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4 Key strategies for choosing the right journal

During the 2017 TAA Conference session, “Weeding and Harvesting the Most Appropriate Journal for Your Work: Successful Strategies from Novice and Experienced Academic Writers,” Laura Jacobi, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato, shared four key strategies she employs when seeking the right journal to publish her work.

1) Create a System of Organization

To stay organized, Jacobi uses binders labeled for each major project or category that contain information about each journal she plans to submit to. In her specific field, there are only three journals, so they are automatically added, but when seeking journals in different categories, she searches for published lists. “From those published lists, I look at titles and journals that might be relevant just based on title,” she said. Once she has selected the journals, she prints out the author instructions for each and files them. She also records information such as their acceptance rate and length of submission guidelines in order to have it all in one location she can refer to it later on. When submitting pre-submission inquiries, she files the dates of these in a binder to keep track of which journals she has already covered. “A pre-submission inquiry is where you email an editor in advance to see if your work will fit in that journal; included in the emails is an abstract and a brief rationale as to why your work will fit,” she said. She keeps the journals organized so that if her work is rejected from one journal, she can easily move on to the next journal she has filed in that category.

2) Build a Support Network

“Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to ask colleagues to read your work since everyone is busy and it can be a large undertaking,” said Jacobi. She suggests building a network of people who wouldn’t be burdened by your request, and inviting colleagues to participate in writing groups: “We’re all there writing together, we’re all there working, and every once and a while we might want to start talking and asking each other questions, so it’s a great place to get help on things.” She also suggests attending research workshops and conferences. She said she found TAA in her first year at Minnesota State University while attending a TAA sponsored workshop on her campus, which she says was “the best thing (she) had done in the entire year.”

3) Create Mutually Beneficial Opportunities for Teaching and Learning

At a TAA research workshop led by Dannelle Stevens,  Jacobi learned about TSA’s, or text structural analyses. “You take journal articles and you basically look at the structure of it,” explains Jacobi. “You analyze the structure by looking at the number of references, the number of headings, the types of headings, how formal the writing is, and how many words are in the abstract, etc” In an independent study on research methods,  she had students find articles on the topics within the journals that she had chosen, and then complete a TSA on those articles. “I came away with the work that they did for me, and it was mutually beneficial because they learned how to do this for themselves,” she said. She also has plans for an upcoming class, in which she will have the students conduct research summaries of journals in the field she is interested in, communication pedagogy. “I’ll have them take a five-year span and look at topics that were covered, the editors, and the type of research done,” she said. “They will be learning about the journals that are pertinent to this class, and it will also be beneficial to my research. Whenever you can find times where you can teach others and in turn, they can help you, it’s a great strategy to be efficient.” She also recommends proposing conference panels and inviting scholars you want to know, which is why she proposed the panel for the TAA Conference. In these situations, she said, each of the panelists can be beneficial to one another: “It helps us to get to know each others’ work and to build a more positive support network versus a  competitive atmosphere.”

4) Be Realistic

“This is hard for me because I want to do it all,” said Jacobi. Sometimes it is important to relax, so she sets some time for herself to do something she loves. She also sets small goals and chooses small chunks of work to accomplish each day: “Maybe that means I print out a list of journals that day and I’m just going to focus on one topic and find five journals that look interesting. Then the next day I print out the author instructions from those five journals and look through them.” Once she accomplishes those tasks, she rewards herself. Two of Jacobi’s favorite rewards to herself are Seroogy’s chocolate and kickboxing classes.

View the full presentation, “Weeding and Harvesting the Most Appropriate Journal for Your Work: Successful Strategies from Novice and Experienced Academic Writers.”