April 4th 2008

4Cs NOLA Thursday — B Session

I’m switching from session numbering to lettering because, as I have discovered, I have to skip some sessions in order to eat, process and be human. So, I’ll use the session label to identify what I went to.

Session B09 was about publishing in 3Cs, the publication for teachers of writing (like PLMA for literature). I’m not thinking of publishing anything soon, but I was interested and I got to meet the editor. Networking is a good thing.

The current editor is Deborah Holdstein from Columbia College in Chicago. She gave us some background about her and mentioned her tenure as editor is up in the fall of 2009. She was straightforward and funny and had an easy way with the people who gathered, some of whom were grad students and untenured faculty who were anxious to hear what she had to say as it impacts their careers significantly. She answered questions as fully as possible and made the process of article submission and consideration transparent.

She handed out a brief set of guidelines, “How to Get Your Article Accepted for Publication in CCC (Or Improve Your Chances).” The first thing was to read the submission guidelines (duh!)–but, how many of our students really read our prompts? We are like them, as hard as that may be to face. In fact, I was struck, as I read through the handout, how much her advice was like what we ask of our students:

  • DO write to a specific audience, actual people in the field who have been talking about the issue and whose ideas you want to effect.
  • DO clarify your purpose early in the article. What’s the one thing you want your readers to take from your article?
  • DO provide readers with a “payoff,” an insight, or conclusion, that makes the reading of your ideas worthwhile.
  • DON’T affect an impressive style: unusual syntax and semantics that serve only the purpose of being impressive are rarely impressive.

The list has many more entries–and Deborah herself said she didn’t want us to take offense at her advice, but she wonders sometimes at the kinds of problematic papers submitted from people whose focus is (presumably) the teaching of good writing. I thought it might be interesting to show this list to students. Perhaps it would help them contextualize academic writing as a sphere of knowledge production/dissemination that is not imposed just upon them, but upon everyone in the field, instructor and student alike.

I won’t go into much more–if publication in such a journal is important, I have a handout and Deborah’s email to distribute. She welcomes queries. She publishes book reviews, although she prefers article-like reviews that situate several texts in academic conversation. She encourages her editorial readers not to use “Revise and Resubmit” as a cop-out, so if you were to get such a response on an article, it really means she wants it, but it needs work (and the specific needs accompany the response)–and she rarely fails to publish such resubmissions. Finally, it is important to note that NCTE retains copyright of all published work, so if it has been published to a blog or some such, it should be removed from that venue prior to submission.

No Comments yet »