Writing for Publication
Writing is a fundamental aspect of academic life. On one hand, tenure and promotion are directly tied to publication productivity. On the other hand, writing for publication advances the field through the open sharing of research results and personal experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. Without the communication vehicle of publication, a profession would become stagnant.
People are too often intimidated by the prospect of professional writing. Beginning writers question whether their ideas are worthy of publication and seem to believe that only the most experienced professionals in the field have the right to publish. Even experienced writers fret about the criticism that could result from sharing their ideas through the public forum of journal publication.
For most of us, writing for publication is a difficult task. Putting our ideas on paper in a form that communicates clearly and concisely takes time and skill. Ensuring that our manuscripts conform to the expected publication styles, formats, and submission procedures takes time and understanding.
As Editor of the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, I have had the opportunity to work with many authors, both experienced and beginners. Through these experiences I have begun to notice authors' misconceptions about the publication process. I have also become increasingly aware of the problems authors have as they try to develop manuscripts for publication. To address these misconceptions and writing problems, the Editorial Board has made explicit efforts to educate future authors about the publication process. Each year the Editorial Board offers advice to prospective authors in a session at the annual conference of the American Vocational Association. Through this session we try to share our experiences as editors and provide insight into the publication process. We have also offered advice through the "Comments" section of the Journal. An excellent summary of advice for potential authors was provided by Style Editor Sarah Duncan in the second issue of Volume 32 of the Journal. In addition, a primary goal of the Editorial Board has been to work closely with authors to offer advice and assistance as manuscripts are revised for publication.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a few suggestions that may be helpful to readers who are considering submitting a manuscript for possible publication in the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education. These suggestions surfaced as I reflected on my experiences as Editor.
Persist and Publish
From my experience, the authors who eventually see their work in print are those who persist. Writing for publication involves considerable writing and rewriting. When you submit a manuscript to us for consideration, it is reviewed by five professionals in the field who have considerable publication experience. These reviewers provide an extraordinary amount of constructive feedback that can be used to improve a manuscript significantly. Unfortunately, when potential authors receive these comments, they may be overwhelmed by the extent of the comments or become angry and hurt because they view the comments as a personal attack on their ability. To succeed in the publication arena, we must be thick skinned. Comments to authors may appear negative on the surface, but they are intended as constructive feedback and their sole purpose is to help the author improve the manuscript so it will be of publishable quality. Very few manuscripts are ever accepted without revision. In the past year I have reviewed over 30 manuscripts and have yet to receive one that did not require additional work. It is not uncommon for manuscripts to go through several reviews and revisions before they are accepted for publication. The manuscripts that are published are the ones written by authors who persisted throughout the publication process.
Educate the Reader
Many authors worry more about the mechanics of writing than about the message they are trying to convey to the reader. The main reason we write is to communicate with others. I like to think about writing for publication as an opportunity to teach the reader. As educators we know that we need to get learners ready to learn before we teach them something new. We also need to organize the content in a way that makes learning easier. We then need to articulate concepts clearly and support those concepts with multiple real life examples. We conclude our instruction by summarizing the main points covered in the lesson and offer suggestions for future work. This instruction metaphor can help prospective authors as they develop outlines and write for publication. This is not to say that the mechanics of writing are unimportant. All authors should be familiar with Strunk and White's excellent writing guide, The Elements of Style. If you do not have a copy you might want to access the World-Wide-Web home page at URL: http://www.cc.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/strunk/. The bottom line for authors is that their written text communicate their message to the reader.
Follow Submission Guidelines
All journals publish manuscript submission guidelines that need to be followed by prospective authors. These guidelines will tell you what topics are of interest to the readers of the journal, the writing and format styles that should be followed, what length of manuscript is appropriate, and how many copies should be submitted. We ask authors to follow the 4th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, and we hope their manuscripts conform to that style. It is not uncommon for a journal editor to return a manuscript to the author simply because it does not meet the submission guidelines. Occasionally, authors submit a single copy of their manuscript to us even though our guidelines clearly ask for multiple copies. We ask for multiple copies because our budget does not allow us to make the number of copies we would need for our reviewers. In cases like this we call the author and ask that additional copies be sent to us rather than return the manuscript to the author. In any case, failing to follow the submission guidelines will delay the processing and review of your manuscript and could reduce your chances of having the manuscript accepted for publication.
I hope these suggestions will be helpful to those readers who are considering submitting a manuscript to the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education. Writing for publication is a difficult task, but it is also rewarding to see your work in print. Writing for publication is a skill that increases with experience as we write and revise based on the constructive feedback from journal editors. If you have ideas for potential manuscripts, feel free to call any of the Editorial Board members to ask for advice and assistance. As in the past, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education is committed to working with prospective authors to help them turn their ideas into publishable manuscripts.
In This Issue
Four featured articles are included in this issue. The first article, by Theodore Lewis, discusses the historical dual identify of the field of technology education and presents a framework covering both technological literacy and technological capability. In the second article, James Gregson presents the results of a critical analysis of three safety textbooks. He concludes that these textbooks lack a critical perspective that reflect on workplace conditions, behavior, and culture. The third article, by Marie Kraska, addresses the knowledge of trade and industrial education teachers regarding learners from special populations. Areas where the teachers lack understanding about special populations are discussed and recommendations for improving teacher education in this area are provided. In the final article, Mahyar Izadi, Ali Kashef, and Ronald Stadt examine three major total quality management awards and suggest that aspects of these awards be used to benchmark quality improvement in higher education.
The At Issue section contains two essays. In the first, Bruce Strom discusses the lack of a coherent philosophical base in the education-for-work movement and suggests that philosophies from vocational education, human resource development, and adult education be considered by education-for-work practitioners. The second essay, by Michael Dyrenfurth, reports on an international conference on technology education. Dyrenfurth provides some insights that should challenge our readers. The Comments section contains an essay by Kenneth Gray. Gray discusses several major events in vocational education, including the recent tech-prep movement, and suggests that the success of these events depends entirely on their acceptance by parents and students. Under Review includes a book review by Robert Chin of Bertoline, Wiebe, Miller, and Nasman's book, Engineering Graphics Communication. Finally, in addition to the usual items related to submitting manuscripts to the Journal, becoming a NAITTE member, and ordering various NAITTE publications, Bits and Pieces contains the complete index to Volume 32.
Reference Citation: Johnson, S. D. (1996). Wrting for publication. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 33(2), 3-7.