Did you know that nearly a quarter of the articles published in the Teachers College Record (TCR) since 2015 were authored or co-authored by students?

Were you aware that those pieces range in style from classical “lit crit” to the highly personal? Take the following excerpt from “From the Lens of a Light-Skinned ‘Jamerican’ Woman,” an essay recently published in TCR by University of Buffalo doctoral candidate Dina C. Skeffrey:

Although I was taught to never be judgmental, morning, afternoon, and night were all hours of the day that I felt continuously judged. It seemed that my caramel, butter pecan complexion and long sandy brown hair had become prompts for people to assume that I spoke Spanish. My appearance somehow became a qualified rationale for people to say, “Her mother is White, and her father is Black.” Or, as others so tactfully put it: “She’s a mulatto.”

If Skeffrey’s piece isn’t what you expect to find in an academic journal, or if you’ve never submitted work for academic publication because you didn’t know what constituted “appropriate material,” then check out a new webinar series offered by TCR Executive Editor Michelle Knight-Manuel and her staff, which launched in late February.

Watch the webinar “All Access: Unwritten Rules of Academic Publishing”

“In envisioning the future of TC Record, the members of our team and editorial board are seeking to leverage the strength of the journal by providing a more welcome, inclusive publishing environment,” says Knight-Manuel, Professor of Education. “We recognize there is uneven access to knowledge in the publishing process, and the important role publishing plays in the life of emerging and early-career scholars.”

The webinar’s first installment, “All Access: Unwritten Rules of Academic Publishing,” which aired in late February, provided an overview of the Record itself, which has been in continuous publication for more than a century, and fielded audience questions.

Many of the latter were basic: Does the Record accept unsolicited book reviews? (Answer: No — most journals don’t — but hit the book review tab on the TCR home page to volunteer to be an assigned book reviewer.)

What’s the difference between a “Research Note” and a “Commentary” piece? (Answer: the latter is a mini-article that typically focuses on an interesting aspect of one’s research, such as the methodology, while Commentary pieces are more editorial in nature, and less reliant on empirical data).

Other, more specific questions came from more seasoned researchers. One viewer asked whether the Record might accept a write-up of his preliminary study — but one of the first on the topic — of learning strategies to help decision-makers in hostage-taking and other high-threat situations. (Answer: probably not, but if the methodology is unique, there might be a commentary piece in it.) 

But the heart of the talk was a series of tips from Record staff.

“We are a broad, interdisciplinary journal,” said Knight-Manuel. “We seek topics that intersect with education across the board whether it’s global education or the impact of COVID-19 on schooling the topic should be of interest to a broad, general audience. So consider whether you think your topic fits with a broad general audience or if, instead, you want to move more into a specific area of expertise in your field?” [Visit the publication’s homepage for a complete list of topics that TCR covers.] 

What makes your piece unique? Is it the data? The methodology? And what body of work are you hoping to add to, be in conversation with or refute?

—Amanda Earl, Editorial Graduate Student, TCR

“When publishing in a journal as broad as TCR, consider who you seek tom impact — policymakers, teachers in the field or other educators — and consider the contextual information they need to understand your arguments,” said Amanda Earl, Editorial Graduate Student. “I like to send what I write to people in other fields than my own because I know that if they can understand it, then the editors here will as well.” Also, Earl said, contributors should ask themselves: “What makes your piece unique? Is it the data? The methodology? And what body of work are you hoping to add to, be in conversation with or refute? Because publishing in a journal means being part of a community, and that doesn’t just work in one direction.” 

Earl also noted that students frequently expand term papers and research projects into material published in the Record. “Those pieces can serve as the raw material for publication whether you are using empirical data or a theoretical or conceptual argument,” she said. [Check out the resources on The Writer’s Guide page on the TC Record website.]

Editorial Associate Chingfu Lan urged graduate students to mine faculty publishing, research and classroom discussions for topics that might lead to co-authorship of TCR article.

“Working with a professor is beneficial because they have the experience to mentor a student along the way,” said Lan.

For those wishing to get into the flow of the ongoing TCR conversation, George Nantwi, Senior Director, recommended following the publication on Twitter — both to contact the Record staff with ideas and also to join the thread of extended chats run by Shrien Alshabasy, Digital Publishing Associate, on different topics. (Nantwi noted that the webinar itself grew out of one of those threads.)

There’s quite a bit of variety in the feature articles, book reviews and commentary pieces.

—Catherine Cheng-Stahl, Editorial Graduate Student, TCR

And Editor Lyn Corno and Editorial Graduate Student Catherine Cheng Stahl offered perhaps the most salient advice of all for newcomers, which is to spend lots of time reading articles previously published by The Record – both to know what the journal covers but also to see the myriad possibilities for how to write about different topics.

“There’s quite a bit of variety in the feature articles, book reviews and commentary pieces,” Cheng-Stahl said. “Exploring our website can give you a lot of ideas about how to shape an approach.”

In any manuscript we are thinking about originality and how it opens up the field to answer questions.

—Michelle Knight Manuel, Executive Editor, TCR

Ultimately, the bottom line for graduate students and early career faculty considering TCR as the first stop on their publishing career is this:

“In any manuscript we are thinking about originality and how it opens up the field to answer questions,” Knight-Manuel said. “The analysis should lead us to think differently about social issues and educational issues from different perspectives.”