Dilemma: Editing a long paper for publication

I (Shannon) am currently suffering from a common dilemma, in attempting to edit a very long paper into a very short one. In this case, my master’s thesis, which is 25,000 words, need to be shortened into something only 7,000 words long (or 14,000 if I can publish it in two parts).

Many public librarians have written theses for their master’s programs, and haven’t published them in academic journals. Ideally, editing one’s thesis for publication would be an easy path to research–after all, you’ve already done the research, right?

Wrong. Editing something long into something short is, in my opinion, more difficult than starting from scratch. When one is as close to the subject as a thesis-writer is, it becomes extremely difficult to know what is important and what can be safely left out of your journal article.

I have searched long and hard for advice on this subject. I have found sites that help fledgling researchers to publish papers, such as 101 Tips on how to Write and Publish an Academic Research Paper, and How to Get Published. But I can’t find much on how to edit the long stuff into abbreviated form.

These articles were somewhat helpful, however:

Even after reading all this advice, I continue to suffer. With a grounded theory, how does one legitimize the themes without supplying substantiating data, i.e. lots of quotes? With a major lit review that is essentially a meta-synthesis of several fields of study, how does one end up with a few paragraphs? How does one achieve “thick description” in, say, 6 words?

If you think I’m going to answer these troubling questions, you are wrong. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the magic key yet–I hope someone else knows and will clue me in. For now, my best hope is to farm out the article to other people in hopes that they can tell me which stuff they feel is unecessary.

So I offer this for you: if you would like your thesis/dissertation read over and informal advice given on how to publish it, or if you would like to read and give that advice, please contact me. I will try to match up readers and writers.

For the readers, no particular expertise is needed, just a willingness to think critically about what is needed to build a cogent argument. Writers can take that information on board as they cut and rebuild their thesis into a publishable journal article.

As for places to publish–check back here for a list of possibilities in a future post. And the Center for Public Library Research hopes to begin an open-access online journal as well!

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Content creation in libraries

OK, so I talk about this ALL the time (did you hear me say that just like Dr. Cox in Scrubs? maybe not) but it cannot be hammered home often enough: Libraries need to be creation spaces, not just warehouses. I had a conversation last night with someone absolutely thrilled with this idea and another who just wanted books. We can have both. In fact, ideally, we can write the books in the library and then make them available through the library.

Right now, I’m teaching a writer’s workshop at my library. My hope was to get it going in the summer, so by Nov. all the writers would be pumped for Nanowrimo, when they would pump out incredible fiction,let us release that fiction freely as e-content, and make it available through our catalog. Well, that didn’t happen. Writer’s workshop began in Sept. No one is ready for Nanowrimo this year. But next year: watch out.

In Madison, WI there is a small business on Lakeside, a community sewing space. There are machines to sew on, classes and one-on-one tutoring available. We need that type of tech in the library. Think how easy it would be to include a sewing machine and serger, ironing board and cutting table in a library lab. And how easy it would be to find a decent seamstress to offer classes. At the Horicon Public Library, the Friends meet once a year to make a quilt, which we raffle off to raise program funds. From there it’s a short step to incorporating sewing into the programming lineup.


What I want for Christmas


Ever since I heard about the MakerBot, I wanted desperately to be the first public library to have one, but snooze and lose. Fayetteville PL will beat us to the punch. Their FabLab is going to be fab indeed.

Any library that teaches knitting, art, writing, cooking, entrepreneurship, finance, or holds town meetings is a content creation space. We are already creating everything from jam to democracy in our libraries. Why not take this to the next level with a concerted focus on creation? I’d be willing to sacrifice 50% of my books to have room for creation spaces.

What do you create at/because of your library? Can you put a “library-made” sticker on it? We’ve got some of these stickers at HPL, if you want some. I’ve put them on gifts that I made with skills learned from library resources, staff, patrons and workshops.