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Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success

The best-selling writing workbook by Wendy Laura Belcher
Thousands Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
January 2009. 376 pages. ISBN: 9781412957014

Want to Buy It?

You can buy the workbook at various online sites, including SAGE or Amazon, and some bookstores.

Need the Workbook Forms?

The writing workbook requires you to write information and answers in various boxes and forms in the book. If you want to preserve your book without marks, however, you can use the Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks Forms, which have been posted as pdfs to enable you to use them repeatedly. They are listed according to which chapter each appears in.

Looking for Translations?

The writing workbook has been translated into three languages so far--Spanish, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese:

  • Cómo escribir un artículo académico en 12 semanas: Guía para publicar con éxito, trans. by Sylvia Podolsky Ostrowiak and Alejandra Medrano. Mexico City: FLASCO.
  •  刊登吧!Journal 倒數的黃金十二週, trans. by Li-Shiue Gau. Taipei, Taiwan: TingMao Publishing, 2013.
  • 12周写出一篇学术期刊论文--走向学术成功的写作指南, trans. by Zhong Sun. Beijing, China: Educational Publishing House, 2015.

Want to Teach with It?

Many use the writing workbook to teach courses and workshops for graduate students and faculty. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, see How to Teach a Journal Article Writing Class.

Reviews of the Workbook

"Top 10 List of the Best Books to Help you Get in and Stay in Graduate School” (2010)
—Jody Kolter, Sigma Tau Delta: International English Honor Society

“The one book I would most recommend to inexperienced academic authors in the humanities or social sciences who seriously wish to see their scholarly work in print.” also, “an up-to-date and remarkably thorough guide”
—Steven E. Gump, Review in Journal of Scholarly Publishing (Jan 2010)

“Thorough …, practical …, specific …, coherent …, logical …, highly recommended.”
—M. Burright, Review in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (September 2009)

“Wendy Belcher uses unpretentious, contemporary, and even witty prose that is simultaneously captivating and informative.”
—Grant Eckstein, Review in The Academic Author (April 2010)

“Offers a fresh approach, … presented in an easy and accessible style, … of help to anyone wishing to publish in academic journals … If you proceed through the workbook, chapter by chapter, you will have an article that can be sent for publication by the end of 12 weeks.”
British Journal of Midwifery (April 2014)

“When I used this book to teach writing for publication, doctoral students responded enthusiastically to the format and tone, which bolstered their confidence and enabled them to confront displacement activities—the things we do such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry, in order to escape from writing.”
—Mary Jane Curry, Journal of English for Academic Purposes (2011)

“She offers sound advice, encouragement, and confidence building strategies that help novice writers … I think this book is a wonderful addition.”
—Billie Hara, Chronicle of Higher Education Forums (2010)

Reader Comments on the Workbook

 “Wonderful … and brilliant text.”
—Carole Sargent, Office of Scholarly and Literary Publications At Georgetown University Blog (2009)

 “This is by far the best book I have read on the subject of academic writing. There are many such texts out there that are of high quality, but this one proves itself a level above. All aspects of writing, ranging from psychological difficulties one can meet to work organization to how to formulate an argument, are covered. PhD students as well as college and university professors will benefit from it when comes the time to write academic documents, articles, conference papers, and books. It is written in plain language, it is funny, there are a ton of useful practical tips based on real experiences, and it gives you a sense of belonging to a community. I believe this book will become a classic, and staple in its field, that can be used in many areas of study.”
—Caroline Dufour, York University, Amazon Review (2010)

"Your workbook for writing journal articles is revolutionizing the way younger scholars perceive academic publishing and radically transforming their level of access to it (and consequently to the profession)."
—Email from reader to author, June 2010

"Great Job! (I bought two more for friends). Chapter three on the argument is truly so simple it is insightful."
—Email from reader to author, May 2010

"Your book makes me very enthusiastic about writing and gives me lots of positive energy. I recommend this book to all of my research friends. Thank you very much for writing this wonderful book!"
—Email from reader to author, March 2010

"A terrific new workbook for academic publication. Wendy's guidance has been a tremendous help to me, and the book is great for grad students, junior faculty, or anyone who wants to learn how to write and publish more effectively.
—Email from reader to author, March 2009

Advance Praise for the Workbook

"A comprehensive, well-written and beautifully organized book on publishing articles in the humanities and social sciences that will help its readers write forward with a first-rate guide as good company."
—Joan Bolker, author of Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day

“Humorous, direct, authentic … a seamless weave of experience, anecdote, and research.”
—Kathleen McHugh, professor and director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Description of the Workbook

Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success is a revolutionary approach to enabling academic authors to overcome their anxieties and produce the publications that are essential to succeeding in their fields. Each week, readers learn a particular feature of strong articles and work on revising theirs accordingly. At the end of twelve weeks, they send their article to a journal. This invaluable resource is the only guide that focuses specifically on publishing humanities and social science journal articles.

Key Features

  • Has a proven record of helping graduate students and professors get published: This workbook, developed over a decade of teaching scholarly writers in a range of disciplines at UCLA and around the world, has already helped hundreds to publish their articles in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Demystifies the academic publishing process: This workbook is based on actual research about faculty productivity and peer review, students’ writing triumphs and failures, as well as the author’s experiences as a journal editor and award-winning author.
  • Proceeds step by manageable step: Within the context of clear deadlines, the workbook provides the instruction, exercises, and structure needed to revise a classroom essay, conference paper, dissertation chapter, master’s thesis, or unfinished draft into a journal article and send it to a suitable journal.
  • Targets the biggest writing challenges: This workbook focuses squarely on the most difficult tasks facing scholarly writers, such as getting motivated, making an argument, and creating a logical whole.

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks can be used individually or in groups, and is particularly appropriate for graduate student professional development courses, junior faculty orientation workshops, post-doc groups, and journal article writing courses.

Wendy Laura Belcher is assistant professor of African literature at Princeton University in the Department of Comparative Literature and Center for African American Studies. She has taught journal article writing workshops in North America, Europe, and Africa.

Table of Contents


  • Introduction: Using This Workbook
    • Goals of the workbook. History of the workbook. Philosophy of the workbook. Pedagogy of the workbook. General instructions. Using the workbook according to your temperament, discipline, or career stage. Using the workbook by yourself, with a writing partner, in a writing group, with coauthors, or to teach a class. Feedback to the author.
  • Week 1: Designing Your Plan for Writing
    • Instruction: Understanding feelings about writing. Keys to positive writing experiences. Designing a plan for submitting your article in twelve weeks.
    • Exercises: Selecting a paper for revision. Choosing your writing site. Designing your writing schedule. Anticipating and overturning writing obstacles. 
  • Week 2: Starting Your Article
    • Instruction: Types of academic articles. Myths about publishable journal articles. What gets published and why. Abstracts as a tool for success. Getting started on your article revision.
    • Exercises: Hammering out your topic. Rereading your paper. Drafting your abstract. Reading a model article. Revising your abstract.
  • Week 3: Advancing Your Argument
    • Instruction: Common reasons why journals reject articles. Main reason journal articles are rejected: no argument. Making a good argument. Organizing your article around your argument.
    • Exercises: Drafting your argument. Reviewing your article for an argument. Revising your article around your argument.
  • Week 4: Selecting a Journal
    • Instruction: Good news about journals. The importance of picking the right journal. Types of academic journals: nonrecommended, questionable, and preferred. Finding suitable academic journals.
    • Exercises: Searching for journals. Evaluating academic journals. Matching your article to suitable journals. Reading relevant journals. Writing a query letter to editors. Making a final decision about which journal.
  • Week 5: Reviewing the Related Literature
    • Instruction: Reading the scholarly literature. Types of scholarly literature. Strategies for getting reading done. Identifying your relationship to the related literature. Avoiding plagiarism. Writing about others’ research.
    • Exercises: Evaluating your current citations. Identifying and reading the related literature. Evaluating the related literature. Writing or revising your related literature review.
  • Week 6: Strengthening Your Structure
    • Instruction: On the importance of structure. Types of structures. Article structures in the social sciences and humanities. Solving structural problems. Revising for structure.
    • Exercises: Outlining a model article. Outlining your article. Restructuring your article.
  • Week 7: Presenting Your Evidence
    • Instruction: Types of evidence. Writing up evidence in the social sciences. Writing up evidence in the humanities. Revising your evidence.
    • Exercises: Discussing evidence in your field. Revisiting your evidence. Shaping your evidence around your argument.
  • Week 8: Opening and Concluding Your Article
    • Instruction: On the importance of openings. Revising your opening and conclusion.
    • Exercises: Revising your title. Revising your introduction. Revisiting your abstract, related literature review, and author order. Revising your conclusion.
  • Week 9: Giving, Getting, and Using Others’ Feedback
    • Instruction: Types of feedback. Exchanging your articles.
    • Exercises: Sharing your article and getting feedback. Making a list of remaining tasks. Revising your article according to feedback.
  • Week 10: Editing Your Sentences
    • Instruction: On taking the time. Types of revising. The rules of editing. The Belcher diagnostic test. Editing your article.
    • Exercises: Running the Belcher diagnostic test. Revising your article with the diagnostic test. Correcting other types of problem sentences.
  • Week 11: Wrapping Up Your Article
    • Instruction: On the perils of perfection. Finalizing your article.
    • Exercises: Finalizing your argument, related literature review, introduction, evidence, structure, and conclusion
  • Week 12: Sending Your Article!
    • Instruction: On the importance of finishing. Getting the submission ready.
    • Exercises: Writing the cover letter. Preparing illustrations. Putting your article into the journal’s style. Preparing the final print or electronic version. Send and celebrate!
  • Week X: Responding to Journal Decisions
    • Instruction: An exhortation. Waiting for the journal’s decision. Reading the journal’s decision. Types of journal decisions. Responding to journal decisions.
    • Exercises: Evaluating and responding to the journal decision. Planning your revision. Revising your article. Drafting your revision cover letter. Requesting permissions. On the importance of persevering.

End Notes
Works Cited
Recommended Reading
About the Author