Publishing: Navigating the Path to Publication

The next blog in our special series on publishing is from Dr. Kathleen Marchetti, Assistant Professor at Dickinson College.  In this piece, she tells us how the SLGR Young Scholars Outreach Program helped her navigate the path to publication.


As a junior academic, the path to publication can be a confusing one.

Though we’ve all read published articles for undergraduate and graduate courses and practiced writing shorter versions of said articles as part of seminar assignments, I think few academics are prepared for what the peer-review process actually entails prior to receiving a decision on their first submitted manuscript. Ideally, we will receive clear and consistent feedback on our research from others in our graduate cohort, faculty in our department, and our primary adviser. In addition to these suggestions, comments from discussants, fellow panelists, and audience members at academic conferences can greatly improve a piece of writing. Thus, by the time a manuscript is submitted for the first time, it has already undergone several rounds of revisions suggested by a variety of readers. From there, a combination of anonymous peer reviewers and an editorial team determine the paper’s (and what often feels like our own) fate.

Much like the feedback received from the various readers prior to original submission, reviewers’ suggestions for change can conflict with one another and it is usually left up to the author to navigate and respond to reviewers’ comments. Again, under ideal circumstances, a journal’s editor will provide further guidance for prioritizing some revisions over others.  However, this is not always the case as editors have competing demands on their time and may be unable to devote significant amounts of time and attention to a single manuscript. Overall, though the process of peer review is intended to make a paper better, it can easily result in confusion as reviewers’ comments differ from previous advice, conflict with one another, and guidance from the journal does not make clear which suggestions must be addressed.

This is where the value of State and Local Government Review’s (SLGR) Young Scholar Outreach Program becomes most apparent. This program, specifically designed to “…encourage and recognize scholarship of young scholars in the fields of state and local government and intergovernmental relations/ federalism,” provides unique access to feedback from editors throughout the writing and revision process. The fact that feedback is available from editors during draft stages of papers (i.e., not just submitted or “revise and resubmit” manuscripts) puts authors in much stronger positions for publication, either at SLGR or an alternative outlet. Though peer reviews and advice from colleagues and advisers undoubtedly improve papers, editors maintain a comparative global-perspective regarding the audience and value of academic work. Indeed, editors are able to change the tone, trajectory and quality of the journal s/he edits based on the articles selected for publication. As such, they have first-hand knowledge of how fit, quality, and contribution come together in published works and provide a wider perspective on a paper than an individual reviewer or colleague could.

My own experience with the Young Scholar Program consisted primarily of discussions with Michael Scicchitano regarding my manuscript. The paper was reviewed by five peer reviewers and one of the most valuable aspects of working with Mike on the revision process was his help in prioritizing some suggested revisions over others while offering some of his own. He read through the manuscript several times and offered suggestions on how to frame the topic of the article in a way that was accessible to SLGR’s diverse readership of both policy practitioners and academics. His knowledge of the readership’s familiarity with key concepts and methodologies informed my revisions of the introductory and methodological sections of the paper and helped pare down the manuscript to a shorter, more accessible length and format. Feedback was offered via email and through phone conversations, again highlighting the level of mentoring available to young scholars as part of this program. I use the term “mentor” purposely, as mentorship and guidance is an integral part of the Young Scholars Outreach Program and sets SLGR apart from other journals in terms of socialization for junior faculty and graduate students. Given the “publish or perish” mantra guiding the lives of many young academics, having a resource like the Young Scholars Outreach Program is invaluable in terms of preparing current and future manuscripts for publication and providing a glimpse of the decision making process at peer-reviewed journals. SLGR is clearly committed to helping young scholars navigate the world of academic publishing and to improving the study of sub-national government by current and future generations of new academics.

Publishing: The Young Scholar Outreach Program

Our first blog in this special series on publishing is from the SLGR Editor, Michael J. Scicchitano. He tells us more about the Young Scholar Outreach Program and how you can participate.


In today’s competitive job market, refereed publications are imperative for doctoral students and new faculty seeking job placements or faculty advancement in the academic world.  Many “young scholars,” however, are uncertain about how to get published in academic journals. They may not know how to best prepare an article for publication or the journals that would be the most appropriate outlets for their research.

As Editor of State and Local Government Review (SLGR), I fully understand the pressure and frustration that young scholars face in their efforts to get their research published.  As such, I am committed to assisting new university faculty and advanced graduate students in publishing in academia and fostering a productive research agenda.  I launched the Young Scholar Outreach Program to make my years of experience as an editor available to young scholars, providing consultation and guidance in support of their efforts to get published in SLGR—or in other journals.

Participation in the program is simple.  For young scholars who are conducting research on topics related to public administration and policy, I am happy to review an abstract, article proposal or a draft version of a manuscript and quickly provide feedback on its suitability for publication in SLGR.  Completed manuscripts can be entered into the SLGR system and designated as a “Young Scholar” submission.  These submissions then receive an initial review from two or three senior scholars. The senior scholars provide detailed recommendations for improving the manuscript.  These senior scholars also provide me with their thoughts regarding the potential for the research to eventually be suitable for publication in SLGR.

Young Scholars who successfully revise their manuscripts may then have their research receive a full double-blind peer review by a panel of experts who make recommendations regarding publication as well as any additional revisions that may be needed before the manuscript is suitable for final publication. Even if the manuscript is not accepted for publication after the review process, the author will receive excellent recommendations regarding how to best revise the research.

The SLGR Young Scholar Outreach Program has attracted substantial interest from doctoral students and new faculty.  We regularly receive inquiries about the program as well as manuscripts to consider for publication. SLGR has been able to review some excellent research and some of these manuscripts have already been accepted for publication in SLGR (one of whom you’ll hear from later in this blog series).

Whether or not their research is eventually published in SLGR, the Young Scholars who participate in the program have expressed sincere appreciation for the opportunity to receive recommendations to improve their research.  Moreover, several of the senior scholars who review the Young Scholars manuscripts have noted the importance of the Young Scholars program and appreciate the opportunity to “give back” something to help newer members of the profession.

If you have any questions or would like to participate in the program, please email me at mscicc@ufl.edu.  I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your research.

MScicchitano

Publishing Series

Ah summer, when an academic’s thoughts turn to … publishing.  If you’re like many people we know, you’re spending all of that “free time” you have in the summer trying to catch up on the research papers that got neglected during the busy spring and fall semesters.

We’d like to help your efforts (and not just by providing reading material for procrastination).  Over the next few weeks, the SLGR blog will feature posts about publishing, including background and details on our Young Scholars Outreach Program.  Feel free to add your comments and questions and we’ll do our best to answer.

Special Issue 2016

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

State and Local Government Review
2016 Special Issue on Political and Ideological Polarization and Its Impact on Subnational Governments

Political and Ideological polarization in the United States is evident at all levels of government—federal, state and local. While this polarization is interesting from a political or electoral perspective, it also has profound implications for governance. The impacts are certainly felt at each level of government but also through the intergovernmental system.

There are at least four plausible dimensions or scenarios resulting from political and ideological polarization. First, polarization at the national level can have a rippling effect on state and local governments. Perhaps the most obvious example would be in a policy area like immigration, once thought to be the province of the federal government, where pressing problems associated with it must be resolved by state and local governments since the federal government has been unwilling or unable to craft solutions. Witness the actions of a number of states that have tried going it alone in dealing with the fallout of no federal government action to deal with the issue of illegal immigration. Other examples can be found in policy areas (e.g., homeland security, transportation, education, health care, taxation, and economic inequality) where over the years the federal government has articulated an express and overriding interest via federal fiscal assistance or mandates. Here again, the inability of the federal government to craft realistic solutions or instead sends mixed signals ultimately means that these problems are passed down to the states and even to local governments where they cannot be ignored. Examples abound like the federal government keeping school districts across the nation in limbo about compliance with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by procrastinating for years in renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Another example has been Congressional delay in enacting legislation (referred to as a marketplace fairness act) that would produce much-needed additional revenue for state and local governments from Internet sales and other out-of-state retailers.

Another dimension can be seen where political and ideological polarization occurs within a state, and pressing public issues are eventually devolved downward to local government as well as to school districts and special districts. Polarization within a state sometimes leads to preemption of local authority and can lead to states taking over authority from local government for service delivery, reassigning functional responsibility, and prohibiting certain local government actions. Some recent examples include: State of Michigan exercising oversight authority in the provision of water in the City of Flint; State of Michigan overseeing the entire operation of the City of Detroit; States of Pennsylvania and South Carolina, among others, assuming direct control of failing schools; State of Florida seeking to exercise complete regulatory authority over fracking in cities and counties; and a number of states prohibiting local governments from enacting ordinances to increase minimum wages.

A third dimension could take the form of political and ideological polarization between Red and Blue states. This can be seen in the diverse state laws dealing with abortion LGBT rights. States with either Democratic or Republican unified leadership control have enacted starkly contrasting legislation in these two controversial policy areas. That is, Republican states have very restricted policies, while Democratic states have very liberal laws. What happens when people migrate from one state to another and the issue of recognition of other states’ law come into question? Will they ignore other states’ enactments or ignore/defy them?

Yet, another dimension of political and ideological polarization can be played out exclusively at the local level, with repercussions felt there. More specifically, local government elected legislative bodies may have members who promote strongly particular issues of ideological or even political perspectives. As a result, debates among the commission/council members (or school or special districts boards) may be conflictual and protracted. Reaching some consensus and making decisions may be difficult. Professional managers (and their staffs0 may find it difficult to govern or even find the job security needed to be effective in this type setting.

The goal of the 2016 State and Local Government Review Special Issue is to publish research that examines the impact of political and ideological polarization on governance at the state or local level and in the intergovernmental system. We welcome manuscripts that address these and related scenarios that are triggered by polarization. Below are some specific examples that would be appropriate for the 2015 Special Issue:

  • In what ways did polarization affect the delayed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School program and then influence the provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015?
  • In what ways did polarization affect the delayed reauthorization of the surface transportation program and then influence the provisions of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015?
  • In light of the 2016 passage of the Internet Tax Freedom Act and Congress’s failure to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, how is polarization positively and negatively affecting state and local taxation powers and revenues?
  • To what extent is party polarization over economic inequality positively or negatively affecting states and especially local governments in terms of their ability to foster economic growth and alleviate poverty?
  • How is the growing polarization affecting policymaking in the federal government and on the U.S. Supreme Court, especially the ability of state and local governments to influence federal policymaking?
  • How is the growing polarization between blue and red states affecting the diffusion of innovations? To what extent are blue and red states adopting or not adopting their respective innovations?
  • How is polarization shaping innovative state policy-making from marijuana legalization and environmental regulation to abortion restrictions and voter ID laws?
  • In light of the severe FY 2016 budget standoffs in Illinois and Pennsylvania, how is party polarization affecting state budgeting across the country?
  • What role is polarization playing in state preemptions of local authority to set higher minimum wages, regulate fracking, refuse to accept marijuana shops, and the like, and what role is it playing in state takeovers of distressed municipalities (e.g., Detroit and Flint) and school districts?
  • To what extent, if any, are county commissions and city councils polarizing along lines of party rather than personality, and how is this polarization affecting local governance?

Please submit a proposal that outlines a specific topic that conveys how state and local governments have been affected by political and ideological polarization and how they have responded to this phenomenon. Clearly outline the empirical basis for the manuscript, and if your paper is data driven, please indicate whether data have already been collected. Also, identify the current status of the research and writing and the extent to which the manuscript can be completed according to the schedule outlined below.

We encourage proposals from all disciplines including but not limited to public administration, political science, sociology, economics, planning, etc. and expect to publish papers where there is collaboration between academics and practitioners and authors both from inside and outside the U.S.

Note: Acceptable topics are not limited to those listed above.

Proposals should be submitted between March 7, 2016 and May 1, 2016 to the following email address: slgrspecial@gmail.com

The proposals should be double-spaced and include no more than two pages of text. There is no need to include tables or appendices and references do not count against the two-page limit. All proposals will be subject to editorial review. Please do not send complete papers—if you have a draft of your paper, please note that in the proposal.

Submissions will be evaluated with respect to the following criteria:

  • Relevance. The proposed manuscript should examine issues related to how subnational governments have been affected by economic polarization and how they have responded to this phenomenon.
  • Viability. The proposal should represent an achievable manuscript project within the tight time constraints required. More detail on the timeline is provided below.
  • Scope of Interest. Papers of broad interest to scholars and professionals will be preferred.
    Organization and Coherence. The proposal should follow a logical structure, read clearly, and thoroughly represent the available research.
  • Insight for Future Work. The proposal should convey important implications for both future research and practice related to local government.

Due to editorial constraints, it is vital for authors to adhere to the following strict timeline. We will not be able to consider late submissions. If you have any questions, please contact the Editor at mscicc@ufl.edu or by phone at (352) 846-2874.

Relevant dates* are as follows:

  • March 7- May 1, 2016: Proposals due to the State and Local Government Review to be sent to slgrspecial@gmail.com
  • May 15, 2016: Final decision on proposals and initial feedback provided to authors.
  • August 1, 2016: Full draft of paper due to State and Local Government Review.
  • September 1, 2016: Review and feedback to authors on full paper.
  • October 1, 2016: Final paper submitted to State and Local Government Review. Final manuscripts should be no longer than 18 pages of text with standard margins and font size.*Please note that these are basic guidelines, each paper may require a different number of revisions or timing to make the October 1, 2016 deadline

Feel free to email or call me if you have any questions regarding your proposal or manuscript.

 

In the News: Local Governments in Colorado on Adopting Recreational Marijuana Policies

Tracy Johns’s SLGR article “Managing a Policy Experiment: Adopting and Implementing Recreational Marijuana Policies in Colorado,” available now on the SLGR site, is the subject of a blog post by the London School of Economics and Political Science.   The abstract appears below:

The unique nature of recreational marijuana policy makes for a compelling study in the policy adoption and implementation process. As a local control state, Colorado cities, municipalities, and counties may choose whether or not to adopt marijuana legalization policies in their jurisdictions and how to do so. This research is based on survey and panel data from Colorado local officials regarding issues of adoption and implementation in their jurisdictions. Overall, the initial findings show that the decision regarding adoption was a result of a combination of policy determinants (both cultural and economic) and policy diffusion (from prior policies on medical marijuana). Factors related to public opinion, economics, and prior policy on medical marijuana affected both the decision to permit and the decision to prohibit. Policy diffusion also appears important in early implementation, as cities use the existing medical marijuana policies to shape recreational marijuana policies.

We invite you to read the article and the blog and share your thoughts with us. The author is glad to answer questions.

In the News: State Policy Environments & Interest Group Advocacy

Kathleen Marchetti’s SLGR article “Consider the Context: How State Policy Environments Shape Interest Group Advocacy,” available now as an “online first” option, is the subject of a blog post by the London School of Economics and Political Science.   The abstract appears below:

How are the disadvantaged represented in politics? Using an original survey of 204 advocacy groups in fourteen U.S. states, this research considers how state legislative and lobbying conditions shape interest groups’ representation of disadvantaged identities. Analysis shows that several aspects of state legislative environments affect the diversity of groups’ policy agendas, whereas aggregate measures of lobbying context have surprisingly little effect. These findings have important implications for scholars’ and practitioners’ understanding of the factors motivating advocacy on behalf of the disadvantaged and the broader role that interest organizations play in politics.

We invite you to read the article and the blog and share your thoughts with us.

In the News: Internet-Enabled Transparency

Grayson Ullman at statescoop and Dave Nyczepir at Route Fifty wrote about Lowatcharin and Menifield’s new SLGR article “Determinants of Internet-Enabled Transparency at the Local Level: A Study of Midwestern County Websites,” which is currently available as an “online first” option. The abstract appears below:

Increasingly, local governments view transparency as a means of (re)connecting with a citizenry that,by many accounts, has grown distant. By improving the public’s access to government information,the expectation is that seeds for more responsive and trustworthy local government will be sown.Yet, empirical assessments of the relationship between transparency, responsiveness, and trust in local government have been mixed. Therefore, the intention of this article is to provide an overview of prior research that attempts to conceptually, and empirically, tie transparency to greater responsiveness and trust in local government. Based upon this review of the literature, implications for effective practice are discussed.
We invite you to read the article and the blog and share your thoughts with us.

In the News: State Legislative Earmarks

The London School of Economics and Political Science blog shared a discussion on research about New York state legislative earmarks by Yonghong Wu and Dan Williams that is featured in the SLGR article “State Legislative Earmarks: Counterparts of Congressional Earmarks” which will be available for open download this week.  The abstract appears below:

Using data of “member items” in New York State during 2007–2010, we investigate how political factors such as majority party affiliation, tenure of service, and legislative leadership affect the distribution of state earmarked funds. The statistical results suggest that majority party affiliation and tenure of service have significant effects on the total earmarked funding state legislators may receive each year. Senate leaders or members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee can also secure additional earmarks to fund their community projects. This research fills the gap in literature on subnational earmarking.

We invite you to read the article and the blog and share your thoughts with us.

Special Issue: Deadline Extended

We heard from many of you who were interested in submitting proposals, but for whom the deadline was too limiting. So, the editors have extended the deadline for proposals to the SLGR 2015 Special Issue on Economic Polarization until May 1, 2015.  If you have any questions, please let us know.