by Sonja Foss and William Waters - authors of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation
If your intent is to pursue a faculty position, mastering the developmental task of producing a professional piece of scholarly work is essential. Opportunities for demonstrating mastery are offered at two stages of an academic career. The first opportunity is throughout years of the graduate student apprenticeship. The second opportunity is at the closing of the dissertating years. The completion of the dissertation is another important occasion that signals mastery.
In both instances, the demonstration of mastery requires publishing and dissemination of your work. Disseminating your work for examination and review by your scholarly peers is part of the academic tradition. The competition for faculty positions in some disciplines is so intense many graduate students are feeling compelled to publish before graduation. Publishing opportunities before graduation are found in the scholarly journals in one's field.
In preparing to write for journals, some basic questions need to answered, such as "what journal should I send my work to? It is recommended that you send your work to the "journal your professional colleagues pay closest attention" and not necessarily the most "prestigious". Journal selection should be based on the suitability of the material for the journal (Huckin & Olsen, 1991).
Huckin and Olsen (1991), passes on the following points of advice citing the work of Richard Davis' (1985) survey of editors:
- Follow the manuscript guidelines of the journal. They differ from journal to journal even in the same field.
- Write clearly, distinctly, concisely; be specific, avoid esoteric jargon, revise several times before submitting
- Focus on the audience?its interests, show significance of the work to the reader and field, emphasize what is relevant; cite appropriate relevant work.
- Spend time on organization. Follow standard presentation patterns: statement of the problem, significance, results and conclusion
- Don't rush into print. Focus on quality not quantity.
- Revise. Revise. Revise. Ask colleagues to read and comment.
- Submit and follow reviewer's comments. Don't pester the editors. (Davis, June 1985)
Completing the dissertation is the next important opportunity to demonstrate mastery and position your work in body of literature comprising the scholarly work in your field. Here again, you will have specific manuscript guidelines you must follow. Ignoring these guidelines can be the source of major aggravation and frustration at critical stages of the dissertation, especially at the point of submission. While writing the dissertation the Huckin and Olsen advice, particularly items 2-6, apply to the dissertation. Nearly every dissertation is published and accessible to the scholarly community through the traditional and now global scholarly database (PQDT) and smaller dissertation databases (e.g. OhioLink). For those aspiring to enter the faculty ranks, publishing early and producing a well crafted dissertation are key to positioning yourself favorably in a very competitive academic field.
Davis, R. M. (June 1985). Publication in Professional Journals. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication PC , 28 (2):34-42.
Foss, S., & Waters, W. (2007). Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation.
Huckin, T. N., & Olsen, L. A. (1991). Technical Writing and Professional Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English. New York: McGraw Hill Inc.