Tips on Preparing Manuscripts

The following “Quick Tips” provide suggestions and guidance for preparing manuscripts for potential publication in InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching. InSight is a peer-reviewed publication highlighting the scholarly contributions of post-secondary faculty. As is the nature of refereed journals, acceptance and publication of original manuscripts is a competitive process. The goal of the following information is to assist faculty in preparing manuscripts in a manner that maximizes the chances of publication.

Preparing the Manuscript

The organization and style of your manuscript will be largely dictated by the type of submission (e.g., theoretical, empirical, critical reflection, case study, classroom innovation, etc.). Thus, while guidelines will follow to assist you in preparing your manuscript, the key to successful submission is clear, effective communication that highlights the significance and implications of your work to post-secondary teaching and learning in relation to the target topic. To prepare and effectively communicate your scholarly work, the American Psychological Association (2009) provides the following general guidelines:

  • Present the problem, question or issue early in the manuscript.
  • Show how the issue is grounded, shaped, and directed by theory.
  • Connect the issue to previous work in a literature review that is pertinent and informative but not exhaustive.
  • State explicitly the hypotheses under investigation or the target of the theoretical review.
  • Keep the conclusions within the boundaries of the findings and/or scope of the theory.
  • Demonstrate how the study or scholarly approach has helped to address the original issue.
  • Identify and discuss what theoretical or practical implications can be drawn from this work.

As you write your manuscript, keep the following points in mind:

  • Title – Generally speaking, titles should not exceed 15 words and should provide a clear introduction to your article. While it is okay to incorporate “catchy” titles to pique interest, be sure that your title effectively captures the point of your manuscript.
  • Abstract – Do not underestimate the importance of your abstract. While the abstract is simply a short summary (50-100 words) of your work, it is often the only aspect of your article that individuals read. The abstract provides the basis from which individuals will decide whether or not to read your article, so be certain that your abstract is “accurate, self-contained, nonevaluative, coherent, and readable” (Calfee & Valencia, 2001).
  • Body – Within the body of a manuscript, information should be organized and sub-headed in a structure that facilitates understanding of key issues. Refer to the APA Publication Manual for information about levels of headings.
    • Empirical investigations should be organized according to the traditional format that includes introduction (purpose, literature review, hypothesis), method (participants, materials, procedures), results, and discussion (implications).
    • Theoretical articles and literature reviews should include an introduction (purpose), subheadings for the relevant perspectives and themes, and a detailed section(s) on conclusions (applications, recommendations, implications, etc.).
    • Classroom innovation and critical reflections should be organized via an introduction (purpose, problem, or challenge), relevant background literature, project description, evaluation of effectiveness (may include student feedback, self-reflections, peer-InSight, etc.), and conclusions (applications, implications, recommendations, etc.). If describing classroom-based work, please include copies of relevant assignments, handouts, rubrics, etc. as appendices.

    The limited length of InSight articles (manuscript should be between 2,000-5,000 words, not including abstract, references or appendices) requires authors to focus on the most significant, relevant factors and implications.

  • References – Please use the most recent APA Publication Manual for citations, which means you are required to include a DOI or equivalent. Select your references carefully to ensure that your citations include the most current and relevant sources. As you select your references, give preference to published sources that have proven pertinent and valuable to the relevant investigations. The goal is not to incorporate ALL relevant references, but rather to include the most important ones.
  • Tables, Figures, Appendices & Graphics – Authors are encouraged to include supporting documents to illustrate the findings, relevance or utilization of materials. Particularly relevant are documents that promote easy, efficient integration of suggestions, findings or techniques into the classroom (such as rubrics, assignments, etc.). Supplemental information should enhance, rather than duplicate, information in the text. Please keep in mind that graphics will be published in grayscale.

The importance of clear, effective communication cannot be highlighted enough. Many manuscripts with relevant, original, applicable ideas will be rejected because authors do not communicate the information in a manner that facilitates easy understanding and application of key points. The value of a manuscript is lost if readers are unable to overcome written communication barriers that prevent use of the knowledge. With this in mind, authors are strongly advised to seek informal feedback from peers and colleagues on manuscripts prior to submission to InSight. Requesting informal reviews from relevant professionals can highlight and correct many concerns prior to formal submission, thus improving chances of publication.

References

American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Calfee, R., & Valencia, R. (2001). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: APA.