There is a diverse range of creative writers and scholars coming out of academia these days. Many write fiction alongside academic articles and while there is a lot of information available online for the budding short story writer, the same cannot be said for those seeking to publish their scholarly work.
While peer-reviewed academic journals are the traditional outlet for this type of article there are multiple outlets academics can consider when seeking publication, each of which present different opportunities and hurdles. Let’s take a look at the submission processes for and the reasons why academics might target academic journal, literary journals and websites or blogs.
While academics may seem intimidating and secretive about the submission process, this isn’t the case. Many of them have their own websites with Guideline pages on how to submit.
They are also still the most respected medium within the academic community, which is important to note if you are considering academia as a career path.
Academic journals require you to submit completed essays up front which could mean a lot of work on something which you then struggle to place.
Academic journals are also limited in their readership, often restricted to students, teachers and other academics. If you wish to share your work with a more general audience, you might consider other literary magazines or websites.
Where to find them
If you’re still a student, don’t feel like you can’t start now. Over the last decade or so there has been a growing number of university affiliated writing programs dedicated to publishing students’ scholarship (Boston University and The Morningside Review for example) as well as a growth in post-graduate e-journals such as eSharp.
How to write it
When writing for an academic journal the language needs to be formal and analytical. It should be structured with an introduction, body and conclusion, more information on this can be found on countless university websites.
Academic essays also feature detailed references and a list of works cited or a bibliography at the end. Check the journals guidelines for which form of referencing they require, such as MLA or Chicago.
A journals guidelines or submission page will also detail rules about word length and format.
How to Submit
Academic journals may require you to submit online or via email. If online, you may need to sign up to use their system. This should be free and easy so don’t sweat it.
You will almost definitely need to submit your full and complete article along with an abstract. Learn to write an abstract. This is a brief overview of your completed article. It often has a word count restriction detailed in the specific journals guidelines.
Have an author biography prepared; another brief document you may need when submitting to journals. This should take a more formal tone than that which you’d submit to a literary mag or website and include your academic history.
Some journals to get you started
- John Hopkins University Press
- The Australian Literary Studies
- The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Literary Journals: a natural alternative
Literary journals and magazines present an alternative to traditional academic publishing, enabling literary and craft based scholarship to benefit the wider literary community of writers and readers and offer scholars new and more diverse publishing opportunities.
Most literary journals are not peer-reviewed, but follow a journalistic model with a single editor. In these cases publication may not afford you the same level of recognition that publication in an academic journal would. Having said that, many literary journals have managed to achieve critical acceptance within the academic community by building a reputation for rigorous standards and high-quality contributions to the literary field.
How to write it
Essays published in literary journals differ from academic essays primarily in tone, referencing and length. They are more casual or conversational without heavy use of jargon.
They are not referenced and do not feature a bibliography or list of works cited, although, if published online may feature hyperlinks to sources or further reading.
In some, rare, cases literary journals do publish scholarly research complete with references. However, many of these are still not peer-reviewed. In Australia only 4 of the 19 literary journals listed on the ASA website are peer-reviewed, granting them the same presumed standard as academic journals.
They are frequently shorter than academic articles
How to submit
Unlike academic journals, many literary journals accept pitches, some even require it, and will not read articles without first receiving a pitch.
Pitches are short and do the point. There are countless articles online about how pitch editors. Some literary mags will list a specific email address where you can send pitches, other use Submittable or another online form.
If your pitch is accepted… celebrate! Then promptly reply thanking them and ask for any information not included in their guidelines such as length or due date. Please note, the acceptance of a pitch does not guarantee the acceptance of an article.
You will most likely then enter into an email correspondence through which you submit the completed article and then a revision process.
Some literary journals require you to subscribe before submitting, charge non-subscribers to submit, or give preference to subscribers that submit. This is not always the case and will be stipulated in the guidelines page.
Some literary journals to get you started
Specialist Websites and Blogs
Websites and blogs are by far the most accessible of each of the outlets looked at here and have the potential for the greatest reach in terms of readership.
Many literary magazines have an online presence or are completely digital, a large array of professional, long-lasting blogs exist focusing on the craft of writing and new initiative straddling the gap between academia and blogging such as JSTOR daily are beginning to emerge.
Longevity and credibility is the biggest concern when publishing on websites and blogs. It is easy to set up a professional appearing website, call it a journal but not survive a year online. When considering this medium look at its history and any organisation behind it. The Writing Platform is supported by two universities for example.
How to write it
Not too different from literary journals, however some websites and blogs have different categories with different formats. Well established websites and blogs will have submission pages explaining their specific requirements.
How to submit
Once again, pitches are the norm for websites. If they don’t have a submission page and you know it is a reputable site, try to locate an email address for the editor and send the pitch directly to them.
The process, post pitch acceptance, is much the same as literary journals.
MLA has this advice for academic authors; “When thinking about the best format in which to publish, authors should consider the wide range of available options and their implications in terms of medium, audience, accessibility, permanence, and peer review.”
The landscape of academic writing, and writing in general, is changing. Writers need to adapt and experiment. The existence of websites such as this demonstrated academia’s willingness to do the same. I recommend seeking publication across all three mediums, it will expand your audience base and by extension the opportunities to support yourself as a writer, academic or not.