What’s the difference between a manuscript and an article?

May 8, 2017

One of the questions students in a graduate course I teach called “Writing Educational Research” is: What is the difference between a manuscript and an article?

The simplest way to understand it is this:

Manuscript = Written paper pre-publication

Article = Written paper that has been published

Now, scholars love to debate and I’m quite sure that there are academics out there who would delight in a robust debate on this topic. I agree that my definition may be simplistic. My purpose here is not to be reductionist, but rather to demystify the publication process for graduate students and novice researchers.

What's the difference between a manuscript and an aritcle

Examples of manuscripts include:

  • Drafts
  • Writing-in-progress
  • Work submitted to a publisher that is under review or not yet published
  • Term papers or elements of your thesis that you are crafting for submission to a journal.

The term “article” usually refers to work published in:

  • Newsletters
  • Professional publications
  • Edited journals
  • Peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journals

If you are looking at publishing your work in the proceedings of a conference, refer to it as a manuscript until the proceedings have been released.

There can be a delay between when your work is accepted for publication and when it actually appears in print. During this phase, you can call your work a “pre-publication article” or an “article in press”. At this point, you can call it an article because it has been accepted for publication.

Graduate students and novice researchers and scholars present themselves as uninformed and inexperienced when they run around referring to term papers and drafts of their work as “articles”, when the work has not yet been published. You will present yourself as more humble and knowledgeable about the publication process when you refer to your own work as a manuscript when it is in the pre-publication phase.

Related posts:

Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1OJ

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

Active vs. passive voice — How to tell the difference http://wp.me/pNAh3-1HX

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

How many sources do you need in a literature review?  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Template for a 10-page graduate research paper in social sciences http://wp.me/pNAh3-1s2

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How to provide peer review feedback

June 6, 2012

There is no single correct way to conduct a peer review of a writer’s manuscript or submission to a journal. Every publication will have its own guidelines and standards. However, if you are brand new to reviewing a peer’s work here are some factors to consider:

Organization and structure

  • Does the work have a clearly articulated title?
  • Is the work organized and structured in a logical manner?
  • Does the manuscript contain explicit headings, making it easier for you to read?

Introduction

  • Does the introduction articulate the point of the paper?
  • Does the introduction contain key words and phrases to help readers find the paper once it is in circulation?
  • Does the introduction clearly establish the value of the paper?

The problem / context / research question

  • Does the writer provide a clearly articulated research question or problem?
  • Is this problem situated in a historical, geographical and professional context?
  • Is this question original? If this sounds like something that has been studied to death, then it is unlikely to be original. Journal articles are meant to contribute new knowledge, fresh perspectives to the ongoing dialogue in the field.

Significance of the work

  • What rationale does the writer provide for his or her work?
  • Does the writer link their manuscript to the particular journal he or she has chosen? Many writers submit manuscripts without targeting them to a particular journal or relating their manuscript to the theme or purpose of the journal. Reviewers regularly reject such articles.
  • Why should we, as readers and professionals, care about this manuscript?

Discussion and argument

  • Does the author define and develop a cogent argument?
  • Is the argument logical?
  • Does the argument influence and persuade you as a reader?
  • How sophisticated is this argument?

Conclusions

  • Has the author provided clear and succinct conclusions?
  • Are the conclusions logically linked to the introduction and the argument?
  • Has the author restated the relevance of this research, in terms of already-published literature in the field?
  • Does the conclusion highlight the significance of the author’s manuscript in the larger research and professional context?
  • Has the writer provided directions for future research or recommendations for professional practice?

References

  • Are all the references mentioned in the body of the paper cited properly in the References section at the end of the paper? (Manuscripts with missing references are almost always automatically rejected by journals.)
  • Do the references at the end of the paper meet style guide standards, such as APA or Chicago style? (Sloppy references are also cause for rejection.)

General assessment

Is this a manuscript you think is worthy of publication? Why or why not? What changes would strengthen it in order to make it suitable for publication? Provide recommendations for revision.

Your mission is to objectively examine the work as a professional and scholarly critic. This is not an exhaustive list of criteria to consider, by any means. It is a list to give the novice manuscript reviewer a place to start.

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