Thursday, January 12, 2017

Writing an article for New Review of Academic Librarianship

Guest post by Aoife Lawton,
National Health Service Librarian (Ireland)

Writing an Article for New Review of Academic Librarianship (NRAL)
Writing a journal article is usually done when your research is completed, but not always.  In the recent article I wrote for the New Review of Academic Librarianship, the work was ongoing.  This makes the research fresh and as an author it holds your interest in seeing the article through to the finish line.  
I decided to focus on Open Access for my article, which in addition to being published in the first issue of NRAL in 2016, was also part of the open access themed Irish issue of NRAL to mark Library Ireland Week (LIW). Open access is an area I am actively involved in.  Research needs to link to practice, at least for me, or it becomes unfeasible at best and dull at worst.  Picking a topic that is related to what you are currently working on enables you to critically evaluate it while simultaneously sharing your experience with other librarians through writing and eventually publishing your findings.  I had  plenty of advice at hand from Helen Fallon, who is on the editorial board of NRAL and Graham Walton, editor-in-chief of NRAL.  Editors are open to receiving author queries and they will communicate with you.  This is good to know, particularly if you have a question or you need advice on how to steer your research in a certain direction.  
I find that starting with reading the section marked on the journal website as ‘author guidelines’ is the best way to begin structuring your thoughts before you put pen to paper.  The author guidelines will give you ideas on how to structure the article in terms of sections, headings and it will help you to manage your research, and of course tell you what citation style to you.  It will keep you on topic and help you from steering off course.  It is also worth reading a few articles from the journal, to get an idea about the style, content and outline that articles have.  Personally I write an article in sections, I piece it all together at the end.  I usually end up rewriting several sections of it and I think in this particular case, I had to cut a lot of it out as it was getting too wordy. Drafting and redrafting is all part of the journey and writing process.  It can be frustrating at times, but it means that you end up with a solid cohesive piece at the end (at least in theory!).  Maynooth University Library organised a seminar in October 2017 to mark the publication of the 2016 themed issue of NRAL and to launch the Irish open access issue.  Dr Graham Walton, editor-in-chief  of NRAL and several speakers from home and abroad attended.  The president of the LAI, Philip Cohen launched the Irish issue, which added to the sense of occasion to mark the collective achievement of writers and editors.  As a health science librarian, it is always encouraging to write outside of the field of health science librarianship and I’d encourage other librarians to consider this.  It was great to see so many librarians working in Ireland who have published.  For those of you who have yet to take the plunge, perhaps it is a good time to add writing and publishing to your list of New Year’s resolutions.  

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