Now in its 15th year, Learning Abstracts features a variety of aspects of the community college field’s focus on learning, including but not limited to (1) programs and services that create substantive change in individual learners; (2) profiles of activities that engage learners as full partners in the learning process and help students toward achievement of their educational goals; (3) innovative effective or promising practices in teaching and learning; (4) strategies to involve all college employees in supporting student learning, retention, and completion; (6) innovative uses of physical and virtual spaces to create effective, supportive learning environments; and (7) programs to document learning outcomes. While there are many ways to approach the task of preparing a manuscript for Learning Abstracts, what follows are some suggestions that should help prospective authors.
Contact a member of the editorial team to discuss your idea. Touching base with an editorial team member can save considerable time. Typically, editor and author work closely together to target submissions to the series audience and to ensure that the article meets the format and style guidelines. While the call for manuscripts is open, authors who take the time to make the connection with the editorial team prior to submitting a manuscript will have a better chance for a manuscript to be accepted quickly.
Focus on the audience. Learning Abstracts is targeted to provide meaningful content for faculty, staff, and administrators in community and technical colleges around the world. Keep in mind that this audience is made up of busy people with hectic schedules and much competition for their time. Authors should use straightforward prose and provide useful content.
Organize the article clearly. One of the most common difficulties of submitting authors is the failure to build a clear organizational structure - one that is easy to follow. Again, the audience for the series is made up of individuals with little time to spare. So, here are some basic guidelines regarding organization:
- Provide a brief introduction that places the subject in context and forecasts the central idea. This section is typically one to three paragraphs long and previews the task, challenge, idea, or subject to be discussed. In addition, local or institution-based topics must be framed in a national or international context.
- Include several major sections with meaningful section titles. Two to five sections that organize the central points of the argument, outline the steps in a process, or delineate the elements of an initiative will help the reader better understand the message and follow the flow of the piece. At least one section should focus on the evaluation process used to determine the success of the initiative, program, or practice, as well as a summary of any relevant results or findings that may be available.
- Finish strongly. Include one or two concluding paragraphs that bring the sections together and reinforce the relevance, utility, or significance of the article.
- Use Learning Abstracts' style. Manuscripts are generally 1,500 to 2,000 words in length and written in narrative prose using third person. First or second person (I, we, and you), references or citations, long quotations, and the names of individuals should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. If citations or quotations are necessary, please provide full references and permissions. To avoid inconsistencies and errors, rely on dictionaries and language manuals in lieu of digital spelling and grammar checkers. Finally, please do not use electronic tracking in your manuscript.
- Review past Learning Abstracts. Past articles from the series should be reviewed for guidance in developing an article for Learning Abstracts. Each of the suggestions discussed here will be in evidence in past issues, making them most useful models.
Submit the manuscript as a Word document. Attach the manuscript as a Word document to an email message addressed to Cynthia Wilson at email@example.com.
For more information or to discuss a possible submission, contact
Cynthia Wilson, Vice President, Learning and Research