Volume 3 (2012) Issue 2 - Review Jiang
JLLT Volume 3 (2012) Issue 2.pdf

Journal of Linguistics and Language Teaching

Volume 3 (2012) Issue 2 (PDF)

Tonette S. Rocco & Tim Hatcher (eds.): The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass 2011. 336 pages. (ISBN-10: 0-470-393351, ISBN-13: 978-0-470-39335-2)

This handbook aims at providing academic writing and publishing skills to faculty members, doctoral students, and other scholars. As a novel contribution, the book unveils mystery and eases difficulty for target users, since such conceptual and practical topics are rarely discussed in the research literature. The current book accomplishes its purpose by giving specific guidelines for writing and publishing skills. These skills cover more than grammatical correctness and punctuation at a literal level; instead, they involve both cognition and metacognition entailed by the scholarly writing and publishing process. These skills include how, when, and with whom to write, scheduling, giving and responding to constructive feedback, editing and revising, as well as resubmitting manuscripts. The skill set reflects the reality of the writing process from the first rough draft to the final polished version.

The editors group twenty-one chapters into four parts:

  • Part One: Becoming a Published Scholar (Chapters 1-6),
  • Part Two: Improving Writing Techniques (Chapters 7-10),
  • Part Three: Preparing Scholarly Manuscripts (Chapters 11-16), and
  • Part Four: Reflecting on the Writing and Publishing Process (Chapters 17-21).

Part One (pp. 1) comprises six chapters. Written in the first person, Chapter One (pp. 3) gives an overview of why to write, how to write, and how to write in collaboration. By way of sharing personal experiences, the author of this chapter, Tonette S. Rocco, contextualizes these questions and answers to make her statements convincing and persuasive. In the section on writing tips, Rocco suggests making to-do lists to organize and prioritise projects, and keeping an idea list to write and publish.

Chapter Two (pp. 13) informs readers about how to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals and non-refereed professional journals, by examining the following seven topics:

· searching for and selecting topics,

· writing and revising the manuscript,

· mechanics of manuscript preparation,

· deciding where to submit the manuscript,

· working with editors,

· seeking feedback,

· and building momentum by getting multiple articles from a single idea.

Chapter Three (pp. 26) presents three doctoral candidates’ recommendations for making publications before graduation, which, among other things, include using software (such as Endnote, Excel, and Microsoft Onenote notebooks), filing and recording information, and making outlines for drafts. To build writing skills, readers are advised to give and receive constructive feedback, find time to write, and overcome obstacles (for instance, the writers’ voice issue).

Chapter Four (pp. 44) presents the issue of integrating reading with writing to be a self-critical writer and develop scholarly discourse, which “entails finding something out and then demonstrating to others why it is significant” (p. 47). In doing so, self-critical writers can learn to evaluate others’ argument. To help scholars develop their roles as self-critical writers, this chapter includes a “figure of dimensions of claims and their vulnerability to rejection” (p. 55) and an exhibit called “linking a critical approach to your reading with a self-critical approach to your writing” (pp. 59-60), for the purpose of self-checking.

Chapter Five (pp. 62) discusses writing for publication with tension, using several true-to-life narratives of being graduate supervisors, writing teachers and researchers, and graduate students.

Chapter Six (pp. 75) gives a rationale for and an approach to publishing articles from a dissertation or thesis.

Part Two (pp. 89) comprises four Chapters Seven to Ten. Chapter Seven (pp. 91) lists stylistic mistakes that new scholars may make. These pitfalls include verbosity, ambiguity and insubstantiality. Verbosity refers to wordiness, contrary to being concise. Ambiguity may result from a poor choice of words or illogical deduction. Insubstantiality contains oversimplification and gross generalization. Such mistakes are displayed with examples in their original and revised versions, so that readers can easily compare the two versions. This chapter also provides methods to avoid these pitfalls—revising, contextualizing, balancing and modeling.

In Chapter Eight (pp. 102), the author of this chapter, Monica Lee, believes that good writing is about “communication, experience and authenticity” of a real person (p. 103). Good writing has a voice “that draws us in and engages us as readers” (p. 103). The use of voice is about the meaning conveyed by “emotion or personal experience” (p. 103) of oneself to others. To help develop a scholarly voice, Lee presents a useful tool kit.

Chapter Nine (pp. 115) draws the readers’ attention to common problems which affect the quality of writing, including those of form and structure, logic and sequencing as well as organization. It also mentions improving readability by checking grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Chapter Ten (pp. 125) focuses on conceptualizing and articulating a research problem and a purpose statement. Analytical skills are a key factor in this context.

Part Three Preparing Scholarly Manuscripts (pp. 143) consists of Chapter Eleven to Sixteen to provide guidance to specific types of academic writing.

Chapter Eleven (pp. 145) discusses literature reviews as the foundation of a study. It provides Cooper’s Taxonomy (1985, 1988, & 2003) in the fields of psychology and education to structure such reviews. The development of reviews entails six characteristics: focus, goal, perspective, coverage, organization and audience. The characteristic of focus, which is picked here as an example, means the type of literature review: reports of research outcomes, research methods, theoretical literature, and practical or applied literature. The author provides three tables to guide writers on how to analyze research and theoretical articles in this chapter (pp.153-156). After writers have analyzed the literature, they can draft reviews. The author of this chapter, Susan Imel, lists questions as prompts to convert the information from literature analysis to drafting reviews. She states that drafting reviews is not linear and needs reflection at different stages.

Chapters Twelve to Fourteen deal with qualitative and quantitative research papers as well as those of mixed methods. Chapter Twelve (pp. 161) gives some formats and models in figures (pp. 162-163). Chapter Thirteen (pp. 179) deals with the probability of having quantitative manuscripts published.

In Chapter Fourteen (pp. 191), which addresses mixed methods, the authors - Isadore, David and Carole Newman - contend that there is a gap in literature in this field by showing proof that the two authoritative research organizations, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) do not provide standards for publishing mixed-method research. Accordingly, the authors collect and present mixed-method designs from Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003), Tashakkori and Newman (2010) and Tashakkori, Brown and Borghasie (2009).

Chapter Fifteen (pp. 209) explores the field of writing theory and conceptual and opinion articles, which are less structured and more informal. There are five steps to follow in writing theory articles: conceptualizing, operationalizing, applying, (dis)confirming and refining (Lynham 2002). Conceptual articles are more abstract and the concepts they present are not proven yet, compared with theory articles. Opinion articles, rarely reviewed, cover editorials, forums, letters to the editor, and book reviews. The author of this chapter, Gary N. McLean, offers suggestions for writing each type.

In Chapter Sixteen (pp. 222), the authors Tim Hatcher and Kimberly S. McDonald address the question of how to write and publish nonrefereed manuscripts, for instance, editorials and book reviews. The authors provide advice by giving numerous examples, mainly in the field of human resource development (HRD).

Part Four (pp. 237), as its title “Reflecting on the Writing and Publishing Process” suggests, emphasizes the process of writing for publication.

In Chapter Seventeen (pp. 239), Robert Donmoyer associates writing with reviewing articles. The author discusses five aspects to teach a writer how to become a reviewer: decentering as experiencing and practicing, grasping grammar rules, providing positive feedback, learning through positive features, and comparing one’s own critique with others’. In Donmoyer’s opinion, reviews should be simple, tacit, explicit and not overwhelming.

Chapter Eighteen (pp. 251) deals with the question of how to respond to reviewers’ and editors’ feedback. The author, Stephen D. Brookfield, shares his personal experiences of submitting articles and drafting significant revisions for most of them. Brookfield gives emotional, reasonable, technical suggestions for coping with such feedback. Moreover, specific suggestions in the feedback are vital to article writers because the writers need to make additions, revisions and changes to “recast the article in terms that align exactly with the journal’s editorial guidelines to authors and the journal’s statement of purpose” (p. 257).

Chapter Nineteen (pp. 262) examines global and cross-cultural issues in scholarly publishing in terms of journal exposure and coverage as well as underrepresented non-native-English-speaking (NNES) international scholars. This chapter pinpoints four specific problems and gives four recommendations thereafter. The problems faced by international authors are: identifying a research topic, designing a research study, language issues, and ethnic problems. By doing so, the authors hope that NNES scholars can submit their manuscripts to English-language Western publications and “reach out to a wider global readership” (p. 271).

Chapter Twenty (pp. 274) presents some advice for collaborative writing as coauthors. The authors of this chapter, Ann I. Nevin, Jacqueline S. Thousand, and Richard A. Villa, use tables and a model along with texts to provide six strategies for writing in collaboration.

The last chapter of Part Four Writing as Mentoring (pp. 293) explores mentorship in writing between faculty members and doctoral students. A table (p. 305) is used to reflect four phases of a mentoring relationship in the development of scholarly writing.

This last part of the book lists shared resources as references under different categories for emerging scholars who are evolving into productive writers. It is highly useful to anyone developing or thinking about developing a manuscript.

This handbook has a large audience, from emerging to experienced scholars, from doctoral students to committee chairs. This book is written for all scholars in various disciplines. Its primary audience is graduate students and emerging scholars. The secondary audience is faculty members and journal editors. Part One and Part Three are especially helpful, useful, relevant and applicable, especially to PhD students. Part One is general and fundamental from a holistic view, giving the reader a blueprint of scholarly writing. Part Three is specific and detailed. It covers guidance of both research and conceptual papers, which can be uses for writing term papers, conference proposals, journal articles, and finally, dissertations. Part Four may be more beneficial to advanced scholars, since it provides expertise in fields like reviewing or mentoring. The present book is comprehensive in content: every step or detail of writing for publication is covered here.

Writing and publishing skills are accompanied with a broad spectrum of personal and professional advice, which is another merit. The book displays those skills with a personal touch, which means that readers can clearly feel as if the chapter authors, with their experience and expertise, were talking to them directly. This style of the book makes readers feel closer to its authors and texts. From the very beginning, in Chapter one, the author manages to build up a relationship of identification and trust with her readers by self-narration “Neither my life experiences nor my academic experiences prepared me for scholarly writing and publications” (p. 3), and thus, this rapport enables them as novices to head for the adventure of scholarly writing and publishing with her. The following chapters are congruent with the first one in terms of rhetoric and language, which are engaging and well-written, using plain English to illustrate and interpret the scholarly writing process, involvement, factors, challenges, and problems.

Thanks to engagement and close readership, readers tend to be inspired by those insights and advice and to reflect on their own experiences. Reading this book could also trigger the readers’ previous knowledge in other types of writing or in their mother-tongue writings in case they are non-English natives. Therefore, it bridges connections from the well-known concepts or schema to novel ones. When reading the present book, readers becomes more aware of and confident in writing and submitting manuscripts to academic journals, these predicted and involved challenges becoming conquerable to them.

The fourth merit of the book is that it was not written in an ivory tower far removed from the realities of the actual writing. That means that the book is not purely theoretical and conceptual. The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing is a product of research and reflects the authors’ own experience as scholars, doctoral students and faculty members. The target groups of readers of this book are the same groups as the respective chapter authors. This commonality further bridges the gap between writing academic papers and transforming them into publishable manuscripts for doctoral students and emerging scholars.

There are some weaknesses which, however, do not diminish or belittle the overall value of the present book. For instance, there is an array of discipline perspectives by chapter authors coming from different fields such as special education, adult education, communication or management. However, perspectives are not so comprehensive since most of the chapter authors come from education or other fields of social sciences. Hence, readers from other disciplines, especially with natural-science backgrounds, may find it difficult to identify, and, thus, will benefit less from this book in their process of academic writing and publishing. It is here suggestes that, in upcoming editions, certain chapters be written by authors from a wider range of disciplines, such as natural science, life science or engineering.

Moreover, the present book collects chapters written by 34 scholars from different countries to show its consideration of diverse readers with respect to different cultural and language backgrounds. Nevertheless, only five of them are from countries in which English is not the first language, and only three of the authors work in non-English-speaking universities. Moreover, there is only one article titled International and Cross-Cultural Issues in Scholarly Publishing (pp. 262) in the fourth part, exploring academic writing from NNES scholars’ standing. Therefore, the book is not really be global in terms of coverage and exposure. It appears weak in lacking NNES scholars’ reflexions on challenges and their experience in writing and publishing manuscripts. This shortcoming can be overcome by integrating NNES scholars’ as authors in some chapters, for instance, in those named Writing with authority (pp. 91) or Writing as mentoring (pp. 293). This can also be done by inviting scholars from NNES countries to write chapters and contribute their insights and experience in scholarly writing and publishing, in particular, their way of writing in English instead of in their respective native languages to compose scholarly manuscripts and make them accepted by academic journals. In this way, this handbook will be more comprehensive, global, accessible to a larger audience, and beneficial to a wider range of readers from NNES countries.

From an overall perspective, the Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing, is a well-organized, logical, engaging and practical resource which can help emerging and experienced scholars as well as faculty members and reviewers in general. In particular, the book may be more helpful and beneficial to emerging scholars, regardless of their field of study, due to its target readers, its coverage, and its language usage. The choice of words is delicate, which means that there is no colloquial English, jargon, or terminology which may frustrate NNES or international scholars. Its merits consists in giving insightful advice, sharing personal and true-to-life experience and offering guidance to scholars in many fields of study. The merits of the book outnumber its shortcomings, which distinguishes this book from others.

References

Cooper, H. M. (1985). A taxonomy of literature review. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.

Cooper, H. M. (1988). Organizing knowledge syntheses: A taxonomy of literature reviews. Knowledge in Society, I (1), 105-126.

Cooper, H. M. (2003). Editorials. Psychological Bulletin, 129 (1), 3-9.

Lynham, S. A. (2002). Theory building in applied disciplines. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 4.

Tashakkori, A., Brown, L. M., & Borghese, P. (2009). Integrated methods for studying a systemic conceptualization of stress and coping. In K. Collins, A. Onwuegbuzie & Q. Jiao (Eds.), Toward a broader understanding of stress and coping: Mixed methods approaches. Kyogle, Australia: New Age Publishing.

Tashakkori, A., & Newman, I. (2010). Mixed methods: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches to research. In E. Baker, P. Peterson & B. McGaw (Eds.), The encyclopedia of international education (3 ed.). New York: Elsevier.

Tashakkori. A., & Teddlie, C. (Eds.) (2003). Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reviewer:

Xuan Jiang

Department of Teaching and Learning

College of Education, ZEB Building

Florida International University

11200 SW 8th Street

Miami, Florida, USA 33199

Email: xjiang@fiu.edu