- Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles: Writing and Publishing in the Helping Professionsby Rich Furman and Julie T. Kinn
A common voice for books on writing for scholarly publication is the prescriptive: ‘Do this; do that,’ they advise – or, more often, ‘Don’t do this; don’t do that.’ Unfortunately, patronizing or scolding overtones can be counter-productive for the very readers who could stand to benefit most from the advice. Rarer are the books that constructively empathize with readers, expressing and critically analysing the experience of writing for scholarly publication from the internal perspectives of scholarly writers. Such books transcend the purely instrumental and focus, instead, on complex personal, psychological, cognitive, structural, and environmental issues that affect writers’ (and potential writers’) abilities to perform. Readers sense wisdom and altruism, not the mere showcasing of knowledge or information, in the pages of such books. And readers who have dabbled across genres may be reminded of an approach more common in books on creative writing: a thoughtful, internally contemplative approach à la Natalie Goldberg or Anne Lamott or Susan Shaughnessy. 1Scholarly writers should, above all else, be reflective thinkers, making a thoughtful approach to writing not only accessible and relatable but also compelling and inspiring.
Rich Furman (professor of social work at the University of Washington, Tacoma) and Julie T. Kinn (clinical and research psychologist at the US Department of Defense) have taken such a thoughtful approach in the second edition of their Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles: Writing and Publishing in the Helping Professions.Indeed, they cement [End Page 407]the connection with works by Goldberg and Lamott and Shaughnessy by reminding readers that ‘all writing is creative writing’ and that all research and writing processes involve ‘important creative decisions’ (25). Furman and Kinn epitomize the virtues of those academics and practitioners who gravitate to the human services and the so-called helping professions (social work, education, nursing, counselling, psychology, public administration, criminal justice, and the like) in that they concern themselves with purpose, intentionality, and effect. They acknowledge and explore how ‘writing and publishing challenge us on many different levels’ (11), and they see writing, in an ‘almost spiritual light,’ as a ‘vehicle for becoming more fully who you are’ (27). 2The final sentence of their concluding chapter, in fact, is fundamentally existential: ‘While publishing is a worthwhile goal … what is really important is the journey of developing as scholars and, indeed, as human beings’ (105). With their nine brief chapters, thirteen exercises, and six appendixes, Furman and Kinn offer a textbook, a workbook, an idea book, and a playbook all in one.
Textbook elements abound in the first half of Furman and Kinn’s book, where foundational components are the focus: the psychology behind, motivation for, and contextualization of writing for publication. For example, the authors suggest approaches for overcoming procrastination, freeing the mind to write, and viewing writing as a means for improving teaching and practice. A pivotal chapter at the heart of the book presents, in true textbook form, a typology of scholarly publications and includes sample abstracts for most types, but the samples alone are not adequate for discerning how to write good abstracts, and subsequent coverage of the topic is limited. The remaining chapters cover the intricacies of selecting venues, submitting manuscripts to journals, collaborating, and navigating a host of ethical issues that intersect with research, writing, and authorship.
As a workbook, the volume challenges readers to think deeply about their approaches to writing by identifying barriers to and conditions for optimal productivity. The thirteen exercises (inexplicably omitted from the table of contents) are integral to the transactional, interactive nature of this book. Exercise 5, ‘Creating a Good Writing Space,’ is a visualization exercise: I envisioned a personal space that is far beyond my means and far removed from the cluttered utility table, folding chair, and laptop computer that create my current work environment. Exercise 12, [End Page 408]‘Wandering...