October 2016
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BOOK REVIEWS
REVIEW OF WRITING FOR PEER REVIEWED JOURNALS: STRATEGIES FOR GETTING PUBLISHED
Nasrin Kowkabi, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Thomson, P., & Kamler, B. (2013). Writing for peer reviewed journals: Strategies for getting published. New York, NY: Routledge. 190 pages, paperback.

Writing for Peer Reviewed Journals: Strategies for Getting Published by Thomson and Kamler serves less experienced authors by providing writing-for-publication strategies that are grounded in writing theories. Though Thomson and Kamler admit that academic writing is a hard and highly frustrating task, in this book, they are concerned with offering a set of “structured, practical and doable” (p. 2) moves toward writing a “fully-fledged text” (p. 8) for peer-reviewed journals. Rather than just providing a set of simplified steps, they analyze deep layers of discourse and continually remind novice authors to see the text through the lens of its potential audience.

Thomson and Kamler’s volume consists of nine chapters. In Chapter 1, the authors underscore the role of the writer and the writer’s identity in writing for publication process. They foreground the importance of imagining others as well as self in the process of text production and underline the role of writing as a way of positioning oneself in a given field. By providing concrete examples of two early career researchers, they emphasize the importance of having “a vision, which sees both an argument and a place for that argument” (p. 25) in one’s writing. Shifting the focus from the writer to the reader, Chapter 2 highlights the role of audience and the importance of understanding readers’ expectations of the text producers. Drawing on Fairclough’s (1992) model of three-layered interaction in social context (i.e., text, discourse practice, and social practice), this chapter discusses the function of a text as embedded in the larger discourse and social practices of the field and invites authors to think about a range of critical questions as they prepare to write. These questions can help writers familiarize themselves with the discourse community members they are writing for, their expertise and expectations, and how they might see a text connecting to their own work.

In Chapter 3, Thomson and Kamler discuss the importance of identifying the contribution of one’s article to the target discourse community. They encourage emerging authors to articulate their contribution to the field by moving from the knowledge-reporting stage to the knowledge-contributing stage in their writing. In doing so, they suggest writing an abstract, or “tiny text” as they call it, as a critical strategy to show one’s authority over the text. Preparing an abstract, as described, involves four major moves, namely “locate, focus, report, and argue” (p. 61). Chapter 4 canvases a number of abstract writing troubles, including “drowning in detail, trying to say it all, writing without a reader in mind, struggling to find the angle, and being worried about being out there” (p. 70). Thomson and Kamler follow the five-move model of locate, focus, anchor, report, and argue to tackle these challenges

In Chapter 5, the book investigates the actual writing process and ways of dealing with “the empty screen and the terrors of the blank page” (p. 89). The authors discuss three strategies in the writing stage: CARS (create a research space), which refers to showing the gap in the scholarship; OARS (occupy a research space), which is the strategy of positioning oneself as an author in the field; and syntactic borrowing, which involves modeling the syntax of the target published texts. Chapter 6 discusses issues raised after writing a first draft and presents the challenges novice authors encounter in refining, revising, and editing their text. The chapter also explores ways of managing these challenges. Throughout the chapter, Thomson and Kamler use several examples and figures to disentangle four strategies for refining writing: mapping the ground (identifying major arguments), naming the moves (adding headings and subheadings), developing a meta-commentary(making effective moves in the context of the argument), and crunching the conclusion (creating an informative and impressive, yet concise summary of the arguments).

Engaging with reviewers and editors is the focus of Chapter 7, which addresses less experienced authors’ uncertainties with respect to the process of responding to journal authorities’ feedback. According to Thomson and Kamler, dealing with feedback from reviewers and editors requires strategic planning, including getting the help of “publication brokers – supervisors, colleagues, writing mates, writing groups and other academic professionals” (p. 134). Chapter 8 elaborates on the significance of collaborative writing and rules of commitment for this collaboration. Three varying approaches to effective writing partnership, and four of its main features, are discussed and exemplified throughout the chapter. Finally, Chapter 9 wraps up the book by offering three key strategies to scaffold a novice author’s attempts at writing for peer-reviewed journals. These strategies include developing a plan for publishing, creating writing support systems with others, and becoming a journal reviewer to get an insider’s view of the peer-reviewing process.

Although this book was published three years ago, it is still a relevant and valuable read for graduate students and early-career researchers aiming to have their work eventually published in the peer-reviewed journals of their field and looking for hands-on strategies to address the challenges of this process. Overall, the book combines theoretically grounded writing approaches with an array of practical strategies that can be adjusted to one’s individual needs. Drawing on several examples and theories from the fields of education and applied linguistics, this volume can effectively serve readers in the area of TESOL who might use it as a resource for either teaching or self-study. Thomson and Kamler’s extensive experience has distinguished this volume from other publishing guidebooks, as it moves beyond providing a set of dos and don’ts. Instead, it details a series of sequential steps and techniques that support a novice author from predrafting to postsubmission stages of writing for peer-reviewed journals.

References

Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. London: Polity. 


Nasrin Kowkabi is a PhD candidate majoring in TESL and a lecturer in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada. Her major research interests are second language writing pedagogy, source-based writing at graduate levels, and sociolinguistic approaches to writing practices. She has been developing and teaching academic writing and research methods courses for international undergraduate students at UBC.

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