If you are reading this, I likely don’t need to tell you about the importance of publishing scholarly articles to get an academic position or, if you have one, to secure tenure or promotion. Instead, I’d like to offer you some tips that might help you get your research published. The authors of these articles thus waited three months for someone to tell them that they do not have a clear argument, that there is no literature review, or that they need to describe their ethnographic methods. Sometimes they waited this long or longer only to hear other fairly generic advice. I am in the process of submitting an article to a journal. I am thus writing this post both to make sure that I practice what I preach, and to offer some examples from my own writing that might be useful as you prepare your own article. 1. What is your research question?
2. How is your research question related to the current literature? 3. How will you use your data to answer your research question? I have reviewed twenty papers and books in the first half of this year. Many of the articles received rejections because the articles did not have all the necessary pieces or because the pieces did not have the necessary elements. Thus, make sure that your paper has all of the following elements. The introduction should contain a brief summary of the literature with which you will engage, a research question that derives from that literature, and a brief explanation of how you will answer that question. For example, I am writing an article that engages with two distinct bodies of literature: scholarship on race and incarceration and scholarship on immigrant incorporation. My introduction has one paragraph on each of those bodies of literature, followed by a statement of the research questions and the methods. 1. How has mass deportation affected the incorporation trajectories of black male immigrants? 2. What role does gendered structural racism play in blocking the mobility of black male immigrants?
Some of the papers I reviewed simply did not have literature reviews. Others made the rookie mistake of a serial literature review – where the author discusses one piece of scholarship per paragraph yet does not put the works into conversation with each other. The literature review must synthesize the literature and point directly to your research questions. “Immigration scholars argue that there are distinct paths to becoming part of society and refer to this process as segmented assimilation. You are not doing this if you have several paragraphs that each begin with: “Portes and Rumbaut (2001) argue…. Zhou (1997) argues…..” Synthesis is key here. The next section is on crimmigration, where I explain how immigration and criminal law enforcement have merged. This section is more background than literature review, and I have gone back and forth about where to put it. For now, it is between the first main section of the literature review and the last, which is on deportation and immigrant incorporation. “Whereas scholars who write about the urban African American experience often highlight the impact of mass incarceration, those who focus on black immigrants rarely mention heavy policing or mass incarceration.
Whereas immigration scholars often focus on attitudes and identities, scholars of mass incarceration argue that, regardless of your attitude, U.S. This is followed by a discussion of the prevailing literature on immigrant incorporation – the segmented assimilation discussion mentioned above. Make sure that your literature review points directly at your research questions. Every article needs an argument. You can state your argument in the introduction, in the abstract, and/or in the literature review. You need an argument, however, in order to get published. “I argue that a primary factor contributing to their arrest and incarceration was gendered structural racism – not oppositional attitudes. Note: If your paper is quantitative, you will need hypotheses. In my view, you don’t need these for qualitative papers. My article is based on ethnography and interviews, so the methods section is pretty straightforward. I discuss how long the ethnographic research lasted (9 months); how many interviews (83); and the case selection – why I interviewed deportees in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and why most of my interviewees are men.
This is the meat of your paper – where your original contribution lies. The main trick here is to make sure that you deploy your data to answer your research questions. Many qualitative papers fail to analyze their data. You not only need to tell us what you learned from your interviews and ethnography; you also need to analyze each piece of data you provide. Tell the reader what it means and why it’s important. I have not thus far rejected an article for not having a good conclusion – although I did receive one that completely lacked a conclusion. And, that did not look good. In any event, a good conclusion can only strengthen your article and make it more likely that your findings will be understood and disseminated. In my conclusion, I reiterate my findings, mention any possible limitations, and explore directions for future research. “Some of these youth assimilated to the local subcultures in their neighborhoods. Others maintained strong ethnic ties. Still others had high aspirations about becoming part of mainstream society. I think I am nearly ready to submit.