Academic Pubs, Part 7: Where & How to Submit

I’ve had a draft of this post for months–hey, look at me, finally working on finishing this series of posts! For previous posts on this topic, see:

Where to Find Journals

I highly recommend thinking about the journals you read the most, the ones that come up in your research results most frequently, because they are likely publishing topics similar to yours. Google Scholar can help with that, as well. And here are the formal tools for finding journals, journal contacts, and academic ranking of journals:


  • Directory of publishing opportunities in educational psychology and administration. 2007 (8th edition).
  • UNT Willis Library, 1st Floor: Z286. E3 C324 2007


  • Directory of publishing opportunities in educational curriculum and methods. 2007 (8th edition).
  • UNT Willis Library, 1st Floor: Z286. E3 C322 2007


  • Lists journals and other serials (in a variety of disciplines) with information like publishing frequency, formats, and contact information. (Subscription-based.)


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

Journal Formatting & Tools

  • see listings in the Cabell’s directories above
  • provides info on this, as well as journal contacts (also see above)
  • LaTex: free program which allows you to write your manuscript and 1) instantly switch your heading formats, citations and references between various style manual guidelines (very useful when sending manuscripts to journals with different style requirements!), and 2) allows for some of the best handling of tables, figures, and particularly mathematic formulas
  • RefWorks: bibliographic management software that lets you store citations (and PDFs of the articles!), add notes, organize citations into folders, and automatically generate citations and a reference list with several citation styles to choose from
  • Zotero: your institution doesn’t have RefWorks? no problem, Zotero does the same thing for free and plugs into your web browser

How to Write a Cover Letter

In a cover letter, the goal is to tell them what you’re writing about and what your (relevant) credentials are. For instance, if I was writing an article about imagery in government-created comics for the army (yep, they exist), I’d cite my master’s in art history and my background as a government documents librarian. Sure, I have other degrees and other work experience, but it’s important to point out the specific areas of my education and experience that relate, that show why I might have something interesting and intelligent to say about the topic.

Be brief. Give them only the information they need, and wrap it up. Don’t waste words being formal or making small talk or going on about your experience at length. If you’re wordy, they’re less likely to take the time to read your letter at all, much less your manuscript.

Try to limit the letter to three paragraphs:

  • First paragraph: Get to the point of why you’re writing, who you are, and be brief. “Hello Dr. So-And-So, I’m submitting this article, Title Goes Here, for your consideration.”
  • Second paragraph: Give more details on the article, what’s the main point, what is unique, new, significant about it? Also include the relevant bits of your background and training that show your suitability and credentials (why you’re a knowledgable person to write about the topic). If at all possible (especially if you’re a new author or asking about a book review position), include a link to other writing samples (published, if you have them)–this is what a personal website and/or online portfolio are great for. “The article summarizes images of male power created for consumption by U.S. soldiers, and relates that directly to propaganda army recruiting posters of the 1940s. My master’s in art history and five years of experience as an academic librarian working in government documents informed my research. If you’d like to see samples of my published writing, please see the examples posted at my online portfolio:
  • Third paragraph: Briefly and politely end the letter. I always thank the editor/reviewer/etc. for their time, because let’s face it–they are incredibly busy and I’ll just be happy if they actually read my entire letter and article draft. “Thanks so much for your time; I look forward to hearing back from you.”
If the journal editor wasn’t listed  in the directory you used (Ulrich’s, Cabell’s), try looking up the journal’s website (if they don’t have one, try the publisher of the journal). This is a good idea anyway, because the journal’s website may have more recently-updated information than that in the directory. Usually there will be one or more editors listed with their titles, and submission guidelines (how, when, to whom, and what to include in a submission) are listed here, as well. Check twice to be sure you’be followed these guidelines, that your manuscript is in the appropriate file format and style manual formatting, and that you’ve attached it to the cover letter email.

Where to Find Conferences, CFPs, RFPs, etc

This varies based on your discipline, of course. I’ve got several stand-bys for both library science and higher education. I’m a member of ASHE (Association for Studies in Higher Education), and I read their regular newsletter for CFPs–they’re very thorough. I’m also subscribed to my Higher Ed department’s list-serv, where faculty and students often post CFPs and RFPs.

For library science, I’m on several list-servs that are helpful, but these are my primary resources:


  • 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.


  • Lists calls for papers (CFPs) with deadlines and details. CFPs listed for both conferences and special journal issues. (Subscription-based.)
And a couple lists of past and upcoming library conferences:

Write a Winning Conference Proposal

Here’s what I learned from 18 months spend in the trenches of the Texas Library Association Programs Committee, reading program proposals.

  • Make the title catchy, interesting. Humor is great for local conferences (and most library conferences), although it would be less appropriate at my higher ed conferences.
  • Write a title that’s descriptive of your topic. Maybe run it by a few colleagues and ask them what they think the session would be about. Remember all those sessions you attended where the topic was completely different from what the title implied? Yeah, avoid that.
  • This goes for the abstract, too. Be descriptive, but brief. Imagine you’re describing your topic to a friend–this is what I do for abstracts and whole articles when I feel writer-blocked. Your friend’s asked you what you’re writing/speaking about–so tell them. Again, try to run this by someone before submitting.
  • Don’t be boring. You’re proposing this program because you’re passionate about the topic, right? Well, why and how are you passionate about it? What’s new about your spin on it? Sell your potential audience on it.
  • Did the Call For Papers (CFP) mention specific conference themes or program topics they’re looking for? Don’t forget to include those same words or phrases in your title or abstract. Make it easy for the Programs Committee to understand why your session is a perfect fit for this conference.

The most important step, of course, is sending off that cover letter & manuscript, or that program proposal. If you don’t send it, you don’t have a chance of getting it. I frequently use this philosophy to get myself off of my perfectionist, intimidated, procrastinating duff and submit things. And the crazy part is that I’m accepted more often than not. So I repeat: Go forth and SEND IT. 


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