Getting Published: A Workshop Report By Matthew Weidemann (MLS’14)

Professionals in many fields use publications to communicate with each other, share ideas about the profession, and report their work-related activities. Many libraries consider practitioners’ publications to be evidence of competence in the field or evidence of professional service (or both), which may be helpful when the librarian’s performance is evaluated. Some libraries require their librarians to produce scholarly publications as one of their duty tasks.

I am learning how to publish a professional paper, so Dr. Shelfer suggested that I attend a presentation on February 11th that was part of the Faculty Publication Initiative of the St. John’s University Center for Teaching and Learning. At this event, the presenters explained how to convert a presentation into a published article. Dr. Tom Kitts discussed the value of scholarly communication, professional networking, preparing and delivering interesting presentations, the process of developing presentations into substantial works, and he also offered tips that may expedite the process of submission to a peer-reviewed journal. He also emphasized the importance of feedback [at] all stages of the process, what “peer-reviewers” are looking for, how valuable rejection can be (if one accepts it as an opportunity to improve), and, in general, how important communication is in an academic environment. Dr. Ann Gansell provided a very useful handout to those who attended this event. My summary of Dr. Kitts’ presentation follows.

To find a presentation that can be converted into a paper, Dr. Kitts suggested that practitioners look at their conference presentations and that graduate students review their previous work for a suitable candidate. [Dr. Shelfer suggested that I start by looking at papers and presentations, which I had already produced for a library science class]. Once a potential presentation has been identified, the next step is to look for calls for papers, which may encourage the development of the presentation into a more substantial work.

Feedback is important at all stages of the writing process. Our first feedback may come in the form of questions and comments during a presentation. Dr. Gansell’s handout suggested strategies for capturing feedback, either at the podium, or during the conference or event. Dr. Kitts explained that the ability to accept criticism is a key to successful publication. Pre-publication review can be helpful, so it is useful to solicit feedback of the draft. Once the paper has been submitted, it is important to respond promptly and respectfully to comments and criticism from reviewers because many papers are accepted contingent upon revision. This means that the paper requires corrections or changes, and that it will be published if these changes are made. If a paper is rejected, feedback can be used to improve the paper, for future submissions the same or a different journal.

In conclusion, I think there are four reasons that students should consider converting a presentation into a paper: (1) practice; (2) new knowledge; (3) closer relationships with individual professor; and (4) a stronger resume. I am already successful because you are reading this article! However, I am ready to take this to the next level and develop a publication for a regional journal. Dr. Shelfer and I are working on a paper that examines library outreach, using librarians as liaisons, and I am finding this to be an interesting challenge.

The Center for Teaching and Learning suggests a helpful book that includes advice, checklists, and suggestions that make each part of the process easy to understand. Here is the citation:

  • Belcher, W. L. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success.  376 pages. Sage Publications, Inc., 2009. ISBN: 978-1-4129-5701-4. $71.

I don’t think 12 weeks is a magic number, but the text does offer a solid plan for development. I am learning that some articles can be written in a day, and others can be written in a few weeks, but the building blocks are already in place if I can use a paper or a presentation that I developed for a class. In fact, Dr. Kitts said that the presentation can be considered as midway through the article production process, and it is also the point that we begin to receive feedback. I have already discovered the value of reaching out to publishers and editors. During a discussion with an editor, Dr. Shelfer suggested three articles as possibilities. Of the three, the editor was interested in two of the articles, and he had a few questions about the third one. This direct communication helps Dr. Shelfer prioritize her writing efforts.

I am glad that Dr. Shelfer sent me the information about the writing session and that she encouraged me to attend. I hope you will consider taking advantage of opportunities to publish your thoughts or views by submitting something to our DLIS Newsletter. This is an excellent way to share information that others might find useful. I plan on attending the workshop on March 22 (even though it is on a Saturday). Graduate students are welcome to attend, so for those who are interested, information can be located online at The St. John’s University Center for Teaching and Learning.

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