A First Look: JRA’s Author Fellowship Program

Volume XLVII, Number 1
Carson Harrod, PhD
Baylor Scott & White Health
Deborah B. Derrick, MA
University of Nebraska Omaha
Amy Cuhel-Schuckers, MRE, CRA, GPC
Franklin & Marshall College

The Society of Research Administrators International Journal of Research Administration (JRA) is a valuable resource for research administrators, providing peer-reviewed articles that analyze and improve all areas of our field. Authors who contribute to JRA also benefit personally from sharing their expertise and experiences with the research administration community. This personal benefit can include greater confidence in writing and skills, increased respect from faculty and administrative colleagues, a strengthened resume, and recognition by the broader research administration field.

The Editorial Board of JRA recognizes the values of authorship to both the research administration community and individual authors. To encourage research administrators who may not have experience writing journal articles to submit manuscripts for publication, the JRA Editorial Board wanted to develop an author fellowship program to guide new authors through the process of manuscript preparation. As such, an ad hoc Author Fellowship Working Group composed of three JRA Editorial Board members was tasked with developing an Author Fellowship Program.

As mentioned above, the goal of the JRA Author Fellowship Program is to increase the confidence, capacity, and willingness of research administrators to serve the field and share their expertise as journal or magazine authors. The program provides a mechanism through which experienced authors can serve as peer mentors to aspiring authors who are new to the publishing experience. By providing such support, authors are empowered to share their expertise with others, thereby strengthening the base from which articles can be solicited.

The value to the mentees is clear. They can receive needed support from a published author to guide them in the preparation of a first article, which can lead to increased confidence as well as greater recognition within their institutions and the research administration community. Mentors benefit from sharing their experience in writing and providing guidance to help their mentees increase confidence in writing and developing a first article.

The program establishes a time frame of three to six months for a given mentor/mentee period. After a mentor and mentee have been paired, it is expected that they will develop a mentoring plan that could include a brief outline of what will be accomplished and the timeline to completion.

The role of the mentor is to guide the development of the overall structure and content of an article. Mentors may work with mentees to: 1) develop ideas and concepts leading to an article proposal, 2) provide guidance on the development of a literature review in support of a proposed topic, or 3) expand an article proposal to a complete draft. The mentor can provide advice on the best publishing venue for the proposed article, literature review sources, draft development, and responsiveness to reviewers’ comments.

At the end of the contracted time frame, both mentors and mentees will be asked to complete a brief survey on their experience that will include a list of outcomes achieved and a request for ideas to improve the mentoring process. Outcomes may include completed literature reviews, article proposals or abstracts for editorial consideration, article drafts, or articles submitted.

JRA Author Fellowship Program events will be planned at SRA Annual Conferences. They will serve as a means for mentor/mentee partners to meet and to convene a focus group to further assess the Author Fellowship Program. They will also provide an opportunity for people who are interested in the program to interact with those who have previously participated.

A call for both mentors and mentees will open soon. Those desiring to serve as mentors will complete an application that can soon be found on the JRA website. Prospective mentors will indicate their areas of expertise, willingness to work with mentees within the guidelines of the JRA Author Fellowship Program, and publication experience. Applications for mentors will be accepted on an ongoing basis.

Prospective mentees will complete a separate application that is also on the JRA website. They will describe the proposed article topic, publication experience, and the type of guidance that they are seeking from a mentor. The mentee application, availability of a suitable mentor and, if necessary, a follow-up personal discussion with the applicant will form the basis for selecting mentees. Applications for mentees will be accepted on a rolling basis.

The Author Fellowship Working Group, in collaboration with the JRA Editor and Deputy Editor, will administer the program. The Working Group will advise the JRA Editor and Deputy Editor of their recommendations for pairing mentors to mentees and make the initial contacts with mentors and mentees. The Working Group will also maintain regular contact with active mentors and mentees to provide assistance as needed.

In year one of the program, up to seven mentor/mentee partnerships will be accepted. A waiting list will be generated for future partnerships.

Information will be available soon on the JRA web site about how to participate in this program as either a mentor or a mentee. Applications forms will also be posted on the web site. Additionally, there will be several opportunities to learn about the JRA Author Fellowship Program at the SRA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas (October 22-26, 2016).

  • Saturday: A Half-Day Pre-conference Workshop entitled ‘Stepping Stones to Becoming a Peer-Reviewed Journal Author’ (WS2)
  • Tuesday: A Concurrent Session entitled ‘The Importance and Conduct of Scholarly Writing as Research Administrators’ (T102)
  • Tuesday: A Learning Cafe entitled ‘Journal of Research Administration Editorial Chat’ (LC6)

The JRA Editorial Board is excited about this new program to help new authors navigate writing a first publication. We encourage people who are interested in preparing a first article and experienced authors who would like the opportunity to guide a new author in this process to learn more about the fellowship program. Should you like more information, visit the JRA website at www.journalra.org or email us at journal@srainternational.org.