reflects a conversational tone, the elimination of jargon, and the avoidance of stereotyping related to race, gender, age, and ability. 

 

Guideline 2: Know the Format, Content, Editorial Policy, and Audience of the Journal for Which You Intend to Submit a Manuscript.

 

Whether junior faculty are using their dissertations or considering other manuscripts for publication, they must be aware of different journals’ individual or collective emphasis on theory, research, practice, or all the above. Familiarity with a journal usually involves reading many issues of it and knowing the instructions for authors, which are often available in the journal or a related website. For example,  Intervention in School and Clinic, accepts submissions of the following types: (a) “Feature” articles, (b) “An Interview with,” (c) “Technology Trends,”(d)  “What Works for Me,” (e) “Books and More,”(f) “20 Ways to,” (g) “Spotlight on Students,”(h) “Policy and Law Briefs,” (i) “Diversity Dispatches,” (j) “Collaboration Forum,” and (k) “Behavior Management.” The editorial policy indicates that the journal is practitioner-oriented and is “designed to provide practical, research-based ideas to educators who work with students with severe learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral problems” (Council for Learning Disabilities, 2006, n.p.). No extensive reviews of professional literature are accepted, and a one-paragraph introduction for the topic is considered adequate.

In comparison, the editors of Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal (2006) welcome articles either reporting, synthesizing, reviewing, or analyzing scholarly inquiry concerning women’s issues. Manuscripts should not exceed 30 pages.  Reading Research Quarterly welcomes submission of research-oriented manuscripts that make contributions to advancing knowledge and understanding of reading and of literacy, broadly defined. Articles published in RRQ are primarily reports of original, rigorously conducted research employing diverse epistemologies, methodologies, methods, and disciplinary perspectives. Other appropriate research-oriented articles include essays of new theoretical or methodological perspectives, comprehensive syntheses of research toward developing new understandings, and scholarly analyses of trends and issues in the field. Pilot studies, and other research efforts of limited scope or duration, are not typically considered for publication (International Reading Association, 2006).        

 

In addition to these three publications, other journals provide space for opinion or argumentative articles, and some journals designate entire issues or parts of issues for articles concerning themes. Furthermore, most journal editors maintain a policy concerning manuscript style and require specific guidelines, such as those indicated in the 5th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001).  Preparation guidelines vary in certain journals, however, with some editors requiring APA style for the references section and The Chicago Manual of Style (2003) for other sections of the manuscript. Before submitting a manuscript to a journal editor, prospective authors should be thoroughly aware of the editorial policy and manuscript requirements of the journal.

 

Guideline 3: Realize Your Creative Potential, and Be Aware of Methods That Kill Creativity

 

Some academics do not consider journal articles to be creative.  Granted, some articles are dense with technical data collection and data analysis, but even these contributions can demonstrate unique ways of synthesizing ideas and applying research findings to practice. Teresa Amabile has published extensively in the field of creativity, and her research has implications for industry, science, academe, and other fields (Amabile, 1988a, 1988b, 1992, 1998; Amabile, Hadley, & Kramer, 2002; Amabile & Sensabaubh, 1992; Collins & Amabile, 1999; Conti & Amabile, 1999; Hennessey & Amabile, 1999; Hill & Amabile, 1993). Specifically, Amabile discovered the following factors that undermine people’s interest and creativity when they are involved with interesting and potentially creative projects:

 

(a)    Expected evaluation: People who focus on how their work will be judged are less creative than individuals who do not worry about evaluative constraint.

(b)   Surveillance: Individuals who are conscious of being observed while working are less creative than individuals who are not conscious of being observed.

(c)    Reward: Individuals who perceive themselves as working mostly for a tangible reward are less creative than individuals who are not working mainly for a reward.

(d)   Competition: People who perceive themselves in direct and threatening competition with colleagues are less creative than those who are not focusing on competition.

(e)    Restricted choice: Individuals whose choice is restricted are less creative than individuals who have a freer choice. Scientists who are engaged in creativity seem to be especially affected by choice. Specifically, freedom of choice for scientists was the most important aspect of environments that supported high creativity. Restricted choice was the most significant factor that affected low creativity.

(f)    Extrinsic motivation: People who think about all the external purposes for doing something are less creative than people who think about all the intrinsic purposes for doing something.

 

These six factors can stifle, or kill, creativity in industry and in academe, and they appear to be embedded in most universities’ expectations for faculty. For example, faculty expect to be:

 

(a)    evaluated by students and administrators;

(b)   observed in classes and during committee work;

(c) rewarded with tenure, promotions, and grants;

(d) stressed about competing for tenure, promotions, and grants;

(e) restricted in their choice of teaching schedules and research priorities; and

(f) involved in tasks for extrinsic reasons, such as achieving tenure.

 

Moving beyond these external factors, the work of Amabile and her colleagues, Florida and Goodnight (2005), and others indicates that more and better creativity takes place in the context of intrinsic motivation. Common sense, therefore, suggests that faculty are more likely to produce creative, authentic journal articles when external forces are eliminated or reduced. Not surprisingly, neither university nor journal expectations represent a perfect world. Both are similar in requiring prospective researchers and authors to meet external criteria for publishing. Universities usually require faculty publications to advance knowledge, to bring prestige to the campuses, and to achieve promotions. Journal editors and peer reviewers are equally concerned with issues of advancing knowledge and of gaining prestige for the journals and the professional associations that sponsor them. Educational journals, however, provide a variety of print and electronic alternatives, offering options to prospective authors to write about theory, research, and practice. Thus, writers have opportunities to reach their comfort zone as they match their interests, preferences, and talents with journal expectations. Moving in this direction requires time to think, reflect, and imagine before we engage in thoughtful writing. Last-minute, or eleventh-hour, perspectives usually do not work well in writing thoughtfully and authentically, which are basic considerations for getting published. (For related publications by Amabile and her colleagues about creativity, visit http://www.hbs.edu/research/index.html).

 

Guideline 4: Become a Serious Critic and Editor of One’s Own Work

 

Most junior faculty have strong content backgrounds concerning their specialties.  Their work sometimes lacks credibility, however, because it has not been carefully revised and edited. To demonstrate credibility with editors and their peer reviewers, writers should not only generate substantive content but also read their manuscripts (sometimes aloud) multiple times, spaced over several weeks. During this process of revision, prospective authors should share their drafts with colleagues for the purpose of receiving constructive feedback that could result in more credible rewrites. We also suggest that manuscripts be edited with a careful focus on criteria, such as:

 

(a)    Brevity:  Omit words that add nothing to meaning.  Examples: Change “during the course of” to “during” and “few in number” to “few.” 

(b)   Clarity:  Do not use vague adjectives when specific ones are called for.  Do not write “We considered numerous strategies.” Instead write “We considered nine strategies.”

(c)    Tone and style: Make sure your words sound as if they come from a human being—not an institution. Example: Change “Further notification will follow” to “I’ll keep you informed” and “In the judgment of this author” to “I believe.”

(d)   Variety:  Avoid starting each sentence with the same part of speech, such as a noun or pronoun. Caution: Do not try to start each sentence with a different part of speech. Just strive for some variety. 

(e)    Content:  Make your purpose immediately clear. Do not force the reader to wade through several pages before understanding why you wrote the piece. 

(f)    Paragraph strength:  Each paragraph should deal with only one topic. Including too many topics will make your reader work too hard. Also, when needed, use transitional devices between paragraphs.

 

These six suggestions are adapted from When Editing Your Own Work (2004), and they can be used in conjunction with other suggestions for revising and editing one’s work.  They also serve as a reminder: “Don’t expect journal reviewers to do this work!” (McKinney, 2005, n.p.).   

 

Guideline 5: Weigh the Benefits of Submitting Manuscripts to Themed Issues or Regular Issues of Journals

 

Another concern is whether to write for themed or general issues of peer-reviewed journals. Not surprisingly, both have merit. For example, themed issues approach an important area from a range of perspectives and, thus, provide opportunities for targeting manuscripts toward specific aspects of themes. General issues provide more topics for readers and more choices for potential authors. 

 

In support of writing for themed issues, Henson (1995) found that 31% of articles appearing in 49 journals “were related to designated themes. The advantage of writing on a designated theme is that most journals that publish at least some themed issues receive only one-third as many manuscripts for their announced themed issues as for their general issues. Put another way, writing for a themed issue reduces the competition by about two-thirds and so can double or triple your manuscript’s potential for acceptance” (p. 803). Henson (2005) suggests that writers become aware of forthcoming themes in their target journals and prepare and submit their manuscripts before the deadline set for the target issues.

 

Another point of view suggests that only extraordinary manuscripts should be sent to themed issues of journals. One reason is that editors designate specific issues for particular themes, and this publishing schedule can result in a manuscript being held for review. For instance, manuscripts submitted for a theme in the May issue of a journal might have a deadline submission date of December 1. Realistically, this timeline means that the manuscripts might be reviewed from December to March and that busy editors might send rejection letters to the authors between March and April. If the authors completed and submitted their manuscripts in September, then the manuscripts will be held for most of the academic year as the editors and peer reviewers make decisions about acceptance, rejection, or revision. Another reason is that themed issues tend to attract well-known experts in the thematic area, and their experience and visibility increase their chances of getting published in the thematic issue. Regrettably, well-known authors sometimes receive preferential treatment, even if their manuscripts are not excellent. Simply put, politics can affect journal writing. 

 

Guideline 6: Select Journals That Represent Your Current Developmental Level of Research and Writing and That Your University Considers Acceptable

 

Becoming an effective writer for peer-reviewed journals involves developmental growth and savvy. Serious writers are continuously improving their craft by reading extensively, engaging in deep reflection, and seeking constructive criticism of their work.  Savvy writers are also aware of the degree to which their manuscripts fit the needs and expectations of different journals and simultaneously fulfill the publishing requirements of their universities. Shelley and Schuh (2001) advise that “Publishing in the right journal is recommended to aspiring authors, although determining the right journals in which to publish can be a problem for the beginning writer. One method of determining what constitutes a top journal is the publication’s acceptance rate” (p. 11). According to Cabell and English (1998), manuscripts that represent significant contributions tend to be published in journals with the lowest acceptance rates. One criterion for top journals is an acceptance rate of 10-20% (Murningham, 1996).

 

Guideline 7: Consider Certain Electronic Journals as Viable Options for Publishing

 

Faculty are also concerned about the value of publishing articles in peer-reviewed electronic journals. E-journals are potential writing outlets, and some of them seem to be having a greater impact on their readership (Rudner, Miller-Whitehead, & Gellmann, 2002). For example, Tenopir and King (2000) estimated that a typical article appearing in an American scientific journal will probably be read about 900 times. In contrast,

 

it is not uncommon for an article in Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA) to be read more than 10,000 times; several articles have been viewed more than 30,000 times. The 100 articles in Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation (PARE), a more specialized electronic journal, had averaged more than 7,000 views per article as of February 2002.  In September 2002, PARE readership reached the one million mark. (Rudner, Miller-Whitehead, & Gellmann, 2002, n.p.)

 

Some scholars, however, believe that e-journals are not as esteemed as traditional print journals. Non-tenured faculty, therefore, might be apprehensive about the possibility of tenure committees’ negative view of online publications. Undoubtedly, some tenure committees will underestimate the value of e-journals and not give them as much credit toward tenure. A related issue is that some e-journals might fail or “are likely to be less permanent than printed journals” (Kiernan, 1999, p. A25).

 

On the contrary, Rudner, Miller-Whitehead, and Gellmann (2002) believe online “journals are often as rigorous as print journals and have a much greater impact in terms of educating readers.” These researchers offer recommendations to editors and publishers of e-journals. Some of the recommendations are also pertinent for authors. These include: (a) submitting articles on current topics, (b) selecting e-journals in which articles are permanently archived, (c) choosing online journals that are indexed by Current Index to Journals in Education and Education Index (d) researching e-journals with a focus on their usage statistics, and (e) providing colleagues and tenure committees with information concerning the value and impact of certain online journals.

 

Guideline 8: Consider Presenting a Paper at a Conference, but Realize Its Pros and Cons

 

Chairing sessions and presenting papers at conferences are exciting activities for academics. These venues provide excellent opportunities for meeting new colleagues, solidifying friendships, and sharing ideas. Participation at conferences can also lead to authorship and co-authorship of articles, especially when the presenters are thoroughly prepared, attentive to audience feedback, and committed to transforming the presentations into manuscripts.   

 

            Preparing for and participating in conferences, however, are time-consuming and siphon time and energy away from preparing a manuscript for submission to a journal.  Realistically, most conference presentations do not result in articles, book chapters, and books. From personal experience, we believe that judiciously getting involved in conference activities is important for both sharing and learning. We also believe that these activities have potential for supporting authorship of articles in peer-reviewed journals.         

 

Guideline 9: Manage Your Busy Academic Year While Being Productive and Visible, but Not Exhausted

 

New faculty are often overwhelmed with the challenge and frustration of getting published in the context of other time-consuming responsibilities. They feel inundated with planning, teaching, and assessing their students’ progress; serving on curriculum, personnel, academic standing, and ad hoc committees; becoming involved in partnerships with local school districts; attending department and faculty meetings; and becoming savvy about politics. Compounding their stresses are low salaries and expenses for college loans, which can cause new faculty to teach course overloads during the academic year and summer sessions. This harried context can drain the human mind of cognitive and creativity energy, which is necessary for clear thinking and effective writing.  Expecting junior faculty to be overly involved with university responsibilities and to still find time to publish substantive articles is unrealistic. As new faculty struggle to survive the tenure process, they need support, not more stress. 

 

The stress encountered by new faculty can be alleviated in a variety of ways, such as having junior faculty choose only one committee on which they would like to serve and supporting their efforts and growth on this committee. For example, as members of the Curriculum Committee, junior faculty might work closely with mentors to revise standards, goals, and course syllabi. In addition to committee work, mentors can help faculty publish articles. Mentors are especially helpful if they have good track records as researchers, writers, and editors. To increase the chances of matching the “right” mentors with the “right” faculty members, potential mentors should be sought and asked to list their areas of expertise. Also, new faculty who were interested in being mentored should be asked to list their research and publication priorities. This approach provides new faculty with opportunities to decide if they need a mentor and, if so, to choose a mentor closely connected to their research agenda (Kamler & Rasheed, 2006). These types of assistance will help junior faculty to be more productive and visible and less frustrated and exhausted.

 

Guideline 10: Understand the Nature of Academic Discourse as a Unique Genre

 

            Research journals represent a specialized genre with a unique discourse requiring writers to possess a high level of expertise about the content to be communicated. As with any discourse, there are certain ways of “doing” and “being” in the world—what Gee (1996) refers to as discursive practices, or one’s identity kit—that mark a person for membership (or not) in a particular group at a particular time. The same can be said for the discourse in which academics engage when writing for research journals. In short, anticipating who the editors may assign to review a manuscript for possible publication leads a savvy author to cite or to highlight some work that may be viewed favorably and to avoid citation of other work that may be viewed less favorably.

 

            Developing a sense of audience is critical for scholarly writing that is intended for a research journal. Although taking into consideration what research will be viewed more or less favorably is important, it is also critical that authors not overlook points of view that differ from their own. Including alternative viewpoints demonstrates at least two things that are valued in a scholarly publication: first, the author is well read; and second, readers are provided sufficient information for drawing their own conclusions about the validity of the argument being proffered.       

 

Guideline 11: Write in a Manner that is Rigorous, Not Stodgy

           

James Boswell, the 18th century Scottish lawyer, diarist, and biographer of Samuel Johnson, reportedly observed that good writing is nothing more than disciplined talking. We believe there is merit to Boswell’s observation generally, but when it comes to academic writing—especially the kind that involves writing for research journals—we would argue that there is little resemblance between writing and talking, at least in the expository realm. Why this is so has a great deal to do with the “voice” one wishes to project through one’s writing. Although the American Psychological Association’s current style manual (APA 5th edition) authorizes the use of first person singular in reports of social science research, this nod towards recognizing the limits of a purely objective form of writing goes only so far. Voice applies to more than simply grammatical forms. Writing for research journals requires that one develop a voice of reason, and at times, even a voice of persuasion, though some might argue that writing persuasively is a skill to be honed in schools of rhetoric, not in the sciences and social sciences.

 

            Regardless, as Kamler and Thomson (2006) have pointed out, when writing a research report, it is advantageous to craft a text that is both scholarly and writerly. By writerly, they mean interesting—a term they admit is vague, though they define it as moving “away from ‘stodgy prose’, which [they] characterize as soporific slabs of writing, formulaic, over signposted, bristling with brackets, crabbed and turgid, generally just a very dull read” (p. 125). For Barthes (cited in Kamler & Thompson), the distinction was not between scholarly and writerly, but between readerly and writerly. To his way of thinking, a readerly text positions its readers as consumers of meaning that is fixed by the author; in contrast, a writerly text invites its readers to become co-producers of meaning (with the author). Later, this either/or thinking of Barthes would be challenged by poststructuralist scholars, such as Derrida (1978) who argued that words and texts are never fixed, and that all readers interpret them differently: thus, all texts are inevitably writerly—an idea that Kamler and Thomson support and illustrate through a passage written by the well-known Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood (2003):

 

The printed text of a book is thus like a musical score, which is not itself music, but becomes music when played by musicians, or ‘interpreted’ by them, as we say. The act of reading a text is like playing music and listening to it at the same time, and the reader becomes his [sic] own interpreter. (p. 44)

 

            At the same time, because rigorous research reports are often structured to be more readerly than writerly (to use Barthes’ terminology), we tend to side with Kamler and Thomson (2006) when they write, “what is at stake…is the question of emphasis and balance between the two” (p. 127). To paraphrase Kamler and Thomson loosely, the antidote to writing stodgy prose is to maintain a readerly structure while working to acquire a writerly stance.

           

Guideline 12: Develop Precision and Clarity in Written Expression

 

            A highly developed sense of precision and clarity is one of the hallmarks of a  successful academic writer, although some writers of academic prose question that aim, and in fact test its limits, on theoretical grounds (Aoki, 2000; Lather, 1996). Be that as it may, generally, among editors of highly regarded research journals, the importance of precision and clarity in writing is a given and not open to debate. Writing with precision and clarity produces a succinctness in style that captures readers’ attention and makes it possible for them to engage more deeply with a text. Not surprisingly, scholars who have had minimal experience in writing research reports often achieve the opposite effect. They may belabor points with an endless stream of redundancies or, just as annoyingly, provide too little context.  

 

            When difficulties such as these arise, it may be helpful to stop and take stock of the situation. It could be that a mistaken notion of what constitutes precision and clarity is the issue. For example, some inexperienced writers seem to operate on the principle that writing academic prose requires inflating ordinary ideas by using esoteric prose, often laced with jargon (Alvermann & Reinking, 2006). In their attempt to sound (and write) like a scholar, they ill advisedly subscribe to what Kamler and Thomson (2006) term the grammar of authority. This is not the grammar or rules for speaking and writing so-called Standard English. Rather, Kamler and Thomson use the term grammar of authority to refer to how people use language to make meaning differently, depending on the social context in which they find themselves. For example, consider the differences between the following two texts:

 

            Spoken            If you revise each chapter carefully before you submit the thesis,                                         then you’re likely to get a good result.

 

            Written            Careful revision of each chapter prior to thesis submission will                                             increase the likelihood of a good result. (Kamler & Thomson,                                              2006, p. 105)

 

            Although both texts have the same content, the first uses action verbs, and the second turns those verbs into nouns through a process known as nominalization. Individuals who understand this process, according to Kamler and Thomson (2006), have a tool for condensing speech-like text into more conventionalized report-writing text without resorting to the use of inflated prose or jargon. Of course, as with any stylized form of writing, when used in excess, nominalization “can create inaccessible prose where meaning is obscured and/or ideological meanings are hidden” (Kamler & Thomson, 2006, p. 112).

 

Guideline 13: Establish a Clear Focus

 

As editors of Reading Research Quarterly, Alvermann and Reinking (2006) wrote with first-hand knowledge of the editorial review process when they stated,

 

It has been our experience as editors that reviewers have little tolerance for manuscripts that clearly lack focus. Their frustration is understandable given the time that is required to review a manuscript and the irritation that inevitably develops from rereading a paper several times to infer an author’s main purpose or intent. It is better to do the hard work of focusing up front so that a manuscript presents the data in the best and most interpretable light. (p. 79)

 

            Individuals who take this guideline seriously will likely find that their chances of receiving an editorial revise-and-resubmit decision letter (as opposed to a rejection letter) will increase several times over. They may also find that while they have good intentions to do the hard work up front, they falter at the point of execution. Why? Quite possibly the most difficult challenge lies in making hard choices about what data to include from the start. Researchers are often involved in larger projects than they can write up for submission to tier-one research journals in the social sciences. When this happens, they are often forced to pick and choose from among several foci. A good practice is to ask individuals—sometimes one’s colleagues who are not that familiar with the work being submitted—to read it with a critical eye, looking for slippages in establishing a clear and consistent focus.

 

Guideline 14:   Make the Methodology Section a Logical Extension of the Paper’s Theoretical Framework and Questions

 

This guideline is perhaps best remembered if one thinks of a thread metaphor. The methodology section of a manuscript involves more than simply the methods used to collect and analyze the data. It needs to be connected to the theoretical framework that situates the questions and all the sections that follow, including an interpretation of one’s findings and a discussion that makes clear what the implications are for practice and further research. Consequently, if the metaphorical thread is broken or snagged in any of these sections, the paper will lack cohesiveness—a factor that reviewers and editors will likely view in a negative light.

 

Being explicit as to why one’s methodology fits logically within a particular theoretical frame, why that frame supports one’s guiding questions for the study, and so on, is a good hedge against the paper being generally misinterpreted. An appropriate methodology works with, not against, the theoretical framework and literature review that ground a study. For example, a study of adolescents’ multiliteracies would make little sense if grounded in a theory that views reading as an autonomous process, or one that focuses on cognitive development to the near exclusion of the sociocultural and historical contexts that embed such development.

 

Guideline 15: Love Your Data, but Not to the Point of Drawing Conclusions That Go Beyond the Evidence  

 

Remembering that meanings are made rather than “found” in one’s data will go a long way toward avoiding the age-old tendency to extrapolate a study’s findings beyond the evidence. While it is the case that data sources do inform one’s results section, it is the interpretation a researcher ascribes to those data that will determine what eventual meaning is made of the results. A researcher’s experiential background, the theoretical stance(s) taken in a particular study, to say nothing of the historical context and numerous other factors that may come into play when data are interpreted, all point to the need to be cautious about going beyond the evidence.

 Another caution worth mentioning is the need to avoid describing one’s data analysis in general (and thus meaningless) terms. For instance, stating that a study’s findings “emerged” without any concrete or systematic description of how the data were analyzed is ill advised. Editors and reviewers will expect a scholarly step-by-step process for analyzing data. Semantics aside, findings never materialize out of thin air; they are interpreted within one’s chosen theoretical perspective and mediated by the types of questions one asks (or fails to ask). Methodological choices also contribute to how valid, trustworthy, and replicable one’s evidence is judged to be. In short, drawing conclusions about one’s data is too important to bury under near meaningless phrases or to assume that readers will accept without clear evidence.

 

In Retrospect

 

Overall, we believe these fifteen guidelines support the dedicated efforts of faculty who are committed to making scholarly contributions in peer-reviewed journals.  Both junior and senior faculty need this type of support as they continue their research and publication in print and online journals. In a sense, this vitally important growth and development will increase the key players’ academic empowerment through a reconceptualization of their roles as reflective, dialogical, and mindful educators (Kane & Snauwaert, 1999/2000). University administrators and faculty who embrace this culture of empowerment will benefit from their shared role in promoting the quality and quantity of articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

 

Note

 

Guidelines 1-9 are adapted from Sanacore, J. (2006). Helping non-tenured education faculty get published in peer-reviewed journals. Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal, 20. Copyright 2006 by the Advancing Women in Leadership, Advancing Women Website, www.advancingwomen.com; reproduced with permission from the publisher.  Guidelines 10-15 are adapted from Alvermann, D., & Reinking, D. (2006). Writing for research journals. In S. Wepner & L. Gambrell (Eds.), Beating the odds: Getting published in the field of literacy (pp. 72-84).  Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Copyright 2006 by the International Reading Association, Newark, DE; reproduced with permission from the publisher.

 

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