Religious Education Association

An Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education


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Tips on Publishing
(November 26, 2002)

An Overview 
Dr. Charles Foster [Professor of Religion and Education, Candler School of Theology, Emeritus] 

New religious education scholars face several challenges when making decisions about what and how to publish their work.

1.   In 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.

2.   The 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.

3.    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:

1.    They have identified generative issues in the practice of religious education that call for original scholarly work. 

2.   They recognize the importance of those issues not only to the religious education public but also to a larger audience. 

3.    In 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. 

4.    Their 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. 

5.    They 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:

  • Religious Education

  • Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion

  • International Journal of Practical Theology

  • British Journal of Religious Education

  • Australian Religious Education Journal

  • Journal of Values in Education (New, Turkey,

  • Journal of Children’s Spirituality

  • Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education

  • Religion and Education

  • Christian Education Journal

  • Journal of Moral Education

  • Journal of Education and Christian Belief

When submitting 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.

Notes on Writing (Particular Emphasis on E-Journals)
Mary Hess [Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary]

Here’s 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.

  • Write early and often.

  • Try 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.

  • When you’re ready to submit something, make sure you’ve followed the guidelines of the journal as fully as possible.

  • Approach e-journals as you would other journals.

  • Keep 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.

  • Don’t be afraid to contact someone from a journal’s editorial board for advice, or to write to the main editor.

  • Don’t 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.

  • Don’t submit the same article to more than one journal at a time.

  • Ask your colleagues what journals they read and find interesting!

  • Keep 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 ( 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 site.

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.