Monday, June 08, 2015

Writing journal articles

Early in April, I was presented with a ‘journal article of the year award’ by the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA). I was considerably honoured to attain the award, especially as the award had previously been presented to many other illustrious VET researchers.

Returning to work a few days later, I set to working on the revisions to a recently submitted article. The feedback list to work through was long and the process, as always, challenging. So why all the effort put into writing an article, in particular when scholarly articles are deemed to have a small readership. For instance, this timely article surely brings any academic author down from any form of inflated sense of importance.

Therefore, some ruminations on: Why write journal articles?
Here is a list, in no particular order:
  • I enjoy the intellectual challenge – I once described the process to a colleague as like ‘solving a puzzle’. You set out an argument and write the rationale, present your case and the evidence to back it and sometimes, provide some recommendations.
  • It’s continual learning. Every time I write and submit an article, I learn new things through engaging with a wide collection of ‘readings’; new processes to approach the structuring of the article; and new techniques to write more cogently.
  • My readings become more directed as I have always enjoyed reading. I now read with a purpose rather than meander.
  • I have started to enjoy the peer review process! It is a source of much learning, sort of a form of 'assessment for learning'.
  • I can now appreciate more fully, the labour that goes into producing good articles. Some articles just 'speak' to your scholarly self J

My learnings? 
  • Since the academic audience is small, there is a need to work at modifying the concepts expressed through journal articles to the target audience. I have made a start with the 'learning a trade' project in the form of a video for the 'appprentice' and a poster for trainers/ coaches. However, still much work to be done in this arena.
  • Therefore, a need to ake time to disseminate research in a form accessible to the audience who are able to contribute to making a difference. In the case of my work, to tutors, workplace trainers, ITO managers, ITP managers etc. to help improve learning approaches for VET learners
  • Work at fine tuning the ways in which academic work can be disseminated.
  • Work with the people who can help make a difference – in my case, with Ako Aotearoa, NZs National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
  • Persist with finding other ways to fund your research – for instance – employers.
  • Find ways to meet PBRF (NZ performance based research funding) requirements but also still disseminate to target audience in a meaningful way.

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