Studying?! by J.Salmoral

When I should have been writing my dissertation in 2009 I wrote a few articles for publication, but in the last 12-18 months my writing has pretty much stalled apart from blogging which I continue to do on a regular basis, and occasional articles for regional newsletters (because I’m on committees and sometimes get asked to write something up for the newsletter). Most of my publications have been in newsletter and magazines – I’ve only been through the peer-review process once and it was an event report so not as rigorous as a research article.

Writing is one of my focus areas for my Chartership, and something I’d like to improve, particularly with publishing my research in peer-reviewed journals (or professional journals). There have been some interesting discussions on the value of peer-review recently on Twitter and blogs, and it’s something I am still deciding my view on – I see the value in sharing via a blog (mainly for the currency and immediacy factor), but for research articles the longevity and kudos of a peer-reviewed journal make it far more appealing. I’m keen to support Open Access and would rather publish in an open access publication that I could also link to via my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

In order to try to get back on track with writing, last week I attended the first of a two-part workshop on Writing for Publication. Below are my notes from the day (probably only of use to others who use lists – sorry!):


Getting started

Why do research and write about it?
  • Pass on knowledge to others (within and outside workplace)
  • Self reflection
  • Sharing lessons learned (so others don’t make same mistakes)
  • Share good practice
  • Open up new ideas
  • Boost CV
  • Promote library service
  • Prevent reinventing the wheel
Challenges and solutions:
ChallengeSolution
TimeSet yourself a deadline or tie it in to work targets
Trying to make it perfectGet feedback from someone you trust the opinion of (it's probably better than you think!)
Knowing when to stopSet clear boundaries before starting research
Procrastination/lazinessChivvying mentor
Thinking it's not going to interest anyonePass to someone you know will give honest opinion or ask people before you start to write
Not fun to writeWrite about things you are passionate about if you can or make process more interesting
Writing styles

Good article:
  • Clarity
  • Structure/sections
  • Strong, recognisable words and phrases
  • Attractive layout
  • Clear reason for reading it
  • Clear summary
  • Good conclusions
Bad article:
  • Long words unnecessarily
  • Too many acronyms
  • Title not matching content
  • Silliness
  • Changing statistic styles (not clear)
  • Repackaging same information
Common paper structure
  • Introduction (often written last)
  • Literature review – concluding with clear demonstration of gap in literature and justification for article
  • Aims/objectives (key to the article to help hold it all together) – this might just be the aims and objectives of the article rather than the larger project
  • Methods – need to be good enough to enable someone else to replicate research
  • Results – use chart if relevant but don’t then repeat in article
  • Discussion – look at what you have done and compare to other literature, and suggest limitations of your research or perhaps why you got results you weren’t expecting
  • Conclusion – summary of what you have done and what you found (shouldn’t have anything new that hasn’t already been said)
Submission process
  1. Article goes to editor
  2. Editor removes any identifying details
  3. Editor allocates 2 appropriate peer reviewers
  4. Peer review send back comments within certain timeframe
  5. Editor makes decision based on peer review and own comments
  6. Decision to author (with constructive feedback)
  7. Author completes revisions and sends back to editor (useful to highlight what changes you have made i.e. how you have made them)
  8. Editor verifies revisions and edits article
  9. Check back with author
  10. Send to copyeditor
  11. Check back with author (final chance to make sure you as author are happy with final article)
  12. Final edits
  13. Layout
  14. Final proofread
  15. Publication!
General tips:
  • Find what works best for you
    • Time of day
    • Approach – either starting with structure and fleshing out each section or just getting everything down and editing later
    • Motivators – what will motivate you to write? Rewards? Getting housework done first or leave until after?
  • Useful to have someone checking on your progress and keeping it on track to make sure you stick to your timescale and targets.
  • Start small – newsletters, blogs, in house journal, website
  • Choose who your audience is and which journal to approach (look at some of the other articles) – email before writing to see if it would be appropriate for the journal. Two to consider might be:
    • Library and Information Research
    • Evidence Based Librarianship in Practice
  • Ask other people if they know which journal might be a good fit for your article
  • Read other articles and critically appraise (can use a tool/matrix to help with this)
  • If you find a structure that you like, use it as a template
  • Make sure you read the guidelines for the journal
  • If writing for field outside LIS, consider co-authoring with someone in that field

What next?

I’m attending the second of these workshops on Monday and have been set homework to do before then – an outline structure for an article and finding a potential journal to approach. I have a few ideas of articles I’d like to publish but I am particularly keen to share our experiences from CPD23. I’ve made contact with potential collaborators and am now starting to plan some ideas. I’d also like to consider publishing some of my dissertation more widely, particularly the market orientation aspect. I’d also like to write up some of the work I’ve been doing at Evidence Base – we write so many reports but don’t tend to take time to write up articles. I’m aiming to get at least one peer-reviewed research article published this year, so fingers crossed I can keep my motivation going and get something good enough to be accepted!

  • Thank you for writing this.  I’m still a student and trying to get a handle on either editing a class project for publication or starting an article from scratch.  I will bookmarking be referring to your post as a road map!

    • Glad you found it useful Mary-Michelle 🙂