The Pathway to Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Publication

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By Scott Roy Douglas

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2017 issue of TEAL News.]

Writing scholarly peer-reviewed articles can be an important source of on-going professional development for people involved in the teaching and learning of English as an additional language (EAL). However, the pathway to publication in a peer-reviewed journal may at times seem daunting and complicated. To overcome this perception, BC TEAL has started the BC TEAL Journal to promote scholarship related to EAL teaching and learning in British Columbia, with articles aiming to reflect and connect to the various contexts and settings found in the province. As an open access journal, all articles are freely available to the public, with authors’ retaining copyright of their work.

There are eight basic steps to publishing with the BC TEAL Journal:

1. Submission

All submissions to the journal are done electronically via the online journal system website: https://ojs-o.library.ubc.ca/index.php/BCTJ. Authors begin by registering on the journal website. Once they have registered, authors can review details on how to prepare their manuscript for submission. In particular, the author guidelines explain that submissions must be original previously unpublished contributions, and authors may not submit their paper to another journal at the same time. Author contributions can be full research articles of no more than 7,000 words plus references, or shorter essays of no more than 3,500 words plus references. All manuscripts should be prepared following the guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition, with the exception of using Canadian spelling conventions as per the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Lead authors may only submit one article at a time to the journal for consideration per calendar year.

2. Editorial Review

After submission, all articles undergo editorial review. The editor checks each submission to ensure that it fits the focus and scope of the journal as outlined on the journal website. For example, the editor looks for explicit connections to British Columbia as well as the various EAL teaching and learning contexts of the BC TEAL membership. Articles that meet the focus and scope of the journal move onto the next stage towards publication. Articles that are related to EAL teaching and learning, but are not explicitly connected to British Columbia are returned to authors with suggestions for revisions before being moving onto the next stage. If authors are unfamiliar with the local context, they may withdraw their paper at this stage. Articles that do not fit with any aspect of the journal’s focus and scope are typically declined. Editorial review can take up to two weeks to complete.

3. Peer Review

Submissions that meet the focus and scope of the journal are sent out for double-blind peer review by at least two reviewers who are familiar with the various contexts and settings related to EAL teaching and learning in British Columbia. In the double-blind peer review process, the identities of the reviewers and the authors are not shared. All reviewers follow a review form to provide feedback to the authors. Reviewers typically look at aspects such as the interest to BC TEAL members, the originality of the paper, author knowledge of the topic, use of references, the research methods, the theoretical framework, the conclusions and recommendations, the use of APA format, and the quality of the writing. Reviewers often provide specific feedback for revisions that strengthen the paper for publication in the journal. Reviewer decisions include: Accept Submission; Revisions Required; Resubmit for Review; and Decline Submission. The current list of BC TEAL Journal reviewers can be found on the journal website. Authors who have had a paper accepted in the journal are also asked to support the publication process by becoming a reviewer for the journal. The peer review process typically takes around six to twelve weeks, depending on the availability of reviewers.

4. Revisions

Once the peer review process is complete, authors are emailed with the reviewers’ feedback. Almost all authors are required to carry out revisions based on the reviewers’ feedback. The goal is to strengthen the paper for inclusion in the journal. Authors should use track changes and comments in MS Word as they revise their work so that the editorial team can quickly see what revisions have been carried out. At the same time as they are revising their paper, authors should also create a cover letter outlining the revisions that have been carried out based on the reviewers’ recommendations. If there are suggested changes that were not addressed, authors are requested to provide a rationale. There may be situations in which not necessarily all of the reviewers’ comments and suggestions may be followed. Authors also have the opportunity at this stage to carry out any other revisions that they think might be necessary to strengthen their work. When the revisions are complete, authors then send in their revised papers along with the cover letter outlining the revisions through the online journal system. Papers that were initially accepted with “revisions required” move onto the next stage of the publication process. Papers that were initially accepted as “resubmit for review” are sent out for a second round of peer review. Authors usually have about four weeks to complete their revisions.

5. Developmental Editing

The next stage of the process involves working with the journal editor to prepare the manuscript for copy editing. Revised papers are reviewed by the editor to ensure that the peer reviewer comments and suggestions have been adequately addressed. The editor also works with the authors to ensure that papers are well written, logical, and organized. Typically, the editor will use the comments function in MS Word to ask questions and to highlight areas for the authors to consider for further revisions related to clarity and precision. Finally, if papers have gone considerably over suggested word limits during the revision process, the editor can help authors with suggested cuts. The developmental editing stage is the last stage in which authors have the opportunity to carry out substantial revisions. Once the authors and the editor are satisfied with the manuscript, it is uploaded to the online journal system. The developmental editing process can take up to four weeks.

6. Copy Editing

Next, manuscripts are further reviewed for clarity, readability, consistency, and accuracy. They are also checked to ensure that the guidelines in the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Ed. and Canadian spelling conventions in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary have been followed. Sometimes the copy editor may have questions for the authors. Authors may then carry out some minor revisions and submit their revised papers to the online journal system. Copy editing can take around four weeks to complete.

7. Proof Reading

After completing all of the copy edits, the paper is carefully checked over one more time. It is then formatted as it would appear in the journal and saved as a pdf file. This pdf file is the galley proof for the manuscript. Galley proofs are shared with authors via the online journal system. Authors are now asked to proofread their final work for spelling, typographical, referencing, or layout errors. This stage is the last opportunity for authors to correct their work before publication. If any corrections are required, authors send an email to the editor with the specific page numbers and location for each correction. The editor will then carry out the corrections on the manuscript as per the authors’ suggestions. Authors have up to two weeks to do a final check of their paper.

8. Publication

The manuscript is now ready for publication. On receiving final approval from the authors, the final galley proof is created as a pdf file and posted to the online journal system. The BC TEAL Journal publishes on an ongoing basis as manuscripts are ready, with articles gathered into a single issue over the course of one calendar year. The current issue of the journal can be found on the journal’s homepage. Articles can also be browsed by issue, author, or title. All issues are available on the journal’s archives page.

The eight stages above outline the entire process from start to finish for publishing a peer-reviewed article with the BC TEAL Journal. While the process may seem long, the goal is to provide a venue for high quality papers that showcases scholarship related to EAL teaching and learning in British Columbia. The journal is the work of many volunteers, and a valuable source of knowledge for BC TEAL’s membership. Authors interested in scholarly writing are encouraged to check out the journal website and contact the editor if they have any questions.

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2017 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter (updated September 2020):  Scott Roy Douglas is the editor of the BC TEAL Journal.  He is also an associate professor in in the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan School of Education where he focused on English as an additional language teaching and learning. 

This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Douglas, S. R. (2017, Fall). The Pathway to Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Publication. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/TEAL-News-Fall-2017.pdf

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