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'YES, finally it got through': The process of publishing an article

October 01, 2014, Katja Sonkeng

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Amber Manning-Ouelette

Educational Administration Ph.D. student and College of Business staff member Amber Manning-Ouellette reflects on her role as co-author of the NASPA journal article “Opportunities and Threats for College Women’s Health.”

“I am a better higher education professional because I know this small piece of a policy.” That is Amber Manning-Ouellette’s overarching takeaway from her role as co-author of the article “Opportunities and Threats for College Women’s Health: Health Care Reform and Higher Education.” The article, which is a policy analysis of the Affordable Care Act, was published in the second issue of this month’s Journal about Women in Higher Education (published by NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Manning-Ouellette is in the process of finishing her dissertation for her doctorate while working full time as Director of Enrollment Management at the College of Business. The SIU alumna (she earned her master’s degree in education and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from SIU) sat down with us to reflect on the tedious, yet rewarding, process on publishing a policy analysis journal article in addition to the origin and goals of the article.

What are your roles at the university?

It’s kind of like a two-part hat. For the College of business, I am the Director of Enrollment Management, which includes recruitment and retention initiatives. I fell into this role because of my background. I worked in several roles in the student affairs capacity and retention efforts at SIU. I’ve been at the College of Business about a year.

So, from that perspective, I am a professional and practitioner in a student affairs sense, and then the other half of this I am a Ph.D. student as well.

Tell us a little bit about the origins of this work. What motivated you to explore this topic in such great depth?

This article in particular was actually a paper I wrote for a women in higher education class during my coursework for my Ph.D. in 2010. That tells you how long it can take to get an article published. Liz Hunter, a fellow graduate student and SIU staff member, and I wrote this paper when health reform was first introduced by President Barack Obama as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

We wrote a paper that projected how this act would affect women’s health care, specifically on a university campus. We really did a policy analysis through a feminist theory lens and looked at how that could potentially affect the coverage that women have, and how it would change once the Affordable Care Act was in place. So we originally wrote this paper in 2010, and then a faculty member – Tamara Yakaboski, the first author – asked us if we wanted to make a submission for a journal article. So of course I was on board, and so was Liz Hunter. 

What were your goals and intentions in writing this article?

We took a stance that, if you look at the nature of the women’s body, we tend to use health care more often, and we are internally focused rather externally focused. We also make less than men – it’s still 77 cents to the dollar – so, over a lifetime, health care is going to cost more for women. So we looked at the nature of female bodies and the female reproductive system, and then we looked a lot at the current reproductive rights that women have, including birth control and elective termination, and how this new health act covers – or does not cover – those things. We broke it down and did a lot of research with SIU. We interviewed health care providers at the SIU Student Health Center about insurance policies, and how health care has shifted – and would shift again – with this new affordable health care. From that perspective, we kind of called out, “Right now, here is what it can cover, and here is what it will or will not cover.” We did a lot of groundwork, research and interviewing about the current practices, and how changes would affect women.

Overall, our goal was to provide recommendations for higher education professionals. We also suggested that universities take a look at their policies. We did not really make an argument, because our paper is more or less a policy analysis.

What were the major challenges that you encountered during the publication process?

Over the past few years, we submitted the article to the same journal and it was actually denied, so we revised it based on their revisions, then revised it again until they finally accepted it. You can imagine: It’s the Affordable Care Act; when you’re thinking of a federal mandate or any kind of government law or policy, or when you’re writing about it, it shifts and changes all the time.

This was one of those articles that constantly required attention and research – and rewriting. This paper in particular was really timely and fluid; it evolved. To actually see it come through submission and get published, I was just like, “YES, finally. It got through.”

The greatest challenges of publishing this article were the constant changes and additional research. It was hard to keep up, because you had to continuously research. The other challenge was time management, because as I got into this I started working full time, whereas when I wrote this paper I was a full-time graduate student. It was a challenge for me to balance it. I usually write nights and weekends when I can focus and get things done, but never during the day – it’s just too busy.