Tips on Publishing
(November 26, 2002)
Dr. Charles Foster [Professor of Religion and Education, Candler School
of Theology, Emeritus]
religious education scholars face several challenges when making decisions
about what and how to publish their work.
contrast to the 1960’s when I was completing my doctoral studies,
there is no longer a clear marketing niche for “religious education”
publications. We find
our titles listed under religious education, Christian or Jewish education,
practical theology, spiritual formation, and ministry—to name the
most common categories.
easiest market to break into continues to be made up of practitioners
in local faith communities, denominational leaders in religious education,
and leaders and teachers in private and religious schools.
Many publishers (and some only) look for manuscripts, consequently,
that will reach this audience of practitioners.
If a manuscript is seen as relevant to a college or seminary
classroom they are even more pleased.
A more difficult challenge for the religious educator is to
find a publisher for original scholarly work.
This creates a dilemma for the religious educator in an academic
institution that expects such work for tenure and promotion reviews.
I would encourage
new scholars to the field to view this situation as a challenge rather
than a problem. It reflects the “boundary” status of scholarship in religious
education—one that engages theory and practice; popular and academic;
religion/theology and education; and religious education and a variety
of academic disciplines. This
“boundary crossing” location means that the scholarly religious educator
has the potential of speaking to multiple audiences and may therefore
be in a uniquely constructive position to explore the contemporary
confusion over the future of education in general and of the role
of religion, theology and faith communities in that future.
We do have models
among some of our senior colleagues for this kind of scholarly life.
They have carved out publishing agendas that attract readers
first of all, in both academic
and popular religious education, and then, among faith community leaders
and scholars in related fields, and well beyond the borders of Canada
and the United States. So
as we consider a future for religious education publications, it might
be useful to take a look at the writings of such colleagues as Maria
Harris, James Fowler, Parker Palmer, Tom Groome, Sharon Parks, Gabriel
Moran as models of writing and publication taken seriously—not only
by scholars and practitioners in the field but also outside the field.
I have several thoughts regarding why they have been unusually
“successful” as published scholars:
have identified generative issues in the practice of religious education
that call for original scholarly work.
recognize the importance of those issues not only to the religious
education public but also to a larger audience.
the words of the university tenure review committee in my own institution,
their engagement with these issues has been originative rather than
derivative. In other
words, they have done the sustained and rigorous research that feeds
the scholarly imagination in constructing knowledge.
writing styles are both sophisticated and accessible.
They invite both scholar and practitioner into conversation.
This is important. Some
publishers will not look at a religious education book unless it is
“accessible” and some tenure review committees will not consider a
book unless it upholds standards of scholarship.
have also been effective interpreters of their own work in workshops,
through lectures, and in the classroom.
I hope you find
these reflections helpful as you think about the future of your own
scholarly endeavors. I
will be looking forward to your contributions to our collective thinking
about the future of religious education.
Venues for Publishing (Journals) and Submission Suggestions
Ted Brelsford [Assistant Professor of Religion and Education,
Candler School of Theology and Editor
of Religious Education]
The following are journals to consider when submitting
research for publication:
Learning in Theology and Religion
Journal of Practical Theology
of Religious Education
Religious Education Journal
Values in Education (New, Turkey, www.edam.com.tr)
of Children’s Spirituality
Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education
Education and Christian Belief
an article, follow the
guidelines in journal for formatting and review procedures (at least
close enough to look like you are familiar with the field). The submission
needs to be as clear and efficient as possible. A publishable paper
does something—makes a contribution to the field/conversation—and
is in conversation with a field of discourse. You make a contribution
to the field by identifying/articulating and addressing questions
that fundamentally address the mission of the field.
on Writing (Particular Emphasis on E-Journals)
Mary Hess [Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership,
my basic advice on publishing – and I should note here that I am in
no way an expert – this is simply what I pass on to my students
from what I’ve learned in other contexts.
early and often.
to find places to test out your ideas – in electronic spaces,
that can include listservs, blogging, and other less formal places
– so that you have colleagues who help you hone what you’re working
with, and can help you develop substance.
you’re ready to submit something, make sure you’ve followed the
guidelines of the journal as fully as possible.
e-journals as you would other journals.
an eye on journals who regularly publish work by authors you enjoy
and are referencing in your own work. Such journals might be particularly
open to your arguments.
be afraid to contact someone from a journal’s editorial board
for advice, or to write to the main editor.
be afraid to contest a particular journal’s copyright policy –
it never hurts to ask, even if you ultimately end up agreeing
to their default statement.
submit the same article to more than one journal at a time.
your colleagues what journals they read and find interesting!
an eye open for new journals, they’re often hungry for materials
(here I’d include the Wabash journal, the Journal of Religious
Leadership, and the Journal of Media and Religion as examples,
but I’m sure there are more in many other fields).
I’ve put together
a web page with some useful links on it (http://www.luthersem.edu/mhess/ejournals.html).
There are myriad journals that are fully “e-journals” – meaning that
they only exist in online formats. The Association of Peer-Reviewed
Journals in Religion is one place to go to find some that might be
appropriate for your work. So, too, is the AERA list of electronic
journals in the field of education. Some of these journals function
as fully blind peer-reviewed journals, and some are other kinds of
hybrids. Two that I read regularly that are fully peer-reviewed, etc.
are the Journal of Mundane Behavior, and the Journal of Religion and
Popular Culture. I’m not aware of a similar, high quality journal
in religious education – that doesn’t mean there isn’t one, just that
I haven’t encountered it yet. Two that are more hybrid are the Journal
of Lutheran Ethics, and Theological Explorations, which is run out
of Duquesne University.
Then there are
many, many journals that have electronic sites associated with them
of one kind or another. These are useful because they can give you
a lot of information quickly about the kind of materials for which
a specific journal is looking. Here you should check out Project Muse
and Project ATLAS. I also enjoy the Teachers College Record online
A rather newer
form of electronic journal, which is a cross between a “zine” and
a diary, is the weblog. Weblogs are rapidly emerging as the mechanism
of choice for building specific communities of discourse that retain
their personal flavors. I’ve listed some on the web page that I visit
occasionally. These will not likely be “counted” for academic credit
any time soon, but some of the more interesting “talk” on the Net
goes on within these communities.