Janet Schulenberg, Pennsylvania State University
Wendy G. Troxel, Kansas State University
NACADA’s investment in promoting the scholarship of academic advising is becoming increasingly visible. Building on the foundational work of the NACADA Research Committee, the new NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University is now in place, and the range of initiatives to support advisors in engaging with scholarship is growing. Concurrently, the number of publication outlets directly related to the impact, context, and theoretical underpinnings of academic advising has doubled.
As the field of advising continues to strengthen, it needs its practitioners and advocates to engage vigorously with scholarship related to academic advising—not just reading it, but creating it. Academic advisors have a unique and valuable perspective on students, higher education, and the field of advising, and their voices need to be included in the scholarly publications on advising.
Publication is a critical part of the research process. It establishes primacy of ideas, allows others to attribute those ideas, helps maintain standards of quality, and disseminates knowledge (Ware & Mabe, 2015, p. 16). Journal articles are a hallmark of scholarly communication (Ware & Mabe, 2015). They are more durable than a conference presentation, and more nimble than a book.
There are over 36,000 scholarly journals in the world; many address higher education in general, and of course, all academic disciplines support multiple journals related to their lenses. For context, archaeology has over 30 journals, and higher education over 80 (Tight, 2017; Ware & Mabe, 2015). A recent content analysis of fifteen (15) years of peer-reviewed articles directly related to academic advising has revealed 698 articles spanning 140 different academic journals (Troxel, et al., 2018). The foundation of the literature, however, comes from the four journals that are devoted to academic advising. Since two are brand new, it is useful to discuss the similarities and differences among them so scholars can consider the most appropriate outlet for their work.
Academic advising’s four journals all share things in common:
- Available to the public (as opposed to more private scholarly exchanges on listservs or through conference sessions)
- Peer reviewed (either single-blind or double-blind)
- Require works to be grounded in method and theory
- Require high-quality writing
But each outlet has some nuances, and each plays a slightly different role for the field. Knowing this can help us better contextualize what we’ll find as we read, and will help us better target a journal as we write.
- NACADA Journal. Print and online, published twice a year. Double-blind review. Flagship journal for the field in that it was the first (published since 1981). Historically it relied on social science-based designs, but no longer the case, with a growing number of articles from a humanities perspective. Website: http://nacadajournal.org
Editors Susan Campbell and Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski report that, “As an editorial team, we encourage the submission of scholarly work focused on original research (IRB approved, theoretical frameworks, clear methodology and philosophical perspectives) that generalize to multiple contexts. Our goal is to publish scholarship to advance the field of academic advising and contribute to an ever-expanding literature base that informs our understanding of the student learning experience.”
- NACADA Review: Academic Advising Praxis and Perspectives. Online, published as articles are ready. Double-blind review. Founded in 2018, with first issue upcoming. Aims at connecting the theory and practice of academic advising and related, relevant fields (such as teaching and learning, student development, pedagogy, developmental psychology) in a mutually reinforcing way. Website: https://newprairiepress.org/nacadareview/
Ruth Darling and Oscar van den Wijngaard, editors of the NACADA Review, encourage authors and readers to explore and share ways in which theory and scholarly work in the field of advising, and many adjacent fields, help shape the practice of advising—in our daily work, in policy, in assessment. “Conceptualize what you do, and share your insights with your fellow advisors and administrators.”
- The Mentor: Innovative Scholarship on Academic Advising. Online, articles published as they are available, collated into annual editions. Double-blind review. Established in 1999, rebranded in 2018. Aims to publish scholarship that challenges and disrupts the status quo from any theoretical or disciplinary perspective. The least “traditional” of the journals. Website: https://journals.psu.edu/mentor
Editor Junhow Wei encourages authors to take intellectual risks when submitting to The Mentor. “Don’t be afraid to be imaginative. We will consider pieces that may seem experimental or strange. We are willing to work with authors to help them develop a high quality piece.”
- Journal of Academic Advising. Open source and online with an annual publication, established in 2017 at Indiana University Bloomington. The JAA uses a single-blind review process and collaborates with their advisory board extensively. They especially value multidisciplinary approaches in advising and encourage collaboration in research. Website: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/jaa
Editors Mathew Bumbalough and Adrienne Felicity Sewell hope that advisors become reflexive in their advising and conceptualize what it means to be an advisor in the 21st century, using all the tools at their disposal to dive deep into humanistic inquiry, partnerships with advising faculty and staff, and interdisciplinary theories.
Publishing an article takes concerted and repeated effort. It requires a willingness to put yourself out there for potential rejection. In all fields, including ours, the vast majority of manuscripts require revision before publication (Showell, n.d.). Peer review can feel intimidating, but it’s a process that is there to help each author contribute high quality work to the field. “The revision process can represent a golden opportunity to enhance your work based upon input from the reviewers” (Showell. n.d., para. 3). View them as “critical friends” who want your work to be read by others and to enter the conversation of the field within the body of literature. You’ll do the same for another budding author someday!
Perhaps unlike other fields, the editors from all four advising journals expressed an openness to working with authors as they develop manuscripts. This is especially helpful for advisors who aren’t required to “publish or perish” and whose graduate programs did not actively prepare them to engage in this type of scholarship.
Most colleges and universities have writing centers and other professional development activities that are open to staff and faculty, as well as students. NACADA’s new Virtual Writing Groups, launched in this past year, offer a structure for critical friends to support each other at the idea generation, idea development, and drafting and revising stages. And the NACADA Research Committee sponsors the “Common Reading” at every annual conference, to encourage discussion and debate about important issues related to academic advising. Here are some suggestions for preparing to enter the conversation about the complexities and context of academic advising any peer-reviewed venue:
- Read carefully the “author guidelines” and follow them completely.
- Look deeply into the articles published over the last couple years (or the ones published in the new journals) for format, voice, and style to be able to situate your work within the venue. But don’t be afraid to engage the authors with innovative ideas!
- Once you submit your manuscript, be prepared for the revision process; the comments and feedback are meant to help you make your work even more clear and effective.
- Giving a presentation on your area of interest? Record it! Then type it up—that’s your first draft of a manuscript.
- Get into a writing group, either on your campus or in one facilitated by NACADA and the new program.
Advisors can improve their writing skills through intentional professional development both individually and collaboratively. It first requires commitment to incorporating this effort into an already busy life. If this isn’t the season, don’t fret! To demonstrate commitment to the profession, however, we challenge all advising personnel to take the time to read, absorb, and even critique the scholarly, relevant work of our colleagues through these venues. Every article has implications for our important work in academic advising.
Pennsylvania State University
Wendy G. Troxel
NACADA Center for Research
Kansas State University
Havergal, C. (2017). Too many higher education journals – here are the best ones. The World University Rankings. Retrieved from: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/too-many-higher-education-journals-here-are-best-ones
Showell, Chris, n.d. The final hurdle: Persuasive responses to peer review. American Journal Experts. Retrieved from: https://www.aje.com/en/arc/final-hurdle-persuasive-responses-peer-review/
Tight, M. (2017). Higher education journals: Their characteristics and contribution. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(3), pp. 607-619.
Troxel, W. G., Grey, D., Rubin, L., McIntosh, E., Hoagland, I., Campbell, S. (2018). A content analysis of 15 years of academic advising research. Paper presented at the 2018 NACADA International Conference, Dublin, Ireland.
Ware, M. and Mabe, M. (2015). The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing. Copyright, Fair Use, Scholarly Communication, etc.. 9. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/scholcom/9