Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (second edition)

The best-selling writing workbook by Wendy Laura Belcher, now in its second edition!

University of Chicago Press, June 2019. ISBN-13: 978-0226499918

Want to Buy It?

You can buy the workbook at various online sites, including the University of Chicago Press or Powell’s Bookstore or Amazon, and some bookstores.

Need the Workbook Forms or Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test?

The writing workbook requires you to write information and answers in various boxes and forms in the book. If you want to preserve your book without marks, however, you can use the Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks Forms, which have been posted as pdfs to enable you to use them repeatedly. They are listed according to which chapter each appears in. I also have posted there instructions for the Belcher Editing Diagnostic Test for Chapter 11. There is one update for using the test in Windows 10: you must look for “Record Macros” not “Create Macros” in the fifth step on page 325.

Looking for Translations?

The first edition of the writing workbook was translated into three languages; new translations will be coming for the second edition so far–Spanish, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese:

Want to Teach with It?

Many use the writing workbook to teach courses and workshops for graduate students and faculty. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, see How to Teach a Journal Article Writing Class. There, you will find a form to fill out to request a syllabus.

Selected Reviews of the Workbook

“Top 10 List of the Best Books to Help you Get in and Stay in Graduate School” 
—Jody Kolter, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society

“The one book I would most recommend to inexperienced academic authors in the humanities or social sciences who seriously wish to see their scholarly work in print.” 
—Steven E. Gump, Review in Journal of Scholarly Publishing

“Thorough …, practical …, specific …, coherent …, logical …, highly recommended.”
—M. Burright, Review in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Librarie

“Offers a fresh approach, … presented in an easy and accessible style, … of help to anyone wishing to publish in academic journals … If you proceed through the workbook, chapter by chapter, you will have an article that can be sent for publication by the end of 12 weeks.”
British Journal of Midwifery

Reader Comments on the Workbook

“This is by far the best book I have read on the subject of academic writing. There are many such texts out there that are of high quality, but this one proves itself a level above. All aspects of writing, ranging from psychological difficulties one can meet to work organization to how to formulate an argument, are covered. PhD students as well as college and university professors will benefit from it when comes the time to write academic documents, articles, conference papers, and books. It is written in plain language, it is funny, there are a ton of useful practical tips based on real experiences, and it gives you a sense of belonging to a community. I believe this book will become a classic, and staple in its field, that can be used in many areas of study.”
—Caroline Dufour, York University, Amazon Review 

“Your workbook for writing journal articles is revolutionizing the way younger scholars perceive academic publishing and radically transforming their level of access to it (and consequently to the profession).”
—Email from reader to author

Description of the Workbook

Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success is a revolutionary approach to enabling academic authors to overcome their anxieties and produce the publications that are essential to succeeding in their fields. Each week, readers learn a particular feature of strong articles and work on revising theirs accordingly. At the end of twelve weeks, they send their article to a journal. This invaluable resource is the only guide that focuses specifically on publishing humanities and social science journal articles.

Key Features

  • Has a proven record of helping graduate students and professors get published: This workbook, developed over a decade of teaching scholarly writers in a range of disciplines at UCLA and around the world, has already helped hundreds to publish their articles in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Demystifies the academic publishing process: This workbook is based on actual research about faculty productivity and peer review, students’ writing triumphs and failures, as well as the author’s experiences as a journal editor and award-winning author.
  • Proceeds step by manageable step: Within the context of clear deadlines, the workbook provides the instruction, exercises, and structure needed to revise a classroom essay, conference paper, dissertation chapter, master’s thesis, or unfinished draft into a journal article and send it to a suitable journal.
  • Targets the biggest writing challenges: This workbook focuses squarely on the most difficult tasks facing scholarly writers, such as getting motivated, making an argument, and creating a logical whole.

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks can be used individually or in groups, and is particularly appropriate for graduate student professional development courses, junior faculty orientation workshops, post-doc groups, and journal article writing courses.

Wendy Laura Belcher is professor of African literature at Princeton University in the Department of Comparative Literature and Center for African American Studies. She has taught journal article writing workshops in North America, Europe, and Africa.

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 instructions: Using 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 processes: What is a journal? What is an article? What processes do journal articles go through? Giving feedback to author

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: setting up, getting an idea, testing your idea, collecting evidence for your idea, drafting your article, and revising your article using the workbook. Writing your article from scratch with an idea.

List of References