I would like to participate more in academic journals (articles, book reviews, letters), but how do I break into that world of academia? It sometimes seems closed off to graduate students.

Posted by Mary Channen Caldwell, community karma 47

For example, there are a number of recent books that I would like to be able to publish reviews about, but how do you let editors know that you're available? I know I could possibly do a review for a graduate student journal, which would be great, but I'd really like to get involved with some of the more widely read journals in my field. I'd also like to start submitting some work to journals, and the advice I've received so far has focused on submitting to certain journals before others (e.g. smaller ones than ones with larger dissemination). Is this good advice? Are there really strategies and a path for publishing in journals? (especially as a graduate student?) 

over 11 years ago


Will Hauser, community karma 227

What a great question. What is common practice in my department is to develop a working relationship with a professor who has shared research interests. This need not be your major professor. Approaching that person can be a little hard but if you've taken a class with him or her in the past then consider asking them if they have any interest in taking a term paper you submitted for credit and developing it into a publishable article.

I'm assuming that you have "Directed Individual Study" credits (or the equivalent) in your department - basically a one-one-one class with a professor of your choosing on a topic of your choosing. Taking a DIS is an easy way to get class credit for the work you do toward publication. And if you have minimum course load requirements (i.e. 9 hours) then this is a nice way to buy time in your schedule to work on the paper.

When you start with a term paper a lot of the hard work is already done for you. You only need to refine the paper and during the course of their grading they've already identified the areas that require improvement. They can also anticipate potentially damning reviewer criticisms so you can address them beforehand. They have a good handle on the submission process and can usually gauge what publications are suitable venues for your article. In the event you receive an R and R your co-author can be extremely helpful in responding to reviewer criticisms and, for me at least, in identifying which criticisms require action/revision and which should be rebuffed (and how to do that politely but forcefully).

Starting out small is fine but if the article is great then there is no reason it couldn't be published in a top tier journal in your field. My approach has been to shoot high and don't be afraid of a editorial deflection. I have a R and R on an article in well-respected journal and this is after I received an editorial deflection from a less well-respected venue. The lesson here is that sometimes the article is better than you think it is. Sometimes successful publication relies as much on matching the article topic to the journal's interests as on submitting a well-written, thoughtful, and timely article.



You know, after closer reading of your question I see my response doesn't answer your question.  Perhaps I can salvage my response here though.  I suspect that reviewer status for peer reviewed publications is shut off to graduate students because we aren't quite peers to those submitting articles (no Ph.D. just yet).  However, I have a few colleagues who have reviewed articles submitted for inclusion in a book.  Their involvement usually stems from their relationship with the professor(s) who are the editors of the volume.  So it may be a function of who you know which, I know, is not altogether the most helpful advice.

about 11 years ago
Thanks Will! Lots of information--I like the idea of building relationships with non-committee members, although that can be hard within a small department. I've definitely used work from seminars in conference papers, and hadn't thought much about the fact that I could probably extend much of that into publishable works. It also seems to me that the choice of journal you submit to is important (as below!), i.e. finding one that would appreciate your particular work.
Mary Channen Caldwell – about 11 years ago
login to leave comment
Huong Le, community karma 241

Honestly, the publishing world is tough. In your position, I would really consult your major advisor for advice on which journal(s) to target first. I would probably agree to start at smaller journals overall. It's REALLY HARD to publish in the top-notch journals in your field (perhaps unless you're co-authored with a very well-known academic).

about 11 years ago
login to leave comment
Jared Schroeder, community karma 3167
There is no reason why you can't publish in an academic journal as a graduate or law student. It's blind reviewed, so the reviewers will not, generally, know who you are or what your credentials are. Certainly some journals are better than others. The key is that the journal that you choose is accessible where people do research - like LexisNexis and Westlaw. Certainly, some are more reputable than others, but if you are getting your work out where people can find it - that would be the most important thing.

Another thing that might help is attending academic conferences. These are great place to get to know the people who do research in your field. The journal editors are often at these conferences - as are journal reviewers. As a graduate student, I found mentors at these conferences. I also made connections. Now, as an assistant professor, I know I can reach out to these friends with questions about journal quality or where to send something.

I hope this helps, at least a little. Nothing should stop you from publishing in an academic journal as a grad student. Do it.

over 4 years ago
login to leave comment