Module 15: Writing Journal Articles


Publishing articles moves your research from “on the shelf but not influencing the big debate” and “in your CV but not in the ‘proud zone’” to, well, read by 1000s, influencing the broad debate, being recognized and cited, and moving the work from “anything goes” quality to high quality and rigorous. We researchers all want to get these benefits, and publishing articles is, nowadays, the only path. We also want to write proposals to get research funds; a good proposal is really an article without results yet, as you will see.

But typically young researchers, before they have written a bunch of articles, think that writing articles is a kind of magic. That not just anybody can do it, that it takes a huge amount of time, and is just too difficult. That is how the presenter of the module felt in his early research years. So he thought up a way (for himself at first!) to see article writing as a … mechanical process… not as magic. He started by outlining big name authors’ articles and seeing the structure, and found that instead of having to make it up himself, he could see that there was a repeated underlying structure to most, if not all, the good articles. He realized he could just start with that and not reinvent the wheel! Then he realized each good article had mysterious things called research questions. These were not policy questions or just “what is happening” questions, but causation and correlation questions. He saw that the literature marched along in waves or strands, with each wave of authors getting published by asking a new research question that was some twist, some toggle, of the earlier wave or strand. He also saw that the innovations or contributions that got them published could be studied coldly and analytically, and understood in terms of how they found gaps in the earlier strand and then proposed their contribution as a new twist on the research question. So Tom put all these techniques and ways of seeing the literature, ways of formulating research questions, ways of making contributions to the literature, and ways of publishing, into a talk! He gives numerous illustrations and stories so that you can see how the “greats” did it! You will see it is just “easy peasy”. You can do it. Just get the logic of it and you can then do your own articles. Sure there is some sweat but impact and reputation trees grow in the soil of data and the water of sweat.

This training by Tom Reardon of MSU will give the above points in a talk, available in this module.


Build participants’ mental muscles and understanding of methods to conceive and write a journal article! 


Tom Reardon (MSU)

Other Contributors

Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Nicole Mason-Wardell and Paul Samboko

To access the training materials click on the "Begin Module" link below, you will then be asked to complete a short (one-minute) survey before the materials can be downloaded. The purpose of this survey is to allow PRCI to know the numbers and types of people using the materials.  No private information of any kind will be shared outside of PRCI leadership.

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