Course Syllabus


Jim Collier
Office: Lane Hall 215
Hours: 11:00-12:00 T, H and by appointment

Course Description

Our course emphasizes practical aspects in the integrative processes of academic publishing—reading, individual and collaborative writing and authorship, writing groups, peer review and refereeing, rejection, revision, publication, reception—examines the influence of particular publishing houses, presses and bundlers; addresses the relative significance of impact factors, altmetrics, and empirical practices like bibliometrics; considers the perils and promises of disciplinarity and inter- and trans- disciplinarity; analyzes the relationship between the university and academic publishing; and takes up theoretical approaches, alternative venues, and normative obligations to scholarship. If you are interested in publishing your work, this course serves as a cautious and hopeful introduction to what awaits.

Course Goals

❧ To complete a publishable work and have that work reviewed in a workshop;

❧ To develop reading and writing practices for pursuing academic publication;

❧ To examine social exigencies that affect, and are affected by, academic publication.

Course Format

A typical class meeting will be divided into two roughly equal segments. The first segment will consist of a workshop. For the first half of the term (until spring break), we will workshop articles found in peer reviewed publications. Through these workshops, we will develop collective practices we can adopt in our scholarly reading and writing. For the second half of the term (beginning after spring break), we will workshop your projects. While your project may not be finished, we will analyze the available material.

The second segment of the class meeting will allow us to discuss issues regarding the practice and theory of academic publishing. We will examine practices and theories regarding reading, style, writing assumptions, habits, and strategies, the state of academic publishing, and the direction of the university. However, given the small size of our class, we are not bound to the schedule, or topics, established at the beginning of the term. If there are matters you wish to address, please let me know and we will integrate them into the class.

Let's work together to make the class particularly useful in developing and sharing our practices as scholars.


Map of the Field: 35%
Workshop Participation: 15%
Writing Project: 55%


The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Sven Birkerts. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006; 
Higher Education in America, Derek Bok, Princeton University Press, 2015;
The State of Scholarly Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities, Albert N. Greco, Routledge, 2009;
Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write, Helen Sword. Harvard University Press, 2017;
Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, Joseph M. Williams (PDF of the 1990 edition);
Enemies of Promise: Publishing, Perishing, and the Eclipse of Scholarship, Lindsay Waters, Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004.

Honor System

This course follows university policies pertaining to academic honesty and plagiarism. If you any have questions please ask me, or consult the Graduate Honor System web site.

Principles of Community

This course affirms and adheres to Virginia Tech's Principles of Community. If you have any questions, please ask us or consult the Principles of Community web site.

Course Summary:

Date Details