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Lessons learned at the 2014 Clark Scholars Seminar: Notes from the panel discussion, Publishing in Academic Journals

Participants included Alex Bowers (Columbia University), Bridget Terry Long (Harvard University), Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania), and Julian Vasquez Heilig (University of Texas at Austin).

  • 2-2-2-2-2-2 Plan: This highly ambitious plan suggests that at any given time, you should strive to have 2 articles coming out, 2 articles in press, 2 articles in revise and resubmit, 2 articles submitted, 2 articles that you are writing, and 2 articles for which you are conducting research.  Sounds exhausting, right?
  • Find the right fit:  One suggestion for finding the right fit is to look at the reference lists for the articles that you are citing in your work and observe where those authors are publishing.  Since your interests are similar, looking at the journals where your predecessors are publishing should give you an idea of which journals publish work in your area of interest.  The following journals were mentioned by panelists as top journals in educational leadership and policy: EAQ, JEA, JRLE, AERJ, EPA, and ER.  Check out this article from Educational Administration Quarterly (available free to Clark Scholars for the upcoming year) for more advice on choosing a journal that is right for you: Richardson, J. W., & McLeod, S. (2009). Where should educational leadership authors publish to get noticed by the top journals in the discipline?. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(4), 631-639.
  • Meet the needs of journals: Submission requirements for individual journals are available online.  You should print those requirements and follow them closely.  You should also pick out 2-3 articles that have been published in the journal and deconstruct them.  Then, follow that structure when you write.  Another suggestion from the panel was that you should shop your papers around.  As you become more familiar with individual journals, you can contact the editors.  Let them know what you are working on, and find out if they think your research fits their needs.  One panelist even suggested that you should look at the editorial board for the journal and cite members of the board towards to beginning of your manuscript, bringing their attention to your paper.
  • Create a line up of journals:  Take the time to think about the line up before you begin writing, and be aware that you may want to work on multiple versions of an article to expand your options. The submission process is often slow.  Although after you have been rejected you can submit the same paper to other journals, it is beneficial to be strategic about the first submission and subsequent options.  You want to aim high but be reasonable so that your hard work does not get held up awaiting an acceptance letter that may never come.  The panelists pointed out that your dissertation is written in a highly supportive environment with more readers and more input than you will have later in your career, so you should aim high with the articles that make up or accompany your dissertation.
  • Pay close attention to feedback when you revise and resubmit:  Whether or not you are ultimately rejected from the journal, the revise and resubmit process can be very useful for tightening your paper.  If you copy the feedback that was provided by the journal into a letter, you can use that outline to craft your response that accompanies your next draft. Also, the suggestion was made that you should send a paper when it is 90-95% ready, and use the reviewers’ feedback to figure out what you need to add to further drafts of the paper. 
  • Make your contribution clear: You need to put together a carefully constructed argument that is at the center of your article and justify why your work is a contribution to the field. Make sure to explain how your work fits into the already existing body of literature. 
  • Translate research across disciplines and formats: Simply put, different audiences require different formats for your writing.  You should be prepared to write about your research for academic use, practical use, and policy use. While a little disheartening, the truth is that most people will not want to read your full-length journal article.  By creating reduced versions of your work such as brief summaries or concrete applications that policy makers and practitioners can easily digest, you increase the likelihood of practical application of your work.  Another suggestion was to create online appendices that can be accessed alongside or in lieu of your journal article.   Also if you feel strongly about a topic and you want your ideas to reach the greatest amount of people, you may want to translate your academic findings into a blog, Facebook entry, or tweet. 
  • Negotiate your contract wisely: Ensure that you are maintaining ownership of your work when you negotiate your contract.  You can request to have access to your work and to be able to post PDF’s of your published articles on your personal or university website.  While many journals are open to this contract change, some will not be.  Decide ahead of time if you are willing to work with journals that do not allow self-archiving.  Check out Sherpa Romeo (, a searchable database of publisher's policies regarding the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in Open Access repositories. Concerned about open access? Contact your librarians and fight back versus the journals.  For those not prone to activism, see the suggestion above.  
  • Build in rewards: Academic work requires high levels of concentration and a commitment to structuring your own time wisely. It is also induces self-doubt and lends itself nicely to procrastination.  For these reasons, it can be difficult to complete a manuscript.  By building in rewards such as nice meals or fun trips, you create your own self-imposed deadline with something satisfying on the other end of submission.  Once that the manuscript is out of your hands, go enjoy yourself.
  • Last but not least . . Use the "compliment sandwich": When you begin serving as a reviewer yourself, it is helpful to offer your critique by leading and ending with what the author(s) have done well and then providing the more critical analysis in between.  This format will help the recipient of the feedback be more open to your suggestions, and you will be paying them a professional courtesy that you will hope to have extended to you.

For more advice on this topic, panelist Alex Bowers suggested an ebook for the bargain price of $3, Fabio Rojas’ Grad Skool Rulz (  This book contains advice for PhD and EdD students on how to negotiate writing a dissertation, getting a tenure track position, and succeeding in the early years of the academy.


Written by Erin Anderson, UCEA Graduate Assistant and 2014 Clark Scholar


Serving on Graduate Student Council—A Personal Perspective

The UCEA Graduate Student Council (GSC) is now accepting 2014-16 GSC representative applications. Our new representative, Kristina Brezicha, blogged about her experience in GSC. Today, as a representative who has served on the GSC for almost two years, I’m sharing my rewarding experience with graduate students and prospective GSC representatives. Overall, my service on the GSC, in turn, offered me an incredible platform to sharpen my leadership skills, expand my professional network, and grow intellectually.

First, our current eight GSC representatives work collaboratively. Each of us comes from different educational leadership and administration programs across the country (click here to know our current representatives), bringing our commitment and expertise to the table. There are always a lot of exciting things going on, including: planning for 2014 UCEA Graduate Student Summit (GSS, hashtag #UCEAGSS2014), writing group, graduate student development, and UCEA Review graduate student section. While these exciting initiatives are going very well, we are ready to embrace diverse, new ideas. So new representatives are welcome, or more precisely, are expected to bring and implement new ideas to serve graduate students in UCEA community.

Second, the graduate students I work with are my future colleagues. All the ups and downs we experienced together, the encouragement we sent to each other in emails, the heartwarming words we spoke at UCEA convention, and all hands on deck and having each other’s back at GSS when unexpected logistic challenges arose. All those moments we shared together transformed to such a strong bond which will accompany us our in our scholarly life.

Third, I would not be able to engage with so many doctoral students across the country if I didn’t join UCEA GSC. In addition to interacting with doctoral students in the same cohort or program, GSC provided me with a dynamic platform on which I was able to engage with those who are beyond institutional boundaries, to learn from them, and simply to be inspired. 

So my fellow graduate students, come and join us! It will turn out to be a memorable chapter in your graduate student life. As I’m going through a transition from a graduate student to a faculty member, I’d also like to express my gratitude to my GSC colleagues for being supportive along the way. Thanks!


Becoming a Graduate Student Council Representative

Kristina Brezicha, Pennsylvania State University

This month the Graduate Student Council (GSC) will release its call for the new representatives. This blog post will note some of the reasons you should consider applying for these positions. As some of you know, the GSC was only created in 2011. Despite being a young organization, the council has hosted two Graduate Student Summits at the annual University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA) Convention, posted blogs, hosted a series of webinars, and work with many talented graduate students and faculty to help improve the graduate student experience.

So why join the GSC? First of all, it’s fun. Really it is! As a member of the GSC, I have gotten to work with 6 other really smart, funny, organized graduate students from across the country. As we work together to generate new ideas, improve on prior practices and plan the next series of GSC initiatives, we have a good time doing it.

Secondly, it helps pull me and, I suspect, you out of your graduate school bubble. There is another world outside of our own graduate school programs. While conferences help remind us of that, it is easy to get caught up in the daily grind of our programs and forget that we are working not only with others in our program but across graduate programs. Being a part of the GSC reminds me of that on a monthly basis, which brings perspective to my work within my own university.

Third, speaking of perspective, working across departments and programs, helps also show the commonalities that we share. Working with the other GSC members helps show that our experiences and the experiences of other graduate students are not as idiosyncratic as you might expect. Surely, each program has unique characteristics but many of the concerns and joys are similar across the graduate student life. This is a helpful perspective to have as working within our own program and on the GSC.

Fourth, you get to meet many great people. This is embedded in some of the previously mentioned reasons but beyond the other representatives that you get to work with; you also meet a host of individuals who help to run UCEA, as well as a diverse group of faculty and graduate students who participate in various GSC initiatives. At our last summit over 300 graduate students participated in various GSS presentations, roundtables and workshops, while I certainly didn’t meet everyone, I did meet and get to know many awesome faculty and grad students.

Lastly, working with the GSC has given me a unique perspective on the planning and working that goes into staging a conference or a summit. This is a very helpful perspective to have as we will move into leadership roles that involve the development of conference sessions, summits and conferences ourselves. So in addition to all the other benefits of joining the GSC, there is a lot that you learn.

While there are a lot of benefits to joining the GSC, there are also responsibilities. These responsibilities include attending a monthly GSC planning meeting. We meet via Google Hangout regularly. The meetings can last anywhere from half an hour to an hour. During that time, we get a report from our UCEA representative. Our various subcommittees will also share updates on the various projects that we are responsible for. These projects include graduate student development and the planning for the Graduate Student Summit. Each subcommittee typically also meets to discuss and work on their project. Those conversations can occur via email, Google Hangout, or a series of collaborative documents. These are the main responsibilities. However, the GSC is a young organization and there are many other initiatives in the pipeline. It is also a growing organization and your input and thoughts will help shape how the GSC looks in the years to come.

The call for the GSC representatives will be out in the end of January. We will conduct interview and notify applicants in late spring. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about becoming a GSC representative. I would be happy to answer any of those questions. 


Are we getting the most out of conferences?: Reflections on format from UCEA 2013

Daniela Torre, Vanderbilt University

At this year’s Graduate Student Summit I sat in on a novel session: the 3-minute abstract exchange. During this session a group of graduate student met to receive feedback on abstracts they had submitted prior to the conference. The session was led by Dr. Pam Tucker, from the University of Virginia, who had come prepared with comments for each participant. During the session, each student had three minutes to present the project or paper described in their abstract while the other participants filled out a rubric assessing the style and substance of the presentation. Afterwards, the group shared feedback for the presenter for a few minutes. By the end of the session, each participant left with detailed notes from a faculty member and comments from about six other graduates students.

What struck me about this presentation was that it was the most engaged I have seen anyone at a conference outside of the evening receptions. In traditional conference presentations speakers tend to draw out the minutia of their studies and loose the attention of all but the most interested audience members.  Moreover, the audience members typically include few people who are not also speakers or who are not already somewhat familiar with what they are about to hear. At best the ensuing discussion consists of a knowledgeable discussant synthesizing the topics presented and facilitating a question and answer session; at worst, the conversation meanders from one person’s opinion to another. Even in the best-case scenario, the participants get little, in any, tangible feedback on their project from either the discussant or the audience members.

In contrast, the speakers in the abstract exchange gave only the most pertinent information, and the other participants listened closely in order to complete their feedback rubrics. The discussion afterwards was brief and pointed, focusing on a few questions and most importantly, each person left with concrete recommendations for how to improve their work. An interesting component of this session was that there was no over-arching theme, and so each presenter introduced new topics and methodologies. While some might want to focus on learning about topics directly related to their work, I thought that this format allowed each person to learn something new that could be applied in a different way to their own work. Likewise, the speaker was able to hear ideas and suggestions from people who are not so buried in the topic as to not notice important omissions.

Considering that participation in academic conferences is an integral part of any scholar’s career, I believe we as a graduate student community should push away from the traditional ways of sharing information to new formats that may be more useful. I applaud UCEA for moving in this direction with the IGNITE sessions and movies screenings, but think more can be done. For example, by leveraging online networks, one could envision a “flipped” session where people came having already read a paper and ready to discuss or offer constructive criticism. For it would be especially useful to engage in more of workshop type sessions like the abstract exchange, but then continue those conversations throughout the year. Additional workshops could center on exploring new methodologies, learning to write grants and proposals, brainstorming ideas with others interested in similar topics, etc.  The Graduate Student Council hopes to develop some of these ideas for the next summit, beginning with an online writing group that will begin in January (for more information on the Writing Group, check out December’s Café UCEA). Hopefully, by shifting the sort of activity we engage in when we are together we can strengthen our work and better support each other’s efforts. 


Tips for UCEA GSS/Convention Attendees 

James E. Vines

Clemson University 

The purpose of this blog is to provide helpful tips for travel to the 2013 UCEA Graduate Student Summit and UCEA annual Convention.  The tips will be particularly helpful to first time attendees.  Whether this is your first time at UCEA, or you are a veteran conference goer, you should ensure you make the most of your conference experience.  Remember this is the rare opportunity to connect with scholars and other graduate students from around the world.

Now that you know that you will be attending UCEA, the first step is to ensure all travel plans are in order.  Booking a flight early is key, especially to find budget friendly prices.  All of the conference events are held in one location, so try your best to book a hotel room early.  The rates go up after early-bird specials, and you want to stretch you budget as far as it can go.  In the event you are unable to find a room in the conference hotel, check for the closest hotel room.  You will save money by walking, and not having to travel each day by cab/bus/train etc.  Also, another way to save money is to share a hotel room with your fellow classmates.  In addition, be sure to check car/van shuttle rates if you need to get to and from the hotel.  In some cases, the shuttles may be less expensive than taking a cab.

Once you have finalized all of your travel plans, be sure to take a look at the online conference program.  The online program allows you to see a full list of events and presentations.  The conference only lasts a few days, and checking the program ahead of time will ensure you do not miss out on a presentation that could enrich your research. If you are addicted to your mobile devices, we also have an app for you to build your personalized schedule.  In addition, if you are presenting, checking the program will ensure you know the exact day, time, and location so that you will not be late.  It is also a good rule, to check the location once you arrive at the hotel.  You want to make sure you know exactly where you need to go on the day of your big presentation.

Okay, so you have made all your travel plans, you checked the online schedule, and now it’s time to fly to your destination.  Ohh no, your flight has been delayed and you are stuck at the airport.  No worries, as a rising scholar and student there should be more than enough work to keep you busy.  Be sure to travel with journal articles, a book, old-school pen, and notebook, or your digital chisel and tablet.  You may never know when to expect a travel delay, but make sure you are being the utmost productive by bringing along some work.

The flight has finally arrived, and you booked a shuttle, and now settled into the conference hotel.  Wait, the only person you may know are you roommates, or you are the only student from your institution.  The solution is not to stay in your room until your presentation, but you need to get out and say hello. 

An aspect to attending conferences is the ability to network and engage in scholarly conversations with others in the field.  As an aspiring scholar, you should have a good number of business cards with you ready to hand out as you make connections.  There are some online website you can search for that will create cards at a moderate price.  Also, students should check with their institution to see if they can have the expense of business cards covered as part of their professional development.  If all else fails, you can always purchase card labels from an office supply store, and print card from Microsoft Word.  Just be sure the template in word matches the card label type.

The goal of exchanging business cards is to help in making meaningful connections that can be ongoing once the conference is over (in other words follow up).  A little trick you can use is to write something on the back of the card which will help you remember your conversation or something unique about the meeting.  When you return home, and have many business cards you will be able to recall where you meet this person? What did we talk about?  However, no one is going to come knocking at your door to exchange business cards, so the best way to connect with people is to attend session, ask questions, and engage in conversation.

You have traveled all the way to the conference, you are professional with your business cards, but if you do not attend the sessions you are missing the entire point of the conference.  The sessions are where you get to engage in dialogue, ask questions, and hear scholars in the field whom you may have cited in your own work.  It is important to note that conference sessions are not limited to scholarly presentations, but you should consider attending social events.  Social events are a great way to meet others in a less formal setting.  If you do not see any social programs, take some leadership initiative and try to organize people together to go out to dinner, take a tour of the city.  You will be very surprised how many people are willing to come out if they are asked.  The GSC would like to invite everyone to come out to St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge on Wednesday, November 6.  St. Elmo’s is only a 4 minute walk from the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  If you would like to join us for a night of fun and socializing please meet in the lobby of the hotel at 7:00pm.

It is important to remember the technically savvy era we live in.  Be sure to share your experiences via social media outlets.  The hashtag for Graduate Student Summit is #2013UCEAGSS, and for UCEA convention is #2013UCEA.  Using social media can be an excellent way to let others know of the exciting things going on at the conference.  In addition, it can serve as another tool to connect with other scholars and students.

Above all, the best tip of all is to remember at some point everyone was a first time conference attendee.  You may not know it all but even veteran conference goers learn something new every time they attend.  So come prepared, pack your smile, be professional and most of all get out and enjoy your conference experience.