Students Enjoy the APPAM PDW
November 15, 2013 11:00 AM
by George Atisa, Florida International University, Senovia Guevara, University of Michigan, and Sophia Guevara, Wayne State University
The Professional Development Workshop (PDW) that took place prior to APPAM’s 2013 Fall Research Conference was a long journey steered by Dr. Jenny Knowles Morrison of the University of Texas at Austin. Knowles provided direction and kept committees sufficiently engaged. She coordinated the online meetings between volunteer students from various universities and the panelists on the development of the agenda. The final outcome was a well-attended PDW, with more than 80 attendees. The workshop was a tremendous success with excellent panelists and a well-executed agenda.
The most interesting aspect of the whole workshop was in understanding grants and fellowships from the funders’ side, as well as knowing what journals to address in getting published. The panel on grants and fellowships stressed the importance of understanding what donors want and what they fund. Funding proposals therefore have to be tailored to meet donor interests and other requirements.
Panelists with professional experience shared how the job market operates and the various avenues for students in that market. On employment, the panel provided information on internship opportunities, stressing the need to work in academia first before moving to government. Students discovered that it is better seek their first job in academia and then later shift into government.
Various journals have specific requirements and it is therefore important to read first and know what these journals like to publish. Rejections in publications are very high; for example, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management rejection rate is over 90 percent. It is rare to write a manuscript and get published the first round. In the last four years, there has been only one manuscript that got published without a revise and re-submit by the Journal of American Evaluation. It is extremely important to write an accompanying summation explaining sections that have been revised. This makes it easy for reviewers, so they do not need to re-read the entire manuscript.
Judging from the constant student engagement, this was a very important introduction to the APPAM annual conference. The amount of information provided by all panels was particularly relevant and important to doctoral student needs. Overall, this was a great afternoon workshop that bears repeating every year.
The Professional Development Workshop included a variety of panels that discussed topics that varied from publishing tips to applying for grants. The “Getting Published” panel discussed the importance of having a pipeline of content under review. Also critical is to not let perfection become an issue that overwhelms someone who desires to publish. Panelists also emphasized that those who desire to publish in journals concentrate on creating good relationships with staff associated with the journal as it can only benefit them. In addition, any work submitted for publishing consideration needs to be interesting and fit the scope of the journal and the audience. The panel generated several questions from the student attendees who were looking for advice in publishing their work.
The “Accessing Grants and Fellowships” panel provided valuable tips and information for attendees. Katrina Stapleton suggested that those who are planning to apply for fellowships set up a submission plan and have a clear goal in mind when applying. Amy Ellen Schwartz stated that “getting grants was a learnable thing.” She emphasized that people think about teams and partnerships and “consider which people would help make a grant application more compelling.”
The National Poverty Fellows Program discussion that followed was very informative, providing a wealth of information from numerous participants. It is open to U.S. citizens who are up to six years post Ph.D. in social or behavioral sciences. There are Poverty Fellows in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), with the focus of each discussed. ASPE wants candidates with strong quantitative and analytic skills and experience with working with large survey or administrative data sets. OPRE studies Administration for Children and Families programs and the populations served. The type of work involved would include descriptive and exploratory studies, evaluations, and more.
Overall, this Professional Development Workshop was a very informative event. It was well-organized and provided excellent tips to student attendees.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the pre-conference doctoral workshop hosted in the Marriott Hotel. The workshop was aimed at students focusing in public policy and public administration. Open to students at different levels of their education, the session covered a variety of topics that included the job search, publishing, and accessing funding through grants and fellowships.
During the first panel which focused on publishing, I was surprised to learn that one journal editor stated that approximately 92 percent of the material that comes in through the door is rejected. One of the presenters, Laura Peck from Abt Associates, educated attendees about the importance of a journal’s impact factor, especially when it comes to publishing for tenure. As an editor for a journal, Peck stressed the importance of having multiple publications in the pipeline, taking rejection well and doing what you can to ensure a positive relationship with the editor during the process. One suggestion that I thought was especially interesting was that students volunteer to become a reviewer in order to better understand the paper review process. Not only are you learning while serving as a reviewer, but you also develop important relationships with journal staff.
Another presenter on the panel was an assistant professor that just received tenure at her university. While she agreed with the other presenters that it was important to develop a thick skin when it came to rejection, she also stressed the importance of patience as the process of a successful submission reaching publication can take up to a year or more.
The third panel focused on fellowships and grants. One of the presenters, Katrina Stapleton, gave five basic tips for attendees. The first was to consider the wide variety of funding that is available to students. Instead of focusing on just tuition and teaching assistantships, Stapleton suggested that attendees also look into travel grants, dissertation fellowships, research assistantships and grants. Her second tip was to conduct thorough research that included online searches, making use of campus resources, and personal networks to find the funding needed to further one’s learning.
The rest of the tips provided included making sure you are organized in order to identify and meet requirements, doing your homework to understand how competitive the process is and how you compare to previous recipients, making a plan to complete the required tasks and ensuring you have submitted the application successfully.
The final event of the workshop was a presentation of members of the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This was an excellent introduction to IRP and provided attendees with a well-rounded understanding of the post-doctoral opportunity developed by IRP and two branches of the Department of Health and Human Services.