Getting Published in Grad School by Anthony Garcia
With the job market looking bleak for recent graduates in the current economy, it is important for students to make themselves as competitive as possible. This is true for students from traditional undergraduate programs in English and related fields to online graduate programs, and everything in between. Publishing gives students something beyond their coursework to show for their time in school, and looks impressive to both educational and office-oriented employers.
If you are in academia, publishing may also be your best chance to distinguish yourself. Most tenure requirements for assistant professors place heavy emphasis on publishing, but graduate students are more often expected to publish in order to get ahead, and sometimes even just to be considered. This trend may seem discouraging to students who really want to focus on their studies, but there are many ways to start publishing while still in school.
Something needs to be written in order to publish, so that would seem like the logical first step. However, if you do not have something already written, it will be helpful to do your homework before drafting your piece. To make your writing have the most impact, put your energy into the type of work that's tailored to your field. For example, scholarly journal articles may be the premium in your area of study, or may be it's short stories. Next scope out each publication venue that looks like it might fit your interests, and consider what types of topics are discussed, and which issues are best for the audiences in your given area of study.
Once you have found a few possible venues to tailor your writing to, you can begin. If you are having writer’s block, it is helpful to have your peers give feedback during the brainstorming process. When you dialogue with someone about your writing, it can really help get the creative method started, and help you save draft time. Many graduate students feel advanced, but it can be easy to forget basic writing tools, such as the importance for outlining. Graduate students and even professors still benefit from the outline, just as a basic writer would. This tip is especially important when the material is dense, or you are working with the jargon-filled prose common in the academe.
Turning conference papers into published articles is another way to save time in the writing process, and to utilize the audience you gained during the conference. Looking for calls for papers for different conferences can help you get motivated to write out an idea you might have, share your work with others and get direct feedback, and work with a shorter draft before lengthening it for publication.
If you already have something written, you will need to make sure that your topic is relevant in your chosen area of specialization, especially if you plan on teaching and researching at a university level. The less relevant and timely your work is, the less likely that it will be recognized by scholars in your field searching for hires. If you are a graduate-level fiction writer, make sure to scope out the best journals, reviews and magazines for your genre. Checking out the qualifications that each site offers before sending out your work is a useful way to write with those guidelines in mind, and to save yourself time later on trying to figure out where to send your work. There are many resources that list different “homes” for writing, from children's literature to horror fiction.
Keep writing, and keep submitting. Because publishing is so imperative in the academe for many professional successes, getting a head start in graduate school will show that you are a force to be reckoned with, and will definitely help you when enter the job market.
Bio: Anthony recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture.