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« Friday Cat Blogging, Text Version: or, Feline Modes of Interfering with Academic Work | Main | Destiny »

August 28, 2005



Excellent post. I review for a journal in my field, and I read lots of articles that I feel are simply not ready for publication. While I can't always be certain, I'm often confident that they are by grad students who have not been sufficiently mentored. Of course, these may be graduate students who aren't receiving any substantive feedback at all.

As part of "placement," I'd also suggest that professors help students also understand that not every article can appear in a top-tier journal. Most successful academics have good articles that find homes in the specialized, mid-level journals of their field. No shame in that.


One more thing: Profs need to prepare their students for the fact that blind article reviews can be the nastiest pieces of writing that they will see in their professional lives. Not always, but sometimes blind reviewers can be just brutal. Knowing that before one opens the envelope helps you deal with that as a grad student. (And of course here's another obligation: Profs should insist on seeing all reader's reports and helping the grad student parse them.)

A. G.

Fine post. I edit a peer reviewed journal, and sometimes get things that could have used such mentoring, like a recent article I rejected, and the author came back and said it was a grad class paper he had unearthed. We all have tried that, eh?

Aside: I just attended a beginning of the year party for our creative writing program. A literature professor there on the cusp of tenure said he was just about finished with his first book, in the nick of time. He said that he now thought he could write a book in two years, rather than the 6 plus this one took. That sounds right. So I wonder about a year to write a 30 page article, but I guess I don't want to second guess anyone else's work habits, just that it seems a loooong time.

Second aside: anonymous reviewing, better than "blind" reviewing, don't you think?


When I was in first year I had to take english. A first class I suppose is not an accurate representation of writing in the arts but the hardest part I found was the first point you mentioned: the style (we could use either MLA, APA, or chicago). As someone in mathematics I found a LaTeX (typesetting program) style for MLA and used that, and the format itself is completely automatic. Unfortunately there is little support for the arts department with LaTeX, but maybe that shall change in the future.

We also had a guidebook with the styles in it as well and I was kind of confused by one of the instructions: at least one inch margins...but what's the maximum? I think I used 1.5 and the TA said it was too much. It was annoying because I had to concentrate on the format for some time rather than writing the paper itself.


I wish you were my advisor. Great post.

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