Thanks to Rachel McWilliams for putting together the summary below:

NMRT Online Discussion Forum – January Topic: Publishing for the Profession

January’s discussion topic covered issues with publishing in the library profession and how you get started. Some of the questions we asked include:

-How do those who are new to the library profession obtain opportunities to publish?
-What are some relevant topics regarding the library profession that aren’t yet published (and need to be)?
-What are some of the necessary writing and research skills needed for publishing?
-What are some good techniques for getting rid of writer’s block?

In addition to these questions, George Gottschalk raised the question about how serious the publications have to be and if public librarians have any system like tenure in their libraries.

In response to these questions, John Meier suggested that people working on tenure would probably need to publish in peer-reviewed journals. He also says that the best strategy would be to “take is one where you build up from writing book reviews, to short opinion articles, to longer explanatory articles, to perhaps a full research study”.

Rami Attebury had some great responses to some of the questions that started the discussion. One of her suggestions was to collaborate with others when writing for publications. Another idea was to take research methods class if it was available to learn about the different types of research and how to write a research article. Her last suggestion was to find information in the Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities in Educational Technology and Library Science.

Other ideas include:
-Submitting articles to online locations that allow guest authors
-Submitting articles to professional organizations that you are a member of (library or other)
-Current students – work with practicum supervisors to publish

In response to the writer’s block question, Jenny Emanuel (who was working on her literature review for her dissertation) said that she just had to take the time to work and then she would reward herself after she was done. Another thing she had was a positive work environment that helped motivate her and where she could take down time to get some work done.

Jessica Moyer also had some ideas about overcoming writer’s block. She creates a schedule and breaks it down into days and even hours. She makes tasks small enough to be manageable and writes everything down so that she can cross them off when she is finished, which helps her stick with it. She also suggests keeping your writing schedule somewhere you can see it.
As for ideas for articles, she says to write about things that you personally care about, things you want to see changed, things that may bother you at work or even other articles you have read and did not like. Also, find an article you like that includes future research directions and use some of those ideas to create your own article or study.

A follow-up question that we thought of in regards to the discussion is:
-What are some tips you can give to people who may not be very good writers or may have ideas about what to write about but have a hard time getting the point across?

James Elliott responded to this question by suggesting that you get someone to critique your article/writing and ask them to be brutally honest. He said to ask someone who knows about writing or who has experience in writing articles or writing in general, not someone who is close to you and may not be as critical.

Another suggestion that Jessica Moyer had would be to start writing book reviews. These are a good “to learn to be a clear, concise, and precise writer only if you have a strict word limit and guidelines that will force you into that kind of writing.”

Jennifer Hand recommended that if you are a recent graduate, or have assignments that you were working on in library school, you could use those assignments as a jumping off point to start writing a full-fledged article or study. Most of them have already been critiqued by your instructor and so you could add to it with regards to the guidelines of whatever publication you are writing for.

The last suggestion was made by Karen Long. She wrote in terms of strict word limits and said that reading sentences aloud can help you with structure, organization and cohesion. Also, you can read your writing as if you’ve never heard it before and look at it like a regular reader would.

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