While writing fiction has always been a dream of mine, I had little time to branch out seriously into this domain. I dabbled every now and again, as far back as the mid-90’s, but didn’t take it up in earnest until five years ago.
When writing a research manuscript, psychologists (and many others) use APA format (APA = American Psychological Association). The format has a distinct style for organizing manuscripts, citing references, displaying figures and tables, and so on. When completed, the author—or more likely authors—submit the manuscript to a journal for blind review. The title page with author names is removed, so the reviewers, who are established experts in the same or related fields, provide critical feedback and recommendations to the editor on whether to accept or reject the manuscript or return the manuscript to the authors for revision. If authors decide to revise the manuscript based on the reviewers comments, then they do exactly that and resubmit it to the journal—where it is sent out again for review.
The process is arduous and the acceptance rate for top-tier journals (and even many mid-tier journals) is low. I have been living this life for nearly 30 years and have gotten used to it. If you have ever heard the phrase “Publish or Perish”, then you have an idea of the stress level. University faculty members only have about 5 or 6 years to generate research which has an impact on their field. That is, they need to establish a track record of a research publication pipeline which includes developing, ongoing, and submitted/published research to justify their employment. If they do not show regular yearly publication of multiple research articles, they are out of a job.
Does this process prepare an individual for other types of writing careers? I’ll talk about that in my next blog.