Getting SoTL Articles Published- A Few Tips
Kathleen McKinney, Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Professor
Many faculty are involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). As with
other forms of scholarship, SoTL requires that work be shared or made public. We urge
SoTL researchers to publish their work. If you are interested in investigating possible
publication outlets for SoTL work, we have several general higher education and college
teaching journals in the CAT resource center (107 ITDC). In addition, you can find links
to other SoTL publication outlets (general and discipline-specific)
on this Web site.
What follows is a list of suggestions for getting your articles published. These tips
come from my experience both as an author submitting to refereed journals and as a past
editor of Teaching Sociology. Though all the tips may not always fit your circumstance,
discipline or publication outlet, I believe many are useful when preparing and submitting
an SoTL article for publication.
- Think long and hard about the purpose of the article and the intended audience.
- Investigate possible publication outlets (journals, scholarly magazines, newsletters,
and edited books in progress) before you have "completed" the article. Consider your
purpose, the mission of the publication, article restrictions, etc. Look for a good
fit between your article and a publication outlet. Many journals have a page that
explains their mission or the types of material they publish. In addition, you can
look at the notes or articles published in recent issues. Consider whether a discipline-specific
or more general pedagogical journal is most appropriate.
- Unless you are specifically writing a very brief "teaching tips" note, don't simply
describe something you have tried in the classroom and why you liked it. Most SoTL
articles should have the following: a conceptual framework, a literature review,
and some form of evidence. Exactly what this looks like, however, will vary by publication
outlet, purpose/audience, and discipline.
- Look for special issues being planned in which your article might fit.
- Contact editors of outlets that look promising and ask if and how your article might
fit in an upcoming regular issue, or whether they are planning or might consider
a special issue on that topic.
- Be sure any literature review is up-to-date and thorough. Be careful to cite any
relevant work published in the same journal/magazine to which you plan to submit.
Be sure to cite key people in the area.
- When writing your article, consider, not only your purpose and content, but the
mission, discourse, format, requirements, etc. of the publication outlet to which
you plan to submit.
- Share your drafts with many people, get lots of reviews/feedback, do many rewrites.
Don't expect journal reviewers to do this work!
- Follow all directions and requirements for submission to the outlet you choose (e.g.,
length, format, number of copies, extra material, hard and/or electronic copies,
name/address of contact person, due date if any). Editors find it very frustrating
when potential authors do not follow basic directions.
- Include a cover letter to the editor. Briefly explain your article and why you are
submitting it there. Include your contact information. Request acknowledgement of
receipt (send a self-addressed, stamped postcard) of the manuscript.
- After a reasonable period of time (find out the average number of weeks a review
and editorial decision takes for that journal or outlet, then wait another two or
three weeks), contact the editor and tactfully ask about the status of your article.
- If accepted at this point, there will still probably be minor changes. Do those
promptly and as requested. Return any page proofs within 48 hours and do a good job
proof reading. Provide any other requested information (e.g., a brief bio) immediately.
Find out if they want an electronic copy of the manuscript and in what format.
- If you receive an editorial decision of conditional accept or revise and resubmit,
read the reviews and decision letter carefully. Put them aside then read them again
later. Ask a colleague to read them. If you have questions or get a sense that an
acceptance after revisions is not likely, call the editor and talk about manuscript
and the reviews.
- If you proceed, make a list of what they are asking you to do. Give serious consideration
to all their requests. Make a list of which you are able to do (sometimes reviewers
ask authors to correct or change things they cannot correct or change). Make a list
of which you agree with and plan to do. Make a list of which you cannot or choose
not to do and why.
- Do the rewrites, get feedback, and do them again. Update your literature review.
- Write a resubmit letter to the editor and reviewer. Be positive. Indicate all the
requested changes and corrections you made and how (briefly) you made them. List
all the requested changes and corrections you did not make and explain why you did
not. Be tactful but confident. In some situations, this letter can be as important
as the revised manuscript.
- Follow all the directions for resubmitting. Resubmit promptly before you lose interest
or the editor changes or the mission of the journal changes!
- After a reasonable period of time, contact the editor to check on the status of
- If accepted, congratulations (see #12 above).
- If you receive another revise and resubmit, you probably need to talk with the editor.
Discuss the reviews. Try to get a sense of the likelihood of acceptance if you do
another revise and resubmit. Then make a decision of whether to revise or to withdraw
your manuscript and submit to another publication outlet.
- If rejected, go to your second choice publication outlet. Don't wait too long. Update
the manuscript based on the latest reviews AND adjusting it in line with mission,
format, discourse, etc. of this other outlet. Update your literature review. Do not
submit to a different journal with out revising your manuscript. Revisions will improve
the paper and you could receive one of the same reviewers again. Begin the submission
- Be persistent!