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How to Tell When to Send Your Paper into a Journal

By Susan Sterett and Paul Collins



A group of faculty and graduate students in the Five College Seminar in Legal Studies in Western Massachusetts talked on a beautiful Friday afternoon about submitting a manuscript to a journal, something that feels so scary to some people they won’t do it. Other people send things in readily, and have tricks to manage any difficulties. If you don’t send it in, you won’t get it in the conversations you want to be part of. The academic conversation will be the worse for it. Still, how do you know? Especially because we are often the harshest judges of our work. Here are some alternatives the group came up with:
  • When an advisor, or colleague, or coauthor says it’s time;
  • When you have gathered feedback on your work at a conference or working group and revised;
  • When you’ve checked that it fits with the structure and format of articles in the journal you want to send it to, and it engages issues the journal engages;
  • When you can’t stand to look at it anymore;
  • When you have worked your way through all the tasks in any of the excellent writing advice books; Wendy Belcher's is very helpful;
  • When you have worked your way through any suggestions and you can’t think of what else to do.

You will notice that the theme is not to submit when you love your words; few people would submit work if that were the standard. If critical voices in your head are stopping you from sending something in, work on the critical voices. Anne Lamott has great suggestions.

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