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Posted on Jul 10, 2012 in Research summaries

Lee 2007: Crafting a Paper for Publication

Lee, Allen S. (2007) "Crafting a Paper for Publication," Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 20, Article 7. Available at: http://aisel.aisnet.org/cais/vol20/iss1/7

  • Rationale: This paper gives practical tips on how to craft ("to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity", p. 34, quoted from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 2006) a paper for publication in a leading research journal. Lee compiles the tips from his own experience as a senior scholar in IS and from various tips presented by Ron Weber and Carol Saunders.
  • Methodology: The paper is mainly divided into two sections: tips on crafting the paper for initial submission, and then tips on receiving and responding to responses from peer-review.
  • Key findings: For initially crafting the paper, authors should: i) know the target journal; ii) write for the journal readership; iii) know who are on the editorial board; iv) remain true to his or her research passion, and never give up integrity just to get published; v) keep theory central; vi) consider including a co-author; vii) hold to ethical publication principles; viii) write properly. For revision after peer-review, after giving themselves some time to steam off from negative responses, authors should: i) consult with a trusted colleague; ii) consider the "reviewers as a test market" (p. 39) of potential readers' reactions; iii) objectively make necessary changes; iv) remain true to his or her research passion, and never give up integrity just to get published; v) write a detailed response document.
  • Key contribution to knowledge: Lee presents writing a paper not merely as a technical exercise in reporting research, but also as a social interaction between authors and the scholarly community. He argues that this perspective is helpful in going beyond just the research project to the research paper (see my further comments below).
  • Comments: Although it is not quite explicit in the paper, one point that various paragraphs brought up to my consideration is that research is much larger than just a paper. A researcher should work in terms of research programs, which are grand research goals. A research program is divided up into research projects, which establish various steps to answer the questions of the overall research program. A research paper, in contrast, is merely a write-up documenting a single research project within a larger program. The paper is not the project, and the paper is certainly not program. If these distinctions are clear, then one point that Lee made makes much more sense: he argues that we should have the journal target in mind before we even start writing–this is common advise. However, it makes sense when you understand that it is not necessary to shape the research program to fit certain journals, nor even to shape a specific research project to target publication in a specific journal. Rather, only when the project is completed (with the researcher's integrity of being true to his or her research passion), should the researcher consider which journal would be appropriate to publish the report of the project.

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