The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) welcomes submissions from new authors, whether you are a seasoned researcher who may be unfamiliar with JVIB, a graduate student, or a practitioner with lots of good ideas but not much experience putting them on paper. The journal is especially interested in articles that have practical relevance for professionals working in the field. The following guidelines outline the steps to publication: thinking, writing, and reviewing and revising.
You have an idea that is important and innovative. In fact, it is so exciting that you want to share it with others. It may be a description of an instructional approach, a way of presenting literature about a topic, or a research study you have completed. How will you shape your idea to communicate effectively with the diverse reading audience of JVIB?
Consider Your Reading Audience
JVIB is mainly read by professionals who work directly with people who are blind or visually impaired. These professionals include teachers of visually impaired children, orientation and mobility specialists, vision rehabilitation therapists and certified low vision therapists, administrators, and university personnel. The journal is carried in many libraries at universities, as well as in schools and agencies that serve people who are blind or visually impaired. It is also read by families; people who are blind or visually impaired; and professionals in related fields, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, optometry, sociology, psychology, and rehabilitation counseling.
Read the Journal
Before you begin to organize your article, review past issues of JVIB to explore the ways in which authors have presented their ideas. Can you find an article that is similar to what you want yours to be? Does your idea belong in a special section? If it is a brief idea about professional practice, it may be most effective as a Practice Report. If it is a pilot study, it may work best as a Research Report. These short pieces often are more suitable for authors who are just beginning to publish their work. It is also important to read the journal's "Guidelines for Contributors" to make sure you understand how articles should be written.
Think About Why Your Ideas Are Important
Imagine that your article is completed and that you are a reader opening the journal. What can you say at the beginning of the article that will interest a reader? What can you say that will encourage someone to continue reading?
Plan How to Organize Your Article
A professional article should have a clear plan to help the reader understand how it will achieve its stated purpose. It is not like writing a mystery: The reader should not be kept in suspense. Instead, the structure of an article should allow the reader to move logically and comfortably through the material, remaining oriented to the author's intentions at every point.
Most authors use section headings as landmarks for the reader. For example, if you are writing about a teaching idea to submit as a Practice Report, your sections may be Introduction, Methods, and Conclusion. If you are submitting a longer research article, you will have more major sections. A research article usually includes Introduction, Review of the Literature, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. Because the journal is mainly read by professionals in direct service, it is also important to describe how your topic can be applied to professional practice. This can be included in the discussion or conclusion or, preferably, in a separate section called Implications for Practice.
When you are ready to begin writing, it may be helpful to develop an outline to guide you in organizing your work. Be sure that you have planned what will be included in each section.
Write a Strong Introduction
The introduction to an article is critical because it:
- builds the reader's interest
- states the purpose of the article
- establishes the importance of the topic
- describes how the article will be organized.
Authors often use their first few sentences to capture the reader's interest. They may find a way of connecting with readers through a common professional experience, or they may identify a problem that encourages the reader to keep reading.
Most authors then provide a summary of recent literature on a subject to establish the importance of the topic. If it is a long article, a fuller review of the literature may be included in a later section. If it is a Practice Report or Research Report, a few paragraphs about important articles on the same topic may provide a rationale.
The introduction should also state the main purpose of the article and should include a short description of how the purpose will be achieved. This section usually comes at the end of the introduction. Here is an example of how two authors described the purpose and structure of their article:
The study presented here investigated the specific types of collaboration that may or may not take place between residential schools and LEAs during transitions. It explored the amount of engagement in collaborative activities with LEAs, how the collaborative process is defined, the benefits of collaboration that result, and the changes that residential schools would like to see to improve the collaborative transition process (Zebehazy and Whitten, 1998, p. 648).
Use APA Style
Use of a standard style for writing, citations, and references makes it easy for reviewers and readers to check the references you have used. The style guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA) are particularly easy to use because only an author's last name and publication date are cited in text references, creating little interruption in the flow of the text. If you are unfamiliar with this style, purchase a copy of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition, available in bookstores or from the American Psychological Association (APA). Although editors will allow for minor stylistic errors in an article that has potential, significant mechanical and style problems can contribute to the rejection of an article for publication.
Use Standard Language
Use words that are clear and understandable to all readers, including people who do not work in the field of visual impairment. If an unusual or technical word is used, briefly define it. Make sure that each word and sentence is necessary to the meaning of the article, and eliminate those that are redundant. In identifying inappropriate language, it can be helpful to read your article aloud.
Write a Strong Conclusion
The conclusion has several purposes:
- to summarize the important information in the article
- to identify future needs related to this topic
- to interpret what the information means for professionals.
The conclusion should restate the main ideas of the article and should challenge the reader to think about what the future may hold in this area. Just as the introduction captured the reader's attention, the conclusion should motivate the reader to find out more about the questions posed in the article.
JVIB is read by professionals who are working with people who are blind or visually impaired. For this reason, the conclusion should provide a bridge from theory and research to practice. Whenever possible, the author should describe how information from the article could be applied in educational or rehabilitation settings.
Add the Title
Although some authors create a title before beginning to write, they often change the title after completing the article. It is helpful to reread the article and consider what words will describe it clearly. Although it is tempting to use a title that gets the reader's attention, it is important that the title tell what the article is about. When the article is used for future reference and research, readers should be able to decide whether it contains information on the topic they are exploring.
Reviewing and Revising
After completing an article, most authors set it aside for a few days and reread it. When reviewing the article, an author should take the role of the reader. In that role, the author should be alert to vague or redundant sections of the article, and to statements that may not clearly convey information to someone unfamiliar with the topic being discussed. Reading aloud at this stage may help identify sections such as these.
It is especially helpful for new authors to ask others to read their work. It is best if more than one person reads an article. A co-worker may provide practical suggestions about content, a university faculty member may be able to discuss writing style and mechanics, and a family member may be able to support your efforts as a new author.
When it is submitted for publication, an article will be seen by several professionals who volunteer as peer reviewers. Even if an article receives very positive reviews, authors are almost always asked to make changes before publication. Many changes are minor, and having others read an article before it is submitted can make the author's job easier during revision.
Authors who are encouraged to revise an article and resubmit their manuscripts should follow the recommendations of the reviewers. If an author chooses not to follow a recommendation, the reason why should be described in the letter that accompanies the revised manuscript. Authors who have questions during the revision process should contact the Editor in Chief of JVIB.
Successful authors are persistent in finding the best ways to deliver their message. The process of writing will ensure that an author's ideas are shared with others and contribute to the quality of professional practice.
Zebehazy, K, & Whitten, E. (1998). Do residential schools and local education agencies collaborate to improve the transitions of students with visual impairments? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 92, 647-655.