I am currently doing research in the field of non-linear narrative design. As it is still quite a small field, few sources and set jargon is currently available that hasn't bled in from paternal fields. As such, I have written a proposal regarding the documentation of non-linear narrative structures. The problem comes that not only is there no real viable place to publish this, but most tangential journals won't look at it twice as it is an unsourced inductive reasoning piece.

I feel like I'm effectively starting a subfield with this publication, so I want to do it right.

  • What would be the ideal way to get this paper out to those who it may interest the most?

I currently do not have an academic position, but am pursuing research on my own time.


Submit to the closest journal and cross your fingers. This is something that applies to researchers even in established fields. You've written up something and think it's great, but when you submit it to a journal that you think might like it, they send it back with a desk reject, saying it doesn't fit the scope of the journal. It happens.

Figure out which journals the people you think would be most interested in the paper normally read, and submit there.

Don't get upset if the editor sends the paper back with an "out of scope" reason. (Although if the editor makes any comments about the quality of the paper, take those very seriously.) Sometimes you have to shop a paper around until you find a journal or an editor which is receptive. Sometimes your paper has better luck in journals which are ultra-focused on a particular sub-field. Sometimes it helps to go to a journal with a broad focus, one which publishes across a wide variety of loosely related fields. With the advent of online publishing and loss of page number restrictions, there's a number of journals who are much less focused on "scope".

Don't, however, be tempted to publish in vanity or pay-to-play journals. There's a large number of predatory journals out there, which will publish any old nonsense, as long as the bank transfer clears. Publishing in these journals are really no better than tacking it to your mother's refrigerator. The point of publishing is to get others to read your paper, and no one with any sense reads these predatory journals. (Because the papers there are junk.)

Don't just propose something, do something. It sounds like your paper may be just a proposal, without any conclusions attached. These are notoriously hard to get published, even when in scope, especially if you're not a luminary in the field. The way around this is to actually use your proposal to do something concrete. Your proposal makes things better? Show an example of where it does.

This means that instead of having a paper which is "How to do Y" you can refocus the paper as "Getting X done by using Y". There might not be any journals interested in Y, but the latter paper might be interesting to a journal where X is in scope, even if they're not all that interested in Y. -- I can't help you much with specifics here, but think of situations where your paper might be useful to others. Is there notable literature with non-linear narrative? Can you apply your techniques to Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, or Don Quixote? Is there anything interesting that comes out of it? If so, you might be able to publish in a journal which is interested in those stories, even if they're not focused on non-linear narrative itself.

If you can't come up with an application that's of interest to others - if your new approach doesn't come up with any new results - then that might be an indication that your methodology just isn't worth much as it stands now. You might want to sit on it, and refine it further. Wait to publish until you have something that other people will be interested in reading.

I currently do not have an academic position, but am pursuing research on my own time.

This will make things harder for you. The problem is that there's a bunch of crackpots out there, who often come up with "new" and "innovate" ways of doing things. The problem is that, on the whole, they're 1) not actually new 2) not actually useful, and 3) have gaping holes in the implementation. The problem with "outsiders" is that they typically don't understand the field well enough to know where the current problems are, what solutions have already been tried and failed, and what the typical "gotchas" are.

That might not be the case with you (though no "crackpot" thinks they're a crackpot), but being an outsider means that the editor can't easily separate your submission from that of the many crackpots who are also sending them meaningless drivel.

You can certainly get around that by exuding competence and knowledge at every step of the submission process, but it may help to find an established collaborator to help ease your transition into publishing. (Note this can mesh well with the application suggestion. You can supply the methodology, and a collaborator can supply the example application.)

  • Some really great points there! As for the crackpot angle - I might be. I do hold a MA in the field of literature & theatre, but as mentioned I'm currently not active in the academic sphere to any professional degree.
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 14 '16 at 6:42
  • Although most illuminating about your answer is that I definitely will need to polish my definitions. Non-linear narrative is something decidedly different from non-chronological narrative. It actually implies that the narrative itself is not bounded by linearity - a quality mostly reserved for interactive experiences. I'd go into detail, but that is certainly out of scope in this specific location!
    – Weckar E.
    Jul 14 '16 at 6:45

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