Blog #2: Article Outline

My plan is to re-write, or re-work, my thesis into article form. I plan on submitting my proposed article to the AJPA, JAS, or IJO for review, and, hopefully publication thereafter. Since my thesis is already ‘complete’, my task will be to compose my article following the style guide from these three journals. Also, I am currently enrolled in a reading course where my main task is to submit another, more historically oriented article to the Society for Historical Archaeology and CJA. To be quite honest, I have never submitted a piece of written work to any peer-reviewed committee, so this is extremely new to me.

Another expectation I had before beginning this semester was that by working these articles into my course-load I would integrate my writing in such a way to minimize extra-curricular work and maximize article-submission-efficiency (whatever that means!). That was idealistic. Now I am faced with the task of not only deciding which information I should include in my articles, but how to simultaneously conform to what the journal editors want to read. This is indeed going to be much lengthier process than I initially thought. The following is a crude outline of what I expect by producing a manuscript suitable for publication.

My Master’s thesis looked at the diet and regional origins of a small sample of soldiers who died during the Battle of Stoney Creek, using stable isotopes. Save the details of the data, I plan to partition the isotopic results into two data-sets. The dietary data (C and N isotope results) I hope to publish in Historical Archaeology or the CJA. My second expectation, the one I hope to complete during this course, is to include all of my isotopic data into one cohesive paper that describes the possible areas of origin, long-term residency into adulthood, and diet, for better-known international journals. I have broken down my summary loosely into 6 sub-headings. These will likely change since each journal requires a different format for submission.  So far my outline consist of the following:


A brief summary of the RGS excavations at Smith’s Knoll, including past dietary analysis of historic remains recovered in Ontario (e.g. Raynor and Kennett’s 2008 isotopic study of the Snake Hill remains, Fort Erie, Ontario; Katzenberg’s 1991 isotopic analysis of the Snake Hill soldiers; Katzenberg’s 2000 study of the Belleville and Prospect Hill sample). It is probably also important to include a few isotopic studies conducted on 19th century U.K. soldiers as well (e.g. Roberts et al. 2012), in order to juxtapose my results against those measured in the U.K. More general information concerning the conflict itself will include: a brief description of the Battle of Stoney Creek itself; maps showing the location of Smith’s Knoll; a general thesis regarding the main point of my results, that the Smith’s Knoll isotopic values suggest regional meteoric water and dietary variability consistent with both North America and the United Kingdom.

Sample Description

A brief description of the number of samples isotopically measured for my study, including the types of tissues analyzed (i.e. collagen, bone and tooth carbonate, and enamel strontium). Age at death estimates based on the fusion of the femoral epiphyses will also be included in this section.

Stable Isotopes and Reconstructing Diet and Regional Origins

Here I plan to include a small literature review of the key, albeit basic methodological concepts in stable isotopic research. Questions to answer that seem to be common in all publications include: what is an isotope? What are the standards used to quantify isotopic values (VSMOW, VPDB, and AIR)? How/why do C3, C4, and CAM plants differentially discriminate between heavy and light carbon? What is the trophic level effect (TLE) for carbon and nitrogen, and how do nitrogen values differentiate terrestrial and marine-based consumers? How is strontium passed up from the local geological substrate into the food chain, and how are strontium values used in identifying local and non-local individuals at a site? And how do converted oxygen isotope values from bones and teeth relate to meteoric water variation we measure in both North America and the U.K.?


A full-page summary of sample preparation, including materials, in-solution concentrations used to purify collage and carbonate samples, as well as radiogenic sample preparation materials for strontium analysis. To confirm low diagenetic alteration in the Smith’s Knoll remains I will also include a detailed Table reporting my C/N ratios, carbon and nitrogen atomic concentrations, and % collagen yield, results.


 A detailed description of C, N, O, and Sr values obtained from the Smith’s Knoll collection, including statistical data (mean, SD), and how my data fit/deviate with prior oxygen isotopic analysis conducted on teeth by Lisa Blyth in 2003. I have approximately 4-6 scatter plot graphs and 3 Tables that detail and show the relationships between my data. Apart from some strange correlation between my bone collagen and carbonate results, what is typically known as the apatite-collagen spacing, my depictions generally follow the standard trophic level configuration with respect to carbon and nitrogen cycling through the food chain.


My discussion section will include the main points of my results, in addition to the isotopic results generated from prior research into the lifestyles, dietary habits, and regional origins of 19th century North American inhabitants. I could easily get carried away here, but for now I’ll just say that this chapter of my thesis is probably the longest, so selecting what needs to be included in my first draft is going to be difficult.


My conclusion will recap my results; that a select few soldiers have isotopic values consistent with North American origins, with fewer originating from the U.K., while the majority of my sample consists of soldiers with overlapping isotopic values (i.e. those consuming both wheat and maize).

I plan to follow the deadlines listed in the syllabus. My hope is that the final product, what I will submit as a final term paper in this class, will then also be ready for submission to the various journals listed above. If anyone has any pointers, sees anything wrong/misplaced/or missing from my outline, please feel free to comment. Help needed! This is, after all, my first attempt!

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6 thoughts on “Blog #2: Article Outline

  1. Hello! You have already put a lot of thought into this and there is nothing I feel that you need to add. Having said that, are there page limits for some of these journals? You have so much information to include (which is all necessary), that keeping it written concisely within a page limit may be a concern. It appears as if you’ve covered all of your bases and I think you’re definitely starting off strong! Within your introduction, would you consider separating the historical background into a different section, or would you prefer to have this information within the bulk of that introduction? It may help to organize your introduction differently, but I am unsure what the parameters for each journal require.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I have a few comments/suggestions, but can I first ask to clarify this:
    “I plan on submitting my proposed article to the AJPA, JAS, or IJO for review, and, hopefully publication thereafter. Since my thesis is already ‘complete’, my task will be to compose my article following the style guide from these three journals. ” So, is your task to decide which at this point? Or do you think that you can generate three different articles?? (I am assuming you know you can’t submit to three journals at the same time…)

    • Hi Dr. Roddick,
      I don’t plan on generating three separate articles, so you are right in pointing that out! I suppose I’m still trying to decide which journal to attack first. I think the AJPA is at the top of the list, and I will likely be tearing my draft according to their style standards. If all else fails I’ll start working my way down the journal ranks, followed by the JAS and IJO, respectively. Do you think this is an appropriate strategy? Not only for this class, but for future prospects, too?

  3. Hi,
    Yes, not a bad strategy, although rank is only part of it. You do want to make sure your paper is a good fit for the journals you are looking at. Take a look at JPA, JAS and IJO, and figure out if the recent themes and approaches line up. Although we often worry about the status of a journal, there is not point in writing if your paper isn’t a good fit. Your writing project sounds good — it will be focused, a fair amount I figure, on tightening your writing down and editing out what you will not have room for in the article.

  4. Hi Matt!

    I think that your outline is great – this sounds like it is going to be an excellent paper. I have recently spent a lot of time looking through all three of the journals you are considering, and I think that you could definitely use this material to write an article that would fit into any of them if you alter the focus accordingly. One thing that jumped out at me while looking at your outline is that you have a lot of material included in your introduction/background that doesn’t directly relate to the Smith’s Knoll sample and might be more easily incorporated into a discussion section. I’ve noticed that this is where the majority of AJPA papers I have looked at have included this type of information – however, this could also be unique to the articles on trauma that I have been looking at.

  5. As I have yet to publish anything I can’t really offer any meaningful advice. However, in terms of journal prospects for the more historically focused journal I’d try Historical Archaeology first and if they don’t accept it do CJA. There is nothing wrong with CJA but a more international focus will look better on the old CV. On the off chance, that neither journal accepts it, which will not be the case, there is always Ontario Archaeology.

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