In December of 2021, I completed my first doctoral capstone class.1 The goal of the course was to develop a “publishable” paper that reflects the research I’ve done thus far in my program. The class was a terrific opportunity to learn about publishing in academic journals as well as work closely with faculty to improve your writing. One of the final assignments was to submit your paper to a journal.
I’m pleased to report that, six months later, the paper I originally wrote for a Spring 2021 seminar and revised in the Fall 2021 capstone was published in The Linacre Quarterly.
Miller, Michael. “Catholic Health Care and AI Ethics: Algorithms for Human Flourishing.” The Linacre Quarterly 89, no. 2 (May 2022): 152–64. https://doi.org/10.1177/00243639221082226.
I would be honored if you read it. I would be flattered if you offered me any constructive feedback to improve upon this work. It is not perfect, but there might be an idea or two somewhere in there that I can further develop.
In the days after the article was published, I enjoyed sharing the news of its publication with family, friends, and colleagues. I had the opportunity to share my gratitude for all the support and guidance I’ve received along the way. My experience was evidence that this type of accomplishment does, in fact, take a village!
I’ve also considered the fragile process that is academic publishing. From the moment of uploading a manuscript to the journal’s website, there are countless variables at play. As I moved through the process of accepting for review, wading through comments of peer-reviewers, considering required and suggested edits, and submitting a revised manuscript, I became increasingly aware of how this could all fall apart at any moment.
Regardless of the quality of the submitted manuscript, the journal might be flooded with similar articles on the topic. Any of the peer-reviewers could zero in on an area of the paper to criticize conclusions, methods, or sources and find irreparable fault. (I’m looking at you, Reviewer 2!) On the author’s end, if an email or a deadline is inadvertently missed, the article may never see the light of day.
During these months in between submitting the article and seeing it in print, I stumbled upon a podcast called Dead Eyes.2 Listening to it made me consider the similarities between academic publishing and acting auditions. Again, so many variables to consider - the smallest of which could lead to an actor not getting cast in a desired role.
A compelling similarity between the two is the ability to deal with rejection. Actors who spend years auditioning for roles may get one or two. Scholars may have a really good article rejected by five journals before having it published in a sixth. In dealing with rejection, the definition of success is critical. An audition can be successful even if the actor does not get the part. Perhaps they meet someone that leads to a different opportunity. Maybe the audition itself provides insight into strengths to deepen and/or areas of growth to develop. Likewise, a journal rejection can lead to new academic opportunities or a new insight upon which to build a new research project. Despite our feelings, a rejection - in itself - does not imply that the actor or scholar is incapable. It doesn’t mean they are bad actors or scholars or even bad people.
All of this to say, there must be some luck (providence?) involved, too. I have so much to learn about research and writing. I simply had an idea and was fortunate to share it at the right time, in the right way, with the right journal. I hope, after more practice and rejection, to keep my wits about me and continue to find the courage to keep submitting my work to journals.
I’m a student in the Doctorate of Health Care Mission Leadership (D.HCML) program at Loyola University Chicago.↩︎
The podcast is about an actor (Connor Ratliff) who was booked to play a role in the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers and, at the last minute, was fired and replaced. The 31 episodes, spread over three seasons, are a delightful, entertaining exploration of why this happened. Do be sure to listen to all the episodes in order - when you get to episode 31, you will not be disappointed!↩︎