Professional Development Proseminar: Writing for Publication (Spring 2022)

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Professional Development Seminar: Writing for Publication (COM 594)
Instructor: Benjamin Mako Hill / (or many other ways to contact me)
Office Hours: By appointment (I'm usually available via chat during "business hours.") You can view or book me on my calendar page. If you schedule a meeting, we'll meet in the Jitsi room (makooffice) and you'll get a link to it through the scheduling app.
Meeting Times: Monday 8:30-10:20am
Important Links:

Course Overview

General description of series

COM 594 is a series of five professional seminars designed to help students develop a range of professional competencies. Communication Ph.D. students are required to take three of these courses as part of their programs of study, and M.A. students are welcome to enroll. In these proseminars, faculty and other guests share their experiences as teachers, researchers, and public intellectuals. As a faculty, we view this series as an important, thought-provoking, and fun part of your graduate education, and we are excited to incorporate these seminars into our program.

Specific course description

This Writing for Publication proseminar is designed to help graduate students wend their way through the maze of obstacles and logistics of writing, preparing, and submitting their manuscript for publication. Over the course of the quarter, we’ll discuss common concerns related to writing styles, writers’ block, knowing when a manuscript is “good enough,” the review process, and whatever other issues might arise. We will assess various outlets in our field, and pragmatically, work collectively toward preparing a manuscript of our choice for actual submission.

Learning goals

I will consider this course a complete success if, at the end of the course, all students in the course have:

  • Written and submitted a scholarly article for publication and a journal or other archival publication venue.
  • Are familiar with and have built increased familiarity with all stages of the scholarly writing and publishing process.

Course Design

I'm designing this class as a "workshop based class" built around the preparing an article. There will be readings and weekly assignments but these are almost exclusively in the service of helping everyone carry out their own work. Each week we will spend a good chunk of the class checking in on everyone's papers.

This class is also inspired by Writing Accountability Groups (WAGs). According to the University of Pittsburgh's Writing Institute, a WAG is "a small group (~4-6 members) of people who meet once a week to write and generate achievable writing goals for the time between meetings. Writing accountability groups are not social hours, sounding boards, peer review groups, workshops, or other kinds of writing exchange."

Course Resources

We will be reading material from the following book:

  • Belcher, Wendy Laura (2019). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Second edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. [Available in ebook and print versions.]

I'll be providing electronic copies of anything you're expected to read for the course but if you want to read the paper copies of anything, you should obviously go find copies of the books the book.

Because different publication outlets require different citation styles, I am not requiring a single stylebook for the class. However, you should be able to access—either in hard copy or electronically—the latest criteria as specified by style guides like:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • The American Psychological Association (APA)
  • ...or whichever format best suits your publication outlet of choice.

Note About This Syllabus

You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document. Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift based on how the class goes, guest speakers that I arrange, my own readings in this area, etc. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  • Although details on this syllabus will change, I will try to ensure that I never change readings more than six days before they are due. I will send an announcement no later than before each Wednesday evening that fixes the schedule for the next week. This means that if I don't fill in a reading marked "[To Be Decided]" six days before it's due, it is dropped. If we don't change something marked "[Tentative]" before the deadline, then it is assigned. This means that if you plan to read more than six days ahead, contact the teaching team first.
  • Because this syllabus a wiki, you will be able to track every change by clicking the history button on this page when I make changes. I will summarize these changes in the weekly an announcement on Canvas sent that will be emailed to everybody in the class. Closely monitor your email or the announcements section on the course website on Canvas to make sure you don't miss these!
  • I really value feedback — especially in the first few weeks. Please let me know what is working and what can be improved. In the past, I have made many adjustments to courses that I teach while the quarter progressed based on feedback.


This has basically two classes of assignments:

  1. Completion of a scholarly article and submission to a journal.
  2. Engagement with the course content via weekly responses and in-class discussion and the WAG portion of the course.

The production of the scholarly article will be broken down into a series of milestones. These involve an initial plan due early in the quarter, weekly updates that you will provide during class over the course of the quarter, a draft an article you will submit for feedback from your classmates, and a final article and other material you will need as part of submission to a journal

In terms of engagement, the course relies heavily on discussion and in-person participation. It is important to realize that we will not summarize reading in class and I will not cover it in lecture. I expect you all to have read it and we will jump in and start discussing it. The "Participation Rubric" section of my detailed page on assessment gives the rubric I will use in evaluating engagement.


I have put together a very detailed page that describes the way I approach assessment and grading—both in general and in this course. Please read it carefully I will assign grades for each of following items on the UW 4.0 grade scale according to the weights below:

  • An initial written plan for your article: 10%
  • An initial draft of your article: 10%
  • Written review of a classmate's article: 10%
  • Final submission of article: 30%
  • Weekly participation including the WAG portions of the course as well as demonstrating mastery of reading: 40%


This is a one-credit course which typically maps to about 10 hours of classroom time. Because we are booked into a two-hour slot, we have some flexibility in terms of how we organize things this quarter and we can discuss this in class.

April 4: Session 1: Introduction to the Class


Class Plan:

  • Introductions to each other
  • Brief lecture introducing to the course + Q&A about syllabus and expectations
  • Walk through and discussion for next week's assignments
  • Set WAG goals for next week

There are a few things I'd love to leave the session with:

  • A collective decision about synchronous communication options (we used Slack the last two quarters so that's the default; I'm equally happy to use Discord or Microsoft Teams if that's more comfortable)
  • Clarity among the group about the schedule and deliverables
  • Some sense of your own goals with this class

April 11: Session 2: Starting to Write, Determining Your Outlet


Assignment: (finish before class)

  1. Upload/share an article idea or paper in progress that you can work on over the course of the quarter and submit by the last day of finals week. If you have more than one paper/idea that is viable, submit them both and we'll figure it out! If your idea is extremely nascent, consider reading Belcher's "Week 0, Writing Your Article from Scratch" for strategies to identify the most suitable project. Please share this in writing in the class Slack server.
  2. Using this particular work in progress, identify: (a) your specific goals for this paper; and (b) the types of argument you are trying to make; and (c) where you might submit this paper once completed. You don't need to write this down but be ready to share these in class.

Class Plan:

  • Introductions (since we have a bunch of new people) [names, programs, pronouns] (15m)
  • Discussion or readings and issues related to outlets (50m)
  • Break (5m)
  • Go around and share an update with the class on what you'll be doing for your project (20m)
  • Set WAG goals for next week (20m)

April 18: Session 3: The Editorial Review Process

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Select two journals that are possible outlets for your article-in-progress. Compare and contrast these two in terms of their intellectual foci, manuscript requirements, editorial board interests, and general types of works published. Be ready to discuss this in class.

Class Plan:

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about reviewers and the lifecycle of an academic paper
  • Set WAG goals for next week

April 25: Session 4: Putting the Main Body of Your Article Together (Part I)


  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 5: Refining Your Works Cited"
  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 6: Crafting Your Claims for Significance"

Class Plan:

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about readings
  • Set WAG goals for next week

May 2: Session 5: Putting the Main Body of Your Article Together (Part II)

Cmbox notice.png Mako will be traveling at a academic conference so we meet remotely on Zoom.


  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 7: Analyzing Your Evidence"
  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 8: Presenting Your Article"

Class Plan: [Tentative]

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about readings
  • Set WAG goals for next week

May 9: Session 6: Virtual WAG session

Cmbox notice.png We cancelled our in-person meeting today because the instructor was sick and could not meet.

Class Plan:

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about readings
  • Set WAG goals for next week

May 16: Session 7: Structure and Editing


  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 9: Strengthening Your Structure" [Originally May 3']
  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 11: Editing Your Sentences"

Class Plan:

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about readings
  • Set WAG goals for next week

May 23: Session 8: Feedback and Wrap-up


  • Belcher's Chapter "Week 3: Abstracting Your Article"
  • Schneider, G. (2011). How to avoid the seven deadly sins of academic writing. European Political Science, 10, 337-345. [Available from UW libraries]

Class Plan:

  • Checkin on WAG goals
  • Discussion about readings
  • Set WAG goals for next week

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Providing an 800-1000 word review of the advanced draft manuscript to your partner and uploaded to Canvas

May 30 or 31st: Session 8: Virtual WAG Meeting

Because of Memorial Day, the class will not meet. At some point on May 30 or 31st, everybody should check in on the WAG over Slack in the normal way.

DUE June 10th: Submissions of article to publication venue


  • Upload a copy of evidence of your submission, plus the final copy of your manuscript, to the Canvas dropbox

Administrative Notes

Teaching and learning with COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic will impact this course in various ways, some of them obvious and tangible and others harder to pin down. On the obvious and tangible front, we all be wearing masks. UW has made it very clear to all of us that if anyone of us feels sick, they cannot come to campus or class. This might translate into some hybrid course sessions at some point over the quarter. Since the room we'll be meeting in is not set up for hybrid learning, there's a possibility that we might end up having to move whole sessions online. All of this will reshape our collective "classroom" experience in major ways.

On the "harder to pin down" side, many of us may experience elevated levels of exhaustion, stress, uncertainty and distraction. We may need to provide unexpected support to family, friends, or others in our communities. I have personally experienced all of these things at various times over the pandemic and I expect that some of you have too. It is a difficult time.

I believe it is important to acknowledge these realities of the situation and create the space to discuss and process them in the context of our class throughout the quarter. As your instructor and colleague, I commit to do my best to approach the course in an adaptive, generous, and empathetic way. I will try to be transparent and direct with you throughout—both with respect to the course material as well as the pandemic and the university's evolving response to it. I ask that you try to extend a similar attitude towards everyone in the course. When you have questions, feedback, or concerns, please try to share them in an appropriate way. If you require accommodations of any kind at any time (directly related to the pandemic or not), please contact the teaching team.

This text is borrowed and adapted from Aaron Shaw's statistics course.

Your Presence in Class

As detailed in my detailed page on assessment, your participation in discussion is an important way that I will assess learning. Obviously, you must be in class in order to participate. In the event of an absence, you are responsible for obtaining notes, handouts, assignments, etc. If you can't come to campus due to COVID-19 related issues please be in contact as soon as you can and we'll figure this out. Don't risk the health of yourself or your classmates.

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Student Conduct

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at Safety

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime–no matter where you work or study–to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

Academic Dishonesty

This includes: cheating on assignments, plagiarizing (misrepresenting work by another author as your own, paraphrasing or quoting sources without acknowledging the original author, or using information from the internet without proper citation), and submitting the same or similar paper to meet the requirements of more than one course without instructor approval. Academic dishonesty in any part of this course is grounds for failure and further disciplinary action. The first incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero on the plagiarized assignment. The second incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero in the class.

Disability Resources

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to uw at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Other Student Support

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the graduate program advisor for support. Furthermore, please notify the professors if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable us to provide any resources that we may possess (adapted from Sara Goldrick-Rab). Please also note the student food pantry, Any Hungry Husky at the ECC.

Credit for This Syllabus

This syllabus draws heavily from a syllabus taught by Dr. Patricia Moy who taught an earlier version of this class in Spring 2021 (and in many previous years) and graciously shared her syllabus with me.