Getting your first academic publication accepted.

Deputy Librarian at NUI Maynooth, the wonderful Helen Fallon, puts a huge amount of energy into helping members of the library profession start their career as writers.  As a qualified and proud (though non-practicing) librarian, I was delighted when Helen asked me to contribute to her site, Academic Writing Librarians in a section called ‘top tips from published authors’.  My offering is below, but I urge anyone interested in this area to look at the suggestions from other authors also.

There is nothing more motivating for an academic writer than seeing your work published in a peer-reviewed journal for the first time.  Each subsequent publication adds to the sense of motivation that you have to keep writing and submitting your work.  The problem for most people, though, is building the momentum to get started writing and submitted.  There are a couple of ways to get around this at the outset of your writing ‘career’.

Write book reviews.
Even though book reviews do not count as full peer-reviewed publications per se, you still get to make a contribution to your community while getting your name in print and adding a first set of entries in the ‘published work’ section of your CV.  And, of course, free books are always nice!  Most publications have a book review section, and although they often solicit book reviews from high-profile writers, many are very happy to receive offers to review from practicing librarians.  Seek out the editorial board link on your favourite journal and offer your services.  Many also provide lists of books that they have received for review, so you can offer to critique specific texts that are attractive to you.
Write brief communications.
Many academic writers are put off by the thoughts of having to write up to 10,000 words for an article in a peer-reviewed journal.  However, some journals publish very short articles which explore initial stages of research, theoretical developments in progress or initial findings of large scale research.  I’ve recently had one of these accepted for publication in a library journal which was less that 1200 words long!

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