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This advice comes from Dr. Ruth A. Palmquist, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Texas at Austin

Many graduate students start to build their Curriculum Vitae by publishing first in an association conference proceeding and then move onto to publishing in journals. Both of these choices have distinct differences.

Getting published in a conference proceeding.

  • First make sure that the conference you are interested in will, in fact, prepare a published copy of the proceedings for a national or international audience. Not all conferences do this. And these days, the format of the proceedings can take many forms -- an electronic copy issued only to conference attendees, a taped copy of the papers given for sale at the time of the conference, and a published version available beyond the conference proper. 
  • Within your discipline, these conferences usually feature scholarly papers given by faculty. These conferences can be at the state or the national level. Obviously, the higher the conference level, usually the more prestigious the conference proceedings will be for your C.V. But don't hesitate to get your publishing feet wet at a state-wide conference first.  
  • Usually, in advance of the conference, sometimes by as much as a year, the association sponsoring the conference will put out a request for submissions along with the needed info on desired topics, page length, and deadlines for acceptance, revisions, etc. This request for submissions will indicate clearly a committee or a name to which you can direct questions. 
  • It depends on the discipline, but these requests for papers will usually favor papers covering current research efforts (rather than opinion pieces or syntheses of others' work).
  • A common scenario is that you have a study planned or even begun, but not yet concluded. You should ask faculty in your program or the conference contact whether the association will accept a paper that provides everything but the data analysis -- which you can have done by the time the conference convenes. The alternative is that you must supply a completed effort including the data analysis by the deadline.
  • If your paper is accepted for the conference (and the eventual conference proceedings) you will be expected to attend the conference and give a presentation (usually 15-20 minutes in length). You can present new additions to your findings/paper at the time of your presentation.
  • Some graduate departments may have travel funding for graduate students who are accepted to national conferences. Check before you submit.

Publishing a journal article:

  • Most journals provide guidelines for submitting an article in each and every issue. 
  • Articles must be complete when they are submitted.
  • Warning: Most journals will assume (and some will stipulate) that they are the only place in which the material you are sending will appear. If this creates conflicts for you, you should make certain what their policy is for re-submitting your work in some other form in another place before you send it originally. Most journals ask you to sign away your copyright to the article and they retain the rights to reproduce the work you have submitted.
  • You may receive some editorial comments/corrections before your article is accepted or before your submission is sent on through the peer-review process. Peer reviewers can vary in number from as few as two to as many as four, usually. The peer-reviewers are seldom identified by name, that is, they are known only to the editor. Likewise, you name may not be disclosed to the peer reviewers as well.
  • Most journal editors can tell you, in advance, what their rate of acceptance is; the rate of acceptance can indicate the journal's ranking along with the journal's impact factor, determined by the number of citations to that journal from other journals in a given year. See resource below on this point. Obviously, the higher the journal's rank, the more impressive it will be in your C.V.
  • The editor can also sometimes indicate when your article will appear in the journal. Many editors have the next several months of the journal's content already determined, so your appearance in print may not be immediate after you have satisfied all editorial changes.


About the Author: Ruth has a Ph.D. in Information Transfer from Syracuse University and an MA in Library Science from the University of Iowa. Her research and publications are in the fields of information seeking and information architecture. In over 35 years in academia, Ruth has taught at Syracuse University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.