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Publishing for Graduate Students: A Recap

PublishingforGraduateStudents Chad Turner’s comprehensive notes

Panel Questions

Karl Steel’s Facebook post https://www.facebook.com/karl.steel/posts/10205622561577917

Panelists: Karl Steel, Associate Professor of English Literature at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center

Jennifer Ball Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center

Moderator: Mary Catherine Kinniburgh

  • Both panelists admitted to unusual first publication experiences: Karl Steel’s first article as a Master’s student was a translation of French travel literature from a West African who traveled to the Soviet Union; Jennifer Ball’s first publication was her book, which she completed in a post-doc
  • Jennifer Ball never published in grad school, though from her experience on search committees, many more graduate students have publications on their resumes now.
  • Other publications besides articles in peer-review journals are book reviews, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, catalogs [for Art History]
  • Keep priorities–don’t let publishing distract from dissertation writing
  • Karl Steel suggested, after chapters are complete, to take 7000 words of the bulk and submit (Standard journal articles are 6-7000 w0rds)
  • Journal articles are “pithy,” (often stronger) arguments get straight to the point, more condensed that a book, not need to burden with background from the filed
  • Recommended reading Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks Wendy Belcher, Getting It Published and From Dissertation to Book William Germano
  • Book reviews: less important than other genres, suggested mainly if it’s useful to your work
  • How to write a book review: describe the argument in 2-3 paragraphs, end discuss what would have liked to be in it, although for grad students, this should just be evaluation instead
  • How to publish things: people ask; conference networking is important(Often writing projects can be solicited by others as one becomes known in the field)
  • For articles, don’t meander, have a strong central argument; shouldn’t feel like a seminar paper
  • Why an article might be rejected: argument doesn’t hold up because of incorrect facts, weak writing (lacks clarity or organization)
  • blog posts–not as popular as used to be, but still useful for writing, get people to read things
  • Reading your paper like a blog post is a good way of gauging how readers might react
  • Writing groups are useful, having both insiders and outsiders read it
  • Karl Steel suggests writing for 15-20 minutes a day (or banking that time for longer sessions)
  • Getting straight to the point with  articles–start with an anecdote
  • Editing other people’s work will help you in  your own work (as well as helping them)
  • If your professor tells you that you should publish something, you should take their advice on revisions and submit it
  • Conference questions help expand your argument, can be included in drafts
  • Mostly contraction is necessary for revision; focus in on your central argument
  • Publishing early doesn’t mean that you will run out of ideas
  • When submitting to a journal, a cover letter will tell what it’s about
  • Dissertation embargo: Putting dissertation online may not be the problem that it is often feared–so far there has not been a case where it’s prevented something from being published
  • Journals, particularly second-tier publications, are hungry for content–submission is doing them a favor
  • Submission etiquette: Can’t submit to more than one journal at a time
  • usually editors will tell you when to expect it back, generally 2-3 months; it’s okay to ask after 4 months or more (it may be that the reviewer has not gotten back to the editor)
  • Peer reviewers are people in the field outside of the journal
  • The importance of gossip–useful to know the status of journals to be sure if your work will actually be published
  • Peer review is the gold standard
  • Kalamazoo and other conferences are good to meet people–introduce yourself to panelists, follow them on Twitter, send emails, etc.
  • Co-authored works–not the same as a monograph on a CV but still useful–if have a more established person in the field writing with you, it looks good (see Karl Steel’s recent co-authored review essay in postmedieval with Jeffrey Jerome Cohen https://www.academia.edu/11985941/Race_Travel._Time_Heritage_a_review_essay)
  • Rejection is inevitable: get used to it
  • Usual responses: Accepted as is (rare), accepted upon revision, revise and resubmit, rejected
  • Try to follow their submission requirements as closely as possible (formats, etc.)
  • Image rights (manuscripts as well as art)–usually get from libraries, write to them
  • Make sure images are in a TIF file, not JPEG