Academic Pubs, Part 3: Article Types

For previous posts on this topic, see:

So how does your idea translate into a publication (or presentation)? How do you structure your outline? What kinds of journals or conferences should you approach? That’s a lot of information to cover, so I’ll just hit the basics here. If you have more questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments, via email, or write more specific posts.

Article Types

This isn’t comprehensive, it’s off the top of my head, so please add more examples in the comments if you think of them.

scholarly articles

  • research article — Reports the results of a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method study. Many journals and institutions require IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval before research is begun, so be sure to check (or better yet, always file for IRB approval before performing original research).
  • literature review (topic overview, state of the research) — You can publish a literature review on its own, assuming that it makes a contribution to the literature itself. The contribution may be from presenting a critique of the literature, presenting a new perspective, assessing gaps, making methodological comparisons, etc. For more on writing excellent literature reviews, see this article by Boote & Beile.
  • scholarly position (opinion piece) — This article argues for a particular position on a philosophical, theoretical, or practical issue in the field.
  • theory-building — Articles on theory explain new theory or build upon existing theory. They may use past research to build new theory (grounded theory) or propose new theory in order for it to be tested by research. Theoretical articles can become complex, and primarily I read theoretical articles written by known experts in a field. If you’re new to academic publishing, the area you might feel more comfortable in is translating an existing theory from one field (for instance, sociology) into another (for instance, education). In higher education and library science, this is pretty common because they are relatively new fields compared to giants like psychology.

practitioner articles

  • “what we did” (“how we did it”) — An article detailing a procedure, how a particular problem was resolved, or how an informal study was carried out. Anyone reading literature in the library science field is familiar with this genre, as it’s fairly common.
  • best practices — Like it sounds, an article on guidelines for a particular practice, activity, procedure.


  • book review — Book reviews are a great way to break into publication (plus, FREE BOOKS!). Many scholarly journals seek book reviewers; since book reviews usually merit lower tenure points than a research article, fewer researchers want to spend time writing them. Some journals post a list of books they need reviewed on their website, or you can request one from the editor. Alternately, you can review a specific book (one you purchased, an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), or some publishers will provide a book free if you let them know you intend to review it), and “shop” that review around to various related journals. It’s not a bad way to get a publication while doing your professional reading.


So how do you find the right journal for your article? Here are a few relevant tools for my fields, library science and higher education.

  • A Library Writer’s Blog

    Fantastic free source for calls for papers (CFPs) for conferences and journal issues, as well as calls for book chapters or volumes in a series, and notices of new academic journals.

  • PapersInvited

    Lists calls for papers (CFPs) with deadlines and details. CFPs listed for both conferences and special journal issues. (Subscription-based.)

  • Cabell’s Directory …Educational Psychology & Administration

    Directory of publishing opportunities in educational psychology and administration. 2007 (8th edition). Volumes 1 & 2.

  • Cabell’s Directory …Educational Curriculum & Methods

    Directory of publishing opportunities in educational curriculum and methods. 2007 (8th edition). Volumes 1, 2, & 3.


    Lists journals and other serials with information like publishing frequency, formats, and contact information. (Subscription-based.)

  • Serials Directory

    Provides bibliographic & publishing information for a variety of serials/journals. (Subscription-based.)

  • Professional Association Resources

    Some associations provide CFPs for journals and conferences through list-servs or other means; one such association is ASHE. (Subscription-based.)

Conferences, Symposia, Etc.

You can find upcoming conference and other events through websites, blogs, associations, etc.

  • Library Related Conferences

    Although this website is no longer being updated, it lists some conferences as far forward as 2016, and provides a list of annual conferences to be researched elsewhere.

  • Higher Education Conferences

    Here’s a similar website for higher education, which is currently still active.


6 thoughts on “Academic Pubs, Part 3: Article Types

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