Introduction- Road to Publication #1May 17, 2023
I only like to publicly share what I am good at. Not only does it feed my ego a little bit to only share the highlights of my skill set, but it is also is a protection mechanism. By only showing you my polished, researched, and nuanced ideas, I am fairly confident that no one is going to provide any type of feedback or criticism that would bruise my ego.
This series is a departure from that.
Rather than sharing something that I am an expert in, I am going to bring you alongside me as I learn something that I know very little about… The publication process. Sure, I know the nuts and bolts of journal submission, reviewer #3 screwing you over, and collection IOA data, but I have no first hand experience. I have conducted hundreds of functional analyses, so teaching a CEU on them wasn’t that big of a stretch. Not so much here. Everything about this is going to be different, from the amount of mastery I have over a topic to even the tone I share with.
Whenever I go to write, produce, or even post on social, I first start with the tone of my writing. I specifically tailor my look, tone of voice, and words to be more or less casual depending on the topic. Producing a CEU to sell for $25 dollars? Professional, button down, and minimal jokes. Making a coffee in the Daily Drip series? Slumped shoulders, slow voice, relaxed posture.
Consider this blog as the final step down into casualness. Poorly edited, hastily written, and with a focus on telling the truth rather than crafting an elaborate metaphor. When you read this, just sit across from me at a coffee shop. Sip on a latte and let me vent, share my stories and struggles, and laugh with me at my mistakes. Lord knows there are likely going to be a lot of them.
So, what is the Road to Publication series? This is the ongoing series that is going to document my journey to getting my first published research paper. These blogs are going to be sporadic, with updates happening as frequently or infrequently as they need to as things move along the process. Rather than me teaching you how to get a paper published, you are going to be learning with me as I struggle through mistake and misstep, hopefully ending up with Harrington et al. So, with that in mind, let's start where any good paper starts, with an introduction.
If you are new here, my name is Matt. I am a husband, busy father of two, owner of the Behaviorist Book Club, and BCBA(r). I live in Florida, and am actually about to switch jobs (I am writing this on May 11th, with my start date being May 22nd) to a hybrid practitioner position. This job change actually was the catalyst that started me thinking about this series. As most do nearing a change, I began to reflect on things that I was proud of over my career and things that I wasn’t so proud of. I am extremely proud of the work I do as a practitioner, the trainings I teach on the bookclub, but something was missing. I realized that as soon as I stopped paying my website hosting fee, all my courses, hundreds of hours of my life would snuff out of existence. I don’t say that mourning the lost monument of my name, but I honestly thought they were really good! And suddenly, with a click of a “cancel payment” button, all the work I do is lost for future analysts? That sucks. That really sucks.
So as I was reflecting on this disappointment, I was also in the midst of my biggest recording project to date, the Deep Dives Journal Club Curriculum. This massive course consistent of over 50 videos and audio files, totaling 300 + gigs of space and around 100 hours of work for me. And when I tell you I was struggling… I was STRUGGLING. Staying up late to work on this project, waking up early to take care of the kids, all while having this nagging and intrusive thought… “No one will remember this when you are gone.” One day, at 2 AM, I sat down in front of the camera and recorded (and then posted) “Tea Time with Matt” where I ramble for about 8 minutes, eventually coming to the conclusion that clinical innovation, the life blood that surges our field forward, is wasted if not preserved.
I became obsessed with this idea that all the clinical work I did, the amazing innovation of other analysts I’ve met online, all this progress would fall away, be forgotten about, and never reach the minds of the new grad students growing up in the field. Doomed with the same information we had, they were bound to make the same mistakes, innovations, and progress, only to let it die and the cycle repeats itself. For sure, there are clinicians and researchers who are doing amazing work, publishing it, and changing the landscape for new practitioners. The PFA and SBT line of research is a great example of that, but I am convinced that it is not enough.
Now at this point, you are probably thinking… “Well Matt, that's a little arrogant of you to assume that you are going to be the person to change this massive systemic struggle around publication with a blog post your mom and wife are going to read.”
I get it, I am not going to change the world of academia through 20 blog posts, but damn it if I am not going to do a little bit to make a difference. And that is enough for me.
The purpose of this series is to share my journey as I go from someone who knows a little bit about the publication process to a published, first author in an ABA related journal. This goal seems lofty to me, while it may seem trivial to others. I have friends coming out of the same grad program that I did with multiple first author pubs, and I could not be prouder of them! However, I took a different path. Not better, not worse, just different. So even if being a first author seems like a small goal for some, its a big enough goal for me to write about it in this series.
Throughout the whole journey, I am going to share absolutely everything. Consents/conversations with caregivers, the literature search, the eventual project I am working on, the writing process, the editors responses, the whole thing (with appropriate permission and everything).
I am so freaking tired of (some) researchers treating this process as if it is some mystical and magical process that anyone without a PhD wouldn’t understand. I get it, your PhD specifically prepares you for some of these barriers, but if I can DIY installing a new showerhead, that gives me just enough confidence to DIY a research paper.
End of tangent
Now, all that bravado and false confidence out of the way, I also want to be clear on another point. I need help. As I said above, I really do not know this process well enough to take on this challenge. So a big portion of this series will be me sharing and crediting what others have taught me and how that is affecting my journey to publication. I can’t do it alone, and I know that there are many, many of my friends who will be helping me out along the way!
This series is going to be fairly sporadic. I figure that at the beginning it might be once every couple weeks as I begin to learn the ins and outs of the publishing world, but it will likely be a once a month type of series. The format will range from video, audio, to blog, essentially whatever is easiest for me to get the point across. I imagine that I will stay primarily in the blog form, because that is the easiest for me to just sit down and DO, rather than setting up, editing, and scripting a whole video.
Each post will be focused on a new topic related to the publication process, and they will build on each other. For example, one thing I really need to dive into is the need (or lack of need) for the inter-review board (IRB) or overall ethics committee for my project. I have heard mixed information on the need for that in clinical research, so that will be a post for sure. Another post will be on the type of research paper I am writing, and what journal I am targeting for publication. I have a rough assumption in mind, but I want to dive into some of the main journals and see what the options are, and plan on taking you with me. When I eventually nail down the topic and start running the project, there will be posts on my IOA procedures, how I am dealing with fidelity, even the conversations I have with the technicians to get buy-in. In detail, I want to share WHAT barriers I face as a clinician trying to publish, and HOW I get around those barriers.
Finally, as we near the end of post number one, lets talk about (finally) what I am actually going to be writing about. What is the topic of this research paper?? I have no idea. Yep, I actually do not know what the topic is going to be. I have some preliminary ideas which I will share in later posts, but the goal of my research paper is not to identify some new method or fancy strategy, but rather to capture innovation! I plan on doing that in two ways. First, I am going to pay close attention to my client’s and their intervention paths. If one of them is nearing a potential innovation point, I will zoom in with my consents and caregiver conversations to see if I can start the data collection process more formally. Second, I am going to strive to have ALL my clinical data publishable. If I can collect really solid IOA, fidelity, strict protocols, ect on all my clients, then any natural clinical innovation will already be publishable. That is surely going to be a difficult process, but I expect this is going to be the route I will have to take if I want to truly capture the lighting in a bottle innovation!
Conclusion (cause I can’t post about findings yet!)
I hope that this post was interesting, and I hope it clearly explains what I am trying to do here. I don’t have all the answers, especially not on this topic. There are others MUCH more suited to teach you about the publication process. However, I think what I can offer you is a “learn alongside” model, where we buddy up, meet at a coffee shop, and work on this together.
I’ll see you in the next one 🙂
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