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A tale of three journal editors

Professors from Concordia’s Department of Education talk production schedules, rejection letters and the peer-review process
November 16, 2016
By Elisabeth Faure

When it comes to writing, what’s left off the page can be just as important as what makes it to print. For three education professors from Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, the editor’s life is a familiar one.

We caught up with these language specialists to gain insight into what’s involved in running an academic journal.

Joanna White

Associate professor in the Department of Education (Applied linguistics, TESL),
Co-editor of Language Awareness

The Language Awareness journal was launched in 1992. It’s an international forum for the reporting and critical discussion of language awareness research and practice. We welcome work dealing with a wide variety of languages and international contexts. 

Joanna White Joanna White

My work as co-editor has definitely influenced my teaching work at Concordia. I talk about these issues in all of the classes I teach, and I created and taught a course in the MA Applied Linguistics program called Language Awareness!

The biggest challenge is definitely finding reviewers. Academics all need to publish, so they all need to have their papers reviewed, but they don't all feel an obligation to give back to the field by agreeing to review, even when the paper is squarely within their area of expertise.

And of course, it's always memorable to have to send a paper back for major revisions when it's written by someone well-known or (heaven forbid) to have to reject a paper written by a friend.

Editing is a lot of work, and it never ends, but it’s fun to read the newest research in the field and to be in touch with authors from all over the world.

Walcir Cardoso

Professor in the Department of Education (Applied Linguistics, TESL),
Founder and editor of Concordia Papers in Applied Linguistics (COPAL)

In 2008, as part of my “practice is the best of all instructions” philosophy, a group of two graduate students and I created the Concordia University Papers in Applied Linguistics (COPAL). It’s an online open-access peer-reviewed journal for students and researchers to publish their work-in-progress and stimulate discussions across the academic community.

Walcir Cardoso Walcir Cardoso

We focus on publishing innovative but in progress work. COPAL thus serves as a laboratory for new and established researchers to test their hypotheses and theories about linguistics and apply their findings in fields such as second language teaching, speech pathology, and software development.

The most challenging part is to keep the ball rolling within our tight deadlines. There are many time-constrained stages in publishing, such as sending manuscripts for review, checking the revisions and formatting the papers. Plus, all of this work is done on a volunteer basis.

My role as editor of COPAL is directly related to the work I do in the Department of Education. The main focus of the journal is second/foreign language teaching, which is one of the areas we offer in the department: a BEd program in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).

Pavel Trofimovich

Professor in the Department of Education (Applied Linguistics),
Editor of Language Learning

Language Learning is currently the top journal in the area of second language learning and applied linguistics. We publish widely across various disciplines, including psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, education and language education.

Pavel Trofimovich Pavel Trofimovich

My editorial duties overlap with my role as a professor, as I employ a number of promising graduate students as copy editors and editorial assistants for the journal. I believe this kind of experience is both quite rare and extremely helpful for graduate students who are themselves writing research papers and perhaps considering a PhD.

Publishing in Language Learning is extremely competitive. We receive over 400 submissions yearly and only publish about 32, so we have to keep the acceptance rate very low. This means, unfortunately, that my colleagues on the editorial team and I have to deliver rejection letters to a lot of authors. We take special efforts to communicate such difficult decisions in a polite and positive manner, and always suggest ways of improving manuscripts and alternative publication venues.

A very positive aspect of my work is of course seeing those accepted papers through from their initial submission to their eventual publication, both online and in the print version of the journal.

I am currently in my second year as editor, and I am enjoying my work tremendously. 

Find out more about academic publishing through
Concordia’s Department of Education.



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