21-3 “Tribal College Faculty” Resource Guide

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-3: Tribal College Faculty, Spring 2010, Online resource guides, Resource Guides, Web Exclusive
By Joanna Vance, Ph.D.

How to Get Started in Academic Publishing

The pursuit of knowledge is a two-part process that involves completing research and study and then disseminating the results and outcomes. The second part of disseminating the results and outcomes is often more important than the first part because only when results are shared, discussed, and added to with further study can research help local communities. In the words of scholar Cheryl Crazy Bull (Lakota), “if research is to benefit the community, it must be shared with the community.”

Crazy Bull has been an active proponent of research at tribal colleges for over a decade, contributing to the 1997 special issue of the Tribal College Journal with a very informative article about tribal college faculty research called “A native conversation about research and scholarship” (TCJ, Vol. 9, No. 3). At the end of the article, she cited 15 sources that, at first glance, look to be quite promising leads for investigating the topic further. However, only 4 of those 15 sources have been published in any forum. The rest are cited as “Paper presented at the Native Research and Scholarship Symposium, Orcas Island, WA” or “Unpublished manuscript prepared for the symposium.”

To locate and read the unpublished works that Crazy Bull cited for use in my own writing and research, I conducted an exhaustive internet search, made general inquiry calls to five of the tribal colleges whose names were mentioned in the titles of the unpublished papers, attempted emails to writers’ last known email addresses, and called three of the college presidents for suggestions about how to locate these unpublished works. In the end, I was able to locate and read just one of those unpublished papers. In all, approximately 10 hours went into tracking down that one paper, which is not a particularly easy way to build knowledge.

It could be that sharing research amongst tribal college scholars is limited by lack of an effective model or forum. In their article in TCJ in 1993, Jack Barden and then-editor Paul Boyer said that in the American Indian community, “there are some who believe the Western research model does not allow all of the right questions to be asked, the right methods to be used, and the right conclusions to be drawn” (TCJ, Vol. 4, No. 3, Ways of knowing: extending the boundaries of scholarship.).

They suggested four broad categories for evaluating whether scholarship allows researchers to move beyond traditional boundaries of research. Those categories are: (1) Is the research consequential? (2) Is there integrity in the process? (3) Is the methodology fully described? (4) Are the limits of the effort understood?

Perhaps there is an important fifth category missing from their list: Are the people who can use the information aware of the results at the end of the study?

In TCJ’s 1993 interview with John Red Horse, he made an important point: “Hopefully, we do not pursue research for abstract reasons, but with the intent to communicate with non-Indians and American Indian audiences” (TCJ, Vol. 4, No. 3).

Several scholars involved with tribal colleges have made calls for research to be shared and shared in a way that benefits communities. Below are a few suggestions and resources for scholars wishing to take their own research results from abstract findings to published works that can benefit both their own local community as well as the larger academic community.

TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED

Show work to others. Many new researchers are self conscious and hesitant about sending out manuscripts for publication because they are nervous about having others read their work. Overcome this fear by sharing work with family members, trusted colleagues, and others you know are interested in similar topics.

Be open to feedback and constructive criticism. This is a part of the academic writing life. Even those who publish extensively benefit from the critiques and suggestions of others. Reviewers are often frank in their comments. Keep in mind even senior scholars receive requests to revise and resubmit work on a regular basis.

Expect rejection, and keep trying. Very few journals, books, conferences, and meetings accept every submission they receive. If you aren’t receiving at least a few rejections in your pursuits, you are probably not setting your sights high enough. When you receive suggestions with a rejection, incorporate those tips, and try again.

Create your own opportunities. Pay attention to your field of interest. Talk to others and ask for ideas. Use the internet to look up topics that interest you to see if anyone else is also working in that field, and if so, contact that person for further ideas. Do not expect opportunities to come to you: all successful researchers and scholars create their own opportunities for sharing and discussing their work. This is how knowledge is slowly built.

Read, read, read. Continually look for journals, books, articles, and presentations in your field. Most of these sources offer opportunities for new scholars to share their work and submit papers or articles. Several of the resources in the “Further Reading” section at the end of this resource guide provide tips for organizing and preparing academic papers for submission.

Have fun. Pick a topic you are truly interested in researching and writing about, and then enjoy and be proud of contributing to knowledge in your field. This will keep you motivated and inspired, and help you persist if and when it gets challenging. Remember the larger goal in publishing information is to share knowledge with those who can use and put that information to work to improve a situation for others.

IDEAS TO BEGIN SHARING YOUR RESEARCH

Contact your former advisor to ask for ideas if your work was completed as part of a graduate degree. Your advisor will know your topic area well and know what journals are likely to accept work similar to yours. Most advisors are willing and able to help former students share their work. Some may even like to assist and be a co-author on your paper or manuscript submission if you are interested.

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