Advice from three humanities journal editors on how to get your work published

Moderated by Yohei Igarashi, the latest event as a part of the Humanities Institute’s Publishing Now series featured three UConn professors sharing their experiences working in the humanities. Photo provided by author

During the latest installment of the Humanities Institute’s Publishing NOW series, three University of Connecticut professors shared their experience working as editors for academic journals that concern the topics of philosophy, sociology, race, English and comparative literature. The panel was moderated by Yohei Igarashi, the acting director of academic affairs for the Humanities Institute, who read aloud questions from the audience. Each panelist had the opportunity to share their advice about various aspects of academic publishing and how to get your research published. 

“The best submissions are those that require very little work from the editors and reviewers in making sense of the aims of the paper,” David Embrick, an associate professor who holds a joint appointment in the sociology department and Africana studies, said. 

Embrick is the founding co-editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, the official journal of the American Sociological Association’s section for racial and ethnic minorities. The journal is published four times per year and is committed to including the highest quality research on race and ethnicity. Embrick is in his eighth and final year of serving as co-editor and has witnessed a shift in the type of submissions that journals are looking for.  

“Gone are the days where one can just end with the stamp at the end of their paper that says more needs to be done,” Embrick said. “It’s become more of a requirement that you put a little bit more meat into the implications of the project.” 

“Gone are the days where one can just end with the stamp at the end of their paper that says mor needs to be done, It’s become more of a requirement that you put a little more meat into the implications of the project.”

Each panelist emphasized the importance of being knowledgeable about the type of journal that you intend to submit your work to so that you follow their specific guidelines for submission. These can include anything from the word count to the type of citation format and are important in showing that you took the time to research their particular criteria. In addition to this, it is also important to make sure that what you are submitting is unique and introducing something new to the field, instead of simply repeating what has already been done. 

“The good submissions are not just saying something new; they’re saying something that’s new and important and potentially trendsetting,” Heather Battaly, a philosophy professor and editor in chief of the Journal of Philosophical Research, said.  

Battaly also serves as the associate editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, which was founded in 2015 and is a relatively new journal in the field of philosophy. She described both publications that she works for as general journals on philosophy and said that they are not overly ingrained with complicated wording or topics that are specific to specialists in the field, but instead “can be appreciated by philosophers who aren’t already steeped in the details of the topic at hand.”  

In terms of the type of work that researchers should be submitting, an audience member asked whether co-authored pieces are looked down upon by editors or if they are encouraged. All panelists agreed that as long as the submission is of good quality and adheres to the guidelines of the intended journal, then it is not a bad thing to submit a co-authored piece. However, they did recommend that you should have a strong individual portfolio as well.  

“A phrase we often use in english is ‘demonstrate that you are part of the critical conversation.’ “

“The earlier you are in your career, the more you want to make sure that you’re building up your own CV and that you have your own critical reputation out there,” Charles Mahoney, an English and comparative literary and cultural studies professor, said. “That’s not to dissuade collaboration, but to just be cognizant of the vulnerability of the early-career scholar.” 

If you are looking to submit your own original research and article to an academic journal, it is important to keep in mind that you want to constantly be focusing on research that is adding on to what is already known about your topic and introducing something new to the conversation. In doing so, you will set yourself up for success in getting your work published and will help to facilitate progress in your field of study.  

“A phrase we often use in English is ‘demonstrate that you are part of the critical conversation,’” Mahoney said. “So, familiarize yourself with the kind of work that goes on in the journal that you are considering submitting to.” 

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