(Re)writing articles for Academic Journals
An IFRA Research seminar, By Prof. Laurent Fourchard (CERI/Sciences Po Paris)
Thursday, 11th of January, IFRA Library
IFRA was glad to organise the first seminar of 2018 this Thursday, 11th of January, and host Prof. Laurent Fourchard, senior researcher at Sciences Po Paris and a long-time collaborator of IFRA Nigeria. 18 IFRA fellows participated in the event. They were Master and PhD students enrolled in various social science programmes, mostly at the University of Ibadan.
The seminar was entitled “(Re)writing articles for Academic Journals” and looked principally at the arduous process of editing papers to make them suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Nowadays, many international academic journals have established demanding article reviewing schemes that require growing commitments from authors: journal reviewers commonly request authors to extensively edit or even rewrite three or four times their papers before publication, a back-and-forth path that may last for several years. One of the goals of this seminar was to analyse how academics can benefit positively from the reviews to improve their papers and make them suitable for publication.
The session began with welcome words by Dr. Emilie Guitard, IFRA deputy director and Mr. Ismaël Maazaz, IFRA research associate. Prof. Fourchard then explained that although receiving feedbacks can be tedious and frustrating for academics, it is important to display humility and relevant self-criticism in order to identify the weaknesses of a paper and the edits that may be made to improve it.
Prof. Fourchard invited the participants to complete an interesting exercise. The first version of a paper he submitted to an international journal was circulated. Participants read the draft over and started to discuss it, pinpointing several points that could be improved. For example, some pointed at the excessively long introduction, others noted that the paper would benefit from a clearer epistemological grounding, another fellow suggested to situate the title historically, etc. Participants and Prof. Fourchard also reflected on the field research in South Africa that had fuelled the paper.
We then circulated the actual reviews sent to Prof. Fourchard by the journal chief editors and two anonymous reviewers. While reckoning the publishable quality of the first version, they suggested a number of structural, conceptual or presentational adjustments or corrections. Prof. Fourchard remarked that many of the comments made in the reviews had just been addressed in one way or another in the course of the seminar. It was interesting to note differences in the review styles and contents between the chief editors and the journal reviewers, as well as between both reviewers.
Finally, the actual published article was distributed to the participants. It contained several significant improvements in the structure and content, sometimes in lines with the journal reviews.
The seminar concluded with final feedbacks from the participants, who found themselves more aware of the requirements of international publishing tracks
Prof. Fourchard explaining the reviewing schemes of international journals.
The IFRA Library again full of fellows.
An IFRA fellow analysing the first version of Prof. Fourchard’s paper.