Here are some reflections from PhD student, Kimberley Braxton, on the experience of publishing work in Under Construction @ Keele. Kim, who is now a member of the journal staff, is a second-year PhD student in English Literature. Kim’s paper entitled, ‘An Exploration of the Relationship between Religion and the Death Penalty as portrayed in Victorian Literature’ is published in the first issue of Under Construction. Read some of Kim’s thoughts about the process of submitting to a peer-reviewed publication.
As a PhD student journal papers are intimidating but imperative if you hope to obtain a job in academia. The more publications you have the more appealing you are to an employer. When you do gain that coveted position you are still expected to produce papers. Even if you’re not a PhD student, or you’re not considering a doctorate, having a publication on your CV is always appealing. Getting accepted onto any journal can be a tedious challenge of researching, writing and rejections. Therefore, the chance to publish in your own University’s journal is the ideal, first tentative step into journal publications.
I was very eager to submit to Under Construction @ Keele, not only for my own personal gain but to support my fellow students and University. In the run up to Doctoral Progression and writing my first chapter I was a stressful kind of busy but I still wanted to submit. Therefore, I suggested I could submit an essay from my MA year which I was particularly proud of and would edit and improve for the journal. The journal staff were more than willing to accept. So I was left with the rather backward process of writing an abstract for a paper I’d already written.
All my contact with the journal was very professional and supportive and the space between deadlines allowed ample time to do the work required without it hindering my research too greatly. The greatest challenge I faced was editing the paper down to fit the word limit. This is where it was important to read the guidelines supplied by the journal. I discovered that whilst footnotes did not count towards the word limit when the paper was originally submitted they did for the journal which meant I had exceedingly more to remove than I’d initially anticipated. No matter how hard I tried removing unnecessary words, the word count did not go down enough and I had to face the difficult choice of having to remove an entire text from the paper. I was so familiar with the piece that the idea of having to remove one of the texts filled me with fear that the whole essay would unravel, not make sense or be missing an important aspect, without which the work would seem inferior. Despite the difficulty the editing process was certainly beneficial, not only as practice but to also confirm my realisation that you have to be unsentimental towards your work in order to be strict with your word counts.
As with other journals, the process consisted of submitting my abstract, once this was selected I submitted the paper for the first round of editing and received it back for corrections. I was fortunate and only had a few minor corrections so I could quickly submit it for the second round of editing. I was particularly impressed that the editing team discovered I had missed a reference, an error which hadn’t been spotted by my multiple edits, my friend’s edits, my tutors and an exam board.
The whole process was very smooth and efficient, especially when you hear professional journals can take over a year before you see your piece in print. One of the other benefits of the journal is they currently allow you to republish your paper elsewhere. Under Construction @ Keele Journal is constantly growing, the journal staff have learnt so much from publishing their first issue so the experience will only get better. I would heartily encourage all postgraduate students to apply.
– Kimberley Braxton.