All entries for October 2021
October 28, 2021
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/issue/view/43
There’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.
*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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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, email@example.com 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 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.