As a PhD student my main focus was on getting the damn thing finished – as quickly as possible as far as I was concerned.
But whilst doing my fieldwork it became apparent that I had a lot of interesting and original data which may be of interest to others and perhaps I should think about getting it published.
However as a newspaper journalist, the world of academic publishing was initially a bizarre, unfathomable one to me. Nether-the-less with a good dose of trial and error I eventually began to master it.
Whether you are a PhD student, an early career researcher or a practitioner looking to develop a research profile, there are some simple steps you can take which should help you break down the academic publishing barrier.
Learn to take rejection on the chin. Some journals are incredibly competitive to get into and you will be competing against professors with decades of research experience. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though.
Learn from the rejection. Is it formatted correctly? Is your research timely enough? Does it meet the remit of the journal? Does it contain original, empirical research? A literature review is not usually publishing material but fieldwork data is. Are there chapters of your thesis that can be easily reshaped into a journal article?
In order to target your article at the appropriate journal you need to be aware of the market. Subscribe to all the relevant journals and set up key word Google alerts. Be aware of online and print journals and publications specifically for postgraduate students or early career researchers. There may also be journals associated to professional bodies such as the AJE (Association of Journalism Educators). It is also worth signing up to academic mailing lists at JISCMail.
A good way to start, and get yourself known by journal editors and other academics, is to write a book review. Email the journal book review editor and make a suggestion. Make sure it is something that is relevant to the journal and very recently published. Again make sure you follow the journal’s style guide when submitting the review.
Attending conferences has many benefits like finding out what new research is out there, finding potential collaborators and hearing about special editions of journals. Even better is if you present a paper at a conference. The paper may then be made available to the other delegates and also put forward for a conference journal special.
Similarly entering journal/conference competitions is a great way into publishing. My very first published paper won the best PhD paper at the annual MeCCSA conference and my prize was publication in the international journal Convergence . Many people don’t think to enter competitions so you will be in with a good chance.
Journals often put a call out for papers for themed editions. If you have something that fits with the theme then you have a good chance of being selected. If you are on the relevant mailing lists then you should hear about these editions immediately via email.
More information about academic publishing can be read in David Canter’s book Becoming an Author: Advice for Academics and Other Professionals (and yes – he’s my dad).