Suggestion 3. Recommend regular professional reading.

One of the benefits of membership in nearly all professional organizations is a subscription to the publications that organization publishes.  For example, ASTD members receive T&D Magazine, the Links newsletter, and several research reports.

Reading offers the single most reliable way of keeping up with the field and the changes that occur in it.  For brief investments of time in reading a few articles, professionals can, at the least, claim familiarity with ideas in wide conversation and, at the most, may have the instructions and information needed to apply these ideas on the job.

Active professionals regularly read two types of content:  professional and peer-reviewed.

This article offers suggestions in each category, then offers some general guidance when recommending publications.

Professional Publications

Professional publications refer to magazines, webzines (that is, magazine on the web), and blogs that:

  • Publish content about, or related to, the field
  • Are overseen by an editor, who selects what gets published and ensures the accuracy of the content published

 

These contrast with self-published blogs and webzines, as well as other sources of information, which can often (but not always) contain unfiltered opinions and unsubstantiated facts and, as a result, have the potential to mislead readers who do not have the base of knowledge to ferret out which claims have validity and which ones don’t.  This is especially true of students, who are just forming their base of knowledge in a field.

 

Table 1 suggests some professional publications to consider recommending to your students.

Table 1:  Professional Publications to Recommend

Primary focus on issues related to Magazines and Webzines of Possible Interest
Workplace Leanring
  • Canadian Learning Journal  (magazine published by CSTD)
  • CLO (www.clomedia.com) (magazine published by a CLO Media)
  • Performance Improvement  (magazine published by ISPI)
  • Talent Management (www.talentmgt.com) (magazine published by a CLO Media)
  • T&D  (magazine published by ASTD)
  • TRAINING Magazine (www.trainingmag.com) (magazine published by Lakewood Publications)
  • Training Industry News (www.trainingindustry.com)
  • Your suggestions
Design and delivery of content (general)

 

  • Boxes and Arrows (www.boxesandarrows.com)  (webzine published by an independent organization)
  • Intercom (magazine published by the Society for Technical Communication)

Your suggestions

Applications of technology to learning and communication

 

  • E-Learn  (www.elearnmag.org) (webzine published by ACM)
  • Interactions (webzine published by ACM/SIGCHI)
  • Learning Circuits  (webzine published by ASTD)
  • Tony Karrer’s e-learning technology blog (http://elearningtech.blogspot.com)  (personal blog which I normally would not recommend except that it is research-based while practically focused)
  • Your suggestions

 

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Peer-reviewed publications refer to periodicals that are overseen by an editor who makes editorial decisions as the result of a double-blind review process.  In a double-blind review process, experts in the topic of the area of a proposed article review it and recommend whether or not to publish it.

The process is called double-blind because neither reviewers nor authors know the identity of one another.  The editor strips out identifying information from the manuscript before sending it for review; the editor strips out identifying information about the reviewers before forwarding their comments (usually as is) to authors.

Furthermore, different types of journals exist, especially in our field.  Some only publish empirical research, limiting the immediate discussion to the facts collected and presented in evidence.  Some publish theoretical papers, which are rooted in empirical research but do not present it.  Some publish applications of research.  And still others publish a combination of these types of content.

Although peer-reviewed journals are typically published in print format, most also publish content online—and do so far more quickly than they can in print.  As a result, many scholars are choosing to consult the online version for the most recent information.

In addition, some journals are starting to publish only online, although none of the major peer-reviewed publications in our field have dropped their print editions.

Table 2 suggests some peer-reviewed publications to consider recommending to your students.

Table 2:  Peer-Reviewed Publications to Recommend

Primary focus on issues related to Journals of Possible Interest
Workplace learning
  • Human Resource Development Quarterly (published by AHRD)
  • Human Resource Development Review (published by AHRD)
  • Academy of Management Annals (published by the Academy of Management)
  • Academy of Management Perspectives (published by the Academy of Management)
  • Academy of Management Review (published by the Academy of Management)
  • Performance Improvement Quarterly (co-published by ISPI)
  • Your suggestions
Design and delivery of content (general)

 

  • British Journal of Educational Technology
  • Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (published by CNIE)
  • Educational Technology Research & Development( published by AECT)
  • Information Design Journal + Document Design  (published by John Benjamins Publications)
  • Technical Communication (published by STC)
  • Your suggestions
Applications of technology to learning and communication

 

  • International Journal on E-Learning (published by AACE)
  • Journal of Business and Technical Communication (published by Sage Publications)
  • Journal of Interactive Learning Research (published by AACE)
  • Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (published by AACE)
  • Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (published by ACM/SIGCHI)
  • Your suggestions

Some General Guidance When Recommending Publications to Students

When recommending publications to your students, consider these general suggestions.

Integrate articles from both types of publications into the readings for your courses.  As many are shy about going to meetings of professional organizations, many are also shy about reading professional publications.  Although most intend to, they find them off-putting at first.

Formally integrating the readings into the class assignments provides an incentive to try professional magazines and peer-reviewed journals. Discussing the readings in class helps students voice discomfort with them (if any) and work past it. For example, many students find the use of professional jargon forms a barrier to understanding.

To help students become more engaged with the literature, devise assignments in which students can choose articles of interest from both type of publications, so they can move from reading formal assignments to developing an informal habit of regularly visiting publications.

Concerned about costs?  Many of the publications are free to members of the organizations that publish them.

However, most university libraries subscribe to many of these publications.  They have subscriptions to most, either individually or through a general subscription to a datasbase of publications from a publisher, such as the Ingenta or Wiley databases, or a database from a third-party that aggregates content on a particular topic, such as EBCSCO.

To find out whether your organization subscribes to particular publications and in which formats (print, online, or both), contact your subject-area librarian in your university library.

Recommend an appropriate number and frequency of publications to read.  For undergraduates, reading 1 comprehensive magazine or 2 specialized ones on a quarterly basis might meet their needs for the time being.

 

Because both degrees emphasize research, master’s and doctoral students should read both types of publications and follow more of them than bachelor’s students.  Consider suggesting that students follow:

  • One (1) general professional publication with each issue
  • A few specialized professional magazines and webzines in the area(s) of expertise they hope to develop once or twice a year (including checking back issues published since the last time they checked the magazine)
  • One general peer-reviewed publication with each issue
  • A few specialized peer-reviewed publications at least once per year (going through all issues published that year).  As one doctoral supervisor advises her students:  before publishing in a journal, you should be familiar with its most recent five years of contents.

Provide students with permission to not read everything on a regular basis.  The field has too many publications; keeping up is impossible.  Instead, suggest that students conduct comprehensive literature reviews when they need updated information on particular topics.  These reviews bring to students’ attention articles they might not have found through their ongoing reading.

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