All entries for January 2023
January 24, 2023
Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/cadre/current_students/phdlife/cadreworkshops/
Following a session for arts and humanities students, the EIC reflects back on the discussions, content and advice offered in a workshop for PGRs.
Today I had the pleasure of attending and helping to facilitate the CADRE Publishing for Arts Postgraduates workshop and seminar on campus, thanks to old friend of the journal Dr Pierre Botcherby. As my first of a number of workshops and events I’m contributing to this year, I was very much looking forward to the discussions. I was also looking forward to helping to host the event in person, as the side conversations you have with delegates seldom seem to occur in the online only format.
Led by Prof David Lambert and cofacilitated by myself and Pierre, the session was an opportunity for the research students to explore, discuss and broaden their knowledge of academic publishing. With a practical edge, the general focus was, largely, on academic journal articles. Although we also dipped into the realm of collected editions, social media and book proposals too. Naturally, because I was in the room, we also got into the complexities of open access and author rights, but perhaps thankfully I didn’t find myself on too much of a soapbox about the commodification of the publishing sector. Well, not too much of a soapbox anyway.
The opening question put to the delegates was ‘why should you publish’ – for the following areas emerged.
- Feedback: To gain useful feedback and enrich thesis writing. Appreciating publication is a process [a continuum even? – Ed] too, of which thesis writing is part.
- Discourse: To contribute to the scholarly discourse and in having something interesting and original to say within it.
- Enrich: To bring other researchers or fields of study which may have been previously neglected, and in this way enriching the field and reputations of other scholars was a related point.
- Career: Pragmatically it was pointed out that publishing was essential for building your academic CV, profile, reputation and potential job prospects.
- Confidence: Interestingly one delegate suggested that publishing helped to build personal confidence in their research endeavors, and also to stake a degree of ‘primacy’ over their field of work or focus.
- Visibility: Finally, it was agreed that creating a publication track record leads to creating a discussion or focus on your research in the wider academic environment – again a valuable career boosting element.
When to Publish?
Delegates were next challenged to consider when the time was ripe to publish – and an interesting spectrum of times emerged from different parts of the room. These perceptions included:
- Before: Potentially given prior experience ahead of starting the PhD, drawing on past studies like a Master’s dissertation or professional knowledge.
- Third Year: During your final year, once the research is done and findings are starting to emerge.
- Opportunity: As opportunities and circumstances allow – you might not be planning to publish but then a call appears which so closely matches your chapter or thesis theme that not trying to publish would seem self-defeatist.
These were all certainly valid perceptions, and very much reflecting that there is no ‘ideal’ moment, but a myriad of possibilities of opportunities.
Where to Publish?
Next came the knotty problem of selecting a publication destination, something I actually came back to in my own later talk How to Publish. Here discussions were largely around the routes to identifying the right candidate journal – through metrics or considering to whom a journal’s content is normally directed. We didn’t get too deeply into the metrics, perhaps a bless’d relief, although it might be that a 20 minute follow up session these and the JCRs might have benefited the delegates somewhat – not matter my own skepticisms of the preeminence of these schema.
Points were also raised concerning about choosing to write for a niche, disciplinary title against the benefits (and challenges) of seeking to appear in a broader and more cross/interdisciplinary title too. I was gratified to hear some discussion from delegates concerning balancing knockbacks (rejections/declines) from more ‘senior’ titles against targeting ‘lower ranked’ titles. The perception was these more modest titles were normally more likely to be configured in a more welcoming, and accommodating manner whilst retaining quality regimes. I would certainly hope Exchanges itself falls into this latter category!
What to Publish?
Next, we enjoyed some more debate over what exactly to publish, although journal articles and book reviews were both seen as good starting points. Book chapters, especially as a result of conference participation and later collected editions were also agreed as strong and sometime serendipitous publication opportunities to be very much encouraged. Books, especially the research monograph, were noted as especially valuable for career capital but in terms of time commitment items with their much longer lead time to publication something which might be a greater challenge in terms of relating to a imminent job opportunity. However, it was highlighted that having any publication ‘accepted’ allowed it to be listed as ‘forthcoming’ within a CV, publication list or profile, which was seen as still offering considerable benefit.
At this point one of the experienced delegates stressed how important they had found it to be responsive and friendly in all their communications with publishers, and how it had opened potential additional avenues to follow up later too. I would concur with this point, and not just because I’m generally on the other side of the editorial communication equation!
How to Publish
Following on was section comprising a twenty minute talk from myself – and rather than blow my own trumpet here’s a link to the slides:
But for the record I covered a little on creating effective titles and abstracts, methods for evaluating candidate journals and publishers, the dangers of ‘trash’ publishers, coping with peer-review feedback and clearing third party rights. I also dipped into the importance of considering how a journal or publisher deals with author rights – in terms of requiring a transfer of economic rights, vs journals like Exchanges which allow authors to retain them. It seemed to go down well enough – although I might have frightened one delegate with my warnings about publishing in trash journals and career impact.
After some discussions over lunch we moved into the wrap up for the session, touching briefly again on open access and edited collections . We also had a bit of chat about the artificialities of page and content lengths in a digital publishing age, although as demonstrated – some (many?) journals still have hardcopy editions which impacts on their minimum and maximum sizes for volumes and contents. Finally, there were discussions around blogging and social media as a route to ‘publishing’ and raising personal visibility. As a long-time blogger  I’m not sure how much blogs work that well in that respect today, but I’d agree they are a great environment within which to start a conversation alongside practicing your writing habits. As I commented though, some publisher’s definition of ‘prior publishing’ can be tricksy – in that they claim only ‘they’ perform ‘true’ publication…and yet ‘blogging’ by prospective authors might somehow be considered prior work and risk clash with a submission based on the blog.
I, and by extension Exchanges, very much disagree with this perception, which is mired more in considerations of profitability and market return than supporting scholarly discourse. Nevertheless, it was something worth flagging up so the delegates might be aware it could prove a future problematic for them to overcome.
Hence, as you can see a packed couple of hours, with plenty of good content and discussions. My thanks again to the hosts and delegates for all their contributions too.
 Delegates were probably lucky I wasn’t running the session alone as I would have loved to get into these areas in more detail. But, when you’re sharing the stage it doesn’t do to hog the limelight too much!
 As I commented on twitter, I am usure how strong an argument ‘audience’ is these days, with much research indicating readers come in primarily at the article rather than journal level. Certainly for my own praxis, I rarely if ever read a specific ‘journal’ these days – I search for article on topics of research interest instead. Frankly being ‘open’ is more important to me than ‘prestigious’!
 I wasn’t aware that Warwick had a series for these, so this was an especially useful bit for me.
 I think this current blog is my fourth or fifth regular professional blog platform, so yes a long time and reasonably prolific.
January 18, 2023
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/podcast
A new year brings with it a new episode of the Exchanges Discourse podcast, focussing on critical reflections.
Many moons ago I wrote a piece for the blog about critical reflections, in part to address the lack of substantive information which had been previously provided about them. Since then it’s remained a popular format, but one which I’ve found many authors are less than clear about. So, before the Christmas break, I recorded a lengthy new episode of The Exchanges Discourse podcast to explore this topic.
Listen here: Creating Critical Reflection Articles: The What, The Why, The How and The Where (23:57)
(Also available on Spotify)
As it’s a lengthy episode I’ve provided some navigation guidance for listeners so they can skip to the right point of the podcast episode.
- Opening (00:00)
- Introduction (01:08)
- Defining critical reflections (04:12)
- Why they matter (09:28)
- Writing critical reflections (14:08)
- Wrap up (21:12)
Keen eared and regular listeners will notice I’ve also updated the musical ident that we use for the podcast. I thought after three seasons it was time to have a refresh of this, and I hope you enjoy the light and slightly innocuous new piece I’ve selected.
As we don’t have any more author interviews scheduled (at least not until after we publish issue 10.2 in April), I’ll be hopefully pulling together a couple more episodes in the meantime…but no spoilers for now.
January 13, 2023
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/
In a companion piece to yesterday's post, the EIC takes a look at which articles proved the most regularly consulted by the readership in 2022.
Yesterday I focussed on the most popular episodes of the Exchanges Discourse podcast. Today I’m turning to the journal itself and asking the question: What were the most popular articles in 2022? Naturally, there are a variety of metrics that we could use here but I’ll be deploying the one with the most readily available data to me: raw downloads. 
We published a grand total of 28 new articles in 2022, but as always this new chart isn’t limited to these pieces alone. Although, it might be natural to assume that there will be a strong representation from the new material given its prominence in social media post issue launch, previous years have shown a lot of articles on Exchanges go on being actively accessed year after year. Indeed glancing at the stats for 2022, even the least accessed article had 36 downloads which is no small feat! 
This year in keeping with the podcast chart, I’ve also given a reader share figure. This is to give an idea of the proportion of downloads each article enjoyed in comparison to every piece we’ve ever published since 2013.
Without any more delay then, here’s this year’s chart:
Key: Art – Article, Con – Conversation, CF – Critical Reflection
As always, I’m delighted, if a little surprised, how a number of our older articles continue to maintain a strong grip on our audience, especially given the strong reader share of the top two items. That said items from the last three years are still strongly represented with five entries – two of which were only published in 2022 - making very commendable appearances here.
It’s also good to see both conversation and critical reflection articles appearing high in the chart.  We continue to receive a number of excellent pieces in these formats, if perhaps fewer of the conversations than I would like, and hence it is satisfying to see our readers continue to value them, at least extrapolating from this data.  There are two a good range of new entries and checking back to when I first started reviewing the downloads in 2019’s volumes they are all genuine first-time appearances at the top of the charts – well done those authors especially.
As always, I suspect some of these articles will appear in our 2023 chart. However, with a currently scheduled 5 new issues to appear this year it wouldn’t surprise me if there was more than a little more competition than ever from new pieces twelve months from now!
 Bibliometric fans and scholars might want to adopt a different method, drawing on impact, half-life, citations or altmetrics, but with the limited time available to me I’m going down the easiest route.
 It was an editorial from 2016, should you be curious.
 The most popular editorial(one of mine) popped up at number 45 in the chart (out of 231 total entries). Surprisingly high, although it was in one of our largest issues in terms of articles. Personally, I’m happy anyone reads the editorials - as editor, one has to accept that your own prose is always going to be of lesser import than featured authors!
 I often mention how critical reflections especially are valued by our readership and it’s good to see the numbers back me up!
January 12, 2023
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/podcast
The EIC looks back at the Exchanges Discourse podcast listener figures to uncover 2022’s most popular episodes.
Happy new year Exchanges blog readers. As is tradition  at the start of each year I like to have a quick check of the stats relating to the journal. First up, it’s the Exchanges Discourse podcast. Last year (2022) we released 17 episodes with a total running time of 6hrs 49mins – almost double the duration of the content we released the previous year. Were our authors more loquacious? In part, yes, but also the four additional episodes probably helped to boost the total a little.
For interest – here’s a link back to last year’s charts.
Interestingly, 15/17 episodes in 2022 featured a guest  with only a couple being solo episodes featuring myself. Anyway, here are the top chats of the year:
- In Conversation with Elloit Cardoza (Feb ’22) [Total Audience Share: 16%]
- In Conversation with Mehdi Moharami (Jan ’22) [Total Audience Share: 13%]
- In Conversation with Francesca Brunetti (June ’22) [Total Audience Share: 8%]
- What Do I Get Out of Publishing with Exchanges? (Mar ’22) [Total Audience Share: 8%] 
- In Conversation with Alena Cicholewski (Sept ’22) [Total Audience Share: 7%]
Unsurprisingly, those recorded and released towards the start of the year do benefit from a longer lead time than the later ones, although I’m delighted to see my lovely chat with Alena in September is there among the most popular. I am also slightly flabbergasted to see one of my solo efforts charting so high. It’s not that they’re ‘less worthy’ entries, but I’ve rather naturally assumed the friends and colleagues of our guests would always boost the episodes they appear in above my own solo entries.
My thanks as always to all my guests, and of course the listeners too – I hope you all enjoyed and benefitted from the experience.
So, what’s coming up in 2023? The good news is the first new episode is only a day or so away from release as I recorded it just ahead of the Xmas break. After that…ah, spoilers sweetie!
 It’s not a long-standing tradition, dating back only a couple of years, but a tradition nevertheless.
 Including one author who came back for seconds!
 A very slightly lower overall number of listeners compared to (3), but not enough to shift the stats.