87 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2009
Professor Wendy Belcher has written a tour de force that compiles a series of detailed steps for publishing an academic article. Her methods for writing, revising, submitting, and responding to editorial decisions are straight forward, organized, and well supported by carefully collected data gained through years of experience talking with writers and teaching scholarly writing around the world.
The book has one strength not usually found in such "how to" books on writing. Writing your Journal Article in 12 Weeks provides academic writers with what we have been waiting for: the tools to address our anxieties about writing and being evaluated by other scholars. Belcher successfully demystifies the process for submitting manuscripts and understanding editors' decisions regarding revision and rejection. At the same time, she bolsters academic writers' confidence with the assurance that the paper can be published. I cannot think of any book on academic writing that is as helpful and encouraging as this one. I plan on sharing it with all of my professional colleagues who deal with the ongoing challenges of scholarly writing and publishing.
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2009
This hefty book (350 letter-sized pages) takes the reader through designing a writing plan, starting the article, selecting a journal, reviewing the literature, writing the article, getting feedback, editing the article and sending it out. Week X, which happens when you get the response back from the journal, is about dealing with the journal's response to your submission. Each chapter presents a lot of information in the instruction section along with workbook questions to fill in. The Daily Tasks section that follows tells the article writer what to do on a day by day basis. While this book may be too structured for successful academic writers, it's a good starting point for new writers and academics having trouble getting articles accepted.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
So far I'm very pleased with the content of this book. The author's writing is very honest and down-to-earth, and as a workbook it contains elements for planning one's writing routines that really seem to have the potential to improve my productivity as an academic writer.
How ever, and this is for me a big problem, the books is not a good Kindle book. The reasons are the following:
1 Navigating between the referenced authors and the list of cited works is a nightmare, as one has to first create a mark at the beginning of the bibliography, and then browse page by page in order to find the cited work. In other words, there is no possibility to position the pointer on a reference and then be directly sent to its location in the bibliography.
2 One has no way what page number one is reading, and since the author makes references to content on specific pages, trying to find it can be really very time-consuming, which is a night-mare when you're an academic have too many different books to read.
3 One of the cited authors ("Diaz-Morales 2007, on "Location 806") is NOT in the bibliography.
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2009
Just wanted to chime in here. None of the reviews thus far have mentioned the fact that the author has organized this book in such a way that it could be used to teach a grad class on academic writing, or research methods. While it doesn't deal with "research methods" in any discernible way, it would provide a useful framework (covering topics like how to write a literature review) to teach a semester-long class for university seniors or master's level students seeking to write an article in the social sciences. And of course it will help you with your own writing as well. However, it's really written for beginners. I was hoping for a guide for more seasoned pro's which might help you identify tricks and shortcuts to write more productively, but it doesn't really do that.
70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
I thought this book would be perfect for me. I'm a "plans and systems" person. The author breaks down a series of tasks into a plan to write and submit an article. Each week, you have a bunch of tasks to complete that take 1-4 hours per day - usually closer to one. It's realistic. It's precises. It's behavioral. All my favorite things!
Why didn't I like it? The time-frame was WAAAY off. First of all, the author (Belcher) doesn't allow any time for data analysis, so the '12 weeks' assumes you already have your data and have it fully analyzed and ready to go. Think, conference-paper-or-dissertation-article-in-need-of-publishing. So, this book won't help you if you're in the early stages of writing, which are usually the hardest. Secondly, Belcher doesn't leave nearly enough time for the actual writing and editing. In my experience, when I've retrospectively added up all the hours spent on drafts and revisions of an article or chapter, I'm looking at approximately 5 hours for each single-spaced page I write (about 90 minutes per page with 3-4 revisions). Since articles are usually about 20 pages, we're looking at nearly 100 hours just to draft and revise. This does not include background literature reviews,outlining, or formatting.
Belcher's plan will guide you through 6 weeks of planning and outlining (a bit excessive - I think 2-3 weeks would do it) and ONLY TWENTY-ONE HOURS of combined editing AND revising! (I am looking at the book as I write this review, so that's an exact figure). Also, she allows only ONE hour to devise all illustrations, graphs, and charts, and a skimpy SINGLE HOUR to format the article to be consistent with the journal guidelines. I think that alone takes about 6 hours.
Completely undoable but a really great idea. Some strengths of the book: she allots plenty of time for planning each week, documenting how you spend your time, and getting ample feedback from colleagues. If you follow this book's plan, expect to insert about 8 extra weeks of writing and editing. That brings the timeline up to 20 weeks, which is still pretty good. Two articles a year ain't bad for the humanities and social sciences. If the timelines were shifted to reflect the reality of how many hours it takes to edit, it would be a 5-star book.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2010
I actually did use it to teach a graduate seminar on how to write a publishable article (or really, how to revise a seminar paper into a journal article, since it takes much longer than 12 weeks to write a humanities article from scratch). It would be perfect for a 15-week semester, as I would recommend at least 2 weeks for the literature review section. I teach on the quarter system so it was a bit of a tight squeeze. But in my evaluations the grads said that the book was enormously helpful, if somewhat patronizing in tone. Out of 9 students, I had 4 sending articles out, 4 decide (correctly, I think) that their piece wasn't worth sending out but happy to have changed their writing habits for the future, and 1 realize with horror when he did the literature review chapter that he'd plagiarized substantially through poor note-taking.
So overall, this book really demystifies the writing process, and makes writing into something you do daily, like showering or getting dressed, rather than an occasion for drama and self-doubt. She builds in accountability charts, which are great -- this time around I think I will pair students and have them turn in their charts to one another rather than to me.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2010
I bought this book because I have checked it out from the library six times already. It's well-organized, although you may decide to use a different order. It's got good hints for organizing your writing and your life.
This is NOT a book about how to force yourself to write for eight hours a day, six days a week. It is NOT a book about how to do research. It IS a book about how to write up the research you've done.
I'm a grad student, so my needs are for current classes and future professional writing. Everyone I have shown it to in school immediately writes down a citation so they can get it, too.
I'm a big believer in her methods, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to write in an academic setting.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2009
This book is incredibly helpful. I have used it myself and assigned it to students. Excellent for graduate students or assistant professors who need a clear practical plan to get papers out for publication. It has many helpful hints that even those of us lurking in academia for a long time can learn from. Written in a very comforting and encouraging tone.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2010
I think this book's greatest strength is the writer's ability to break down writing tasks for you each day in order to get your article out in twelve weeks while still juggling other responsibilities. I think most people tend to overload themselves, then feel stress when they don't meet their writing goals. Belcher presents very simple, hourlong, meet-able goals for each day. Each week has 5 days' worth of tasks that you can spread out as needed. It's great to not have to think too hard about scheduling an hour's work for myself every day -- I can just look at the book, do what is suggested, and move on with my other work. Would recommend to anyone trying to balance teaching and publication, and especially to anyone who stops writing when the grading comes in.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2011
This book is a MUST HAVE for academics at virtually any stage but most especially grad students and junior faculty. Reading what she had to say early in her introduction I can only appreciate how she seeks to demystify the tricks and trade of academic productivity most especially for scholars of color!
I have recommended this book time and time again to colleagues at different stages in their careers. If you are junior faculty, I would NOT suggest loaning it out. Make that person go and buy their own or check it out from the library (if it is ever on the shelf!) This book really provides real perspective on the writing process with doable tasks, encouraging advice, and a realistic outline towards the finish line. I got the book after finishing my second article but it was really useful in getting me drafted on the third one. I was actually in jury duty waiting to be called and reading and writing.
I have to end and point out one MAJOR contribution beyond all other books and that is her section on "Advancing Your Argument"!!! That chapter is the most important of the entire book. I plan to use with my students and colleagues because even I struggle with the how to's on crafting an argument. Even the best of the best academic writers get us excited about how they are going to "shed light" or "unpack some unknown aspect of history that everyone needs to learn about". However as Belcher shows, those are not arguments!!! I personally believe this chapter could be useful for someone drafting a book because there are similar expectations in that you have to have a clear argument in order to frame a discussion.
Go get this book. In fact, every Department/Program chair should give this to new faculty...along the with the other book "How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing". Once both are in someone's hand --- there is no excuse on any lack of productivity!!!