Getting Published: A Write of Passage

Buffalo State has historically offered at least one workshop each year to help faculty and staff become published authors. This year, a structured series of workshops called “Matchmaking 4 Scholarship” is designed to help new and seasoned campus scholars through each step of the process, with the goal of producing a published work by September.

The workshops began on March 12 with an overview of available resources. Two more workshops are slated for April 23 and May 14 in E. H. Butler Library 314. A final meeting on September 1 will give authors the opportunity to share their completed submissions. Workshop reservations are recommended but not required.

In the past, Sharon Cramer, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of exceptional education, organized at least one similar workshop each year. She led a program called “Write On!” in the late 1990s, which included a workshop called “Targeting the Right Journals” by Hilary Sternberg, Butler Library’s head of reference. This year, Cramer collaborated with E. H. Butler Library and the Faculty Development Center to expand the training. She is grateful for the support.

“The best resources at Buffalo State to help faculty conduct research are the librarians,” said Mark McBride, senior assistant librarian. “They understand the research databases and know how to pare down or expand research.”

E. H. Butler Library has online access to more than 25,000 periodicals. “And if we don’t have a journal in our collection,” McBride said, “we’ll find a place that does and deliver the content for you.”

Cramer said finding the right publication is one of the hardest parts of the publishing process. She and McBride will discuss the process of identifying publishers during the April 23 workshop. On May 14, they will discuss the relationship-building process with editors and offer advice on how to overcome “roadblocks” to the writing process.

“It seems easier today for people to find information online, but the challenge remains the same: you have to find the right match for your work,” Cramer said. She advises new faculty to contact editors before trying to write an article that may seem geared for a specific journal. She also suggests presenting at conferences to gauge peer reaction, but not stopping there.

“How many presentations have never been turned into publications?” Cramer asked. “We all have many PowerPoint conference files we thought would be the start of articles, but we get busy. We need to push ourselves beyond the presentations, to publication.”

Sue McMillen, associate professor of mathematics and director of faculty development, agrees, identifying additional challenges to publishing, such as finding the time to write and overcoming rejection. “New faculty should be persistent,” she said. “Everyone gets an article rejected every now and then.”

McMillen said the Faculty Development Center in Bulger Communication Center 104 also has resources to help faculty members get started in the publishing process. More than anything, she said, she can help connect new faculty to others on campus who are engaged in similar research. She is currently building an online search tool to aid that process.

The rewards of publishing are many. “It is important to produce scholarly products,” McMillen said. “It’s part of the promotion and tenure process.” But there are other benefits, too. “The efforts I take to get my work published help keep my teaching and research fresh,” she said. “Sometimes we work in isolation while doing research. Getting published provides a sense of validation.”

“A published work can lead to off-campus collaboration,” McBride added, “and that can lead to limitless opportunities for rethinking how to teach and what to research.”

McBride is confident the workshops will help new faculty begin to put together a body of scholarship and enable other faculty members to expand their publications lists. “We want all campus scholars to know there are many people here at Buffalo State who are willing to guide them through the process,” he said.