6 of Dr. Onwuegbuzie’s 30 steps to publishing in scholarly journals

Typewriter with text Ready to get publishedIn part 1 of his two-part webinar, “A 30-Step Guide to Publishing in Scholarly Journals”, Dr. Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University, and distinguished visiting professor at the University of Johannesburg, shared insight into his 30-step process, which he calls a meta-framework for publishing with steps that are “continuous, iterative, interactive, holistic, dynamic, and synergistic”.

The following steps are six of the 30 he shared: selecting a topic of interest, determining the outlet and audience, deciding on whether collaboration is needed/feasible, choosing the outlets for publication, and writing the work.

Step 1: Find and Develop a Topic Area of Interest

Professor Onwuegbuzie cautions that doctoral students should think carefully before selecting a topic for their dissertations, choosing something about which they feel passionate about. While noting various benefits of completing dissertations in a timely manner (e.g., professional, social, familial), Professor Onwuegbuzie cautions against rushing through the process, as doing so can negatively impact the quality of the results and potential for future publication. He states, “as editor/guest editor of journals for the last 14 years, I have rejected numerous manuscripts that clearly originated from low-quality dissertations”.

For beginning faculty members, he identifies a greater significance to the topic selection “because this topic should propel their careers”. For those faculty who rushed through their own dissertation process, Professor Onwuegbuzie notes that they often are left with low-quality or unpublishable dissertations, underdeveloped research and/or writing skills, and limited opportunities for work directly related to their dissertation efforts. For these budding faculty, he encourages them to consult their more experienced colleagues for advice and direction when selecting a topic of interest.

Step 4: Determine the Outlet

Authors have an array of outlets from which to choose, including the following: books, monographs, encyclopedias, Internet websites, government documents, popular magazines, trade catalogues, company reports, congressional/parliamentary bills, commentaries/responses, conference proceedings, essays, poems, photographs, software, and advertisements. According to Professor Onwuegbuzie, “of these, in the world of academe, journal articles typically hold the most weight for decisions regarding tenure, promotion, merit pay, and the like.”

Step 6: Determine the Audience for the Article

Professor Onwuegbuzie shares that determining the audience for your article helps in the framing of the manuscript. By knowing the audience (e.g. students, teachers, administrators, policymakers), it becomes easier to determine the language to use, how much explanation of terminology is necessary, and more.

Step 8: Decide Whether Collaboration is Needed/Feasible

According to Professor Onwuegbuzie, whether or not to collaborate with colleagues is a very important decision. His own observation of a specific journal showed that manuscripts with multiple authors were more likely to be accepted for publication than were those with single authors. As a result, he recommends that “beginning faculty members seriously consider collaborating with one or more colleagues, at least initially colleagues—especially with those who have publishing experience—at least until such time as the beginning faculty member gains experience and confidence in publishing”. He further suggests that authorship and division of labor be committed to in writing via a contract.

Step 18: Choose Two or More Outlets for Publication of Paper

Professor Onwuegbuzie advises from his own authoring experience to select the journal(s) before the manuscript is written, not afterwards. By doing so, the manuscript can be written to conform to that journal’s specific rules, regulations, and guidelines. Additionally, the journal audience is easier to discern and the manuscript can be written consistent with other articles traditionally published in that journal.

He then offered additional advice to “not just write for a particular journal that appears to be appropriate for the underlying topic and genre but to write for at least two potential journals”. This advice allows for using feedback from a first-choice journal, in the case of a rejection, to address any major criticisms and editorial suggestions provided by the action editor and reviewers, and send the manuscript to your second-choice journal without any further delay.

Step 23: Write the Work

Professor Onwuegbuzie offered his own Q&A with this step, citing a common question of beginning authors, “How are some authors able to publish so much?” His answer, “Because they all write with discipline!” He goes on to say that he suspects most beginning authors do not realize how much hard work goes into attaining a high level of scholarship and that the vast majority of emergent authors “do not work sufficiently hard to produce high-quality manuscripts”. One of his studies found that 23% of manuscripts are poorly written.

TAA members can access the complete recording of A 30-Step Guide to Publishing in Scholarly Journals as part of TAA’s Presentations on Demand collection.


Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.

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