Journal Paper Advice

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Lector
 
Reply Thu 10 Feb, 2011 08:54 pm
I am an independent scholar, which is a nice way of saying I have no degrees. I have recently finished a paper and wish to submit it to a peer reviewed journal for publication. However, as I have had no real experience with scholarly publication, and have had to learn entirely on my own the minutia of the trade, I don't think I can feel confident unless more experienced eyes were to look over my work.

If anyone with a knowledge of critical theory and some time to kill would do me the honor, I would be thankful for any advice.
 
Thomas
 
Reply Thu 10 Feb, 2011 11:49 pm
@Lector,
Lector wrote:
I have recently finished a paper and wish to submit it to a peer reviewed journal for publication.

That's not the order to proceed in. You first need to decide what journal you want to write for. Next, you read this journal's "instructions to authors". Only then do you write the paper, following the journal's instructions religiously.

If you think this sounds as if I'm nit-picking, think again: Editors have a huge pile of unsolicited manuscripts. On their first pass through the pile, they glance at the manuscripts, look if their length and formatting complies with the instructions, and immediately discard all that don't. It's a simple test for them, and it's also safe: An author who didn't bother reading their instructions probably also couldn't be bothered to have something to say, think it through, and read the literature about it. So why would an editor waste her time with it? That's lesson number one: if this paper means anything to you, it is crucial that you find your journal of choice, read its instructions to authors, and follow them religiously.

Lector wrote:
If anyone with a knowledge of critical theory and some time to kill would do me the honor, I would be thankful for any advice.

I have no professional knowledge of Critical Theory, but I do have knowledge with literature databases and with publishing papers. (My fields were physics and engineering.) My advice to you is to search Google Scholar for the key terms in your article. If you are writing in a field that interests other scholars, you will find plenty of articles related to your article.

In the worst case, indeed, you may find that your Great Idea in Critical Theory is an old hat: published by Adorno seventy years ago, it has been exposed as a fallacy by Habermas fifty years ago. It will suck if this happens, but don't waste your time in denial about it. Life goes on, and you'll find another Great Idea to pursue.

If you're a little luckier, the articles you'll find on Google Scholar will leave room for some discovery you can claim as your own. Focus your article on it, and quote the related literature ostentatiously. By doing so, you advertize to the editors that you've done your homework. Speak of the devil: research extensively what the editors of your chosen journal have published on your subject, and cite their work, too.

For extensive expositions of the process, I like the following two books:
  • Scott Montgomery: The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science. University of Chicago Press (2002)
  • Booth, Colomb, Williams: The Craft of Research. University of Chicago Press (2002).
Although both books lean towards my own field, most of what they say will apply to philosophical journals as well. Good luck with your project!
 
 

 
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