All entries for August 2009

August 02, 2009

Mantra of the academics

From the first day I entered the World of academia, I heard a mantra being chanted by a number of people all the time. It was some variation or other of "publish or perish".

By now, I have come to realise that it is absolutely essential to have some publications under your belt even before you finally get to have the title "Dr." in front of your name.

And not any publication will do. Writing books and book chapters will help you a bit and as for magazine articles, academics will look down their nose at them, no matter how many people you have reached out to. Blog posts don't count at all.

What matters is getting into journals and not just any journal. You have to get into the "top ranking" journals. Previously when I was working with a public university in Malaysia, I used to subscribe to the 'quantity rather than quality' mantra and my aim was to get as many publications out as possible, never mind even if the journal was in it's first volume and not even ranked. It kind of worked because my evaluation was good every year and I got to keep my job as a contract lecturer.

It's a bit different now and I aim to get into the top journals in my field. However, I never realised how tough that was.

Every country has their own rankings for a particular field. Here in the UK, one of the rankings most followed is that by the Asociation of Business Schools (ABS). According to them, the top 5 journals in the field of Marketing (the 4 star journals) are as follows:

  1. Journal of Consumer Research
  2. Journal of Marketing
  3. Journal of Marketing
  4. Journal of Retailing
  5. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and
  6. Marketing Science

I was really surprised when I learnt at a recent conference that in 2007, only 4 authors from British Universities had managed to get into the top 5 marketing journals. I may be wrong but I am only aware of two British authors who managed the same in 2008.

Anyway, if you want to get a job as a lecturer in any University in the UK or for that matter in any top University all around the World, that is what you have to always keep in mind. Some argue that this results in lecturers focussing on research and publications rather than on teaching.

This focus on academic journals is also putting off academics from writing magazine articles. There are so many wonderful research being carried out in various universities all the time but in the end the findings in the thesis do not get published and end up in a lonely corner of the library. Those which do get published in journals end up being read by a few academics and thats it. An example is the work of a friend of mine who developed a 3D programme to teach dental students. She won a few awards for that and when I enquired about it some time back, she told me that she's moved on and now working on a new project. The programme was not commercialised or used by any dental college. What a waste of time, energy and money.

Magazine and blogs enable academics to reach out to more people including the lay man on the street but I don't think many of them are going down that road in the near future.

Dilip Mutum

This blog records some of the thoughts and experiences of Dilip Mutum at the University of Warwick. He has been blogging since 2003 and this is but one of his many blogs.

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