Dave Black on Publishing for Scholars

Perhaps some of our other scholars would like to comment on this as well. Writers are always looking for tips on improving their writing and getting published—or they should be! – HN

7:42 AM Here are a few thoughts about publishing in response to some of our seminary Ph.D. graduates:

1) If it’s worth writing, it’s worth publishing. This includes your masters thesis and doctoral dissertation. I have some colleagues who think otherwise. They feel that a student’s writing should “mature” before he or she publishes. I respectfully disagree. My first journal article was based on my masters thesis. My first book was my doctoral dissertation. I encourage my students to begin publishing while in school — and many do.

2) Review, review, review. Books, that is. It’s the easiest way to get into print, and you get a free book besides. I began writing book reviews for journals such as the Grace Theological Journal, Criswell Theological Review, and JETS. I did this while I was a doctoral student. Later my reviews appeared in JBL and Novum Testamentum.

3) Set goals. When I graduated from the University of Basel in 1983 I prayerfully set the following goals: One book review every year, and one book every 5 years. I have exceeded these goals, mainly because I discovered how much I enjoy writing. If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. Don’t be afraid to set goals — and to set them high.

4) Respect the scholarly guild, but don’t fear it. Go where angels fear to tread. My second book was on the integration of linguistics and New Testament Greek. It is still in print today in a second edition. What right did I have to write a book on linguistics? None whatsoever. But nobody else had written a book on New Testament Greek linguistics, I needed one for my classes, so I gave it a whack. It immediately opened the floodgates for others, more competent than myself, to write their own books on the subject.

5) Shoot for the stars. That is, send your articles to the better known journals. Why not? The worst they can say is No. That’s how I got published in Biblica, New Testament Studies, and Novum Testamentum. If you think you can’t, you won’t.

6) Consider publishing your own website. I believe more and more scholars will do this in the future. It’s by far the cheapest and easiest way to get your ideas out to a wide audience — literally overnight.

In short, if you are called to scholarship, you are called to writing. I have to smile whenever I meet someone who tells me, with great relief, “I finally finished my dissertation. Now I’ll never have to write again!” Actually, the least important thing you will ever write is your dissertation. It is but the launching pad for a lifetime of research and writing — or ought to be.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission.)

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