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Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, Second Edition

A Guide to Academic Publishing Success

Second Edition

“Wow. No one ever told me this!” Wendy Laura Belcher has heard this countless times throughout her years of teaching and advising academics on how to write journal articles. Scholars know they must publish, but few have been told how to do so. So Belcher made it her mission to demystify the writing process. The result was Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, which takes this overwhelming task and breaks it into small, manageable steps. For the past decade, this guide has been the go-to source for those creating articles for peer-reviewed journals. It has enabled thousands to overcome their anxieties and produce the publications that are essential to succeeding in their fields.

With this new edition, Belcher expands her advice to reach beginning scholars in even more disciplines. She builds on feedback from professors and graduate students who have successfully used the workbook to complete their articles. A new chapter addresses scholars who are writing from scratch. This edition also includes more targeted exercises and checklists, as well as the latest research on productivity and scholarly writing.

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks is the only reference to combine expert guidance with a step-by-step workbook. Each week, readers learn a feature of strong articles and work on revising theirs accordingly. Every day is mapped out, taking the guesswork and worry out of writing. There are tasks, templates, and reminders. At the end of twelve weeks, graduate students, recent PhDs, postdoctoral fellows, adjunct instructors, junior faculty, and international faculty will feel confident they know that the rules of academic publishing and have the tools they need to succeed.

Read the introduction.

427 pages | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2019

Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Reference and Bibliography


“Belcher has updated the book for (a) wider readership, while maintaining the straightforward and engaging tone that made the first edition popular. Equal parts teacher, coach, therapist, and confidential informant, she draws on years of experience designing and leading academic publishing workshops.”

Publishing Research Quarterly

“Offers a practical course in demystifying journal publishing and its place in scholarship, while guiding the reader in preparing an article for submission. . . . Belcher outlines trends and provides history and explanation for current practices in publishing, giving an insider’s perspective to facilitate access—and as women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the all-important metrics of article publishing, the issue of access is important in establishing work hierarchies in academia.”

The Editing Company

“I know of no other handbook that focuses on this particular genre of academic writing in such a thorough and, therefore, useful manner. I am confident that anybody who actively works through this book—it is, indeed, a workbook—will eventually taste the academic publishing success in the book’s subtitle.”

Praise for the previous edition | Steven E. Gump, Journal of Scholarly Publishing

“Even seasoned academic writers can find something useful in Belcher’s book. . . . Offers sound advice, encouragement, and confidence-building strategies that help novice writers create/recreate a written text that could be publishable.”

Praise for the previous edition | Chronicle of Higher Education

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition

Introduction: Using This Workbook

The workbook’s goals, field-tested nature, pragmatic emphasis, radical audience, revision focus, and disciplines.
General instructionsUsing the print or electronic version. Completing tasks. Following disciplinary tracks and stage pathways. Using the workbook according to your temperament; by yourself; in a writing group; with a writing partner; with coauthors; or to teach a class or workshop.
Some publishing terms and processesWhat is a journal? What is an article? What processes do journal articles go through?

Feedback from readers

Week 1: Designing Your Plan for Writing

Instruction Understanding feelings about writing. Keys to positive writing experiences: successful academic writers write; read; make writing social; persist despite rejection; and pursue their passions.

Your tasks Designing a plan for submitting your article in twelve weeks. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, designing your writing schedule. Day 3, selecting a paper for revision. Day 4, rereading your paper to identify revision tasks. Day 5, setting up your writing site, citation software, and file backup system; addressing coauthorship; and reading a journal article.

Week 2: Advancing Your Argument

Instruction Myths about publishable journal articles: being profoundly theoretical, packed with ideas, and entirely original. What gets published and why: how publishable articles pair evidence and approaches. What gets rejected and why: perfectly acceptable articles and those with no argument. Understanding and making arguments: what is an argument; how do you know whether you have one; how do you make strong arguments; and how do you write an argument-driven article?

Your tasks Organizing your article around your argument. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, testing out your argument. Day 3, reviewing your article for argument. Days 4–5, revising your article around your argument.

Week 3: Abstracting Your Article

Instruction Abstracts as a tool for success. Ingredients of a good abstract: good SciQua and HumInt abstracts.

Your tasks Crafting an effective abstract. Day 1, talking your way to clarity about your article. Day 2, reading others’ abstracts and drafting your own. Day 3, reading strong articles in your field. Day 4, reading articles to cite in your article. Day 5, getting feedback on and revising your abstract.

Week 4: Selecting a Journal

Instruction Good news about journals. The importance of picking the right journal. Types of academic journals: nonrecommended, debatable, and preferred publishing outlets.

Your tasks Finding suitable academic journals. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, searching for journals. Days 3–4, evaluating academic journals. Day 5, reading relevant journals and writing query letters.

Week 5: Refining Your Works Cited

Instruction Reading scholarly texts. Types of scholarly texts: primary, original, or exhibit sources; scholarly or secondary literature; and derivative or tertiary documents. Advice for scholars at resource-poor institutions. Strategies for citing your reading: common mistakes in citing texts; establishing your “citation values”; avoiding improper borrowing; good citation habits; and post-borrowing solutions. Strategies for getting reading done: reading theoretical literature; related literature; and original, primary, or exhibit literature. Strategies for writing your related-literature review: what’s your entry point; what is a related-literature review; and how do you write a methodological- or theoretical-literature review?

Your tasks Writing about others’ research. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, evaluating your current Works Cited list. Day 3, identifying and reading any additional works. Day 4, identifying your entry point into the related literature. Day 5, writing or revising your related-literature review.

Week 6: Crafting Your Claims for Significance

Instruction On the difference between arguments and claims for significance. What is a claim for significance: types of claims; examples of claims; making claims; and the “So What?” exercise. Types of feedback: what to do (and not do) when giving and receiving feedback.

Your tasks Claiming significance. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, exchanging writing and doing the “So What?” exercise. Day 3, writing and inserting your claims for significance. Days 4–5, revising your article according to feedback received.

Week 7: Analyzing Your Evidence

Instruction Analyzing evidence. Types of evidence: textual; qualitative; quantitative; and experimental.

Your tasks Revising your evidence. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, highlighting and analyzing your evidence. Day 3, analyzing the quality, relevance, and placement of your evidence. Day 4, analyzing your interpretation of your evidence. Day 5, collecting additional evidence.

Week 8: Presenting Your Evidence

Instruction Presenting evidence in SciQua articles, in HumInt articles, and in illustrations; obtaining image or text permissions.

Your tasks Revising your presentation of evidence. Day 1, reading the workbook. Days 2–4, revising your presentation of evidence. Day 5, checking your presentation of evidence by section.

Week 9: Strengthening Your Structure

Instruction On the importance of structure. Article-structuring principles: macrostructure and microstructure; structural building blocks; rhetorical orders of structure; structure signals; and common genres’ structures. Types of journal article macrostructures: SciQua; HumInt; disciplinary; and synaptic macrostructure. Types of pre- and postdraft outlining.

Your tasks Revising your structure. Day 1, reading the workbook. Day 2, outlining someone else’s published article. Day 3, making a postdraft outline of your article. Days 4–5, restructuring your article.

Week 10: Opening and Concluding Your Article

Instruction On the importance of openings: fashioning your title; molding your introduction; and choosing your name. On the importance of conclusions.

Your tasks Finalizing your opening and conclusion. Day 1, reading the workbook and revising your title. Day 2, molding your introduction. Day 3, molding your introduction and choosing your name. Day 4, revising your abstract and author order. Day 5, constructing your conclusion.

Week 11: Editing Your Sentences

Instruction The nature of microrevising. The Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test and its principles: reduce lists; strengthen verbs; clarify pronouns; decrease prepositions; and cut unnecessary words.

Your tasks Editing your article. Day 1, Reading the workbook and running the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test. Days 2–5, revising your article using the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test.

Week 12: Sending Your Article!

Instruction On the importance of finishing. Following journal submission guidelines: understanding the journal’s style manual; implementing the journal’s documentation, punctuation, and spelling style; collecting journal submission information; and writing a submission cover letter. What to do after sending.

Your tasks Getting your submission ready. Day 1, identifying what remains to be done. Day 2, putting your article in the journal’s style. Days 3–4, wrapping up any remaining issues. Day 5, send and celebrate!

Week X: Revising and Resubmitting Your Article

Instruction and tasks Navigating the review process. Receiving the journal’s decision: tracking the journal’s time to decision; emotionally managing and interpreting the journal’s decision. Responding to the journal’s decision: responding to a journal’s decision to reject your article or to a revise-and-resubmit notice; setting up for revising your article; revising your article; drafting your revision cover letter; and resubmitting your article. After the journal publishes your article: bringing attention to your article and reviewing someone else’s article.

Week 0: Writing Your Article from Scratch

Instruction and tasks Writing your article from scratch without an idea. Writing your article from scratch with an idea.

List of Resources
List of References

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