Got a publication idea but don’t know where to start? Looking for some practical tips to help get your research out the door? This blog is for you.
Greetings. I’m Brad Cousins, Professor Emeritus at the University of Ottawa, Canada. I am kicking off the Research on Evaluation AEA365 Blog Week. I’ve spent the bulk of my career conducting and disseminating research on evaluation (RoE) and I served as editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal for Program Evaluation for a nine-year period. So, you might say that I have good experience with the publication process on both sides of the street.
If you’ve got an RoE publication idea, make sure it’s suitable for an evaluation outlet. Typically, summaries of evaluations don’t qualify because they don’t seek to advance evaluation theory and practice. They may be publishable elsewhere (e.g., outlets in education, health, community mental health).
The publication process entails multiple steps common to most journals: (i) submission of the paper, (ii) decision to send for blind review, (iii) publication decision, and (iv) follow-up. Almost inevitably, a decision to publish entails revisions or major changes. It’s incumbent upon the author to placate reviewer concerns and demonstrate that the revised paper has been improved accordingly.
Hot Tips: (i) Follow instructions – I am amazed by how many authors don’t do this well. (ii) Withhold your identity for blind review – e.g., replace citations to your work with ‘Author(s)’, submit a separate document with name, affiliation, references, and acknowledgements. (iii) Number the pages – make the reviewer’s job easy. (iv) Motivate the paper – identify gaps, say why the research is needed. (v) Highlight the significance of your contribution – this is what hooks reviewers and editors. (vi) Respond to reviewer feedback in a conciliatory and comprehensive fashion – provide a table of changes; you can disagree but justify it; don’t take criticism personally.
Lesson Learned: Join the dialogue. If you join an engaged cocktail party group and just start blurting out what you’re interested in talking about, you may find that group members will soon seek to join other groups. You need to listen, think about what’s being said, make connections to your own experience, and look for an opportunity to engage. Help to motivate your paper by joining the ongoing conversation in the literature. Check recent issues of leading journals, read and learn about relevant contributions, make associations to your research, and frame the paper accordingly. This strategy will help you highlight the significance of your contribution, what every reviewer and editor is looking for.
Rad Resource: Consider augmenting your research publication using video. Have you seen ‘The Three Minute Thesis’ on YouTube? You can create and publish a catchy, short video summary of your research that can be disseminated widely and quickly for graduate instruction, evaluation capacity building, and general knowledge dissemination. For example, here is a video publication series that includes RoE at our research center.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating RoE TIG Week with our colleagues in the Research on Evaluation TIG. All of the blog contributions this week come from our RoE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.