November 17, 2021

Writing for Academic Journals (Part 2)

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/special-issues

The second workshop in the Anthropocene writing development special issue project tackled peer review and exposed some of the common fears of early scholar authors.

Today was the second of my two part writing for academic journals workshops. I’ve been providing these sessions as part of the Anthropocene and more than human world project, which is tied to the special issue of Exchanges by the same name we have scheduled for 2022. It’s rather a lovely and mutually beneficial arrangement: I deliver training to a group of early career scholars from around the world in academic writing, and in return they all contribute articles to an issue of the journal. Given this helps satisfy both our journal’s primary mission of exposing new scholarly discourse from emerging voices, and provides the opportunity to support their authorial development, I couldn’t be more pleased to be involved. Plus, as those of you reading this who know me, I’ve never been one to shy away from the opportunity to speak publicly about academic publishing! [1]

I was originally invited to give a single three to four hour session as part of the workshop series. However, I concluded given these were being delivered online, and because I am well aware how fatiguing it can be to engage with training for even an hour, let alone for four via Teams, splitting them into two shorter sessions was a more satisfying solution. I think, reading between the lines in the comments from the participants that they recognised and were appreciate of this too.

Whereas the first workshop looked at creating impactful titles and abstracts, before moving on to building the framework of your draft article, today’s second session moved beyond these themes. Hence, we looked at elements such as effective editing, polishing and proofreading, alongside dealing with and responding to peer review feedback. There’s always lots to say about peer review, and I know it’s one of the areas many new scholars approach with considerable trepidation, so it is always worth exploring some more. In this way though, the two halves of the workshop were specifically designed to take the delegates on a journey from inception to delivery of their published article. Albeit in a slightly compressed mode. [2]

Additionally, by splitting the workshops in half, I was able to give the delegates the best part of two months to absorb and reflect on the first workshop experience, and begin to develop their article drafts. As a result, I designed this second session to run a little shorter because I wanted to give more time over to addressing the attendees’ questions and authorial concerns informed by this writing developmental experience. I am delighted to report they certainly didn’t disappoint as there were some excellent questions and comments, and I regret we couldn’t have been in the same room to continue some of these over a coffee and cake afterwards. [3]

One of the two hands-on exercises I had the delegates work through today, was intended to offer a moment of catharsis and revelation. In this they exposed their fears and trepidations concerning writing an article - any article - at this early stage of their academic career. I’ll be picking up on and returning to these comments and suggesting a few answers in a subsequent post and episode of the podcast. What was satisfying to spot, and I hope comforting for the delegates, is none of these fears were unexpected ones. Each were exactly the sort of thing I would expect to be hearing from relatively inexperienced authors.

I came away from the session invigorated and delighted by the discussions, and I hope some of that transferred to the delegates as well – it is always difficult to tell conclusively via teams. However, from the exceptionally positive comments and those delegates I spoke to during the session, I think I can file these workshops under the heading: major success.

Personally, I have considerable confidence that both workshop sessions will have gone some way to answering the delegates’ concerns. Alongside this I hope they will have strengthened the delegates’ resolve, confidence and self-belief that they can and will be able to write excellent articles which have something significant to say. Because, having read their abstracts, I firmly believe each and everyone of them does!

My thanks to Dr Catherine Price for leading on the project, and inviting myself and the journal to participate, and of course each and every delegate for their good humour, patience and engagement with the practical exercises! I await your articles with not inconsiderable interest.

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[1] Or, to be fair, speak loudly publicly anyway.

[2] At the back of my head there’s a weeklong summer school which would seek to decompress what was covered in these workshops, and actually deliver a publishable paper at the end of it. I think I’ll hang on until post-COVID times to look into that though.

[3] Note to potential collaborators, provide me with coffee/tea and cake and I will talk for hours with and about publishing and early career scholars.


November 15, 2021

New Journal Launches – PGR Pedagogic Practice

Writing about web page https://t.co/PJm1ssqckY

Cover of the Journal of Pedagogic PracticeIt is not every day I get to trumpet the arrival of a new journal, but today is very much an exception. Last week saw the launch of the Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practiceon the Warwick Press journals platform. I can't claim Exchanges or myself played an especially large contributing role, and any praise for its content and operations deserves to go entirely to the editors and Board of the new title.

That said, at least one of the lead editors for the journal is a graduate of Exchanges’ associate editors programme. As a consequence, I spent a very enjoyable hour with earlier this year reflecting on my experiences and talking through the practicalities of running a journal title with him. I believe I've also agreed to act as an advisor to the journal team in the future at the point they need some more input. Not that they needed to have asked, as I’m always happy to help support the Warwick Press family of journals in whatever capacity I can. Nevertheless, I think we can claim a slender slice of the kudos pie for ourselves this time.

Of course, now their first issue is out, the greatest hill to climb lies ahead: getting the second issue together! Certainly, so many newly launched scholar-led journal initiatives flounder at this stage once the initial enthusiasm wears thin. And beyond that too lay a series of foothills which will continue to rise from the mists as each subsequent issue approaches. Or maybe that's just my experience running Exchanges - especially this year which has felt like a sprinting marathon at times rather than the light jog running the title usually represents.

Nevertheless, a huge congratulations to our 'sister' J.PGR.PedPract! Long may you attract interesting and insightful articles, thought and comment!



Session Reflections – Educational Podcasting Panel

Follow-up to Educational Podcasting Panel from Exchanges - Editorial Reflections from Warwick's Interdisciplinary Journal

I am pleased to report the Accolade session on education podcasting, organised in collaboration with Exchanges, certainly exceeded my expectations. All of my panellists were as expected excellent contributors and I am naturally deeply grateful for the time and enthusiasm they provided over the hour-long discussion. I was, perhaps, even more satisfied in how I did not have to work my way through many of the pre-prepared panel questions, as those which arose from the floor came so thick and fast. As a consequence, I think the debate was more dynamic and wide ranging along with hopefully being more directly applicable to the audience’s interests.

The session’s format, such as it was, featured introductions from each of the panellists, highlighting their own take on podcasting. What was unexpectedly delightful from a contextual as well as a performative standpoint were the ways each introduction seemed to seamlessly flow into the next. I would love to suggest this luscious flow was directly the outcome of my careful curation of the panel members. However, I would counter it was most likely primarily a serendipitous outcome from gathering an assemblage of knowledge enthusiasts in one place and time. Nevertheless, the manner in which the panellists resonated with each other reinforced nicely why each was there alongside demonstrating from the outset how they would be contributing different perspectives on higher educational podcasting within education.

For my part, I was happy to have a few moments to chip in the odd comment, although from the outset I made it clear I was there as a ringmaster rather than performer for once. Understandably, keeping the conversations managed took up a little more of my main focus, additionally perhaps diminishing the pressure to contribute anything myself!

Regretfully, such was my focus on enabling the conversation I wasn’t taking any notes of the debate. However, thanks to the joy of a Teams based discussion, I was able to capture most of the questions asked. Hopefully, were you not present, the reader will be able to gain an appreciation of the discussions that were consequently sparked through the selection below:

How did you get into educational podcasting, as a creator, user or listener?

In what ways has podcasting played a role in your educational or research practices?

Do you have to pay to upload podcasts to, for example, Spotify?

Can we talk more about the technologies, platforms and techniques for creating a podcast?

Are people willing to listen to podcasts on multiple platforms, or are there ways to distribute them more widely from their original, native, upload host?

Have you experienced any barriers to introducing podcasts as part of the curriculum or within modules? E.g. as a form of assessment, as well as an information resource.

How can you make a podcast with a guest who is not in the same room as you? Is it best to interview via video and extract the sound, or are there other ways to capture good quality audio/performances?

What's the best length for a podcast? Especially in the light of guidance for recording 'long' lectures to chunk them into 10-20 minute segments.

What is your favourite podcast to listen to, and why does it appeal?

From the comments on the day, it was clear the session was very positively received by the audience, which is a credit to everyone who was involved. Hence, I think everyone who attended - including panellists - felt they gained something of interest from the discussions.

Additionally, I am exceptionally pleased in the way the Exchangesbrand has once again been able to be associated with the organisation and hosting of a useful workshop session. Hopefully this is not the last we will hear of podcasting within Accolade or indeed Exchanges itself! Perhaps we will be able to return to this topic afresh in a year's time and see what other lessons or experiences we all have to share by then.

Useful Related Resources:

A few links were shared during the session which included:


November 09, 2021

Educational Podcasting Panel

Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/postdocs/accolade/calendar/autumn/

This Thursday I’ve the pleasure of hosting an Accolade Roundtable panel on educational podcasting. During the session invited panellists will share their personal experiences and perceptions on how they have engaged with podcasting within various higher educational and research contexts. Following this introductory exploration, the floor will be opened for participants to ask questions, add comments or share their own experiences with podcasting. The majority of the session though will be shaped through participant insights, comments and questions.

Hosting this panel naturally stems from my experiences creating and hosting the Exchanges Discourse podcast, but for once I’ve the pleasure of sitting back and let my invited guests hold forth. A bless’d relief for those who might be tired on my voice, perhaps, but more importantly an exciting opportunity to hear lots of different views on podcasting as a medium for professional development, research outreach and educational impact.

I am deeply grateful to the various panellists I reached out to who were able to participate, and a few who weren’t as they helped steer me towards others who were able to attend. For the session our panellists will include: Arun Ulahannan (Institute for Future Transport and Cities, Coventry University), Jessica Humphreys (Academic Development Centre, Warwick), Jim Judges (IT Services, Warwick), Julia Gauly (Warwick Medical School), Naomi Waltham-Smith (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick) and Rebecca Stone (Faculty of Arts, Warwick).

Some of this wonderful group are podcast creators and hosts, some have participated in podcasts as guests, and most if not all have found ways to incorporate, apply or embrace podcasting within their professional practice. While the panel is only an hour long, with so many engaging and interesting personalities on the panel, I suspect it will be a fun and informative session. I’m currently sitting here writing some provocations to get the conversation flowing, but I suspect I won’t need to use many of these before the audience start firing off their own inquiries. At least, that has always been my past experience of chairing Accolade sessions.

Will we inspire members of the audience to take up their own podcasting mics? Perhaps, although this is not the principal aim! Nevertheless, what the session does hope to provide is for everyone to gain a better understanding of educational podcasting principles, techniques and practice. At the same time, I would hope the audience and panellists alike will develop a greater appreciation for how, when and where podcasting can enhance pedagogical and research practices. Moreover, if nothing else, the delegates will become more aware of the ways in which podcasting can form a component of their career development strategy. And perhaps along the way we’ll all emerge with an awareness of some great academic podcasts we can all enjoy and from which we can profit.


October 28, 2021

Issue 9.1 of Exchanges published today

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/issue/view/43

Cover of volume 9.1There’s always a mix of weary elation and satisfaction which washes over me every time we get an issue of the journal published. In part, it is always a joyous moment as after months, sometimes longer, of effort on the part of authors, reviewers, editors and myself we see manuscripts finally making it ‘into print’. From this point on, these articles are part of the collective discourse of the academy, and our role in giving them a point of emergence is largely over. Well, beyond keeping the website up and healthy accessible to all! The relief, nevertheless, is palpable.

It’s also a slightly bitter-sweet moment, as any editor will tell you, because the end of one issue’s journey, means it is time to refocus your attention on the next one. Scholarly publishing is a rapacious beast whose needs must be constantly met! As Editor-in-Chief though there nevertheless is a moment of release associated with the…er…release of the new issue, and this year perhaps more than ever.

Today’s new issue marks the fourth issue of the Exchanges journal we’ve published this year. It may not sound many, but it is twice the number we’re nominally resourced to produce, as a result of our splendid special issue efforts.* I have quite literally managed to double my workload this year – and as a result I am slightly glad I don’t have to worry about writing another editorial or handling the final layout standardisation checks until at least spring 2022. All the same, this is a great achievement by everyone involved and I think we all deserve a moment of congratulations before we saddle up once more.

I am also now realising looking at my much neglected to-do list how much I need to catch up with, given how many minor tasks have had to go by the wayside for the past few months. Hence the final months of 2021, and first of 2022 will be a time of much more behind the scenes labour for myself and the editorial board. Well, in-between the writing workshop I’m teaching in three weeks, and the podcast panel I’m chairing in two.

Anyway, enough editorialising (you’d think with an issue out today, I’d have tired of the sound of my own prose for now): here’s the link to the new issue. My personal thanks to everyone who contributed to its production in any way, shape or form!

This is the twentieth issue of Exchanges, published in October 2021. This issue contains a variety of articles from different corners of the disciplinary academic traditions, from authors around the globe. Article topics within include: genetically modified organisms, flow and renewal in microbial rivers, challenges for early career researchers, time and Norbert Elias, agency within Samuel Beckett’s work, autobiographical experiences of developing teachers, reflections on Routine Dynamics and assessing brand logos. The issue’s editorial by the Editor-in-Chief briefly introduces the issue and provides an overview of the articles published within it. It also highlights the current calls for contributions to future regular and special issues, and ways for readers to engage with the journal in-between issues.

https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/issue/view/43

or via

https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v9i1

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*Not to mention alongside the four issues we’ve published, I’ve three more issues under development right now, so there’s not a great deal of ‘down time’ ahead.


October 19, 2021

Hewn from the Research Bedrock

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

What's an author to do when there's simply too much text to cram into a single article? Focus on what's the most important, advices Exchanges editor-in-chief.

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I’ve been having an enjoyable and informative exchange today with a prospective author. They’ve an especially lengthy original piece which they’re considering submitting to Exchanges, which as it currently stands would be almost triple the size of a regular article. Far too big for us to consider, and I suspect, reading between the lines, it’s a version of a masters’ dissertation meaning they’re likely on the horns of that most typical dilemma for a nascent author: ‘But ALL OF IT is important!!’. I know, I’ve been there myself, in trying to rework a lengthy thesis chapter into a discrete article and becoming frustrated and dismayed in equal measure.

Given we try here at Exchanges, within a little flexibility, to stick to our word limits for our formats – for the sake our reviewers’ time and attention if nothing else – I’ve been offering the author some guidance on ways in which they might approach revising their original text into an article for the journal. I thought it might be worth sharing some of these thoughts here, for other prospective authors too.

For this enquirer, they were particularly wondering how they could possibly shoehorn in all the ‘core’ elements of a research article - literature reviews, methods and methodologies - within what they perceived as a very limited wordcount.

To paraphrase my (not that) old PhD Supervisor ‘Always focus in your writing on what you think is the most important or exciting element, and let the rest form around this’. I can’t argue with this approach, even if it means creating an article from the inside out, rather than a linear or skeletal framework approach. It does benefit the piece though in ensuring the most attention is paid, in terms of page landscape, to the crucial elements of what the author actually wants to say – outside of the supporting contextual scaffold .

As anyone who has read any of my professional pieces, I will freely confess as a wordsmith myself, I tend to write long rather than concisely. To quote my supervisor once more when at the point where I was looking at cutting around 25,000 words from my thesis ‘They’re not going to weigh it, but bringing a focus IS important’. Hence, looking at my writing with always the question of ‘is this bit important/exciting?’ in mind – and if not, wielding the editorial hatchet more severely has helped over the years. I guess my screenwriting training to ‘kill your darlings’ underlines this approach too: never be afraid to cut, cut and cut some more until you’re down to what really matters.

Of course, Exchanges gets all sorts and styles of articles from across the rainbow bridge of disciplinarity. Hence, it would be foolish to suggest there’s a single right or wrong way to formulate a winning piece. There isn’t. But one thing I’ve seen time and again, especially from first time authors, is a tendency to try and cram too many ideas, concepts or narratives into a single article. There’s an understandable fear within their relative publishing inexperience, that cutting any element will fatally wound their chance for publication. Hence, they clip words and phrases but remain timorous of cutting ‘core’ content.

In cutting down the word count, but still trying to include everything, these authors risk instead creating prose so dense or shorn of necessary contextualisation and signposting that it becomes near impossible to read. Reviewers have repeatedly picked up on this in pieces we’ve sent out for feedback, and understandably then demand extensive refinement and greater clarity be introduced. For a piece which can then become so muddled by attempting to be all things at once, this can present the author with a literal literary mountain to climb or syntactical swamp to traverse.

It is a far better approach, where sculpting an article based on a prior, unpublished lengthy work for authors to ask time and again ‘Am I trying to introduce one, two or even three different core ideas in this piece?’ Or even simply ‘what’s the elevator pitch for this article?’

Simply put, if you are unable to boil down your article’s core message to 25 words or fewer…chances are you’re on the verge of taking on a Sisyphean mountaineering challenge post-review! The more skilful and time-savvy approach, is always to recognise the power of publishing a singular piece with a masterful lone, clear concept or argument at its heart. Rather than one which attempt to a muddled jack of all trades.

Nothing is lost though in your condensation of text. Simply because any material you’ve judged as extraneous to your core can be utilised as the foundation for one or more follow-on articles. In this way, you can develop and build higher and further on the firm bedrock of your original piece. You will be beginning to create a discrete vision, a research narrative, and singular voice within the tapestry of your research and publications. This can go a long way towards forming the basis of a publications strategy, alongside establishing your unique contribution and insight within the wider research discourse.

It also serves to soften the admitted heart ache of culling thousands of words from your original piece, if you consider they are not redundant entirely, but the solid foundation of subsequent publication.

As always, I’m interested in our readers and authors’ thoughts on this issue, so please let me know in the comments below if you’ve any advice or insights to share on condensation of longer pieces into impactful articles!


October 12, 2021

New Episode: A Conversation with…Catherine Price

Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/A-Conversation-with---Catherine-Price-e18m8j1

Once again the Exchanges podcast has a new episode out, and on the timely subject of a project allied to a forthcoming special issue of the journal.

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A new term, and with it a new episode of the Exchanges Discourse podcast series. This time we're bringing the focus back to bear on one of our special issues in development.

In this episode we talk with Dr Catherine Price of the University of Nottingham. We discuss her current research into ‘biochar’, along with her work on the ‘Anthropocene and More Than Human World’ project, which is leading to a future special issue of the journal. We touch on some of the benefits from collaborative authorship in academia, as well as how emerging professional networks can serve to enhance writing skills, enthusiasm and achievement for early career researchers. As always, we close we some words of advice for first-time academic authors.

https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/A-Conversation-with---Catherine-Price-e18m8j1

The episode, along with all our others, can be found on Anchor.fm, but also Spotify, Googleand Apple Podcaststoo - for your listening pleasure!

If you've a suggestion for a future podcast episode, or a suggestion for a guest, please do get in touch or comment below.


October 07, 2021

Call for Abstracts: The Effect of Plurality in Translation

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/announcement/view/32

Once more Exchanges is working towards a special issue - this time on a linguistics topic. Find out about the ways in which you can contribute to it.

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Well, here’s some wonderful news – here at Exchanges editorial command we have celebrated the start of the new academic session with the announcement of another special issue call for contributions. If you’ve been keeping track of all our special issues, you’ll note this is the sixth one we’ve had in development since early 2019, giving us a hit rate of 2/year. Considering we are normally configured to publish two issues a year, this represents an exciting (and mildly challenging) 50% increase in our operations.

It’s good to be nice and busy!

You can read all about the call via the link below, but here’s a taster of what it’s all about. Take note of that deadline as it’s going to come around sooner than you expect! Looking forward to seeing lots of lovely abstracts coming in over the next few weeks.

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Call for Abstracts: The Effect of Plurality in Translation

Exchangesis delighted to announce a new call for contributions to a future special issue with a theme of The Effect of Plurality in Translation. Abstracts are sought for consideration by a 1st November 2021deadline. This special issue of the journal seeks contributions from students at master’s and doctoral level as well as from early career academics, who prioritise an interdisciplinary perspective in their research projects.With the desire to make space for reflections on plurilingual diversity and the challenges arising therefrom for translation, this issue is intended to constitute a collection of articles in which knowledge and ideas are shared for the purpose of improving practices of reading, writing, teaching, and translating.

Full text of the call

o be considered as a contributor for this issue, please submit a 300-word abstract, accompanied by your name and institutional affiliation via email to Melissa Pawelski, melissa.pawelski@warwick.ac.ukby Monday 1st November 2021. Please make sure to include ‘Exchanges Special Issue’ in the subject line. Should your contribution be accepted, you will be asked to submit your full paper, by Monday, 14th March 2022

For more information on the call, author guidance or questions – please visit: https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/announcement/view/32


October 05, 2021

Writing for Academic Journals Workshop

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/special-issues

A week of so ago I had the pleasure of running a session entitled ‘Writing for Academic Journals’. This was the first of a two part workshop I’m running as part of The Anthropocene and More-Than-Human World workshop series, a British Academy funding project. As avid readers of the journal and this blog will be aware, this is an early career focussed programme wherein various speakers are running workshops for a small group of emerging scholars, with the aim of producing content for a future special issue of Exchanges. Despite my inner critic suggesting ‘What do I know about writing for journals?’ at times as I worked on preparing my session, I am delighted to report the session was somewhat of a smash hit with the audience.

Very much looking forward to part two in November where we’ll be returning to looking more at the peer-review elements and revisions to manuscripts part of the submission and publication experience. Given the high level of interaction and positive response to the first workshop, I’m hoping the second part experiences the same reaction. Moreover, I’m hoping too that by then the participants are well on the way towards producing their submissions for the journal!

Incidentally, you’ll be able to hear more about the project when the next episode of the podcast goes live, as I was in conversation with Dr Catherine Price yesterday concerning it.


August 03, 2021

New Issue Published: Then & Now Special Isse

Writing about web page https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v8i4

It may be high summer, but behind the scenes at Exchanges HQ we’ve been busy working away towards our third special issue. And naturally, as it was published today, we’re excited to share the news with the rest of the world. You can read the issue via the link below. Go on, I can wait until you’ve done that before I continue.

https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/issue/view/41

Good, now you’re all caught up. This issue is, as I highlight in the editorial, the culmination of 18 months of preparation work. It also, oddly, was a project we started on in the early months of 2000 when meeting in a crowded student café wasn’t a challenging prospect. The Then & Now project itself had to swerve direction somewhat with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and campus restrictions. I’m pleased to say though, how beyond the lack of face-to-face meetings, pretty much every aspect of Exchanges’ editorial operations for this issue continued as before.

Anyway, it’s been a genuine pleasure working on this issue with my three associate editors (Pierre, Josh and Kathryn), and I’m really delighted to have the fruits of their labour publicly available too.

Of course with the issue out, there’s no rest for the editor, as I’m off to start work training up some new associate editors to work on one of our future issues next!


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