Counsel from a Former Editor and the Current Editor: Successful Research and Writing for Publication in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

By McGowan, A. Scott; Scholl, Mark B. | Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview
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Counsel from a Former Editor and the Current Editor: Successful Research and Writing for Publication in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development


McGowan, A. Scott, Scholl, Mark B., Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development


A former editor (A. S. McGowan) of The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, currently the editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development, and the current editor (M. B. Scholl) present strategies and guidelines for prospective authors to enhance the chance of successful publication in this and other American Counseling Association--refereed journals. This article is an updated version of one that was written by A. S. McGowan and that appeared in 1997 in the Journal of Humanistic Education and Development.

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Getting published is a great joy that generally is preceded by hard work and frustration for both the neophyte author and the established scholar. Although the process of becoming published can be harrowing and exasperating, it is also a rewarding one, from the development of an idea to its appearance in print. The goal of seeing a work published is achievable if the author possesses most, if not all, of the following characteristics, abilities, and attitudes: writing competency; self-discipline regarding a writing regime; strong scholarly and theoretical foundations underlying the research of the professional ideas being proposed or advanced; ability to create and present practical counseling strategies that work in the field; willingness to accept constructive criticism from peer reviewers and editors; and stamina, strength, and patience to persevere in the face of criticism. Thompson (1995) offered the following perspective on successful publishing efforts:

   The most productive scholars are (sometimes) distinguished by
   extraordinary intellect, but some are primarily distinguished by
   willingness to be systematic and persistent. Success in publishing
   requires a willingness to tolerate rejection and a willingness to
   learn from it. Success also will sometimes occur primarily by luck.
   (p. 342)

Although we agree that luck can play a part in getting published, we believe that luck happens only when it meets with preparation and competency. The determined author who has at least the vestiges of a viable manuscript that contributes to the scholarly base of the profession can get it published. As published researchers and authors, we know what it is like to have hopes temporarily dashed by a suggestion to "rewrite and resubmit" of to be rejected after having spent months and weeks on a particular research project or article. We know how disappointing it can be to wait expectantly and hopefully for 2 or 3 months for a response and then receive one of those messages. In truth, when that happened to us, we felt like an autopsy had been performed on the body and soul of manuscripts that we had been certain were of sterling quality. In such instances, we put our manuscripts aside and postponed deciding whether to continue with the project or to move on to another area of research interest. Often, we had to admit that the reviewers' critiques, as painful as they were, allowed us to be more objective and critical of our own work. We found that by accepting and acting on most, if not all, of the critical suggestions, we improved the manuscripts; in all instances, the manuscripts were eventually published. As one of us has noted before (McGowan, 1996), one study was rejected by four journals before it was finally accepted. Because the study was not itself fatally flawed, I (McGowan) was able to improve the manuscript until, finally, it was publishable. In retrospect, I understand and accept that I had to go through that excruciatingly painful process because it resulted in a final product that was finely crafted and well received by the profession. I can now look back on that study with pride. In addition, those rejections made me realize that prior planning is necessary before beginning a study or article if it is to be published. It is extremely important for prospective authors to be willing to accept constructive criticisms. The editor guards the identity of each author, and the reviews are masked ones.

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