Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Special Feature: Advice for Novice Researchers Who Wish to Publish Their Results

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Special Feature: Advice for Novice Researchers Who Wish to Publish Their Results

Article excerpt

The editorial board of the Journal of Developmental Education (JDE) meets annually at the NADE conference to discuss the readership's needs, timely educational themes, and editorial concerns. One of the concerns that surfaced at the 2007 meeting is related to the research manuscripts received by JDE. Research is important to the field of developmental education; research creates new knowledge and lends credibility to our work as developmental educators. JDF's staff and the editorial board, who serve as the journal's honorary peer reviewers, greet the arrival of a new manuscript, particularly a research manuscript, with great interest. Everyone hopes that the manuscript will be publishable, but some, regrettably, are not.

This brief feature article will demystify the process a manuscript undergoes once it leaves the author's hands. Even more importantly, several members of the JDE editorial board will share advice meant to ensure that more research is well designed and conducted. Tips regarding drafting manuscripts that are appropriately presented and are thereby good candidates for timely publication are also included.

Manuscript Review

The following is a snapshot of the route a manuscript follows when it arrives in an editorial office. JDE's specific process will be described, but the basic steps generalize to most peer-reviewed journals. First, the author is notified by e-mail that the manuscript has successfully arrived at JDE. Each JDE manuscript is then assigned a number and sent to at least three board members/peer reviewers (who are also assigned an ID number and given a deadline for completion of the review. In the double blind review process, author identity is masked from all reviewers, and the identity of reviewers is withheld from authors). Sometimes a quantitative or qualitative research editor is needed in addition to the content editors. Each reviewer reads, rates, comments, and recommends an action. (see Figure 1 for the content manuscript evaluation forms that JDE's reviewers use.) Most reviewers complete the review and send it back to JDE within a month. However, JDE's reviewers also have significant responsibilities at their places of employment, so occasionally reviews take longer, especially if the reviewer is engaging in national or international travel. (See bios on page 43 of authors who are among JDE's editorial board/peer reviewers.) Reviewers are asked to return the manuscript if they cannot complete the review within the schedule assigned by JDE. The JDE staff waits until all reviews are received; JDE's editor then considers the manuscript and the reviewers' recommendations (publish with high priority, publish if space is available, hold pending revision to be reviewed by either the in-house editors or by the original reviewer, or reject). Authors are informed of the recommendations of the reviewers and editor through correspondence from the editor or editorial staff.

Reviewers often differ greatly in their opinions; this necessitates careful in-house review of the manuscript or perhaps sending the paper out for another opinion. Each manuscript is given a great deal of thoughtful consideration. Peer-reviewed journals commonly take a year or more to make a decision and then need to schedule the manuscript in an appropriate issue, which can take another year. JDE works relatively swiftly: Manuscripts move through a review process that takes 3 to 5 months and then on to a revision and/or editing process that lasts until publication (see The speed with which this second phase of the process occurs depends in large part on the ability of the author to make timely revisions, as requested. Even a relatively short waiting period can seem very long to a hopeful author, but the seasoned professional waits patiently.

Much of the time spent processing manuscripts is focused on working with authors to prepare a manuscript for publication. …

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