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Flourish: An Electronic Newsletter for Scholarly Writers August 2007

vol. 3, no. 7

I am pleased that we have a dialogue going in Flourish about individuals' actual experiences of getting published. Nothing is as helpful to authors as hearing that others have struggled as well and that the road to publication is neither smooth nor direct. This issue continues the story-telling. If you have a good story, send it along!

Stories of Revising and Resubmitting

A Flourish reader wrote in with the following:

I would like to second a couple of your comments in the last two issues--especially about taking an editor's comments, doing some revising, and keep on submitting!! Here are my stories--the hidden back story of a scholar who appears to be well and widely published, though no one knows the problems behind the publication list.

The first article I had published in a scholarly journal was initially rejected, based in part on very biased comments by one of the editors of a special issue, in which she made false accusations about what I was saying in the article (she actually misquoted me in her comments). I protested, but the article was still not accepted until I was able to go back to my country of field research and collect further corroborating information. I was published in a subsequent issue of that journal, but not in the special issue to which I had initially submitted my article.

Another article I later published was also first rejected by a journal. I presented the paper at a conference and then, in my first submission, I characterized part of my research as "anecdotal" and went on to show why it was still valuable information. The rejection letter said that my research was too "anecdotal." I immediately reworded that section of my paper, but filed it away and did nothing -- no revisions, no resubmitting. Nine years later, someone contacted me who had been doing research on that topic and come across a mention of my conference presentation. I pulled out the unpublished article, presented it at an international conference, and it was published the next year in a European journal, ten years after my initial attempt to have it published. That then led to further conference activity, and a further article that was a spin-off from the first, that was published in a US-based scholarly journal.

Another article almost wasn’t published despite not being rejected. I submitted a paper to a scholarly journal and received a "please revise" letter from the editor, which was written in what I read as such condescending and negative terms that I could not bring myself to do any revisions. That led to a crisis in my writing, as the article was destined to be a chapter in my book, and I felt that if I couldn't even get one chapter accepted at a journal, then the book was doomed. Over two years later, the journal got a new editor, a friend of mine, who found my article in the files of incomplete submissions, and asked me to resubmit it. I did some revisions, resubmitted it, and it was published. As a result, I worked through the mental obstacles to publish the book as well, which then got stellar reviews.

I know, because people have told me, that some of my colleagues see me as an unusually productive scholar -- so others should take heart, because a list of publications does not mean that it was an easy path to get there! Definitely -- revise and resubmit.

How Not to Annoy Copyeditors

Unfortunately, many authors have not figured out a way around Microsoft Word’s annoying method of numbering endnotes with Roman numerals (e.g., i, ii, iii). I don’t know why they don’t change this part of their code, which follows no known academic practice, but they don’t. So, when you are submitting an article with endnotes, be sure that you switch them from Roman numerals to Hindu-Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3). To do this, go to your MS Word Toolbar, click on Insert, click on Reference, and then click on Footnote. In the dialog box that pops up, select Endnotes. Then, under Number Format, select the 1, 2, 3 option. Then click on Apply. Some earlier versions of Word don’t have an Apply option, so you have to click on Insert and then delete the empty endnote that results.

Journal Ranking Website

Andrew Lim from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has put together a free, extraordinarily useful website that ranks journals. Journal-Ranking helps scholars get a sense for which journals are better than others. Impressively, the website does not cover just science journals, but journals from a variety of disciplines. It is also egalitarian, with a forum for feedback from the audience.

News from the Editor

I am wrapping up various teaching assignments this month and enjoying the Los Angeles summer evenings. At the lovely going away party held for me at my editing job (which I am leaving after eleven years), the director read a top ten list of my contributions to the center. Among the compliments about increasing earnings, reducing expenses, and pushing many aspects of the center online, was one I thought you all would appreciate: "Wendy has given us her two cents worth so often that we are all rich." Thanks for making me rich, as well, by sharing your stories with me. To many more exchanges!