Category Archives: Special Series

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  I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your research.


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.