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Planning a journal article

Slides for a three part workshop held in Norway November 2019. Uses Tiny Text abstract and the contribution as foci.

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Planning a journal article

  1. 1. Planning a paper Pat Thomson Nor-TED, November 2019
  2. 2. Workshop One • clarify the key contribution the paper will make • choose an audience and a journal • decide on a working title
  3. 3. preparation • You have your data, analysed • You might use free writing as a means of clarifying what you want to say • You have worked with your theoretical or conceptual framing and this may already be in written form, in chunks
  4. 4. Two types of academic writers • Those who just start writing and a paper eventually emerges • Those who are planners and work to and with a lot of pre-prepared thinking and material – the approach this workshop supports (Sword)
  5. 5. the point • Think about your paper as providing an answer to a problem, puzzle, debate or question. It might be in policy, research, or practice. • What will the reader know about this problem, puzzle, debate or question at the end of the paper that they didn’t know before? • Who is the reader who will be interested in this - or who needs to know this?
  6. 6. Choosing a journal means choosing readers • Readership: members of a specific discourse community • They share overt and covert norms, narratives, truths, shared understandings and texts
  7. 7. Text Layer 1 Layer 2 Layer 3 Discourse practice Editing and Refereeing Sociocultural practice three layer model of discourse: journals Commercial publication requirements Scholarly/disciplinary conventions, Open access? The middle layer of gatekeepers is not entirely predictable. However they are likely to consist of at least one insider member of the journal community plus the editor
  8. 8. choosing a journal If it is always choosing to write for a specific discourse community then our task is to imagine writing to this community of readers • what do they talk about? what do they already know? • what would they be interested in? How and where does your idea fit?
  9. 9. Reading the discourse community • The Editor and Editorial Board: • Who are they? What do they write about ? • The table of contents of a selection of issues • What does the journal publish? • Some abstracts • What topics are covered? What topics are not? • What key debates are being addressed? • How clearly have the authors stated their position and their argument? How bold and/or moderate have they been? • What kinds of methodologies are used? What are not? Are there any obvious preferences? • Is there any evidence of the theoretical resources they draw on? • How congruent do these seem with what is known about the discourse community from the analysis of the editorial board? • The mission statement
  10. 10. international journal of research and method in education Co-Editors: Melanie Nind - University of Southampton, UK Liz Todd - Newcastle University, UK Book Review Editors: Maria Pampaka - University of Manchester, UK Pam Woolner - Newcastle University, UK
  11. 11. Editorial Board Julie Allan - University of Birmingham, UK Qing Gu – University of Nottingham, UK Martyn Hammersley - The Open University, UK Matt Homer - University of Leeds, UK Godfrey Pell - University of Leeds, UK Sarah Parsons - University of Southampton, UK Keith Postlethwaite - University of Exeter, UK Jo Rose – University of Bristol, UK Kenneth Ruthven - University of Cambridge, UK David Scott - Institute of Education, University of London, UK Jane Seale - University of Southampton, UK Pat Sikes - University of Sheffield, UK Emma Smith – University of Leicester, UK Gary Thomas - University of Birmingham, UK Pat Thomson - University of Nottingham, UK Catherine Blaya - European Observatory of Violence in Schools, France Roseanna Bourke – Victoria University, New Zealand Bagele Chilisa – University of Botswana Kathy Hall - University College Cork, Ireland Michelle Fine - City University of New York, USA Francesca Gobbo – University of Turin, Italy Patti Lather - Ohio State University, USA Felix Maringe - U niversity of Witwatersrand, RSA Erica McWilliam - National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Yngve Nordkvelle - Lillehammer University College, Norway John O'Neill – Massey University, New Zealand Birgit Pepin - University College Trondheim, Norway Dominique Rivière - University of Toronto, Canada Linda Smith - Waikato University, New Zealand Larry Suter - National Science Foundation, USA Mark Vicars - Victoria University, Australia John Wallace - OISE, University of Toronto, Canada Theo Wubbels - Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  12. 12. an issue Doing close-relative research: sticking points, method and ethical considerations Geraldine Degabriele Pace Towards an adolescent friendly methodology: accessing the authentic through collective reflection Mary Keeffe & Dorothy Andrews Engaging with and moving on from participatory research: A personal reflection Cath Gristy Organization and visualization for initial analysis of forced-choice ipsative data Jill A. Cochran Randomized impact evaluation of education interventions: experiences and lessons from a reading to learn intervention in East Africa Moses Waithanji Ngware, Benta Abuya, Moses Oketch, Kassahun Admassu, Maurice Mutisya & Peter Musyoka Book review Interpreting qualitative data Eric Fletcher
  13. 13. Mission statement The International Journal of Research & Method in Education is an interdisciplinary and refereed journal, which draws its contributions from a wide community of researchers. The principal aim of the journal is to further international discourse in education with a particular focus on method. The journal publishes contributions which: • provide evidence of unusual or new methods of educational research • discuss conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues in educational research • have an international and/or comparative dimension • contest or dissent from the orthodox or examine the innovative and the unusual • are considered to be of major significance to those in the field of research methodology in education. The International Journal of Research & Method in Education encourages authors to write in a lucid and accessible style. Contributors should take care to communicate to an international readership of researchers, policy-makers and practitioners from a range of disciplines including philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, and history of education. Peer Review Policy: All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and anonymized refereeing by at least two anonymous referees.
  14. 14. indexing • International Journal of Research & Method in Education is abstracted/indexed in: Academic Search, Australian Research Council (ARC) Ranked Journal List, British Education Index, EBSCOhost EJS, Educational Journal, Educational Research Abstracts online (ERA), Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) , European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH), IBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences), Research into Higher Education Abstracts, SCOPUS® and Sociological Abstracts.
  15. 15. the Editors speak LT: …the only thing I look for right at the beginning, is whether it’s relevant for the journal. So – because with my job, isn’t to decide whether a paper should be published in the journal because I pass them - all the papers - on to some reviewers and I select reviewers for the paper. .. even if it is much more about Education than about methodology, if it’s got some methodological warrant there and something that could be turned into ‘methodology’/‘methodological’, then we think our reviewers could help that process, we’re happy to accept it. In terms of advice for people who are wanting to publish for us and ‘what makes a good article?’ I mean, I would say that really, try to think through what kind of point are you making in your paper? You know, you’ve got to be making... MN: ... developing a good argument... LT: ...a good argument and it’s usually, probably about one particular point and not trying to make too many points - But one, one particular point that you follow through and it could be something that’s been done before, but are you doing something, are you adding to that? Are you developing something conceptual about and something theoretical? And not just describing how you do it. You know, there are some issues that we’ve looked at, papers that we’ve had, where there’s been some issue that would be really, really useful but it’s been done so descriptively with no... and it would’ve been really good to have had that in, that issue in our journal, but because there wasn’t anything conceptual and it wasn’t really thought about beyond the ‘how’ you do it, we couldn’t really keep it.
  16. 16. Decide on your target journal Now note: • What does this reader already know about your topic? • What does this discourse community expect to read?
  17. 17. Title • Must be searchable, so needs basic information • Social science is often“catchy: straight” • Encapsulate/anticipate the contribution – not just descriptive – can usefully flag up the take home message • Check out the titles in your chosen journal and then write your working title.
  18. 18. Workshop two • Write an abstract which highlights the contribution and shows the key moves
  19. 19. Recap: What’s your contribution? Does this matter to the journal discourse community and if so why and how? What has been written in the journal before about this? What’s my working title?
  20. 20. Writing abstracts (TINY TEXTS) • Writing abstracts for academic journals is not just a tiresome necessity of academic life, BUT an excellent way to learn how to write persuasively. • Abstracts highlight issues of authority and identity and are a rich site for textwork/identity work. • We call abstracts ‘tiny’ texts because they compress the rhetorical act of arguing into a small textual space BUT they are ‘large’ in the pedagogical work they can accomplish. • Kamler, B. & Thomson, P. (2006) Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision, p. 85-86.
  21. 21. The tiny text LOCATE 1. context, connect with reader & the journal 2. the big puzzle, debate etc 3. what we know or don’t know – some of the warrant for the paper FOCUS this paper will… the particular focus and contribution REPORT the project and the results ARGUE 1. how these results are to be explained 2. the implications of this explanation.
  22. 22. A little more madness in our methods? A snapshot of how the educational leadership, management and administration field conducts research The field of educational leadership, management and administration (ELMA) uses methods drawn primarily from cognate educational disciplines. But does this matter? This paper sets out to find an answer to this question by exploring the methods used in recently published papers through a snapshot of six issues of six ELMA journals. The analysis showed a preponderance of survey, interview and case study methods, with one journal, JEAH, also publishing papers using methods drawn from history, philosophy and sociology. The snapshot also revealed the methods that were rarely used – for example, ethnography, visual and on-line methods. Through a Bourdieusian lens, the paper argues that the ELMA field appears to be removed from methods developments and debates in the wider educational and social science fields. There may thus be mileage in the ELMA field considering the use of additional methods, including the ‘wilder’ ones. The field might also benefit from understanding methods as more than tools and as practices possessed of a social life.
  23. 23. A little more madness in our methods? A snapshot of how the educational leadership, management and administration field conducts research LOCATE The field of educational leadership, management and administration (ELMA) uses methods drawn primarily from cognate educational disciplines. But does this matter? FOCUS This paper sets out to find an answer to this question by REPORT exploring the methods used in recently published papers through a snapshot of six issues of six ELMA journals. The analysis showed a preponderance of survey, interview and case study methods, with one journal, JEAH, also publishing papers using methods drawn from history, philosophy and sociology. The snapshot also revealed the methods that were rarely used – for example, ethnography, visual and on-line methods. ARGUE Through a Bourdieusian lens, the paper argues that the ELMA field appears to be removed from methods developments and debates in the wider educational and social science fields. There may thus be mileage in the ELMA field considering the use of additional methods, including the ‘wilder’ ones. The field might also benefit from understanding methods as more than tools and as practices possessed of a social life.
  24. 24. Hugs and behaviour points: Alternative education and the regulation of ‘excluded’ youth In England, alternative education (AE) is offered to young people formally excluded from school, close to formal exclusion or who have been informally pushed to the educational edges of their local school. Their behaviour is seen asneeding to change. In this paper, we examine the behavioural regimes at work in11 AE programmes. Contrary to previous studies and the extensive ‘best practice’ literature, we found a return to highly behaviourist routines, with talking therapeutic approaches largely operating within this Skinnerian frame. We also saw young people offered a curriculum largely devoid of languages, humanities and social sciences. What was crucial to AE providers, we argue, was that they could demonstrate ‘progress’ in both learning and behaviour to inspectors and systems. Mobilising insights from Foucault, we note the congruence between the external regimes of reward and punishment used in AE and the kinds of insecure work and carceral futures that might be on offer to this group of young people.
  25. 25. Hugs and behaviour points: Alternative education and the regulation of ‘excluded’ youth LOCATE In England, alternative education (AE) is offered to young people formally excluded from school, close to formal exclusion or who have been informally pushed to the educational edges of their local school. Their behaviour is seen as needing to change. FOCUS In this paper, we examine the behavioural regimes at work in11 AE programmes. REPORT Contrary to previous studies and the extensive ‘best practice’ literature, we found a return to highly behaviourist routines, with talking therapeutic approaches largely operating within this Skinnerian frame. We also saw young people offered a curriculum largely devoid of languages, humanities and social sciences. ARGUE What was crucial to AE providers, we argue, was that they could demonstrate ‘progress’ in both learning and behaviour to inspectors and systems. Mobilising insights from Foucault, we note the congruence between the external regimes of reward and punishment used in AE and the kinds of insecure work and carceral futures that might be on offer to this group of young people.
  26. 26. ‘Scaling up’ educational change: some musings on misrecognition and doxic challenges Educational policy-makers around the world are strongly committed to the notion of ‘scaling up’. This can mean anything from encouraging more teachers to take up a pedagogical innovation, all the way through to system-wide efforts to implement ‘what works’ across all schools. In this paper, I use Bourdieu’s notions of misrecognition to consider the current orthodoxies of scaling up. I argue that the focus on ‘process’ and ‘implementation problems’: (1) both obscures and legitimates the ways in which the field logics of practice actually work and, (2) produces/reproduces the inequitable distribution of educational benefits (capitals and life opportunities). I suggest that the notion of misrecognition might provide a useful lens through which to examine reform initiatives and explanations of their success/failure.
  27. 27. ‘Scaling up’ educational change: some musings on misrecognition and doxic challenges LOCATE Educational policy-makers around the world are strongly committed to the notion of ‘scaling up’. This can mean anything from encouraging more teachers to take up a pedagogical innovation, all the way through to system-wide efforts to implement ‘what works’ across all schools. FOCUS AND REPORT In this paper, I use Bourdieu’s notions of misrecognition to consider the current orthodoxies of scaling up. ARGUE I argue that the focus on ‘process’ and ‘implementation problems’: (1) both obscures and legitimates the ways in which the field logics of practice actually work and, (2) produces/reproduces the inequitable distribution of educational benefits (capitals and life opportunities). I suggest that the notion of misrecognition might provide a useful lens through which to examine reform initiatives and explanations of their success/failure.
  28. 28. Abstract Skeleton ( in case you’re stuck) • ….. is now a significant issue (in/for).. because…. . ( Expand by up to one sentence if necessary) • In this paper I focus on ….. • The paper draws on ( I draw on) findings from a study of… which used…… in order to show that….. (expand through additional sentences) • The paper argues that…. • It concludes ( I conclude) by suggesting that…
  29. 29. After writing your abstract , examine it with your neighbour: • How well is the work located in relation to broader discipline/policy/practice issues/problems? Does it address the concerns of the discourse community of the selected journal? • •Has the abstract focused the topic of the paper and identified the kind of research that was undertaken? Is the focus clearly related to the more general problem or issue of concern to the discourse community? • •Does the abstract report the research that was undertaken, its methods and design? Does it make the findings/evidence accessible to a broader readership and provide the key to the argument that follows? • •What is the argument? Is the So what question addressed? If not, what might it be? If yes, can it be made stronger? Is there also a Now what? • Are the four or five moves coherent? Are there connections between each of them? Is there a discernible link between Locate and Argue?
  30. 30. Developing a road map to the paper • Use your abstract as a planning tool • Weighting of various sections • A very common mistake – too much literature • A very common mistake – not enough discussion • A very common mistake – too little conclusion • Frontloading and backloading (Dunleavy) = unbalanced articles
  31. 31. Hugs and behaviour points: Alternative education and the regulation of ‘excluded’ youth LOCATE In England, alternative education (AE) is offered to young people formally excluded from school, close to formal exclusion or who have been informally pushed to the educational edges of their local school. Their behaviour is seen as needing to change. FOCUS In this paper, we examine the behavioural regimes at work in11 AE programmes. REPORT Contrary to previous studies and the extensive ‘best practice’ literature, we found a return to highly behaviourist routines, with talking therapeutic approaches largely operating within this Skinnerian frame. We also saw young people offered a curriculum largely devoid of languages, humanities and social sciences. ARGUE What was crucial to AE providers, we argue, was that they could demonstrate ‘progress’ in both learning and behaviour to inspectors and systems. Mobilising insights from Foucault, we note the congruence between the external regimes of reward and punishment used in AE and the kinds of insecure work and carceral futures that might be on offer to this group of young people. • INTRODUCTION, CONTEXT THEORETICAL FRAME • METHODS • RESULTS 1.2.3 and • DISCUSSION after each point • CONCLUSION
  32. 32. Workshop Three • Check you are publishable • Develop a writing plan • Either use bullet points or a poster to start to add content to write to.
  33. 33. Why reviewers/editors say they reject articles • Lack of focus – saying ‘everything’, focussing on ‘nothing’, succumbing to the temptation to compress all the ‘thesis’ or research report into one article • Not locating the contribution and the position - for a particular audience, in relation to wider debates, the specific conversation in this journal • Poor organisation - not guiding the reader, poor headings, not enough signposts or too many • Failing to convince the reader – does not adequately deal with the methodology • Not significant - too local, done a lot, doesn’t add anything ( no ‘angle’) • Sounding like a newbie rather than an equal – assumes significance, sounds tentative, over-claims (fills the gap)
  34. 34. Well, good papers do tend to stand out quite quickly. They won’t be overly long or ridiculously short, they’ll have a title and an abstract that tells you what the paper is about. A good abstract will tell you what the key issue that’s addressed is, it’ll give you an idea of the methods that have been used and the conclusions that have been arrived at. So that abstract ought to tell someone whether it’s worth them spending part of their life reading this paper. If the abstract doesn’t do that the chances are the paper will have further weaknesses. The main reasons why things are rejected from the journal are very consistent. I mean I’ve read thousands of refereed reports and almost always something that’s rejected will fall foul of one of three things: the first thing is methods. If your paper covers any empirical research that you’ve done whether it’s a survey, interviews, participant observations, even if it’s desk-based research that you’ve analysed previous work, you have to tell the reader something about your methods. It doesn’t mean that the whole paper has to be devoted to that but you have to give the reader a sense of whether they can trust you. How did you decide your sample, what were the key questions you were looking at? Because the reader needs to know that basic information in order to make sense of the rest of the paper. So in addition to method you also need some awareness of what’s gone before. Again, you can’t review the whole of the relevant literature but you have to give the reader some help. Tell them how what you’re doing relates to key work that’s gone before and, if possible, how are you extending that work? So sometimes we’ll get a really good interesting piece of research but it’s written as if no one has ever considered these questions before. Now, if the person had actually added a section which says here’s the work that had been done previously, it allows them to then show how they’re building on that work. So we need methods, we need an awareness of previous work and we really need the author to know what their point is. In lots of papers it’s like the author hasn’t really made their mind up, they’ve got three, sometimes four ideas and they’re not quite sure whether the paper’s about all of them or none of them. I think the strongest papers usually have one point to make and they make that point powerfully, with evidence, and they locate it within the field. Very often I’ll get really interesting papers but they’re not quite sure what they’re saying and often those things just need to be started again because they’re so disorganised that it’s difficult to give clear advice on how you can change that. You know, you really need to sit down and work out what it is you’re trying to say. David Gillbourn (Editor: Race Ethnicity and Education)
  35. 35. I mean, I often, with students and with authors, suggest that they think, “Who’s the person I want to read this? Who am I addressing?” Whether it’s an activist group in the community, the leading researcher in your field, someone who you want to give you a job. Imagine who that person is and then imagine that you’ve walked into an elevator at a conference or wherever, that person is in the elevator and the doors shut. You’ve got ninety seconds with that person before they get out of the elevator. What do you want to tell them about your research? You can’t tell them everything about it, you can’t, you know, spend three days telling them about the intricacies of French philosophy and how it relates to what you’ve just done. You’ve got ninety seconds; you need to work out what’s important about your work that you can give someone in ninety seconds. If you imagine that then you turn that into a paper. That will help you to identify ‘what is it that I want to write about’ and then you take that and all the rest of it flows from that. What’s the appropriate title for the paper that shows people that are interested in this this is where you come to read about it. And then how do I structure the paper so that at the end of reading it the person feels they know exactly what I wanted them to get from that ninety seconds in the elevator. It sounds silly, it sounds deceptively simple but actually most people that are writing they’ll be writing up research that’s taken a year, two, sometimes three years or more. Trying to actually distil that down into something that makes sense quickly is a really hard job and it’s much better that you do it before you write rather than sitting down and starting with the first page and then seeing where it goes because that’s where you wind up with those lengthy articles that never really get to a point, that just kind of talk around issues. Almost everything that’s rejected from the journal has fallen foul on the basis that it hasn’t discussed its methods appropriately, or it hasn’t recognised that there is a relevant literature out there which needs to be addressed, or it hasn’t been clear about what its key argument is.
  36. 36. Recap: the tiny text LOCATE 1. context, connect with reader & the journal 2. the big puzzle, debate etc 3. what we know or don’t know – some of the warrant for the paper FOCUS this paper will… the particular focus and contribution REPORT the project and the results ARGUE 1. how these results are to be explained 2. the implications of this explanation.
  37. 37. The Contribution Recap: the contribution
  38. 38. Recap significance: So what? Who cares? • Why does knowing ‘this’ matter? • To whom? • What other journals are they reading? • What will they expect me to refer to, say and how will they expect me to say it?
  39. 39. LOCATE: Bullying is a serious problem in schools. FOCUS: This paper reports on a project in which the authors worked with a group of secondary students in an innovative school in the north of England to research issues of bullying and safety. REPORT: The student researchers used photographs to stimulate conversations with focus groups of their peers. The data showed that while there was little serious bullying in the school, there was an everyday practice of name-calling, isolation, and physical hassling associated with the formation and maintenance of a hierarchy of sub-cultural groupings in the school. ARGUE: The students’ research not only challenges the notion of bullying as necessarily involving a perpetrator and victim, but also offers a lens through which to examine the imbrication of educational differentiation via setting, testing and choice with youth identification practices. It is suggested that this project also has implications for the ways in which one understands and works for inclusion. • Introduction - current policy and context (500 words) • Almost as is • Description of the site of study ( 500 words) • Account of methodology - trigger photographs located in the visual research literatures (1000 words) • Report of major findings - description of thematised findings moving to analysis (2,000 words) • Theorisation of inclusion, reference to broader literatures on school sorting and selecting ( 1,000 words) • Argument about the significance of the findings, viz. disjuncture with prevailing policy approach • Elaboration of some implications for research and practice ( 1500 words) Revisit your writing plan and add word budgets
  40. 40. now • Take each abstract sentence and section with word count and add key bullet points • OR
  41. 41. Your poster • Title • What is already known about this topic • What this study adds • THE TAKE HOME POINT
  42. 42. PLUS Additional moves from your abstract colinpurrington.com
  43. 43. WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THE TOPIC YOUR CONTRIBUTION TAKE HOME POINT KEY RESULTS YOUR NAME METHODS Literature/THEORY DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Doing so crowds the title and visually distracts from important graphics. Put logo on your business card, not poster. DO. NOT. PUT. LOGOS. HERE. DO NOT PUT LOGOS here, either.
  44. 44. patricia.thomson@nottingham.ac.uk Patthomson.net This workshop based on Writing for peer reviewed journals: Strategies for getting published. Thomson and Kamler 2012

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