Student Affairs

Tips and References for Student Publishing

At the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association, the CAA Student Committee organized a Student Publishing Workshop directed by present and past editors for the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, Gerry Oetelaar (UofC) and George Nicholas (SFU). The workshop covered everything from selecting the right journal, writing for an audience, structure, and style, to the peer review process, dealing with rejection, and finding the courage to go through it all over again. It was a very well-attended event, which highlighted the need for students to receive instruction on publishing from their departments.

We have compiled notes from the workshop on this page, along with some helpful references provided by George and Gerry. We hope you will find these suggestions useful, and thank everyone for contributing to the CAA publishing workshop!

Getting Started in Student Publishing

What kind of paper is it?

  • reports are descriptive, articles are interpretive
  • articles should include data, interpretation, discussion
  • aim for nested papers: first write a descriptive report, then follow it up with an interpretive article
  • who cares about trends! write what you care about, the one-off's are especially sought after

How do I pick a journal?

  • shop around for the best journal for your paper
  • look at the authors you like, where they publish and how they format their papers
  • it may be worth having your paper in the format for a couple different papers, so if the first journal rejects it, you can immediately submit to the second

Notes on Style

  • use the style guide provided!
  • don't irritate the editors with silly mistakes, punctuation oversights etc.
  • include a cover letter with your manuscript, identifying what kind of paper it is (report, article, forum, etc.)
  • everything is double-spaced, figures and tables included at end of paper
  • get permission for figures before submitting your paper
  • follow citation style and check your citations with another person (one reads, one ticks)
  • turn off endnote when you submit
  • generally try to cut down your sentences
  • use footnotes to deal with reviewers' comments without changing the text

Tips for Organization

  • the abstract is critical, and often the only part that is read, so it should capture the essence of the whole paper, not just introduce the article
  • start with the essence of an article, your introduction and conclusion, and use an outline to check that you have addressed each aspect as you go
  • deconstruct an article in a journal you want to publish in by making an outline of the different parts, then copy that format
  • use section headings, sub-sections, and you can refer to these in the introduction
  • acknowledgements are important, so be sure to recognize all those that helped you


  • merge your school papers with your thesis, and with publications
  • organize a peer-review group with your friends, and/or in classes if possible
  • try to use the peer-review process for all term papers
  • be your own reviewer: when writing your paper, set it down for a week, then come back to it
  • visit your writing centre to improve your writing, and learn to write for an audience
  • approach reviews as constructive criticism to improve the paper, not a 'pass or fail'

Get Involved in the Publishing Process

  • book reviews are a great way to get your feet wet, boost the CV, AND get free books!
  • join your local archaeology society and assist on the editorial board

Useful References and Links

Good Resources for Good Writing

William Strunk and E.B. White
The Elements of Style (1959)—This is the essential resource.

Chicago Manual of Style
—And this is the essential comprehensive guide for the technical aspects of writing.

Hodges, John C., Mary E. Whitten, Judy Brown, and Jane Flick
Harbrace College Handbook for Canadian Writers. 

Rozakis, Laurie
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar

Cuba, Lee
A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science

Advice on (Student) Publishing

Lesley Frame and Sam Duwe
2009 The Where’s, Why’s, and How’s of Student Publishing. SAA Archaeological Record, (September: 36-37)

Boellstorf, Tom
2010 Three Tips for Making Peer Review Work for you. American Anthropologist 112(1): 1–4.

Where to Publish (and why there)

Writing an Abstract

Helpful Writing Sites

Archaeological Journal Style Guides (Ignore at Your Peril!)