WrAP 2 Action Plan

At Saturday’s workshop Rhona Sharpe dropped in to lead a session on writing for journals.

I’ve published in journals previously, but not for a while, and I’ve never reflected explicitly on the process to this extent. This is an opportunity for me to take a step back and do things in a more thoughtful way.

The problem that I am finding, however, is that in my previous writing phase, someone would point me to a call for a special issue on the area I was working in, or suggest I submit a case study, and I would say ‘yep, I can do that’, and write it. There wasn’t this vast array of choice on offer. I find myself craving boundaries and direction, and the reassurance that pretty much anything we are doing could be turned into some sort of academic article is – for me – not reassuring at all. The WrAP 1 assignment was easier in this sense; I would never have opted to write a book review by choice, not least because that would have meant having to read a whole book. But the task was there, the exercises were clear…et voilà! Six months later here is my book review in print.

I know I need to do what I tell my own students and just pick something; ideally something that I can get excited about, but also something relatively safe – a format and output that is not entirely unfamiliar.

The option I had in mind before Saturday’s session was to return to my Masters’ dissertation and reframe it so that the focus is on open reflective practice (the process) – rather than blogs – (the technology), and the problem at hand is application of theory to practice (i.e. learning beyond digital literacy, which is what I felt qualified to comment on at the time). At the start of term I thought I was bored of my MA dissertation, and in any case that blogs were now old hat, but on 5 November I ran a session for my 2nd years on (basic!) qualitative data analysis, using my dissertation data set as an example for them to work with. As I had anticipated they were very interested in seeing the data on the first cohort’s experience, having completed the blogging activities themselves last year. The discussion that we had around the data rejuvenated the project in my mind, and highlighted how it could – should, even – be reframed.

Another option I am now considering – after Saturday’s session – is to rework my RRW2 proposal (on measuring personal impact of teacher development) into an opinion piece on why I think this kind of work needs to be done.

Action plan:

  • Discuss above options (and possible journals) with knowledgeable colleague tomorrow
  • Review article for Journal of Art, Design & Communication in HE – it’s been on the to-do list for a few days and it will help me get in the zone
  • Check out Brookes OSCLD list of journals that publish pedagogic research and pick 2-3 to analyse
  • Start following LSE Impact blog – outlet for social science research

At the weekend I’ll start to analyse the selected journals according to the framework suggested in Chapter 2 of Murray’s book Writing for Academic Journals.

I can also follow Rhona’s suggestion to try re-writing one of the abstracts we were given for BeJLT, and/or give feedback on the short descriptions to the authors. Might not do this on here though in case anyone recognises the examples…

The next step – after actually selecting a journal – might be to start thinking about framing a title and an abstract so that it matches/resonates with the aims & scope.

Rhona also gave us a handy Editor’s Checklist for when we are polishing up our articles:

Choose a title that gets you noticed, map the overall structure onto the journal, and situate the work explicitly within the readership of the journal. The introduction should define the problem for the audience, refer to international practice/literature (if it is an international journal) and make links across the literature. The introduction can often be pared right back as the readership will already know a lot of it. Readers will often be more interested in the method. The discussion should give more than one interpretation of results. Referencing should be complete and accurate throughout.

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