May 21, 2020

Podcast: Episode 2

Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias

Once again we're delighted to bring you another episode from our podcast. This time taking a look at the sorts of materials the journal considers for publication. Here's the episode details:

In this second episode, we look at the kinds of articles that the Exchanges interdisciplinary journal considers for publication, along with some guidance about what to think when writing them. The episode also lightly explores the difference between our peer reviewed and non-reviewed works.

Listen at: https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/For-Our-Consideration-eec8n6


May 12, 2020

Introducing the Editorial Podcast

Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/ExchangesIAS


I am delighted today to introduce a companion to this blog, with the roll out of The Exchanges Discourse podcast. The first episode of this is now live for your listening pleasure and edification. You can find the podcast on a number of platforms.

Anchor | Breaker | Google Podcasts | RadioPublic | Spotify

Over the coming months we hope the podcast will be able to include discussions beyond those issuing from my own golden tones, but it is early days for now. There will be a second episode for the end of the month, talking about the kinds of material the journal takes.

We also welcome questions or suggestions for topics for us to cover. So, if you've a burning question you wanted to hear about from Exchanges, from the auditory comfort of your nearest headphones/earbuds/smart speaker - now's your chance!


April 30, 2020

Spring Issue Pushed Back to Summer

This is the post I didn't want to have to write.

Normally, the end of April along with heralding a season of better weather, also brings with it the new issue of Exchanges. However, with the challenging current working conditions for scholars around the globe, as I feared, this is not going to come to pass.

Right now many of our editors, reviewers and authors are working in environments which are far from ideal for academic productivity dealing with: caring responsibilities, home schooling, health challenges and the general background anxiety of the current world order. Understandably, this has impacted on the journal, as we’ve seen a concomitant slowdown in authorial and editorial work for Exchanges. As I posted a few weeks earlier we can only be sympathetic to our colleagues in these difficult times, and seek to accommodate them as best we can.

Practically though, what this means for the journal has been a general reduction in the rate of throughput to publication for many papers currently under review or copyediting. My Board and myself are doing all we can, as much as is possible for us all, to keep things moving and on track. Nevertheless, we remain deeply appreciative to every one of our contributors who have been engaging and responding to our requests over the past few months.

As things stand, we have a few articles ready for publication. However, we haven’t yet met our minimum threshold for publishing an issue, and currently our platform won’t accommodate publishing a partial issue to my satisfaction. As such, after discussion with the Editorial Board, we’ve agreed to push back publication of the next journal issue to the early summer. Hopefully in a month or two we should be able to bring you another vibrant issue of original thought and insight.

In the meanwhile though, I’ve been excited this week as some scholars have taken the lock-down time to produce some new manuscripts for us to consider. Exchanges has received three new submissions this week alone, and I am delighted to be in the process of editorial review with them today. I look forward to receiving many more manuscripts to consider over the coming weeks, as we remain open throughout the year for submissions from every discipline.

In closing then, to our whole reader and contributor community, let me say ‘thank you’ once again for continuing to work with us. We hope you’ll be seeing something fresh and exciting from us in the very near future.


April 28, 2020

New Fellows, New Reviewers

Last week we welcomed the latest group of early career fellows (ECFs) to the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), the fifth cohort to arrive since I joined the IAS myself. Naturally, with the current lock-down when I say ‘welcomed’ and ‘meet’, I am referring to a more virtualised engagement than we would normally enjoy, which limited the usual chance for informal discussions. As always, our ECFs seem an interesting and varied group, and I hope they get a lot of benefit from their time engaging with the IAS and their interactions with each other. I hope they also enjoyed the video presentation I prepared, explaining more about the Exchanges journal.

One of the things I usually stress to our new fellows in person when they come on board, is how they can contribute to Exchanges. While occasionally we have vacancies on the Editorial Board, principally we always encourage them to write for the journal: be it a peer-reviewed piece, an interview or a critical review; all contributions are warmly welcomed. Although, like every other contribution they will undergo significant scrutinization before we consider accepting them for publication - we do have a quality bar which has to be met, after all.

Unsurprisingly, given the track record of previous ECFs to progress their careers rapidly, many of them find contributing an article to our journal isn’t something for which they can always find sufficient time. However, many of them do take the opportunity to register as a potential reviewer with Exchanges. This pleases me immesely, because as an interdisciplinary journal we receive such a broad range of potential papers we need to ensure our reviewers’ database contains a similar varied range of scholars. I’ve discussed previously about how much we value our reviewers’ contributions, and that’s something which hasn’t changed. It’s also a great contribution from our fellows, as Exchanges was created as an offshoot of our ECF programme, and I’m keen to keep the links between the two healthy and active.

Who can review?

In terms of whom makes a suitable reviewer, we normally welcome early career and established researchers and scholars to register as reviewers. You don’t need to be from Warwick, and in fact, our reviewer community today is more globalised than ever, a diversity of voice which I’m keen to continue expanding upon. Certainly, we would especially welcome scholars from South America and Africa as new reviewers, as they are currently underrepresented in our database.

Registering as a reviewer

Hence, if you would like to become part of our community and potentially contribute to our journal in a small but vital way, then register today. Practically speaking, registering as a reviewer only takes a few moments

>Go to https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/user/register and complete the online form, noting on the second screen your wish to be added to our reviewers' register.

>Make sure you include your reviewing Interests as keywords and phrases, and ideally provide a short biography; as this helps our editors spot the right people to call on.

>Plus, if you're already registered (as a reader or author) with Exchanges, you can register as a potential reviewer by loging in and edting your profile.

Registered reviewers can update, edit or remove your reviewing account at any time online, or via contacting the Editor-in-Chief. If your main email changes especially, say due to a new job, this is important as we like to keep in touch with people for years to come as they develop their careers. I should add, reviewer profile information is never displayed publicly, and we use it solely to identify suitable people as peer-reviewers and to communicate with them about this.


April 07, 2020

Turnitin and the Delights of Locating Student Papers

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/journal-policies

Let’s talk about one of the earliest steps in the editorial journal of a submitted manuscript to our journal. One of the very first things we do for manuscripts submitted to Exchanges is to run them through Turnitin. This tool primarily provides us with an outline check to see if the script has been published elsewhere previously, which alongside breaching the Inglefinger originality rule [1], would also likely contravene another publisher’s legal rights and is to be avoiding. Moreover, it also lets us spot where an author might be running the risk of breaching good scholarly guidelines on the reproduction of someone else’s work as their own. The more closely the text matches with previously disseminated work, the higher the percentage score Turnitin ascribes. It’s not a perfect system, and you cannot rely on the score alone, but it is a very valuable tool for the scholarly editor [2].

Most papers pass through with a fairly low score, although commonly used references within a field can sometimes boost a perfectly legitimate paper’s percentage score by a few points. A handful of submissions though score big, and it’s at this point that I have to do some more investigation. Thankfully, to date under my editorship we’ve not (yet) had any manuscripts which have been clear plagiaristic efforts. Nevertheless, it remains something myself, my editors and reviewers do have to keep a constant, watchful eye out for as part of our quality scrutineering activities.

Some submitted works score highly because they’re making use of attributed quotes, which because they’re taken from or have appeared in prior works are flagged up for attention. A lot of my own published scholarship falls into this category, and I’m acutely aware this means my work would be highlighted in this way. Naturally, provided authors have clearly cited the original work, blocking it out from the main text for long quotes as appropriate, after I’ve read through the Turnitin detailed report, there’s usually little to prevent us from progressing the material towards peer review.

Well, that is, of course if it passes through editorial scrutiny in terms of essential quality. Sending very poor-quality materials to peer reviewers tends to irritate scholars; much as I’d prefer to send everything to review.

However, some submissions don’t use quotations and still shine brightly with very high Turnitin percentages, with the highest I’ve seen scoring 99%! Thankfully, in my experience these high scoring submissions (the 99%er included) tend to be work based on non-formally published student work. For example, essays, thesis or dissertation chapters and even conference talks can commonly cause Turnitin to sound the alert. Like most journals, our policy is ‘Accepted manuscripts will be published on the understanding that they are an original and previously unpublished piece of work’ [3], which we take to mean ‘has not appeared in another published journal or collection’. Where items might have had an earlier digital public existence, like a blog post for example, we expect authors to notify us on submission and we do include a caveat if published to direct readers to the earlier work.

Unlike published papers or blogs though, Turnitin doesn’t have permission to share the text of any identified student papers with us, which creates a state of initial uncertainty as to the author of the prior work. Naturally, if the author is repurposing their own earlier institutionally submitted coursework, this is usually not going to be a problem. We don’t consider student essays for example to be ‘prior publications’ However, we do need to check in case a different person is seeking to pass off someone else’s work as their own.

This is where the ability to request permission to view the matching student work via Turnitin is a valuable additional tool. It helps in identifying if the submitting author, and the student paper author, are one and the same. I only need to use it a few times each year, but it is so helpful when fellow scholars reply and share a requested paper. What has been a relief, is to date, every time I have received access to the student paper, the authors have been perfectly aligned. Great to see people taking good quality work they’ve developed for assessment and converting it into a paper, although by the time it’s passed through review and revision the finally disseminated work will likely be a fair bit more developed.

So, a tip of my hat to all those scholars around the world who’ve responded to my requests, you make my life as an editor and the progress towards publication of your former students an easier one.

---

References

[1] Relman, A.S., 1981. The Inglefinger Rule. N Engl J Med, 305, pp. 824-826. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM198110013051408

[2] Turnitin, 2013, 15 Misconceptions About Turnitin. 23 May. https://www.turnitin.com/blog/top-15-misconceptions-about-turnitin

[3] Exchanges, 2020. Journal Policies. https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/journal-policies


March 24, 2020

Keeping In Touch and Engaged with Exchanges

Good morning Exchanges contributors, readers and wider community. I thought it was worth briefly highlighting the various ways you can engage with Exchanges and our team, especially given the currently complex and changing international situation. Albeit currently, we’re limited to these being all at a distance.

Firstly, and most importantly, for potential authors looking to talk over a submission, then our Editorial Board members can always be contacted for initial discussions (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/editorialTeam). Naturally, you can come straight to myself as Chief Editor, especially if you’ve got something more unusual in mind (e.g. a potential special issue!).

Secondly, if you’re a Linked.In user, and you’re looking to bolster your personal career profile and information on publishing opportunities, then you should join our group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12162247/). It’s where all the key announcements from Exchanges are regularly posted, and importantly it’s a fairly low traffic group, with maybe a post a week, so you won’t be overwhelmed with information.

Undoubtably, the best way to get with the journal involved is contribute material for future issues. You’ll find our current calls on our announcement pages (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement). Remember, Exchanges take peer-reviewed articles but also interviews, essays and critical reflections, which while they are still subject to editorial scrutiny before acceptance can see publication faster. They’re also incredibly popular items with our diverse, global audience too, and a great way for new authors to add a publication in a quality title.

We also have a twitter feed: suitable for scholars of all disciplines & interests (http://www.twitter.com/ExchangesIAS). It’ll keep you at the forefront of news, views and opportunities at the journal. Hopefully, you already follow us, but we’re always keen for more early career and post-graduate researchers to join us. We’re stronger together, and it’s a really engaged community we’re building.

Then there’s this blog…which you’re currently reading (https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/exchangesias/)! Every other week (and more frequently as time allows) our EIC writes about the journal and developments behind the scenes. Comments and discussion are always welcome on our open forum.

It’s worth remembering too, that Exchanges is published through our existence as part of Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Study (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/). This means there are many other ways to get involved with activities within the IAS and Exchanges, albeit virtually for the time being).

Finally, we’ve also introduced the opportunity to engage with the Editor-in-chief via video conferencing. So, if you talk over publishing matters, opportunities or potential future projects you’d like to work with us on, then you can still talk directly to a friendly face. Get in touch to set up an appropriate time: UK office hours Tue/Thur normally available (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/contact) .

Stay safe, stay strong and stay in touch in these uncertain and extremely challenging times


March 19, 2020

Journal Management in Challenging Times

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/

When I took over running Exchanges back in early 2018, I expected to deal with various challenges. Getting to grip with the journal system, learning to work with my team of editors, tackling intricate author questions and resolving ethical publishing dilemmas: these were anticipated and, to be fair, encountered. Conversely, dealing with an unprecedented public health crisis necessitating personal isolation and remote working for an extended period of time wasn’t even at the back of my mind. Perhaps it should have been, but I suspect I wasn’t alone in my assumptions.

As readers will know, Exchanges is a scholar-led, editor-mediated academic journal, run by and for early career researchers. My editorial team, scholars all, are scattered around the globe in four different times zones and at least five countries. The Corvid-19 outbreak is also a global event, meaning each of us is dealing with unexpected challenging personal and professional circumstances of varying levels of severity. As of writing, this week the outbreak has especially impacted on the UK and its universities, and I’ve now been advised to work from home for the foreseeable future. Luckily, this is something I do on a regular basis, although I’m going to miss my frequent personal interactions with the Institute of Advanced Study’s staff, fellows and the rest of the Warwick university community. Not to mention my lovely office!

We are though, an international journal with contributors around the globe who are also likely finding their lives and work impacted by illness, closures and disruptions. We have always prided ourselves as a journal with an ethical empathy and understanding of challenges faced by our contributors, embedded within our professional ethos. Nevertheless, my team and I understand that our normal timescales for contributor responses may need to be more flexible for the time being. Personal and family health and well-being must come first.

What does this mean for the journal? I am thankful virtually all of Exchanges’ core editorial work can be conducted remotely, which means the journal can continue to function as close to normal as we can manage. However, there is no denying that through the uncertainties introduced into all our daily working lives, that our anticipated future issue timescales will have to be treated with a little caution. I’m hopeful that we will still produce the anticipated Spring volume of Exchanges on or close to our regular April publication date, but right now I’m treating this with a little caution.

Nevertheless, if you are currently or considering contributing to Exchanges and have any concerns about deadlines or timescales, please don’t hesitate to speak to your editor or myself directly. We are always happy to discuss your concerns.

I should note, all our currently calls for contributions – Nerds and Loneliness, Falsehoods as well as our general call, remain open and we look forward to reading your articles and abstract submissions.


March 05, 2020

Editorial Entrances & Departures

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/editorialTeam

This week we’re witnessing a slight changing of the guard with Exchanges. Firstly, some of my associate editors who have been working on our various special issues have come off the team. My thanks to Sophie, Freya and James for their various contributions to the title, and I hope they’ve found it a useful learning experience [1].

Meanwhile, behind the scenes at Exchanges I’ve been working these past two years to gradually increase the internationalisation of the Board, by talking with Warwick’s various institutional partners. It can be tricky overseeing and supporting a distributed editorial team around the globe, and it’s a time consuming (and occasionally frustrating) task to engage with those institutions where we don’t have any direct representation for the journal. Much as I’d like to do a spot of globetrotting and make some connections in person [2], it hasn’t been practical – so I’ve been involved in extensive chains of email correspondence. It probably won’t surprise you to read that Exchanges isn’t top of many scholars’ priorities. This might be understandable, but from a Managing Editor perspective, it can make for false starts and occasional stagnation.

Nevertheless, as of today, I’m delighted to welcome aboard our newest two members of the Editorial Board as Dr Guilherme Sampaio and Dr Salvatore Monteleone join us from CY Cergy Paris Université. Guilherme is an intellectual historian, specialising in particular on the French reception of Keynes and generally on the relation between economic thought and policy in Modern France. By contrast, Salvatore is a researcher focussing on cyber-physical systems, embedded systems, and network-on-chip architectures. I’m confident they’ll both bring some much appreciated new perspectives and insights, alongside their more practical contributions to the journal.

[1] More about that in a later post and conference paper next month!

[2] Perhaps less so currently, given the current global health crisis


March 03, 2020

Special Issue Call Announced Nerds, Culture and Loneliness

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement/view/20

Hopefully by now you’ll have seen the announcement from Exchanges about our latest call for papers. This time we’re teaming up with SOAS and the University of Oxford to produce an issue with papers which ‘explore fictional representations of nerds and loneliness across various media and culture’. Naturally, those of you who know me in real life, know this is a topic very close to my heart and lived-experience. Unlike earlier calls, we’re only seeking abstracts in the first instance (300 words by 6th April), so hopefully this’ll net us a rich range of potential contributors.

If you’ve been keeping track, this represents the third of our special issues we’ve formally launched preparations towards: with the recently published Cannibalism issue being the first and the pending CliFi issue the second. Interestingly, with each of these issues we’ve followed a slightly different pattern for submissions. For Cannibalism, we had a preselected number of authors who had already contributed to a conference, who were directly invited to submit. For CliFi, while we were associated with last year’s European Utopian Society’s conference in Prado, the call for contributions was very much open to any scholar globally. This time we’re almost blending these prior approaches, by starting with a call for abstracts, which will be followed by a workshop event (in early 2021), and then expecting contributors to the workshop to contribute a paper to Exchanges’ special issue.

In many respects, I think this last model may be my favourite, as it embeds Exchanges in the workshop processes and discourse from the outset. It’s not to say it’ll be the only model we’ll use in the future. I’d be lying if I suggested that. Certainly though, given a free hand with future collaborative special issues, I’d hope we can emulate as many elements as possible of this approach, as I believe it’ll serve to offer dividends in thematic coherency and editorial efficacy alike.

I should note at this point, my big thanks to Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS) and Dr Benjamin Schaper (Oxford) who came to me with this proposal a few months ago, and following some enthusiastic discussions on both sides, have helped guide us to this point. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what sort of material this call elicits, and working with Filippo and Ben over the months to come.


February 10, 2020

Fun with Metrics

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/issue/view/27

Today I’ve been having a quick exploration of the numbers around the most recent couple of issues of Exchanges. Metrics are for (most) journals a hotly contested topic, with their value quantitatively established and promoted with profound pride by editors and publishers alike. Regular readers of this blog will be aware than I’m from the qualitative school of research and have some deep ideological objections to the metrification and quantisation of academic publication, and consequential transformation in a highly fetishised quasi-market mode. Ahem. To read more on this topic, see my publications or come and have a chat with me, although I cannot promise not to get onto my soapbox!

Personally, I’d rather see the valorisation of an article through post-publication discourse in the social and public spheres, than watch the uptick of citations or downloads. However, for most of our authors and readers alike metrics and journal publications, love ‘em or loathe ‘em, are intrinsically linked. I can appreciate being able to see how people are reading the work author’s have slaved over for months, in an employment sector often detached from tangible esteem measures, can be a key personal satisfier.

As an editor-in-chief too, I confess I do get a little frisson of delight watching the download statistics slowly (and not so slowly) grow post-publication [1]. For the authors, seeing these figures climb mean people are at the very least reading their publications, although how they are using it, citing it, teaching from it, learning from it, remain to be elicited. As a journal publisher, it helps me to promote the journal as a publication destination for future authors, and to answer questions to my employers about the continued viability of the title.

In recent issues of Exchanges, we’ve shifted to include more ways within articles to recognise and identify authors, notably ORCIDs, twitter handles and biographical sketches. This means it has become easier to spot a portion of the buzz around an issue and its concomitant articles. Certainly, Vol 7.2 (Cannibalism Special Issue) has generated a highly visible amount of discussion following its publication, which I hope will continue as more people read the issue [2]. Including author twitter handles means I’m at least able to observe part of these conversations, even though monitoring discussions within departments, conferences and the like isn’t practical. I fervently hope this most exciting issue will continue to receive a suitably wide discussion, as we continue our promotional efforts over the next few weeks [3].

But back to my original point: metrics. I was curious this morning, now we’re just over 10 days post publication, to see how the issue was progressing. So, I ran some quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations to contrast v7.2’s readership numbers with the preceding issue. Here’s what I found.

Table 1: Download stats/article for the two most recent issues of Exchanges [4]

Issue V7.2 (Cannibalism) V7.1 (Regular issue)
Mean 34.2 144.9
Median 30.5 139
Min/Max 19/106 118/196
StdDev 20.1 28.9

This is by no means conclusive but these numbers suggest the level of interest in this issue is potentially above the norm for Exchanges. If this degree of reader engagement continues, it wouldn’t surprise me if after 100 days post-publication most of this issue’s articles will have developed an especially commendable download rate. Kudos to the authors, who through being associated with such a broad, critical mass of learned discourse, will be able to reap additional benefits. I’ll certainly endeavour to return down the line to see if my assumptions are being met.

Additionally, this also suggests how adopting a publication mode which embraces more special issues such as this one can be considerably beneficial to Exchanges health and longevity as well. The more readers we garner, the more likely people will cite the articles, helping enhance the title’s valorisation and recognition, which in turn encourages more submissions. As the managing EIC, right now, I couldn’t be more delighted with how all these efforts have turned out. Even if it has substantially increased my own workload!

[1] Incidentally, my own IP is masked from the stats, so it doesn’t matter how many times I open or download an article to check something, my interactions aren’t actually counted. But then, I’ve already read each article a handful of times already on its journey to publication…

[2] I’m still keen to develop post-publication commenting functions for readers and authors on our journal site, but currently, am awaiting an update to the platform before I can make any strides in this direction. If you’re one of our readers, authors or reviewers and you’d like to see article comments; drop me a line – as the more people who ask, the more I can lobby my lovely technical team to devote some time to it!

[3] Another medium-to-long-term goal is to introduce altmetrics scores for each article, to try and capture a value for how ‘talked about’ each issue is in the public domain. Watch this space for details as soon as I have them, but I can assure you, this is one of my ‘top 5’ goals for Exchanges in 2020.

[4] V7.2: 11 days post-publication, V7.1, 101 days post-publication


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