June 12, 2019

Early Career Editors Learning Experience from Scholar–Led Publishing Involvement

It won’t have escaped most readers’ attention that Exchanges is an early career focussed, scholar-led journal. Given I write about this on a regular schedule in this blog, you’d be a rare visitor had you missed this aspect. As its Editor-in-chief, I passionately believe academics need to take a greater ownership for their publication processes if we are ever to ween ourselves away from the commercialised commodification of the publishing sector. This shift is far from the only consideration if the academy is to acquire a greater agency over publication, but I believe it’s an important one.

However, what might be less apparent, unless you’ve attended one of my lectures or thoroughly read our online guidance material, is how Exchanges serves an educational and professional development role alongside its publishing mission. The developmental role for those people working on the journal has been an intrinsic part since Exchanges founding in 2013 as output from the IAS’ early-career fellows programme. Since day one all members of the editorial board, and associate editors too, are drawn from the early career researcher community here at Warwick and further afield. This means all of us are still learning and growing as scholars in the post-PhD environment.

A key developmental need of course is to enhance our career prospects, which is where Exchanges provides the opportunity to deepen a practical appreciation of the processes, policies and ideologies which operate within the publishing field. Incidentally, serving on Exchanges’ boards delivers this sort of experience in spades, given members of our Board performs a greater ‘hands-on’ role than the more advisory structure of other journals’ boards.

This developmental mission for Exchanges, is a characteristic of the journal to which I’m devoting some considerable thought at the moment, as I’ve two forthcoming public engagements where I’ll be talking about the benefits to scholars from a closer scholarly publishing involvement. One is the session I’ve previously mentioned at the Utopian Studies conference in Prato at the end of June, while the other is a workshop I’m contributing to at the Vitae Conference in London this Autumn. Naturally, I’ll be sharing my slides and experiences from these events here afterwards.

I find though, as I sit down to write the outline for these talks, I’m left wondering to a degree about what exactly people such as my editors gain practically from their contribution of time and labour.

From a personal perspective, I feel I’ve learned more about the importance of patience and persistence with authors and reviewers alike, alongside deepening my practical knowledge of coordinating a publishing ‘empire’. I’ve also been polishing my relationship management skills, which are an essential adjunct to any manging editors’ toolkit. Alongside this, I’ve found it’s been illuminating to witness the authorial styles and voices deployed in our developing manuscript, especially as many diverge considerably from my own academic prose style.

That’s my perspective, and I must acknowledge it’s been understandably coloured by my managerial and editor-in-chief role. Hence, I’ve been talking to Editorial Board members past and present about what they’ve gained from their experience. Unsurprisingly, beyond developing the practical skills, the benefits from broadening their network of professional contacts are aspects which seem so far to be especially valued. However, it is early days and I’m still looking forward to more of my Board sharing their thoughts, and I expect I may well be surprised by some of the comments.

One thing has become clear from this simple critical reflection which is newly minted scholars do perceive benefits exist from taking up the reins to steer academic publishing endeavours. This must in part help explain why Exchanges has always had a steady stream of willing Board and associate editors. And I, for one, am delighted for their every contribution as well.

June 06, 2019

What are the Best Journal Indexing Services for Scholar–Led Journals?

What are the best indexes and article databases for a relatively small scholar led journal to be in? This is the question I’m currently pondering, following a conversation with a prospective author who was surprised we weren’t appearing in more locations. It’s no secret that Exchanges hasn’t traditionally been indexed in many places, more’s the pity. It’s one of the reasons why I wrote the index article in the latest issue was to try and enhance the visibility, and hence esteem, of articles published with us over the years.

Since we added DOIs to articles last year, I’ve been reasonably happy we’ve been working towards making the journal and its contents more discoverable, not to mention more readily and reliably citable. That said, at the back of my mind I’ve been thinking I really need to bite the bullet at some point and start increasing the locations where our articles are currently indexed. Hence, the author who asked some, I’ll be honest rather pointed, questions about why we weren’t indexed more widely brought the matter up my priority list to tackle. However, it’s not something that’s easy to resolve, as there are various challenges around getting indexed, and there are three which I find are especially vexatious.

The Art of Hegemonic Dominance

The first relates to one of my favourite topics: the domination of the academic publishing field by a limited number of commercial actors [1]. In this ‘market place’ [2], there’s a commercial driver for publishers to ensure that their own hegemonic dominance and profitability continues. One way this can be achieved is by denying non-commercial journals entrance into the organs of esteem metrics, e.g. databases like the Web of Science or Scopus. Coincidentally these particular indexes are owned by Clarivate Analytics [3] and Elsevier [4], who between them are responsible for a not-inconsiderable volume of scholarly publication as well.

Here there’s a bit of a futile cycle, where any new journal needs to gain in significance (what I’d call ‘reputational esteem capital’) which it builds through attracting higher quality/impactful papers. Higher esteem papers themselves are drawn to be published in titles which already have the highest esteem capital possible [5]. To increase this ranking a publisher needs to have their articles more readily discovered, and hence exposed through appearance in the most regularly used indexes. However, entrance to most of these big indexes is restricted to those journals who are already ‘significant’ in terms of their content. Hence, there’s no competitive advantage for the corporate owners of journals and indexes to let small scholar-led titles enter their indexes and grow in esteem; indeed there’s every argument this would essentially act as a counter to their continued dominance. It’s the ‘No Homer’s’ Club effect all over again.

Okay, some indecent, smaller scale journals have made their way past these gatekeepers and entered the ‘hallowed’ indexes, partly because of their longevity or contents. Unlike many short-term scholar-led publications [6], Exchanges has the advantage that we’ve been published for some years now, and have a body of work which slowly but surely is gaining citations. Citations are, for the most part, the sine qua non within publishing, the basic element from which esteem capital is constructed. So, to a degree we’re slowly but surely aggregating esteem every time we publish a new volume. However, given our focus on championing early career publications, strategically this means we’re unlikely to (typically) have 4* world-class research published with us. Why? Well, it’s a tragic fact that the current configuration of academic career esteem structures compels scholars to seek publication for their most ‘impactful’ works in titles already resplendent with high-esteem. Which means even if an ECR scholar might be tempted to consider publishing their finest work with us, for the good of their own career that’s normally an unlikely occurrence.

It doesn’t mean Exchanges isn’t publishing good, quality assured pieces of research literature. However, it’s likely papers within our journal will only become significant over time as they become more commonly cited, although where the author themselves becomes far more recognised as preeminent in their field there’s a notable upswing in interest in their earlier works. Given the thousands of downloads of our most popular papers, I might conclude that many of our authors may already be well on their way to achieving this sort of status within the Academy. It’s to our benefit certainly in terms of getting over that ‘significance’ hurdle to enter some indexes, but it’s one that takes a long, long time to achieve.

Disciplinarily and Suitability

The second big challenge is more prosaic and concerns the disciplinary fit of journals to particular indexes. The author who promoted my thinking asked specifically about one index which was valued within their particular field. I went away to have a look at this and discovered it only indexed around 160 titles, all of which were clearly a close disciplinary fit. I suspect, unlike the major commercial indexes, that these indexes which are often run by learned societies and other smaller sectoral bodies, would be far less concerned with our esteem credentials. However, Given Exchanges is explicitly interdisciplinary in terms of our content my strong suspicion is they’d be less happy to incorporate us because we’re not seen as a core, niche title for any discipline [7]. It tends (although not exclusively) to be the bigger, corporate indexes which are multidisciplinary. Hence, frustratingly our core mission to champion and promote research from all disciplinary traditions counts against us and our inclusion here.

Mechanistic Challenges

The third and final challenge is simply one of practicality and limited time resource. There are a LOT of indexes out there. It would, practically speaking, be a full time job to approach all of these and jump through their various hoops to try and garner entrance. Having glanced at a few of them, even finding a page which explains HOW you can propose your journal for consideration is somewhat obfuscated. I suspect, as discussed in the previous paragraphs, many of these indexes would decline to include us for reasons of esteem or disciplinarity.

Consequently, this could mean a whole lot of work for very little progress or achievement. It might seem like a more minor challenge, but given my role as Editor-in-Chief of Exchanges has a myriad of other responsibilities associated with it, I’m not sure how much time I could devote to this quest. As the only employed member of staff for dedicated to Exchanges, it’s not a task I could easily hand off to another member of the Editorial Board. I suspect they’d not be too keen to take it on either, and they do a whole lot of work for me already without a great deal of recompense.

Carry on Indexing

All of which makes me happy that I took the opportunity this week to discuss indexing Exchanges with our Warwick Library Scholarly Communications team. This team provides our back-office and tech support for Exchanges platform, but I’ve increasingly been hoping we can work more closely together on topics of mutual interest. Not simply those for the library and Exchanges, but also for matters of concern for the other journals variously published within the ‘Warwick Journals Family’ [8].

They’ve agreed to help with the practical approaches (hurray) and myself and the Board have been tasked with coming up with a wish list of indexes for them to target on our behalf. Which is what I’ll be drawing together over the next few weeks. Naturally, given the challenges above I’m not expecting overnight success, but I’m hopeful that with a few more indexes tracking our contents that Exchanges can continue to build on its previous successfully published content and increase our esteem in capital. In this way, maybe just maybe, one day we might even get one of the major indexes to take another look at us.

If any of our readers have thoughts, suggestions or advice to share on the subtle art of getting your journal index, as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Further Reading

Scholastica, 2017. Scholastica Blog, 21 June. https://blog.scholasticahq.com/post/index-types-for-academic-journal/


[1] Cf. my professional publications and thesis, which modesty prevents me linking to here.

[2] Ideologically I reject the idea of academic publishing being configured or perceived as a market. Sadly this commodification based ideal represents the common argot when one starts considering the competitive aspect the academic domain has acquired.

[3] Owner of (among other concerns) Thompson Reuters media empire

[4] One of the ‘Big Four’ academic publishers and owners of a sizable chunk of scholarly publishing and research management real-estate

[5] I’m talking here of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), created by Garfield as a metric of ‘significance’ for a journal. Not all journals are graced with a JIF, as they need to be ‘significant’ enough to appear in the Journal Citation Reports. Once again, the futile cycle and exclusionary practices of the academic publishing field are maintained.

[6] Many scholar-led journals which arise, often from a particular cohort of scholars and PGR students, which publish one or two issues before disappearing into obscurity once the reality of sustainable publication practices arise. Quality contents sure, but they’re not around long enough to start building esteem over time.

[7] Unproven, but anecdotally from past editors, I’ve heard that we’ve had limited to zero success previously with other indexers.

[8] It’s a side topic, but I think the Warwick Journals Family are a group of people locally who could work together and share experience a far more systematic and regular way. One more of those tasks I’ve got on the back burner at the moment, as I’ve yet to establish the best way to configure a meeting.

June 04, 2019

Après Nous, Le Déluge

The title of this post, drawn from an expression attributed to Madame de Pompadour, traditionally refers to a tipping point, a moment after which unremitting chaos will rain down. Truth be told, it’s actually nothing as disastrous as that in the world of Exchanges today (thankfully). Rather it’s the delight of opening up the OJS submissions list and discovering a large number of new manuscript submissions awaiting me and my editorial team’s scrutiny. I was rather expecting these, given they’re all manuscripts linked to one of our forthcoming special issues, as we have just passed the submission deadline last week.

Nevertheless, it’s a bit more than our normal weekly ingest of new works. Not to mention I’m aware of at least four more authors for the issue who’ve been in touch to ask for brief extensions. Hence, I’m anticipating a few more works as part of the tail end of the ‘deluge’ still to come.

For a relatively small academic journal like Exchanges, getting a large number of manuscripts submissions in a short period of time represents both a blessing and a challenge; in that our processes don’t normally have to cope with this level of new works. However, I’m more confident that myself and the rest of the team will rise to the occasion splendidly, and really is a genuine pleasure to see all this new scholarship potentially heading for our pages.

I do find myself musing though, that I hope the start of every week from hereon out won’t be like this…as I might need to do some drastic rethinking on how we operate the journal.

May 29, 2019

Mentioned in Dispatches: Exchanges at Monash

Raqib & RoyGreat to hear last week about a workshop co-facilitated this month by one of my editorial board 'down under', Roy Rozario. The event aimed at early-career and postgraduate researchers centred around successful academic publishing in books and journals, with a keynote from Dr Raqib Chowdhury. With over 150 delegates signed up, everything I've heard makes it sound like exactly the sort of event which I'd have loved to have been in the audience for myself; with the exception that I'm not due to make any appearance in Australia anytime soon [1]. More’s the pity.

I'm especially delighted to hear the event went so well, as the event was co-organised and facilitated by the industrious Roy himself. He used the opportunity to give the journal a first-rate platform to speak to an audience of engaged scholars about the benefits of publishing through Exchanges. Personally, I’ve found there’s no more productive or effective route to promote the journal to early-career researchers than speaking directly to groups of them! All in all it was a really stellar effort from Raqib and Roy, and my hat is well and truly off to them both. I've already had one or two conversations from scholars in the audience about prospective publications with Exchanges, which is a really positive outcome. Hopefully there'll be even more once people have had a chance to let the discussions sink in further.

Naturally, as I'm a month away from speaking on academic publishing to a similar crowd of early career researchers in (hopefully) sunny Prato, Italy, this session very much resonates with my own interests right now. Hence, I'm really looking forward to some interesting, insightful and perhaps challenging discussions with the delegates at the Utopian Studies conference workshop. I suspect the audience size won’t quite align with the Monash event though, although I’ll be happy to be proved wrong. Now I only need to work out how I can run a session like this here at Warwick... [2]

Crowded and buzzing seminar at Monash May 2019[1] Well, unless someone invites me out there to speak myself. Have laptop, will travel!

[2] Although, truth be told, it's a lot more fun to go and speak to audiences beyond the confines of the Coventry ring-road!

May 23, 2019

One Step Beyond: The ESA Living Planet Symposium 2019

Writing about web page https://lps19.esa.int/NikalWebsitePortal/living-planet-symposium-2019/lps19

Conference VenueLast week I had a rare opportunity to step professionally well and truly outside my comfort zone. I had taken up the rather unexpected but delightful chance to be a delegate at a major international conference in a totally unrelated academic field to my own. If you’ve not picked up from earlier posts, my own research domain is media and communications, within a healthy cultural studies envelope, specialising in academic communication. To spend a few days dipping in and out of the European Space Agency’s Living Planet Symposium, which brought together over 4,000 scientists, industrialists, technologists and industry people in the earth observation sciences was, to say the least somewhat daunting. Thankfully I wasn’t there to present myself!

Technically speaking, I was on vacation, accompanying my wife to Milan, Italy where she and colleagues were contributing to a session concerning their team’s research. However, the chance arose for me to break off from planned my marathon walking city excursions [1] and attend the conference too. I concluded it would be well worth sacrificing some of my leisure time to increase my experience of interacting with and listening to scholars outside of my normal realm. As the editor of an interdisciplinary title, clearly this was a great professional development prospect!

What struck me, other than the sheer size of the venue and delegate numbers [2], were the similarities between this and many other conferences in my own fields I’ve attended. From the friendly registration desks and bag of conference swag, through to opening plenary and associated breakout sessions, despite the topic divergence, the symposium still strongly resonated with most professional events I’ve attended. Given the international nature of the conference, I was a little surprised by the opening panel being dominated by white, older men, albeit one fronted by a young, glamourous woman hired to moderate. While she inarguably gave a polished and professional performance, her role’s juxtaposition with the other stage denizens didn’t make for great optics. Going by the twitter feed, this hadn’t escaped the audience’s attention either, and it was heartening to see the BBC’s Jonathan Amos taking the organisers to task for the lack of demonstrable diversity. The less said about a similarly composed panel commenting at one point on Africa’s past and future contribution to earth observation science, perhaps the better.

These slightly uncomfortable elements aside, I spent most of my time at the conference dipping into sessions and observing the speakers. With all kinds of academic communication being a personal interest, meant the opportunity to listen to and watch speakers, divorced from a need to comprehend their content, provided a golden opportunity to conduct a little presentational critique.

Information overloadFor me, I think the chief recurrent issue was that time-honoured foible of trying to cram too much information onto a single slide. The NASA representative for example, but by no means the only one, crammed no fewer than 22 lines on a single slide, displayed for less than 30 seconds. I could almost feel my teeth grinding in frustration trying to parse the information in that talk. I was also amused that, plenary speakers aside, every single speaker I sat through insisted in using a PowerPoint [2] style presentation. I was rather hoping to see a little more ‘hands-free’ presentation, but I guess academics and industrialists alike fall back on the PowerPoint crutch rather more than we perhaps should. Although, I can be as guilty as the next scholar in overusing, so I’m not critiquing from a higher plateau. It was just a shame there wasn’t more variety in the ‘chalk & talk’ approaches adopted to communicate to the audiences.

There was also a genuinely evidenced split between speakers with media training heritage or experience, and the majority who hadn’t. Most of the plenary speakers had clearly been coached in their presentational style, with for example the head of ESA providing a real standout in terms of clarity and engagement. Very much a style to be emulated I felt. Although, it I am going to be critical, I’d perhaps leave out the string quartet and bombastic Day Today style promotional video the audience were subjected to at various points. At worst it felt like corporate brainwashing, and at best (given the climate crisis theme of the symposium) I began to wonder if I’d stumbled into the final reel of Soylent Green.

While I accept some speakers may have been harder to focus on given my limited personal field experience and lack of shared vocabulary, there were some who really drew my interest. I know more about Finland’s space programme as a result than I ever expected, and was delighted to hear about it. Notably, quite a few senior organisational representatives fell into the trap of assuming the audience will gift them with their attention, simply because of their personal reputation and standing. Sorry to say, attention needs to be grasped, won and captured, it’s rarely genuinely given.

Spaaaaaaaace Ships. Ahem. Sorry, Swarm Sats.Other weaknesses I spotted were the inability to thread a talk with presentational narrative; the normative preference seemingly being a rhythmic delivery of: facts, facts, graphic, facts then conclusion. Perhaps this observation comes from being a qualitative scholar at an event riven with scientism, positivism and quantitative method. Nevertheless, even in these field facts can still be used to tell a powerful and engaging story, without diminishing the science which underlies them, in a manner which serves to enhance comprehension and retention. I really believe many of the papers I witnessed would have been deeply enhanced through embracing storytelling and narrative techniques, to contribute in creating far more compelling talks.

Finally, I also witnessed quite a range of disconnect between panel topics and the talks inside them. This is something most if not all academic conferences I’ve attended have a tendency to demonstrate. It can be a real disservice to the audience, who likely were expecting to hear one thing, and who then witness a speaker holding forth on a questionable or divergent topic instead. I’m not sure I have a ready solution to this one, but I’d be interested to hear other’s experiences in overcoming this within their event chairing capacity.

Overall then, the conference was eye opening for me, less so for the shiny satellites and exciting environmental-monitoring related technology, but more for the witnessed similarities. Perhaps in this burgeoning interdisciplinary world, it’s worth remembering that even snug and safe within our disciplinary niches, it turns out there’s a lot we all do communicatively which is broadly similar. Albeit, there are also many things we should as scholars perhaps be working towards improving too. I’ll be interested to see if my experiences in Milan, match up to my visit in July to the Utopian Studies Society conference; again an event outside my own disciplinary traditions.


[1] For those keeping score, I managed about 40 miles in three days.

Venue Security[2] Also the security level was a lot higher than a media & comms event - I've not been bomb wanded by a battalion of serious looking guards before just to get into a venue!

[3] Other slide projection packages are available.

May 09, 2019

Call for Publications – In–between Spaces

Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/exchanges/cfp-exchanges_may_2019.pdf

In case you missed it in the editorial of the latest issue [1], our latest call for papers is now out. On top of our ongoing open call for papers from all disciplinary traditions, we’ve made one of our frequent thematic calls too. For the Spring 2020 issue, we particularly welcome submissions which will contribute to a themed section on in-between spaces. As scholars we are often focussed directly upon examining and understanding specific objects, cultures, properties or thinking. Yet, there is also incredible value in considering what lies between, outside or around our subject focus.

That’s why we’re looking for authors to submit all manner of research articles, critical reviews or interviews which address some aspect of in-between spaces, however you or your disciplinary field opts to conceptualise them. I’d be particularly delighted to see submissions of dialogues between multiple authors from different fields tackling the same idea from different perceptual or intellectual standpoints.

To read more details about our calls, see the online paper. Or alternatively get in touch with any of the editorial board to discuss your ideas further. We really, really look forward to receiving your submissions.

[1] What!? You’ve not read the latest issue of Exchanges? Better correct that before you read on, I can wait. https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/issue/view/25

May 08, 2019

Issue 6.2 of Exchanges Now Available

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/issue/view/25

Regular readers will have already spotted it, but last week marked our biannual publication of the latest issue of Exchanges (vol 6.2). My thanks as always to all contributors, reviewers and editors alike. While it was never our intention, for the most part there’s a rather eastern focus to the articles in the issue. Aspects of life and work in Greece, Indonesia, Vietnam and China are all the focus of a number of articles, which I think is fantastic in terms of my hopes towards increasing Exchanges’ international scope. We’ve not forgotten work closer to home, as there’s an article from and about an event here at Warwick in the pages too.

Exchanges Issue 6.2

There’s always a sense of satisfaction and regret when we publish a new issue. Satisfaction, as it represents the publicly visible cumulation of the past 6 months of behind the scenes work. Regret, because there are always those articles which are so close to competition but don’t make it in time for the publication deadline. In the previous issue, I quite literally had an article completed and signed off by the author on the day of publication. In that case, the author was lucky as I had enough time to rework the issue and include it in the pages. This time, perhaps more thankfully for myself, there wasn’t a repeated late delivery. None of the remaining articles my editorial team are still working away on at the moment are quite ready for publication, although with any luck, many of them should be completed over the next month or so.

Incidentally, transit time of articles from submission to publication, remains one aspect of our journal publication processes that remains extremely variable. Some articles are well prepared by authors, favourably received by external reviewers and relatively straight-forward to copyedit. Some need a lot more heavy-lifting by authors and editors in terms of language, syntax, content and formatting or are more challenging to move through the reviewing process in a timely manner. I think our recent record for identifying scholars willing to review an article was 22 people approached, making reviewing a process which takes a lot of time and effort by the editorial team before reviewers even commence their work. I’ll confess the speed at which authors respond and action requests for revisions is the other of the two biggest factors, in terms of how soon we can get a new article to publication.

To illustrate this practically, one of the articles this issue is actually a relatively recent submission, and was blessed by responsive reviewers and author alike, along with some top-notch editorial work by one of my team. I wish every article we accept for publication could have such an easy journey. Conversely, at least one of the other articles had a far longer traversal through pre-publication. Regrettably some articles do take longer to reach the endpoint, but be assured, we do everything possible at Exchanges HQ to expediate their publication journeys. We encourage all our contributors to do likewise.

Of course, there is the slight artificiality of twice-yearly publication dates, at least in part a result of the software but also our own preferred approaches to issue construction. Part of me keeps considering if there are ways in which we could revise this approach and build issues up as articles become publication ready. I remain unconvinced, given the volume of submissions we currently have to the title and the editorial labour available to us, that this would convey sufficient advantages over our current system. Then again, never say never to shifting the pattern of how Exchanges appears. Were we to become a much more favoured destination for scholarly outputs than we currently are, then, well, I think the time might then be ripe for a rethink.

In the meantime, please enjoy the latest issue, and let us know any comments, thoughts, suggestions or indeed article proposals you may have for the next one.

April 16, 2019

Pre–Easter News Roundup

As many of us look forward to (or are already enjoying) a break around the Easter holiday here at Warwick, I thought I’d share a few pieces of news from Exchanges.

New issue production: Preparation for the new issue are in full swing, with the editorial, cover and most importantly the articles under final preparation. I’m hopeful we’ll get another few articles ready for publication by our deadline, and I’ve every confidence in my editorial team that they’ll be making that happen.

Funding award: I was delighted to hear today that a funding bid to the Warwick/Monash University Alliance which I contributed towards has been successful. This is always nice to hear, but doubly so as this funding will be contributing to enabling more early career scholars to attend the Utopia, Dystopia and Climate Change Conference in Italy later this year. Well done to the bid writers! This conference, regular readers will remember, is one which Exchanges is the official publication partner for, and we’re hoping to be able to share a lot of great scholarship based on work presented at the event sometime next year.

Why Publish with Exchanges?: This is a question I’ve often been asked (not to mention asked myself) over the past year. To help answer this for prospective authors, I’ve developed a new flyer with answers drawn from past contributors to the journal. You can read the new flyer online here.

More Frequently Asked Questions: Our frequently asked questions (FAQ) page is slowly growing, as I add more answers to questions authors have been asking about publishing with Exchanges. Most recently I’ve been responding to questions about referencing and English language, but there’ll be more content in the very near future. Well worth checking out as part of your Exchanges publication experience.

That’s it for now, I hope everyone who has the chance has a splendid break, and for those of you who don’t, I hope the weather is at least kind to, wherever in the world you might be!

April 11, 2019

One Year Later

CakeToday marks the one-year anniversary since I took over running the Exchanges journal as its Managing Editor-in-Chief. Hence, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look back at what’s occurred during in that time, along with casting my gaze upon the road ahead.

The past year has seen two issues of Exchanges published, as might be expected. Perhaps more excitingly, it saw shift in the journal’s title as part of a ‘conscious-uncoupling’ from the Warwick brand. As our statistics show, the vast majority of articles published in Exchanges have historically originated from Warwick based or associated scholars. That’s nothing of which to be ashamed though. In fact, I continue to be delighted by the number of local scholars who’ve chosen to publish with us, and I hope to welcome many more contributions from them in the months ahead Nevertheless, going forward, our Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal brand makes plain our global ambition for readers and contributors far more than the title’s original name. Revising Exchange’s full title name was one of the earliest changes I introduced, and I’m happy to say one which I remain deeply satisfied I made.

Meanwhile, in the wider world we’ve had the rise of the Plan S [1] initiative from research funders, representing the strongest effort yet to force compliance with an open access publication norm. There are many issues or concerns over the impact of the plan, and almost as many detractors, naysayers and counters often located in the commercial publishing sector. Nevertheless, Plan S is undoubtably one of the biggest potential game changers within the academic publishing sector, certainly in the UK since 2012’s Finch Report [2]. That said there remains much which remains uncertain or unknown, a theme Prof Martin Eve highlighted at this week’s UKSG conference in Telford [3]. As the publishing lead of a scholar-led open access journal, Plan S is naturally a development I’m keeping a close eye on. Even if largely Exchanges already meets with the requirements…or at least as they’re currently understood.

I guess as a journal hosted at a UK university, I can’t avoid mentioning the B word. Brexit is something we British-based scholars can’t help but fret over, with its potential impacts on funding, partnerships, student intake and opportunities. I am pleased to say, in line with the IAS’ global ethos, over the past year the journal has continued to make links with scholars across Europe and further afield. Whatever Brexit’s outcome, this increasing international engagement is without a doubt something that’ll be continuing as long as I’m running the journal!

In a somewhat related development, the past year has also seen changes in and an increased internationalisation of Exchanges Editorial Board. There’s been the departure to pastures new of a half-dozen of valued past editorial team members, but our ranks have swollen with nine new members of the Board. Not to mention only yesterday the introduction of our first three assistant editors too, as I broaden the idea and reenvisage practically what it means to be a member of the Exchanges team.

Behind the scenes there’s also been a shift in how the board works with myself as Editor-in-chief, largely down to my more consultative managerial demeanour. I’ve also created a series of evolving supporting materials for the Editorial Board, demarcating their roles and responsibilities more clearly, alongside providing more accurate guidance in how to perform their editorial duties. Anecdotally, the editorial team members seem to have relished these progressive moves, which has pleased me considerably. I’ve undoubtably learned and benefitted even more so from the professional relationships I’ve forged through working with them. I hope they’ve also benefitted from my increased professionalisation of journal operations, procedures and policies – things I strongly believe are vital to Exchanges’ long-term sustainability.

One of the reasons why I’ve believed it’s important to provide greater support for my editors’ practice, is because behind the scenes we’ve had various improvements to the OJS (open journal system) platform that Exchanges runs on. Generally, I suspect these enhancements won’t have been visible to readers and authors, but for those of us working on the journal, they’ve helped introduce some much-needed new functionality alongside streamlining other elements. It’s (sad to say) not a perfect system, and my technical wish list continues to be a living document that’ll I’ll be using to try and instigate further developments in the system over the next year. Chief among these, I don’t mind mentioning, are better author metrics and better integrated multi-media. Keep your eye on this blog for news about this!

More visibly long-time readers will probably have spotted that one of my early endeavours was to overhaul, review and revise every single piece of information on Exchanges’ websites. It was clear to me from day one that this was long overdue, and served to remove numerous errors, oversights and in some cases directly contradictory material. I’m (slightly) hampered by the OJS system in terms of how much additionally functionality I can add to the journal’s website, but hopefully it’s a much richer resource especially for prospective authors and peer-reviewers.

Continuing the more tangible developments of the past year have been the numerous occasions when I’ve stepped out from behind my desk to engage with the early career researcher community at workshops, conferences and events. Personally, I have a deep love of teaching and public speaking, and so I have been utterly delighted to participate in these occasions. My mantra of ‘any time, anywhere’ when it comes to speaking about academic publishing, exchanges or scholarly communication remains at the heart of my personal professional practice. Hence, I can only encourage further invites globally to speak on behalf of the IAS and the journal.

Perhaps principally among these was my work with Warwick’s PAIS (Politics and International Studies) department in co-facilitating their academic writing and peer review summer school. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to promote the journal, and discuss potential article submissions with emerging scholars, but it served as an impetus for revisions and improvements to Exchanges peer-review guidance and policy. I’m happy to say, that these are now more robust than ever, and importantly, more closely aligned with best academic praxis. I’m also proud that this event led to the publication of an extensive work on peer review by myself [4], which I hope early career scholars will find invaluable in supporting their own efforts.

Finally, there’s also been a rash of other efforts on the marketing and awareness front. The launch of our various associated social media channels (including this blog, twitter and Linked.in) have given our contributors and readers new ways to hear about developments with the journal, alongside highlighting individual publications. Our ever-popular Exchanges black pencils (have you got one?) too have been distributed far and wide, turning up on at least four different continents thanks to the efforts of the Editorial Board. And of course, that’s not including the various videos, posters and flyers which have served to raise the journal’s presence within the early career researcher community.

As you can see, it’s been a busy and eventual year for Exchanges and myself as it’s Editor-in-Chief. Looking ahead, we’ve a new issue coming up in a few weeks (my third!), and another regular one scheduled for late autumn too. Moreover, we’ve also got the preparations for the oft-mentioned special issues, which looking at the abstract proposals from the prospective authors for the first, looks likely to be exhilaratingly insightful contributions to the interdisciplinary discourse. I’m also booked to speak about academic publishing in the summer at one international conference already. So, here’s to a prosperous, scholarly and eventful Year Two for me and Exchanges!


[1] Fun fact, the S stands for shock

[2] Finch, J., 2012. Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings – the Finch Group. London: BIS/Research Information Network.

[3] Eve, M.P., 2019. Plan S: Origins, Developments, Speed. In: UKSG 42nd Annual Conference and Exhibition, 8 April - 10 Apr 2019, Telford, England. (Unpublished).

[4] Johnson, G.J., Tzanakou, C., & Ionescu, I., 2019. An Introduction to Peer Review. Coventry: PAIS, Warwick. http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Introduction-to-Peer-Review-Guide.pdf

April 10, 2019

Welcoming our Special Edition Associate Editors

I had the pleasure this morning of spending a couple of hours training my newest members of my Exchanges Editorial Team. Sophie, Giulia and Fiona are post-graduate researchers based here at Warwick who will be supporting the production of our forthcoming Cannibalism: Bites Here & There special issue, scheduled for publication in early 2020. My hope is, like the members of the Editorial Board, that these three will not only contribute to Exchanges but have an excellent learning experience at the sharp end of publication. They’ll be working alongside and supplementing the work of my regular Board members, whom I’m sure will be supportive and grateful in equal measure for the newcomers’ contributions.

I strongly suspect that if all the papers relating to this issue for which I’ve received abstracts (30 and counting) are submitted as manuscripts, then I may well be recruiting a few more willing helpers onto the team. It’s great because this kind of community involvement really helps satisfy part of Exchanges remit as an academic training resource for emerging scholars, alongside its regular dissemination mission. I expect exciting and insightful times lie ahead for us all over the next few months as we pull the issue together.

June 2019

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