SURESH CANAGARAJAH: January 2009 Archives

Authors always wonder whether it is proper to consult the journal editor before sending an article submission. The requests I have received have always been prefaced by an apology. I too have liked to clarify some issues with editors before I submit an article. In cases where the length is slightly longer, a creative style or genre of writing is employed, or the subject is novel, it is always good to ask a journal editor if the submission is acceptable. After all, having a clear word about this will help the author save time by sending it to a more appropriate journal. However, even I have had a few cases where the editors failed to respond, presumably treating such inquiry as a violation of the impersonal review system.


I have always tried to respond to such queries sent to TQ. But there are different types of queries. Some are constructive, others are not. Here are four types of inquiries I get:


1. An author sends a complete manuscript of a possible submission and wants to know if the article is relevant before submitting it formally. I am able to make a better judgment when I have the whole manuscript in front of me. Of course it is time-consuming to read the whole manuscript, in the midst of evaluating articles that have been submitted formally. However, since only relevance is queried, this doesn't require a close read. Yet, I have to caution authors that they shouldn't take my affirmative reply on relevance as indicating an eventual acceptance of the submission. This is a mistake that is easy to happen. Decisions are made only after expert reviewers have made their recommendations.


2. An author sends the abstract of the article and wants to know the suitability for submission. This is more desirable as it takes less time to read. A good abstract will also make clear the argument and direction of the article. However, I have to always tell authors that only the complete submission will make clear if all our requirements are met. For example, TQ requires authors to spell out their pedagogical implications. An abstract may not always indicate the pedagogical recommendations deriving from the study.


3. An author gives an outline of the article in his/her letter and asks if it is suitable. This approach is even more preferable as the letter provides more space to articulate the argument, implications, significance, and even length and style of the submission, among other details. From the selfish point of view of a busy editor, this is also less time-consuming than reading a complete manuscript.


4. Occasionally, I have had a couple of authors send me their thesis, dissertation, or report for a funding agency or university and asked if they can produce an article out of it for TQ. Such requests are irritating. Apart from the assumption that the editor has the time to read the whole dissertation to advice, there are other problems with such requests. Many articles can be derived from a major project of such nature. Even though the subject may be relevant, it is difficult to say if it will be written with relevance to our guidelines. Moreover, there is a huge gap between a research report and a journal article. Many modifications have to be made before it can be suitable for a journal publication.


In one rare case, we even had an author send us a Masters thesis and give us permission to have it published in TQ. I wasn't sure if the author thought we'll turn it into a journal article outselves or publish it completely!


Now I understand why certain editors don't like to entertain such queries. You never know how far some authors might go!

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by SURESH CANAGARAJAH in January 2009.

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