A couple of months ago, we published a blog entry outlining how to turn a Master’s dissertation into an article suitable for publication in an academic journal. But what if you did not complete a dissertation? Is there room in Archives and Records for reports about projects you have undertaken, during or after your archival course? The short answer is ‘Yes! But…’
Archives and Records (and most other archival journals) seeks to provide content that is useful to practising record-keepers, as well as to academics. But we do not publish practice papers as such, which only report on what was accomplished. A journal article has to have three key characteristics:
- It has to present something new: a new strategy, a new method, a new tool, a new audience… You get the idea.
- It has to put the project in the context of existing literature on the subject.
- It has to critically evaluate what was done.
Let’s look at these a bit more by outlining a typical article structure.
This summarises the article and tells the reader what they should expect in the rest of the article. It also explains why this article is necessary: what made the project significant that others should read about it?
This is where you will have to get a bit theoretical. What have other authors written about the topic? Do you agree or disagree with them? Did their writing influence your project? How does your project advance what has already been published on the topic? In order to find relevant material, you can search citation indexes such as Web of Science, Jstor, or GoogleScholar.
Accessing the articles may prove tricky once your graduate log-in has expired. ARA members get free access to Archives and Records through the ARA website, as well as to the Journal of Web Librarianship; Library Collections, Acquisitions & Technical Services; Museum Management & Curatorship; International Journal of Heritage Studies; and Heritage & Society. ICA members get free access to their journal Comma. You may be able to access some journals through your institution, or through a public library. An increasing number of articles are published open-access, so that you can read them for free. Some journals are completely free to access, like the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies.
In addition, the ARA has a designated research fund, which can help fund your project, including the costs of accessing relevant literature (applications must come from an organisation, not an individual). Or if you received external funding for the project, the grant may cover research resources.
In this section, outline what you did in your project. Why did you take that approach? What other methods did you consider? How did you justify the decisions taken?
Here you can describe the outcome of your project. What did you accomplish – or not?
This is the meaty part of the article, where you evaluate what you did. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Would you do anything differently if you had to do it again? Will the project continue to expand, or tick along nicely, or would it require additional resources to maintain it? Did your project prove or disprove claims made in the existing literature? How does your project contribute to record-keeping practice for others? Be honest – the ‘lessons learnt’ are the most valuable contribution you can make for your own practice and for others’.
This section should not introduce any substantial new material, but instead summarise what you have discussed in your article. What are the main takeaways for the reader, and what does the future hold for the project?
Most tips from the previous article still apply, with a few extra considerations:
- Acknowledge everyone who contributed to the project (including funders), and list as co-authors anyone who helped with the write-up – but only with their permission.
- If you are writing about a project at a specific institution, you will need clearance from the institution before publishing any results. Your manager may be able to provide this, or it may need to come from higher up.
- Anonymise your article as best you can for the peer review process. You can name your institution if it is necessary to understand the context (with their permission), but try to hide which member of staff is writing the article.
- Remember to write in the third person, unless the piece is intentionally reflective about the impact of the individual. For example: ‘The collection was catalogued…’ instead of ‘I catalogued the collection’.
Write-ups of projects provide variety to journal content, and prove the relevance of all the theoretical discussions. So please do get in touch with us (or the editors of another journal, as appropriate) if you have an idea!
For further information about Archives and Records and contact details: https://www.archives.org.uk/publications/archives-and-records-ara-journal.html
For guidelines about submitting an article to Archives and Records: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=cjsa21
Forget Chaterera Zambuko, Helen Hockx-Yu, Victoria Hoyle, and Sarah-Joy Maddeaux, Editors, Archives and Records