Posted by: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard | 23 January 2009

Publishing in a scholarly journal…

I recently received a not-so-nice rejection of my paper “Higher Consciousness Through Meditation: Phenomenological Explorations” from the Journal of Consciousness Studies.   On the bright side, the reviewers sent back in-line comments which were very helpful.  For that I’m grateful.  Some of the comments appropriately reflected the values and requirements of the journal’s readership.  Some of the comments reflected personal opinion on the part of the reviewers.  Some of the comments were just plain “rude” (a term supplied by my writing partner).

Here’s what I learned from this experience:

Read several articles from the journal in question to become familiar with the writing style and formats of the authors.

I only skimmed a couple of articles posted to the journal’s website before submitting my paper.  I didn’t take the time to read and think about the approach the authors/editors take in their writing.  I would have gained valuable insight into the requirements and criteria for publication had I spent more time reading the journal’s articles.

Ask the editor (in advance of submission) if they accept student papers and what criteria they use to evaluate them.

It turns out they do accept student papers, but possibly only within certain topics or research approaches.  Again, I would have gotten some good advice had I had the courage to send an email to the editor first.  I think I just said a prayer and sent the article off to get it done.  Talk about consciousness….I could have taken a more conscious path in this endeavor.

Carefully edit and/or re-write your paper to fit the requirements of each journal to which you are planning on submitting.

I did carefully edit my paper to fit the formatting specifications on the the journal’s website.  However, format is only a small part of the requirements for publication.  Had I known what I know now, I would have added back some parts of my paper that I had taken out when I presented it to the Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences conference.  Specifically, I took out my scholarly critique of the consciousness theories that I used for the paper.  I did this to shorten it for the purposes of the conference.  The journal reviewers wanted to see the critique and it was missing.

Develop a thick skin and keep on writing and submitting.

Hey, this was my first rejection and I’ve learned a lot from it.  This paper will be published.  I may even re-submit it to the same journal if I think it’s appropriate after following my advice above….


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Responses

  1. Thank you for the encouragement – I believe that what needs to be said and heard will find a channel for expression. It just takes patience and perseverance.

  2. You can extend your advice to those who write “How to” through fiction. The pub system rewards those who say no and discourage new ideas, new styles, new authors, and new opportunity for sales. The “Harry Potter” success story is an example of how it can happen IN SPITE OF THE ESTABLISHMENT. Keep writing.


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