Book chapter or journal article?
Willy A Renandya – 30 March 2022
Which one would you go for: writing a book chapter or a journal article?
This is not an easy question as the two types of writing serve different purposes. But let me try to explain the similarities and differences between the two.
A book chapter is typically a non-empirical piece of work that summarizes past research or an opinion piece (also known as a conceptual paper) that examines an important issue in language education or applied linguistics.
An example of this is a chapter that I co-authored with Prof Richard Day entitled “The primacy of extensive reading and listening”. We put forth compelling arguments that language teachers should seriously consider including extensive reading and listening in their teaching due to the numerous language learning benefits.
A journal article on the other hand is usually (but not always) an empirical study involving some quantitative and/or qualitative data collected in order to address an important research question. An example of an empirical journal article that I co-authored with my graduate student is Efficacy of written corrective feedback in writing instruction: A meta-analysis that appeared in TESL-EJ.
Conceptual, non-empirical articles do get published in journals but the number tends to be small. There are however a small number of journals in the field of ELT or Applied Linguistics that publish conceptual or theoretical papers only. Two of the most prominent journals that publish non-empirical papers are the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching.
The length of a book chapter varies depending on the guidelines provided by the editor of the book (who pretty much follows the guidelines provided by the book publisher). But usually around 5 to 6 thousand words. This is not much different from the average length of a journal article.
The review process for a book chapter is not as tough as that for a journal article. This is because chapter contributors are usually invited or selected from a smaller pool of potential writers. So there is a higher chance that your chapter will be published in the edited volume.
Journals however attract a lot more submissions. Top journals in particular attract hundreds of submissions from diverse groups of academics. Not surprisingly, some of these journals have a very high rejection rate (up to 90 or 95%). Examples of journals with high rejection rates include TESOL Quarterly, ELT Journal, RELC Journal and Journal of AsiaTEFL.
Which of the two is more citable? A book chapter is generally less visible than a journal article. Because of that, it is often not as well-cited as a journal article. A journal article is usually more widely read and cited, especially if it appears in Scopus or SSCI indexed journals.
Finally, how long does it take to get a book chapter or journal article published? It varies quite a bit, but it normally takes 12 to 18 months (sometimes longer). A growing number of journals adopts a continuous publishing model, i.e., manuscripts get published as advance articles before they get included in a complete issue of the journal. This has made it possible to reduce the publication time.
So back to the question above: which one should we go for?
I will leave it to you to answer this question.