Frequently Asked Questions: Writing a Primer

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Below are commonly asked questions about authoring a primer as a means of contributing to the HD&L Division's Body of Knowledge. If you have a question and it's not answered here, please reach out to our BOK chair.

Q: Do I have to be a member of ASQ and HD&L to write a primer?

A: Yes

Q: What topics can I write about?
A: Anything in that falls within the HDL Body of Knowledge. As you can see, there is room for many topics.

Q: Do I have to write a primer by myself or can I collaborate with someone?
A: You do not have to be a solo author. Some of our most popular primers are collaborations.

Q: Do I have to have a PhD or advanced degree to write a primer?
A: No. While some of our primers have been written by PhDs, many other primers are written by subject matter experts, like you.

Q: Do I need to have special software?
A: No. It is best if you have a word processor, though. The editor does not accept hand-written documents. Microsoft Word (MSW) is the most common word processor. Reviewers use the Track Changes feature in MSW to provide corrections, comments, and suggestions for your manuscript.

Q: What’s the difference between published and printed?
A: A published printer is a .pdf file that appears in the Primer area of the website. Printed primers are published primers that have a physical print run. Printed primers are handed out at events like the World Conference on Quality and Improvement or sent as a mailing to members.

Q: Will the editor help me with spelling and grammar stuff?
A: It is important that our primers utilize correct grammar, spelling, and a clear and logical writing style. Today’s word processors make it easy to check spelling and correct basic grammar errors. The editor’s job is to oversee the process and work with you to refine your material.

Q: Who do I contact to write a primer?
A: You send an email to the Primer Editor. Currently, the Primer Editor is Dr. Charlie Barton. Her email is:

Q: How can I write a primer?
  • Choose a topic from the HD&L BOK and get approval to proceed from the Primer Editor
  • Start with an outline and research the topic.
  • Create a rough draft & get a review.
  • Refine and Review until approved.
Advice: Add something every day, no matter how small and you will complete the project.

Q: Is there a format for primers?
A: Yes. A primer is approximately 5000 words long.. The primers use the most recent American Psychological Association (APA) format for references and citations. All sources are checked and you must give credit to the author(s) you use in the primer. If you are using illustrations, tables, charts, or figures, then you must have (and provide proof) of permission to use the information. If you don’t know how to do this, don’t worry, the editor will guide you – just ask for help.

Q: I've written a primer and I would like to have it published.
A: Ask yourself…
  • Do you learn something from reading it?
  • Are the arguments sound?
  • Are the assertions properly referenced?
  • Is it engaging and not too academic?
  • Is there an appropriate amount of application examples?
  • Are there figures, tables and/or boxes to highlight key points?
  • Is the language clear and grammatically correct?
  • Personal stories are powerful if you have them.
  • Is it 5000 to 10,00 words and/or around 20 (5X8) pages?
  • Does the topic fit into the HDL Body of Knowledge?
If the topic fits into an area of our BOK, send an email to the Primer Editor. Currently, the Primer Editor is Dr. Charlie Barton. Her email is:

Q: What are the steps for writing and publishing a primer?
There are several steps between your idea and seeing your work published.
  1. Contact the Primer Editor with your idea.
  2. The editor will email you to set up a phone call or web conference.
  3. In the phone call/web conference, the editor will ask about your ideas and answer the questions you have. The editor will suggest primers that are similar to your topic so that you will have a model to follow.
  4. After the call, the editor will send you the ASQ Intellectual Property Agreement (IPA) for the Primer.
  5. After you return the signed ASQ IPA, the editor will send you the HD&L Template and explain how to use the template.
  6. You and the editor will set a timeline for the project. Most primers take two to seven months to complete.
  7. Expectations
    1. Need for an open mind. Developing a primer is a collaborative process between you, the editor, and the reviewers.
    2. Expect rework and edits. The manuscript will be sent to selected members of HDL for review and comment.
    3. Plagiarism is not tolerated. If you have questions about how to provide credit (cite) material, reach out to the editor.
  8. Primer is approved for publication.
    1. The editor will format the primer into a booklet and print the file as a .pdf.
    2. The website administrator will upload the new primer to the primer section.
    3. An announcement will be made through social media about the new primer.
  9. Celebrate!

Q: What are the 5 stages of creating a primer?
  1. Vision. You can envision yourself holding the primer, something of which you can be proud.
  2. Optimism. You are beginning to see this is harder than you thought. But you think you are just momentarily stuck.
  3. Doubt. You have begun to write, but it doesn’t flow. The outline doesn’t work as well as you expected. And your editor made some suggestions that will prove difficult for you to follow. You’re at a decision point.
  4. The Plunge. You have decided to go through with this no matter how much effort it takes. You make a commitment.
  5. Reaching the Summit. You are holding a primer you can be proud of. In fact, it is a piece of work in which all of us in the technical community can be proud.

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Date Added: Jan 14, 2020
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