Workshop: “So You Want to Submit a Journal Article!”

We were delighted to have the privilege of hosting Dr. Eugenia Zuroski, editor-in-chief of Eighteenth-Century Fiction and Associate Professor of English at McMaster University,  earlier this term. Following a fascinating and vibrant paper on ‘The Cat-Arion of Strawberry Hill: Bentley’s Illustrations for Gray’s Poem about the Death of Walpole’s Cat’, Eugenia ran a workshop on journal publication for our postgraduate students as part of a two-day visit to CECS.

The workshop, “So You Want to Submit a Journal Article! Strategies for Navigating Peer Review”, was open to all students working in the arts and humanities, and gave students an invaluable opportunity to draw from Eugenia’s wealth of experience. Her workshop explored the process of submitting to a journal, and provided key insights into the the potential pitfalls of the submissions process and how to avoid them. The session covered all elements of the journal submission process, from identifying a publication relevant to one’s interests, adapting work to fit its “personality,” and how to respond to feedback and making the most of readers’ reports at each stage.

 

The two-hour session emphasised the importance of being aspirational with publishing goals, encouraging students to aim ‘big’ and not be afraid of pitching work to prominent and well-known publications. Setting down some basic guidelines (i.e. DO read previous issues of the journal you wish to submit work to!), the workshop combined practical advice – make a list of possible places to publish and have a clear plan – with real life examples, allowing participants to share their own stories and worries.

“The workshop demystified the processes surrounding getting work published. Being targeted at a humanities-based audience, and being a journal directly related to my field, the session was much more targeted and supportive than those which span multiple disciplines. It made me feel more confident about getting work published”

It was this second aspect that shaped the discussions following a well-earned lunch break. Potential challenges that we addressed were the differences between writing a thesis chapter and an article; balancing the time-frame from submission to publication alongside other activities; and the importance of peer feedback, acknowledging the importance of sharing work with friends working in similar fields. The workshop also considered how to respond to reader reports, particularly the dreaded feedback from Reviewer Two!

What was the most important take-home lesson from the session? Celebrate success! Getting to each stage in submitting an article is an achievement – don’t be disheartened and try not to take feedback personally as everyone goes through the same process.

The session was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended, and was the second publishing event targeted at postgraduate students which has been organised by Chloe Wigston Smith.

Dr. Eugenia Zuroski, Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, is editor-in-chief of Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF). She is also co-editor, with Jack Lynch, of the Routledge book series “British Literature in the Eighteenth Century.”
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