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Module 6

Focus: preparing the draft of your article for a professional journal.

Concluding the course

Intensive 2

For students attending the on-campus final weekend intensive:

What to bring for the day

We are in a computer lab again but you may bring your own laptop i you are more comfortable with that. To use any of the computers in the lab you will need to have your Griffith username and password. 

For food and drink you will need to bring whatever you will need to keep body and soul together for the day, i.e. food and drink for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. If you need a caffeine fix it might be best to bring a thermos or two. Feel free to bring a little more to share your culinary output with some of your colleagues! ☺

Program for the day

This is my imagined game plan, clearly we can negotiate around this to best suit everyone’s needs and interests.

9 am

Outline of what I hope we can achieve in the day: planning the draft for the professional journal article; sorting professional journals from research journals; framing the 2nd task   

10.45 am

Sharing of thinking about the professional journal draft. Everyone will have 5-10 minutes to talk briefly about their draft paper. It does not matter if your thinking is not very advanced. Make good use of the time to flag your thinking so that others can contribute to your work. You don’t need to use any aids. This is meant to be an informal session.

12.15 pm    


I’ll be available to talk to you individually during this time.

1 pm    

Reading professional journal articles

1.30 pm    

Preparing your draft for a professional journal

2 pm 


The final steps on our journey

For online students, wether you have participated actively in our online discussions and online hangouts or managed your learning independently, using these notes and readings to develop your understanding and complete your assessment, we now approach the final phase of the course and your final assessment task.

It is important you note the requirements for this assignment. It has four parts:
  • Part 1: An introduction. This is written for me. It should explain what you are writing about and how you have structured the rest of the assignment.

  • Part 2: Selection of a professional journal. Also for me. You need to say which journal you have chosen and why. Give some thought to the fit between what you are writing about and the audience of the journal. The journal guidelines can sometimes be tricky to find. The guidelines include the kinds of papers they will accept as well as the style they want the paper in. If you find the document or the information online, simply do a copy and paste and reference the link (always good to indicate where you got the information from) The guidelines are to be submitted as an appendix to the whole assignment, i.e. number of words in the guideline do not count.
These first two sections should be ~ 300 words.
  • Part 3: The Professional Paper. This is the paper you could submit to the journal, i.e. it has to comply with the guidelines of the journal, including length. It also should draw substantially on the work you did for the first assignment, i.e. the ten references you worked through in order to produce the ten annotations. You can add other material if you wish but the point of this is to spend your time on crafting your piece and then working on the draft to get it right, not adding more material, no matter how tempted you may be. ☺
The point of your paper is to share the findings and insights you have obtained from the ten professional pieces you read and for which you prepared the ten annotations. Given that your audience, your professional colleagues, have a lot of things attracting their attention, you will have to work on how to make your issue interesting to them.

We will take time in this session to work on some examples to examine how other writers of these papers structure their argument and make their paper interesting to read.

When writing for a professional journal which imposes a word limit that is less than the ~3700 words you have for this assignment (4000 -300). The solution is to write the draft to the required word length and also write a supplementary paper to make up the word difference. You could refer to the supplementary paper in your professional paper, i.e. if people wanted more detail for example they could contact you for a copy. I am happy to entertain other alternatives for this problem. The point of this is to encourage you to actually submit the paper to the journal. It would be silly to expect you to write two pieces, one for the assignment and an other for the journal.

If, however, you opt not to submit it then the word length is not an issue. Simply write the paper at around 2700 words but complying with all the other journal guidelines.
  • Part 4: Reference list detailing all references used in the assignment. (Not included as part of the word count). This is not necessarily the same list you may include as part of your draft paper. Different professional journals have different requirements for references. This list is for me!

I hope that covers all the contingencies for this last assignment. 

The professional journal articles I want to work with in the last session are (don’t panic at the number of them):

Doherty, C., & Widegren, P. (2010). Harvesting and hunting. Recruting the next generation of teachers. Professional Educator, 9(4), 44-47. 

Education Policy and Research Division DEECD Victoria. (2010). Partnerships between schools and the professional arts sector. Curriculum Leadership, 8(22), np. Retrieved from,31905.html?issueID=12177 

Lee, M., & Hay, L. (2011). Teacher librarians and the networked school community: the opportunities. Connections, 77, 1-5. Retrieved from

MacDonald, L. (2010). iTESOL: Analogous practices in the SLA classroom. TESOL in Context, 20(2), 42-51. 

Sinh, A. (2010). Literacies in Early Childhood. Educating Young Children: Learning and Teaching in the Early Childhood Years, 16(3), 26-28. 

Smeed, J. (2010). Engaging data-literate beginning teachers. Professional Educator, 9(4), 31-33. 

Don’t panic at the number of papers. Most are quite short which is typical of articles in professional journals. The MacDonald paper is included only as an indicator of a paper that sits in between the professional and the research paper (this is something of a review). It is much longer. If you can have a quick read of them we will work through each of them and identify the things that will be useful for you to think about as you prepare your paper. Those online should post and discuss their views online.

Feel free to bring along or post online any other articles you’d like to discuss.

The course, taken as a whole has looked at two broad types of scholarly papers that relate to educational research. We’ve used the term “research paper” to label papers which report research, either directly, as in “here is the data and this is what we make of it”, or indirectly, such as a review or paper that compares two bodies of research, for example.

We have begun to think about and look at what we have called “professional papers”. These are commonly written by teachers, journalists, academics or policy workers. Their style as you have probably gathered range from the formal (very much like a research paper) to the informal, in which there may be stories, and a conversational style of writing. 

Professional papers are designed to inform “the profession”, or some section of it, of things such as policy changes, new initiatives (e.g. the national curriculum or NAPLAN), research findings and opinion pieces. The latter can be read as a synthesis of research and other sources to make a case for a particular position, e.g. why the national curriculum is a bad idea. As with all labels or categories these distinctions are only a rough guide.

There are other characteristics of professional papers that you have come across in your readings that may be worth noting. Given the variety of such papers, even within a particular journal, the style and requirements can shift with a change in editor or group the publishes the journal, it is best to develop your own set of guidelines for what counts. Basically, if the papers inform or contribute to the professional work or thinking of a group of teachers - it is reasonable to think about it as a professional journal. When you are writing assignments for other courses, it will be important to be careful in using professional journal articles if you are making a research-based argument. On occasions, professional journal articles can offer useful accounts of recent research (as your 2nd assignment no doubt will! ☺ ) but generally speaking, they need to be understood as part of the conversations and debates about issues and interests that circulate in professional circles.

In addition to these two broad types of paper, and as O’Leary suggests (reading in Module 4) there are a lot of other resources you may draw on, what she terms the “grey literature” (p. 68).  The point of it all is that it is important to distinguish between work that has gone through some form of review and work that has not. A common form of unreviewed work these days is a blog post. There is nothing wrong with making use of such resources as long as they are cited properly (yes, APA 6th and EndNote have formats for blog posts ☺). You also have to be wary of its status, if it is unreviewed, in making any claims based upon arguments contained in it. These notes apply to your scholarly work generally, not to your 2nd assignment!

When you read a professional paper, you can ask similar questions to the ones we asked about research papers (this is not necessary for your 2nd assignment – this is just advice re reading these papers for other courses), i.e. 
  • Who wrote it? Do the people who wrote it have some kind of standing in the area in which the paper is pitched?  Have the authors written about this topic before.

  • When was it published? While it is the case that older papers can be referring to issues/circumstances that no longer hold, they can also help fill in ideas and information about that time and make sense of what went on and why. 

  • What is being argued? Can you turn the paper into an elevator pitch, i.e. a single sentence summary of what is being put? 

  • In terms of how you understand the field, does it make sense to you (whether you agree with the argument or not)? By making sense does it seem to fit with the other sources/resources you may have to hand. If it doesn’t then it might be a good signal that you are missing part of the map which will mean tracking down more leads in order to locate the work in your map of the space.

  • What was the purpose of the paper? Was it to provide information or make an argument or both. If there was an argument being made you can interrogate it in much the same way you interrogated arguments made in research papers. The same logic applies.
In the end, your work will be judged by discerning readers in a similar manner, perhaps even by future students of this course :-)

Best Wishes

I wish you well in completing your final assessment and this course, it has been a pleasure discussing these issues with you and exploring your research interests,

kind regards

Dr Jason Zagami

Jason Zagami,
16 Jul 2012, 19:02
Jason Zagami,
16 Jul 2012, 18:59
Jason Zagami,
16 Jul 2012, 19:01
Jason Zagami,
16 Jul 2012, 19:01