Home » Posts tagged “scholarly publishing”

Wendy Belcher, whose journal article workbook is my favorite, has a new book!

April 29th, 2012

One of the backbone rules of Booklab is that I only recommend how-to-publish books by practitioners. Their publishing must also be at a level commensurate with Georgetown’s publishing expectations for its own faculty. Wendy Belcher’s workbook Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks meets both expectations beautifully. She also has other books and articles, a list of which is here. Her new book from Oxford University Press is Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson.

Here is more information about it:

As a young man, Samuel Johnson, one of the most celebrated English authors of the eighteenth century, translated A Voyage to Abyssinia by Jeronimo Lobo, a tome by a Portuguese missionary about the country now known as Ethiopia. Far from being a potboiler, this translation left an indelible imprint on Johnson. Demonstrating its importance through a range of research and attentive close readings, Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson highlights the lasting influence of an African people on Johnson’s oeuvre.

Wendy Laura Belcher uncovers traces of African discourse in Johnson’s only work conceived for the stage, Irene; several of his short stories; and, of course, his most famous fiction, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. Throughout, Belcher provides a much needed perspective on the power of the discourse of the other to infuse European texts. Most pointedly, she illuminates how the Western literary canon is globally produced, developing the powerful metaphor of spirit possession to suggest that some texts in the European canon are best understood as energumens–texts that are spoken through. Her model of discursive possession offers a new way of theorizing transcultural intertextuality, in particular how Europe’s others have co-constituted European representations. Drawing on sources in English, French, Portuguese, and Ge’ez, this study challenges the conventional wisdom on Johnson’s work, from the inspiration for the name Rasselas and the nature of Johnson’s religious beliefs to what makes Rasselas so strange.

A rich monograph that fuses eighteenth-century studies, comparative literature, and postcolonial theory, Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson adds a fresh perspective on and a wealth of insights into the great, enigmatic man of letters.

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Top Five Reasons Why Scholarly Publishing Slows Down

January 7th, 2011

This is an anecdotal post based on my conversations with approximately 500 faculty members over the past four years.  Why does scholarly publishing slow down or stop?  I’ve identified several basic culprits, and none of them has to do with either laziness or procrastination.  The usual challenges are, in order of universality:

(1) Work/life balance (publishing can plummet when kids come along, if there is a death or divorce, or if someone in the home needs full-time care);

(2) Administrative and teaching loads that push writing to the side;

(3) Lack of clear understanding of proven best practices for research, writing and publishing (this is where Boice, Belcher, and Silvia come in);

(4) Outdated and/or nonexistent mentoring.  #4 can be particularly insidious since most people mean well, but not every designated mentor is up to the task, and many of us aren’t sure how to work with even the best ones.  Also–despite what some department heads may tell themselves or me– the majority of junior faculty will not be candid with department mentors if a problem arises.

(5) Mis-information about the scholarly publishing process based on faculty hearsay rather than on direct information from university press and journal editors themselves. It is fun and refreshing to inform scholars that business practices at university presses are quite different (almost always for the better!) than they have been led to believe.


Second article finished, one year after

September 9th, 2010

One year ago, on September 19, 2009, I began something called “60 Days of Journal Article Writing.”  You can follow this link to the beginning at the bottom to read the whole thread.

Since then, in one calendar year, I have written two richly researched scholarly articles following Wendy Belcher’s system from Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks.  I’ve also gotten to know her a tiny bit through e-mail and my participation as a guest editor on her newsletter while she’s away on a Fulbright in Africa.

Think about that for a moment, though.  A year ago I wasn’t sure I really knew how to craft journal articles, since my job focuses on books.  Now, twelve little months later, I have one on submission at a key journal in my field awaiting a decision, and a second is ready to go.  Instead of starting on a third I’m going to turn back to the book that they were written to support, but the year has not taken me away from the book at all. Writing those articles made me sharper, stronger, more prepared to tackle the book on its own terms.  Placing it at a university press will be much easier with key articles in place at the right journals.

What a great year, and a superb way to start the fall.  Please write to me if you want to get rolling on this same track of 1-2 scholarly articles per year and a book every three years.

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Tenure-line faculty — Booklab has an end-of-summer idea for you

July 22nd, 2010
  • ● Do you feel summer slipping away rather quickly?
  • ● Would you like to super-charge your scholarly writing these last few weeks?
  • ● Will you thrive in an environment of daily accountability with a variety of motivated colleagues?
  • ● Are you ready to wring even more results out of this humid, 95-degree summer?

Then join the Thursday afternoon Voltaic team, a shorter-term power subset of the summer faculty scholarly publishing book groups, starting July 29.  Although groups are generally open to all faculty, Voltaic is limited to tenure-line colleagues working on scholarly output only (please no trade books this time around, though they are welcome in larger groups), and it provides even more structure than usual.  Here are just some of the highlights:

1.  Four weekly meetings where you show work each time (July 29, August 5, 12 and 19 at 1:30).
2.  Daily check-ins with colleagues on a rotating schedule.
3.  Team and group daily writing options.
4.  A hard deadline (you asked for it, you got it).

Interested faculty should RSVP personally to Carole Sargent.

PS:  Regular summer groups will end the week of August 9, and fall groups for all faculty will begin the week of September 6.  More details soon!

PPS:  If you are already in a summer group and also want to do Voltaic, you may, but I suggest that you also remain with your group and simply come twice a week.

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All Hail the “Mechanical Revision”

February 16th, 2010

Sometimes we speak about emotion as though it’s a good thing.  When it comes to writing, however, it can be a real detriment.  There’s a perhaps-overly-cited quote from Truman Capote that says in part,

I seem to remember reading that Dickens, as he wrote, choked with laughter over his own humour and dripped tears all over the page when one of his characters died.  My own theory is that the writer should have considered his wit and dried his tears long, long before setting out to evoke similar reactions in a reader.  In other words, I believe the greatest intensity in art in all its shapes is achieved with a deliberate, hard and cool head. (Conversations, M. Thomas Inge, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 1986)

Whether or not Capote practiced what he preached, I tried his method when revising an article recently for resubmission.  Instead of waiting for inspiration or even thinking about it very much, I went through mechanical steps to turn it around in the week I had allotted to the task.  Type, type, type, no feelings pro or con.  It worked!  I thought fondly of all the regular-guy-and-gal types going to their jobs as plumbers or electricians or auto mechanics (my family background is more similar to this than to the ivory tower), and how nobody asked them this morning how they feel about it.  They just do their jobs, and so should I.

The emotion that followed the work was great.  I had a sense of exhilaration combined with pride in a job done properly and on time.  Will it get in the journal?  I can’t really tell you, but I can say this — it’s in the editor’s hands now and not mine, and it went there sans drama.  :-)

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Excellent visual representation of department publishing

December 8th, 2009

Dr. George Shambaugh, chair of Georgetown University’s Government Department, sent me a useful and original document today.  It is his visual representation — in a recruiting letter — of books and articles his department’s scholars have published recently.  It contains information about the department’s ranking both nationally and specifically in the context of  publishing.  This is such a creative example of how a department can showcase its scholarly output at a glance, while cutting through the usual “we’re great, apply to our school, blah-blah” hype.

Below is the letter, and I have embedded the PDF file he created to illustrate his publishing point at the end of it.  I also added links where he had printed URLs in the text:

Dear Prospective Students and Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know about the good things happening in the Ph.D. program at the Georgetown Department of Government.

Georgetown is an excellent place to get a Ph.D. We are part of a distinguished university in an excellent location. But our real asset is our strong, research-oriented faculty. We have steadily climbed in the Hix Global Ranking of Political Science Departments.  In addition, we were pleased to see that Georgetown came in fourth when Thomson-Reuters ranked universities based on papers in political science journals from 2002 to 2006.

Or, perhaps it is best to see for yourself.  (Click here for Dr. Shambaugh’s PDF file illustration).

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