April 2020

Publishing in Research Journals (April)

with Sam Dragga

Our focus this month is on the process of publishing in research journals. We will discuss this process from the perspective of authors, while considering the expectations and responsibilities of journal editors and their manuscript reviewers. We will examine effective and ineffective practices in conducting research, preparing and submitting manuscripts, interacting with editors, and responding to comments from reviewers.

April's Roundtable will illuminate the process of publishing in research journals in the field of technical communication.  We will start with the basics of research and proceed to strategies for choosing the right journal for your research project, adapting your manuscript for that journal, submitting your manuscript, corresponding with the editor, responding to the comments of reviewers, and revising your manuscript.

You will have the opportunity to review a case study that includes the original manuscript, comments from reviewers, the author’s response to these comments, the resulting revised manuscript, and the editor’s final decision.

You will also have the opportunity to hear from authors who have published in Technical Communication (and other journals in the field) about their experiences.

We will conclude with answers to your questions as well as to questions that frequently arise among new authors in their conversations about writing for publication.

Ideally, this month's Roundtable will leave you feeling confident and equipped to contribute to the research of the field as the author of a manuscript or as a manuscript reviewer for a journal in the field.

Weekly Content

STC Roundtable Webinar
Publishing in Research Journals in Technical Communication

This session illuminated the process of publishing in research journals in the field of technical communication by examining a variety of issues that sometimes make this process mysterious or enigmatic, especially for new authors. We covered the key issues in developing a research project and proceeded to strategies for choosing the right journal for this research project, writing a manuscript for this journal, submitting a manuscript according to the journal’s specifications, corresponding with the editor about a manuscript, responding to the comments of reviewers in a polite and persuasive fashion, and revising a manuscript.

Case Study

This case study will demonstrate the nature and scope of the “revise and resubmit” process that is typical for journal submissions and indicate effective strategies for responding to reviewers and conscientiously revising a manuscript.

This case study comprises:

  • Sam Dragga's original manuscript submitted to Technical Communication
  • comments he received from the journal editor and reviewers
  • his response to these comments
  • the resulting revised manuscript
  • the journal editor’s final decision about the manuscript

Panel Discussion: Writing (and Revising) for Publication in Research Journals

PANELISTS: Sam Dragga, Charles Kostelnick, Sarah Beth Hopton, Jason Chew Kit Tham, and Rebecca Walton

This week offered a panel presentation with authors of award-winning articles that have been published in Technical Communication. The authors shared insights from researching and writing their articles as well as their experience of submitting their manuscripts, waiting for reviews, receiving and responding to comments, revising their manuscripts, and finally getting it accepted for publication.


Charles Kostelnick was unable to attend the panel, and sent this video as followup:



Sarah Beth Hopton is an Associate Professor of Technical & Professional Writing at Appalachian State University.  With Rebecca Walton she is the author of “All Vietnamese Men Are Brothers: Rhetorical Strategies and Community Engagement Practices Used to Support Victims of Agent Orange”, awarded Best Article Reporting Qualitative or Quantitative Research in Technical or Scientific Communication by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), a division of the National Council of Teachers of English. Her work, which  focuses on the intersections between environmental justice, agriculture, and technology appears in several technical communication journals including Technical Communication, and she has two forthcoming chapters in edited collections on social justice and transnational communication research. She is also the author of two books of creative nonfiction published by Indiana University Press.

Charles Kostelnick is Professor of English at Iowa State University, Editor of Journal of Business and Technical Communication, author of Humanizing Visual Design: The Rhetoric of Human Forms in Practical Communication, co-editor of Visible Numbers: Essay on the History of Statistical Graphics, co-author of Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions, co-author of Designing Visual Language: Strategies for Professional Communicators, and recipient of the 2017 Frank R. Smith Award for Outstanding Article in Technical Communication, “The Re-Emergence of Emotional Appeals in Interactive Data Visualization.”

Jason Chew Kit Tham is Assistant Professor of Technical Communication at Texas Tech University.  He has published articles in Technical Communication Quarterly and Journal of Technical Writing and Communication and is recipient of the Frank R. Smith Outstanding Article Award for his 2018 article in Technical Communication, “Interactivity in an Age of Immersive Media: Seven Dimensions for Wearable Technology, Internet of Things, and Technical Communication.”  The book Design Thinking in Technical Communication: Solving Problems through Making and Collaboration is forthcoming.

Rebecca Walton is Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Utah State University and the Editor of Technical Communication Quarterly. Her co-authored articles have received several national awards, including the 2016 and 2017 Nell Ann Pickett Award from the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), a 2017 Frank R. Smith Distinguished Article Award from STC, a  2018 Best Article on Philosophy or Theory of Technical or Scientific Communication from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), and (with Sarah Beth Hopton) the 2020 CCCC Award for Best Article Reporting Qualitative or Quantitative Research in Technical or Scientific Communication.

Questions and Answers

This week offers answers to your questions and direction to additional resources related to your questions about the issues covered during this STC Roundtable as well as answers to questions that frequently arise among new authors in their conversations about writing for publication.

This list includes managing imposter syndrome, the relationship of conference presentations to journal publications, and writing for scholars versus writing for the public. Ideally, the answers to these questions will prepare you to contribute to the research of the field as the author of a manuscript or as a manuscript reviewer for a journal in the field.

Developing a Dissertation Research Problem: A Guide for Doctoral Students in Human Resource Development and Adult Education
Article from New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development by Ronald Jacobs with systematic advice applicable to every substantive research project: that is, how to find problems that require research and how to construct a logical statement of the problem.

How to Get a Useful Critique
Writing advice from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Amy Benson Brown that solicits your answers to three questions:

  1. What Kind of Feedback Do You Need?
  2. What Stage of the Writing Process Are You In?
  3. Who Are Potentially Helpful Readers?

What To Do If You Are Stuck in the Middle of a Writing or Other Project
Article from Stanford University’s Tomorrow’s Professor Postings that explains the factors that contribute to getting stuck and offers five practical solutions.

Fast-Food Scholarship
Article from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Lynn Worsham that identifies frequent problems with research manuscripts, from minimal citation and anecdotal evidence to distorted and undeveloped arguments.

The Revise and Resubmit Series
Part 1: Coping with Criticism
Part 2: Deciphering Reviewer Comments
Part 3: Techniques for Easier and Faster Revision
Three articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Theresa MacPhail with clear and practical advice about how to read reviews of your manuscript and revise effectively.

How to Get Your Research Published  . . . and then Noticed
Elsevier’s guidelines for publishing in research journals from choosing the right journal for your project to promoting your article after it is published.

How to Publish in Scholarly Journals
Elsevier’s complete guide to the publishing process, from choosing a journal to writing and revising the manuscript to monitoring the impact of your published article through journal and article metrics.

Wiley’s How to Perform a Peer Review
Detailed advice for peer reviewers, including ethical guidelines, step-by-step instructions, and top tips.

21 Dos and Don’ts for Journal Writers and Reviewers
Practical advice from two scholars in the social sciences from their professional experience as editors of research journals, members of editorial boards, and prolific authors of research articles.

COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics), Promoting Integrity in Scholarly Research and Publication
Extensive resource on all issues related to ethical research and publishing, including guidelines for addressing various questions, flowcharts to aid decision making, and case studies of problems and solutions.

AJE Scholar (American Journal Experts), Author Resources
A wide array of resources for authors, including videos and slide presentations, about all issues related to publishing in research journals, from finding research funding to promoting your published articles through social media and conference presentations.

Curator Bio:

Dr. Sam Dragga

Sam Dragga

Dr. Sam Dragga is Professor Emeritus of Technical Communication at Texas Tech University and Editor-in-Chief of Technical Communication, the quarterly research journal of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). He is co-author of The Essentials of Technical Communication (Oxford University Press, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2018), Reporting Technical Information (Oxford University Press, 2002, 2006), and Editing: The Design of Rhetoric (Baywood, 1989) as well as editor of two special issues of Technical Communication Quarterly (2001, 2010) and series editor of the Allyn & Bacon Series in Technical Communication (19 titles). He has also authored or co-authored a score of articles in journals and collections on such topics as professional ethics and intercultural communication. He is a Fulbright Specialist, a Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), and a recipient of STC’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication and the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Best Book in Technical and Scientific Communication and Best Article Reporting Historical Research in Technical and Scientific Communication. He served as president of ATTW (1997-1999) and initiated the organization’s annual conference in 1998. He also served as chair of the TTU Department of English (2002-2012).

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