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How to support early career researchers

A case study from the editors of Curriculum Inquiry

What does your journal do to support early career researchers (ECRs)? Could you do more as an editor to develop this community, helping them progress from journal readers into authors?

There are plenty of ways editors can support ECRs, from academic mentoring to running an essay prize, but one journal is taking a particularly hands-on approach.

Keep reading to find out how the editors of Curriculum Inquiry use their annual Writing Fellowship and Writer’s Retreat to support and develop emerging scholars in their field.

What is the Writing Fellowship and Writer’s Retreat?

Curriculum Inquiry hosts an annual event for ECRs, known as the Writing Fellowship (CIWF) and Writer’s Retreat. The CIWF supports junior scholars whose research contributes to new directions in curriculum studies, who have been nominated by a supervisor.

The event offers a unique opportunity for young scholars to develop their work. They can also learn more about publishing and build connections within their research community. It has been running since 2017 and is now accepting nominations for ECRs to participate in the 2019 session.

The Editorial of the 2018 special issue outlines the aims of the CIWF: to implement a “proactive approach to editing … to more directly influence not only who submits work to the journal and what work authors submit, but also to shape how authors develop their ideas, how they take up reviewers’ feedback, and how they engage emergent questions in the process of revising their work”.

How does it work?

Over four days at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), ECRs work closely with the Curriculum Inquiry editorial team and faculty mentors to develop an article-length manuscript. This final manuscript is based on an early draft, submitted prior to the event.

Throughout the event, Curriculum Inquiry’s editors host feedback sessions, workshops and presentations on various topics, including:

  • Citation practices
  • How to read reviewer comments
  • How to write a revision cover letter
  • The role of the self in academic writing

The event concludes with a panel presentation at OISE and potential publication in a special issue of the journal.

What are the results?

From the 2017 Fellowship, six out of eight ECRs have seen their finished articles published in a dedicated special issue of Curriculum Inquiry in 2018, achieving a total of 1,470 combined online views to date.

The scheme has also received positive feedback from participants:

“I cannot recommend the CI fellowship enough to advanced graduate students and early career faculty. The support and attention to the academic writing and publishing process provided is invaluable. Plus you are treated like a rock star and build community with other fellows!” – Dr. Noreen Naseem Rodriguez

It felt incredible to work closely with both talented [editors] and scholars I have been inspired by and who make this possible.” – Ana Díaz Beltrán

It was such an honor to be a CI Fellow! This opportunity connected me to mentors and fierce scholar colleagues and provided writing support for one of my first academic pieces!” – Dr. Leilani Sabzalian

Why does it matter?

We spoke to Dr. Rubén Gaztambide-Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of Curriculum Inquiry, about why it’s important for editors to support ECRs with initiatives like this:

Not all emerging scholars are mentored properly into the publication process, so we deliberately look for nominees that clearly have important things to say, but do not have an established publication record. In other words, we want to mentor the people that clearly need mentoring, not the ones that are already successful. For us this is an equity issue, because usually scholars of color and from other marginalized communities are the ones that most need and most lack good mentoring.”

Beyond the CIWF, Curriculum Inquiry supports ECRs in various other ways. The editors run two workshops at conferences, introducing ECRs to the publication process. They also actively pursue ECRs by attending conferences and inviting them to submit to the journal. Sometimes the editors also offer feedback on pre-submission drafts.

Top takeaways for journal editors

  1. Be proactive. Instead of reacting to what authors submit and what reviewers say, be proactive in encouraging ECRs to submit their work. Read more about this in the Editorial to the 2018 special issue.
  2. Supporting ECRs benefits the journal too. The CIWF has not only generated, but also shaped and developed, high quality articles for Curriculum Inquiry which take a fresh perspective on curriculum studies.
  3. Find a mentee without an established publication record. Many ECRs would benefit from personalized support from a journal editor, but it’s important to find the researchers who need this support the most. Be mindful of diversity and representation, and ensure equity and inclusivity in any support you decide to offer to ECRs.

January 9, 2019

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