FAQs about Getting Published (Part One)
In part one of this column, we address frequently asked questions regarding “getting started” in the publication process. This information stems from our own experiences and we invite others to share their feedback.
Select a topic and find/collect your data.
While the aforementioned seems like a relatively easy task, narrowing down a specific research question (or set of questions) from broad social problems and finding/collecting data to address those questions can be difficult. Therefore, spending time considering the questions that you really want answered and how those questions either extend or offer something new to the literature is a valuable exercise.
Collaborate with others.
If you’re a little nervous or unsure about how to get started with publishing, consider working with a faculty member or another graduate student. If your idea is a little too large to take on by yourself, working with another graduate student is a great way to share the work and can benefit you both. Faculty members are also valuable resources and may already have data that they’re willing to let you use. Moreover, faculty co-authors can be extremely helpful in guiding you through the submission and review process. Aside from the guidance in acquiring publications, that faculty member can also introduce you to others in your area (thus providing an additional networking opportunity).
Maximize your time!
Getting started on writing for publication can be extremely difficult while keeping up with course assignments and other responsibilities. Therefore, maximize your time by considering term papers as opportunities to prepare publishable work. Aside from accomplishing two goals at once (writing a term paper and publishable paper), the process of submitting the paper to your professor provides the additional opportunity to acquire early feedback on the quality of your work as well as areas of improvement. Also, remember that you don't have to write the publishable paper immediately or concurrently with your term paper, you can always keep your ideas in your term papers "on file" and use them to develop publishable papers in the future.
Do not be scared of rejection.
After I sent my first paper out for publication consideration, I remember thinking that I would be mortified if my paper was rejected. The paper had undergone at least a dozen revisions and was absolutely flawless (in my opinion). Therefore, when it was rejected, I was crushed. However, the rejection actually turned out to work in my favor, because the reviewers made several worthwhile suggestions. After rethinking the paper and reworking the content, the paper was accepted at the next journal it went to. Remember that rejections are quite common so you shouldn't get discouraged when you get a rejection letter (and I do mean "when" not "if" because EVERYBODY gets them!). Don't let the thought of “getting a rejection” overwhelm you or make you want to “give up.” Sit on the paper for awhile if you need to, read the reviews when able, and consider the comments as simply another form of feedback.
Do not be scared of using the “F” word.
In my cyberbullying work, I will sometimes discuss cyberfeminism as a theoretical perspective to frame my analyses. Cyberfeminism is a relatively new perspective, but is a theoretical framework nonetheless. As one can imagine, individuals seeing little value in feminism are also likely to see little value in how feminism translates to cyberspace. However, the thought of how cyberfeminism may be judged by a reviewer has never influenced how I prepare my publications or which journals I submit them to. Do not be scared of using “feminism” to frame the results of your paper. If your paper is rejected based on using feminism, consider that a sign of that journal not being a “good fit” for your work and move on to other journals.