Here follows an article I have submitted for IATEFL’s 2019 Conference Selections, based on my presentation at the IATEFL Conference in Liverpool in 2019.

My research experience 

My experience began as an undergraduate student in the 1980s at Liverpool University, a mile from the IATEFL 2019 conference venue.  I then carried out research for postgraduate degrees in Literature, Applied Linguistics and Business Studies in the UK and France. Finding research across different subject disciplines was challenging, for instance navigating indexing systems, and working in a foreign language, French.

I have commissioned and published research, mainly for the British Council, written for various publications including academic journals, and carried out research for publisher clients.

For the past two years I have worked for Ingenta, a company that delivers services to publishers, including Ingenta Connect, which hosts journals for over 200 publishers.   Much of this article will be informed by what I have learned from my work with academic publishers across a wide range of subject disciplines.

Participant experience

Approximately 50 participants at my presentation noted down their approaches to finding research on post-it notes. Afterwards I created the Word Cloudbelow from their comments. Participants were most reliant on searches via Google, Google Scholar and using Online databases. They shared my frustration at not be able to access relevant journals and databases, even though most were affiliated to Universities with institutional access to such resources.

Research Word Cloud

Types of scholarly publishing

These include:

  • Journal articles
  • Monographs (short book on a single subject by a single author)
  • Conference proceedings
  • Newsletters
  • Books
  • Dissertations and Theses

The most prestigious are probably journals and books, particularly those published by University publishers, which have rigorous editorial review processes.

Where does ELT (English Language Teaching) fit in?

“Scholarly” publishing is broadly structured into:

  • STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Medicine
  • HSS – Humanities & Social Science

STEM articles are more searched for and read than HSS and have widely-used indexing systems.

ELT broadly fits into HSS, but is not treated as a discrete subject area in many research databases and taxonomies. Furthermore, much non-ELT specific research that is relevant may be found in other subject domains and searched for accordingly.

In addition to the categories of scholarly publications described above, ELT has hybrid publications, e.g. quarterly magazines which combine practical advice and resources with research, this is common for other professional communities.


The research cycle

In 2015 I helped organise IATEFL’s first Web Conference and analysed participant interaction that resulted in a co-authored article in the ELTJ, and a presentation at the IATEFL Conference in 2016.  This was filmed by the British Council for IATEFL Online.  This is now common, researchers will publish the outcomes of their research using different channels including face-to-face and virtual conferences, journals, and conference proceedings. The diagram below illustrates this common research experience, which may be iterative, as a researcher returns to their research project after presenting initial findings at a conference:


Search and Discovery

Researchers increasingly use Google, library search interfaces and distribution points which rely on key metadata, such as the title, key words and abstract.  Google will not index academic content without an abstract.

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is increasingly used by academic publishers. 175 million DOI names have been assigned since 2000, and some publishers are creating these retrospectively, e.g. OUP’s  ELTJ now goes back to 1992.  The use of DOIs changes referencing practice, and should ensure that online articles remain retrievable, even if their publisher transfers a journal to another publisher or online platform.


Open Access (OA)

Many of those attending my presentation were not able to access content because their universities did not have the relevant subscriptions.  Open Access is a response to this, and increasingly individual articles are available for free via an Open Access licence.

Around 20% of academic papers are now published in OA, but publishers have yet to make its wider adoption successful because they have yet to find new business models that enable them to make money.


Getting Published

You should start by looking at the journals that you used in your own research for your own publication, one common reason for rejection is a mismatch with a journal’s aims and scope.

Before you start writing:

  • Identify your audience(s)  and possible journals
  • Study the journal’s author guidelines, particularly word count
  • Ask for advice from academic colleagues (and ask them to review your draft article)

Early in the writing process draft and regularly review your title, abstract and key words, these may evolve as you go along.   And, as discussed earlier, increase the impact of your research by participating in conferences and online channels such as those discussed earlier.


Ingenta Connect –

The DOI System

Word Cloud created using