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Introductory Comments by James Mouw

Nov 01, 2006

Dear Library and Information Science Colleagues,

It is a great pleasure to offer introductory comments for this new edition of “How to Get Published in LIS Journals: A Practical Guide.” As I began to think about what to write, I was struck by the subtitle “a practical guide.” Indeed, much of what might seem mysterious to authors seeking to contribute to the library literature is simply practical.

Librarians have much to say and make significant contributions to knowledge. When it comes to their sharing knowledge by contributing to publications, the biggest question may be “How do I get started?”

This pamphlet gives solid advice to information professionals wishing to join the ranks of published colleagues or wishing to strengthen burgeoning publishing careers. To advice shared in the following pages, advice kindly provided by colleagues working in the library and information science field and having established themselves as LIS authors, I wish to add a seconding motion as well as a few suggestions of my own.

To thine own self be true.
Don’t write an article because you have to; any journal editor will immediately know your heart isn’t in it. The article that clearly and coherently expresses the passion of the author will be the one that succeeds. Write on what interests you, and topics abound. Look at your library, your collections, your personal interests. Turn to the research interests and behavior of your patrons or colleagues. Does something intrigue or bother you? Write about it!

Always ask the question “Is this of significantly broad interest?”
As a journal editor I open each article submission with both eagerness and apprehension. Will this envelope contain the next landmark article, or will it be yet another rehash of some esoteric problem of interest to a very small number of individuals? In some cases one could say the audience is pretty much limited to the author.

Take a careful, wise approach.
From conducting a literature search, tedious but invaluable, to considering the audience you’re writing for, to choosing a target journal, strategically plan your work. Keep in mind that each journal, even within Elsevier’s portfolio of LIS journals, has a unique perspective. Some publish only research articles while others publish research notes and other types of manuscripts. In the following pages, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Jennifer Dorner, and Susan E. Searing offer specific advice on how to craft a well thought-out approach and so increase chances of your work being published. Also, Rachel Singer Gordon offers words of wisdom for LIS graduate students, and Yin Zhang offers advice for writers planning to address the international perspective.

Talk to editors.
We’re not lions sitting in cages and waiting to bite people’s heads off. We’re working professionals just like you. It is in our best interest to see through the publication process all manuscripts that fit within the scopes of our journals and express solid concepts. As pointed out by Jeff Slagell and Scott Walter in this pamphlet, contacting an editor is often the best course.

Don’t expect miracles.
Especially if you’re submitting your first manuscript. Most manuscripts aren’t accepted as first submitted. Virtually every manuscript is returned to its author with comments from reviewers. Careful attention to such comments as you develop manuscripts will make them more publishable. Connie Foster and Peter Hernon speak on the following pages about benefits you can gain via the review process.

As an editor, I view being a mentor to new authors as one of my most important roles and other editors I speak with make the same statement. I hope information contained in this pamphlet will encourage you to prepare and submit your first articles or build on success already attained in the publishing realm. Best wishes for your publishing careers! end bullet


James Mouw, Editor-in-Chief, Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services,
and Assistant Director for Technical and Electronic Services, The University of Chicago Library