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Alternative Modes of Publication for Novice Researchers

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In recent years, academic publishing has become a top strategic priority for many higher education institutions around the world. For instance, many universities are striving for excellence in research and dissemination of knowledge by encouraging their faculty and research students to publish in top-tier research journals in their respective fields of specialty. In the fields of applied linguistics (AL) and TESOL, as in other fields of study, the main considerations advanced for publishing in top-tier research-oriented journals (ROJs) include (a) contributing to the body of knowledge in the field by expanding the knowledge base and adding to the literature, (b) increasing existing knowledge, and (c) creating an impact on the field (see, e.g., Casanave & Vandrick, 2003; Matsuda, 2015).

While this is a legitimate strategic goal for many higher education institutions, no doubt, exclusive focus on full-length articles (FLAs) that are data-driven or state-of-the-art review articles in top-tier ROJs constitutes a real challenge, in particular for graduate students and early career researchers (henceforth, novice researchers) (Matsuda, 2003). This challenge might force novice researchers, knowingly or unknowingly, to seek to publish in predatory journals or in publications with commercial rather than professional publishers. Predatory journals may appear respectable from their titles, which is an easy way to lure novice researchers. For instance, a quick search in Cabells Scholarly Analytics for Predatory Reports on predatory publishers and journals will show the magnitude of the spread of these rogue journals and publishers into virtually every discipline and domain of study. (For more information on these publishers and journals, see Cabells Scholarly Analytics for Predatory Reports on predatory publishers and journals,

Alternatively, this challenge might result in frustration, as novices’ manuscripts are often rejected by research-oriented journals, leading many novice researchers to giving up on academic publishing altogether. This is true whether these novice researchers are native speakers (NSs) or nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English (Flowerdew, 2001). However, given that many of the AL and TESOL novice researchers are NNSs of English, and given that most contemporary academic publishing is in the English language (Polio & Williams, 2009), the difficult task facing nonnative English speaking researchers when publishing in English is exacerbated, resulting in even more frustration (see Flowerdew, 20012008, for detailed discussion of the difficulties facing NNSs when attempting to publish in English).

To address this issue, I describe in this article alternative modes of publication that are practitioner-oriented and suited to novice researchers in the fields of AL and TESOL to disseminate knowledge beyond ROJs. These are conference proceedings and university working papers series, newsletter articles, specialized magazine articles, and practice-oriented articles or small-scale studies.

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