Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Writing for Publication: A Guide for Counseling Practice Articles

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Writing for Publication: A Guide for Counseling Practice Articles

Article excerpt

Articles within the counseling literature typically include categories such as research (quantitative or qualitative), conceptual, theoretical, and practice. The most frequently published articles tend to be the latter, nonempirical, categories (Arredondo, Rice, Rosen, & Tovar-Gamero, 2005; Bauman et al., 2003; Blancher, Buboltz, & Soper, 2010; Falco, Bauman, Sumnicht, & Engelstad, 2011), which makes sense given the nature of the counseling profession. Conceptual, theoretical, and practice articles are arguably as useful as research articles to a readership that includes practitioners and clinicians as well as academics.

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association [APA], 2010) provides clear guidelines for organizing the various sections of a research manuscript (introduction, method, results, discussion), which are used consistently by authors to present research studies. However, other than suggestions for writing style, such as "continuity in presentation of ideas" (p. 65), the APA Publication Manual does not provide clear guidelines for organizing the sections of nonempirical contributions.

Callahan (2010) provided a framework for organizing and distinguishing between literature review, conceptual, and theoretical articles, and Watts (2011) made valuable suggestions for how to develop and organize conceptual articles for publication in counseling journals. Other authors have provided direction for publishing action research (Guiffrida, Douthit, Lynch, & Mackie, 2011) and qualitative work (Hunt, 2011). There remains, however, a need to provide a framework for practice articles, which represent a distinct type of scholarship. In particular, there is a need to provide a framework for constructing and organizing practice articles. Practice articles may include similar elements to theoretical and conceptual articles, but they are unique in that they provide (or should provide) concrete suggestions for interventions that are often based on the authors' experiences in the field.

Practice articles play such a prominent role in the counseling literature but vary widely in terms of how they are organized, the type of information provided, and how much depth is provided on each topic. This is problematic because research manuscripts follow a specific format to ensure ease of understanding and the possibility for replication. Practice articles should have the same goals. The purpose of this article is to provide readers with general suggestions for the content and organization of practice articles, using the same general structure as the APA Publication Manual (APA, 2010) provides for research manuscripts (e.g., introduction, method, results, discussion). This format has the advantage of being familiar to most consumers of the counseling literature, while also providing a comprehensive format for describing counseling practice.

The framework described will help authors more appropriately identify the nature of their contribution so as not to be confused with theoretical or conceptual articles. Making the organization of practice manuscripts more consistent, and their purpose readily identifiable, can also facilitate the editorial review process when practice manuscripts are submitted for publication and reduce ambiguities for both authors and editorial boards. The long-term aim of such a structure is to improve the likelihood that deserving practice manuscripts will ultimately be published and of maximum value to practitioners and scholars.

Before any attempt at developing a structure for the content and organization of practice articles is made, it is helpful to establish a working definition of the term practice as it relates to the counseling literature. Several journals published by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and its member organizations have practice listed, in whole or in part, as one of their designated manuscript categories, including the Journal of Counseling & Development, Journal of College Counseling, ADULTSPAN Journal, Journal of Employment Counseling, Journal for Specialists in Group Work, Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Counselor Education and Supervision, and Journal of Mental Health Counseling. …

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