Coming to Voice: Publishing as a Graduate Student

Paul Kei Matsuda

Writing for Scholarly Publication:  Behind the Scenes in Language Education

This article discusses the when, how, and why for graduate students considering publication during graduate school.  Matsuda confronts a lot of important questions in this essay – notably

The length was intimidating, but even more frightening was the amount of reading I would have to do just to find a suitable topic.  I didn’t know enough about the field to identify important issues, much less to contribute new knowledge.  I didn’t even fully understand what constituted a significant contribution except that it had to be new, original, and interesting. . . . Had someone asked me “What do you want to do with this project?”  I would probably have said, “I want to publish” (41)

In addition to working through these initial concerns as a grad student, Matsuda implies in this essay that “publishing for publishing’s sake” is exactly what’s wrong with the field.  Instead, Matsuda argues that we should always pursue scholarship with an eye toward how it will enrich, extend, and complicate the field.  In describing his professionalization, Matsuda recounts how he found rhetorical authority on a list-serve; however, he eventually found that this forum was too constrictive in the sense that folks responded with negative argumentation instead of posing any real questions or complicating evidence in thier critiques of Matsuda’s claims.  As such, Matsuda eventually waded into academic journal publishing as a means to find a responsible and more accountable audience.

Matsuda also discusses epistemic privelage in this reading by noting that he had questions/concerns about entering into teaching that centered around L2 learners considering he was originally an L2 English learner himself.  He came to embrace this position and it richly informed his work.

Matsuda also discusses “theory” and it’s creation in the piece.  Finally, Matsuda notes that in graduate school he

continued to write all my seminar papers with the goal of publication in mind, but my motivation had changed.  My goal was no longer just to publish but to respond to the conflicts, gaps, and discrepancies I perceived in the professional literature by contributing my perspective, which is informed by my inquiry, be it philosophical, historical, or empirical.  I was no longer simply trying to express my ideas or present the data I had collected but trying to engage in conversations with people in the field through my writing. (49)

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