Chapter 14 of Teaching English, How To…. By Raymond Stopper (Xlibris, 2004).
Question: How can I get started writing for publication in professional journals?
Answer: You have to read professional journals if you are going to submit articles for publication in them.
Begin by typing “professional education journals” into the Google search engine. The amount of information you will find—links to journals, sample copies, full on-line articles, etc.—will amaze you. Then try “NCTE” (for National Council of Teachers of English) and “International Reading Association.” You will have an opportunity to review sample issues of their leading journals.
You really should read a sample copy of the journal to learn the format and the requirements for publishing in each journal, together with instructions for submission, including to whom to send the manuscript. Most of that information is available on Web sites of individual professional journals.
Beginning Your ArticleMost articles will require background information summarizing other articles that have been written on the topic. In writing your article, you need to lay the groundwork. In effect, you are saying, “Here’s what has been written about the topic up to this point, and here is how my idea improves or modifies what we know about the topic.” A good place to begin to look for such articles is “ERIC” (Education Resource Information Center). The format is easy to use. Abstracts for each article or book are available.
Submitting Your ArticleMost educational publications require the completed article to be submitted. Note the process of submission for each journal.
Your cover letter should include the following:Title of your article
Purpose of the article
A one or two-sentence summary of the article.
Your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.
Your position and school affiliation.
Statement that the article has not been submitted to another publication. [To submit the same article to two or more publications is considered unethical.]
Past publications, if any.
Try to keep your cover letter to a single page, if possible.
Here is the cover letter that I submitted for my article, “Reverse the Image: Involve the Public in Reading and Writing” that was published in the English Journal in October 1982.
Title of Article: Reverse the Image: Involve the public in Reading and Writing
Purpose of Article: Written in response to “Call for Manuscripts” concerning the “basics” in English. The specific purpose of this article is to respond to the question: “How do we talk to a public convinced it’s about time to get back to the basics?”
Summary of Article: To reverse the negative image of public education projected by the media and to help parents understand the limited function of the “basics” in the processes of reading and writing, I involve the public in actual reading and writing activities. I describe two of these activities that I have used successfully.
Author Information: Name, position, school district, address, date of submission, phone and e-mail address.
This article has not been published elsewhere and has not been sent for consideration to any other publication.
Sources of Topics for PublicationYou should consult the journals for “Calls” for manuscripts in future issues of the journal.
PaymentProfessional publications usually do not pay for publication. They often send the writer copies of the publication in which the writer’s article appears.
SummaryWriting for publication will help teachers empathize with their students. Teachers who write for publication will not only contribute to the growth of their profession, but will engage directly in the writing process and will be better able to identify with their students as they learn how to write. My experience has been that I have continually learned to write throughout my career. Circumstances for writing change with each writing experience, causing me to adapt to those circumstances.
Students will appreciate knowing that their teachers are also learning to write.