Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Writing for Publication in the JMHC: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Writing for Publication in the JMHC: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Article excerpt

In this editorial, we address common writing errors observed in submissions for publication in the JMHC. We provide suggestions to those seeking publication of their work in JMHC on how to avoid these common pitfalls and improve the chances of their work being more favorably reviewed.

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If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow Why, oh why, can't I? E. H. Harburg, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

In past issues of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC), we have provided suggestions on how to prepare manuscripts for publication (see Kress, 2006; Rogers, 2002, 2006; Prieto, 2005), covering various issues of import regarding the structure and content of submissions. We will not revisit those particular points. Rather, the purpose of this editorial is to, in a different way, help the wayfaring author on her journey toward the proverbial Emerald City where bluebirds (with several JMHC publications to their credit) eat berries and exchange scholarly chirps in leafy trees. Herein, we will address common style and grammatical errors that can endanger a journey on the yellow brick road; perhaps fatally so, most obviously judged via the reception of a rejection letter from the Wicked Witch of the East, Dr. James R. Rogers, the JMHC editor-in-chief.

Like the fabled Oz, the editor and his staff may seem all powerful, all knowing, and magically able to grant wishes, but this is just not so. Most published authors in the JMHC (or any other journal), just like Dorothy and her traveling companions, ultimately recognize that the editorial staff, board members, and ad hoc reviewers are just simple folk who are a part of operating a grand production machine that magically produces a journal issue for readers' shelves about once every three months. To get the gears of this machine moving, more so than a heart, a brain and some courage (all three of which the editorial staff are constantly a bit short on), we need simple good grist for the mill. That is, from authors we need manuscript submissions in a form that allows the editorial staff to methodically and reliably evaluate them. There is no magic that will bring a less than optimally formatted or written manuscript to acceptable form for evaluation or publication. We cannot transport a confusingly written, errantly statistically analyzed, or poorly conceptualized article into print in the JMHC, no matter how many times Jim Rogers taps the heels of his glittery red slippers and wishes it to be so. Once the curtain is pulled away, there is no magic. Rather, all that remains is a complex machine and a simple crew to staff it. All that remain are basic rules of APA style and formatting; simple rules of English grammar, syntax, and punctuation; and the clear expression of scientific ideas. These are the things that really work magic. These are the tools that can keep at bay the Wicked Witch of the East and his dreaded letters of rejection. These are the tools that allow an author to follow the yellow brick road and provide her manuscript the best chance of survival on the way to Emerald City.

Indeed, this is the place where we will base our suggestions, in the most basic ideas and guidelines that we find a surprising number of authors either do not know or choose not to follow. And, straying from the yellow brick road is a recipe for disaster, say the Munchkins. They should know; not one of them has ever been published in the JMHC!

Common APA Style Errors

In each issue of the JMHC, "Instructions to Authors" are printed on the inside of the journal cover, so that authors know exactly how to prepare their submissions. Yet, amazingly, every week we receive manuscripts that do not follow APA 5th Edition formatting (APA, 2001). For example, in the past years, we have seen such violations as a mere fraction of an inch margins all around, single-spaced manuscripts or reference sections, font so small that it strains already bifocal eyes, or text printed on both sides of the page! …

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