All entries for November 2019

November 28, 2019

Special Issues are Like Buses

Behind the scenes at Exchanges right now we’re working hard on preparing for the launch of our first ever special issue, scheduled for very early in 2021. We’re also on the cusp of closing the call for contributions to our second special issue, but it’s not too late (yet) to submit! Meanwhile, I had the pleasure this week to travel down to meet with a couple of friendly academics from SOAS and the University of Oxford (hello Ben, hello Filippo), who wanted to propose a third special issue of Exchanges. This is rather exciting as while we’ve been thoroughly enjoying working with the Warwick and Monash scholars in preparation for the first two special issues, this time the approach has come from outside of Warwick and the IAS’ direct collaborating institutions.

We’re still in the process of finalising the exact theme, although I can reveal that broadly it will fall into the area of ‘interdisciplinary representations and evolutions of narratives of loneliness and nerds’. As a somewhat geeky nerd at heart [1], this rather appealed to me on a personal level. Moreover, the underlying plans to tie this proposed issue into a mid-2020 symposium and ongoing research work from an intrinsically diverse research community forms an especially welcome prospect. Diversity, in terms of geographical origin, research domain and seniority are also another core component of the proposed issue, which should add a wonderful diversity of voice, insight and opinion to the issue.

Incidentally, for Exchanges, working with these scholars absolutely resonates with our desire to continue to evolve away from our early Warwick-centric roots, and become a more integral part of the national and international early-career researcher publishing culture [2].

There’s also the additional bonus, that we will likely be able to engage with external post-graduate researcher communities to join us as associate editors for this issue. Hence, this very much matches our second core mission, to enable developmental experience within scholar-led publishing practice for emerging scholars. It also answers our third, and oft unnoticed, mission – to experiment and explore new publishing models and patterns that are attractive to our contributor community. Someone should really remind me in the new year to get round to formally publishing more about our experiences in this domain.

For Exchanges, this development chimes agreeably with our shift in 2019 towards publishing special issues. We have, in the past, published themed sections, but I strongly believe through offering these focussed individual issues, we’re witnessing the slow evolution of the journal into its second phase of existence. As our esteemed Institute Director, Prof Peter Scott said this new development is very much ‘Taking things to another level again’. It’ll also keep me surprisingly and gainfully busy alongside the day to day running of the title, I can assure you.

That said, it is currently early days for this third special issue. Indeed Ben and Filippo’s anticipated timescales are such that we’re likely looking towards a 2021 publication date, something which seems a vast time away right now, but doubtless will be upon us all before we know it. I’ll continue to update our readership and contributor community of developments as we move in to 2020.


[1] Something painfully obvious I’m sure to anyone who’s met me in the flesh, or listened to one of my (near) countless science fiction podcasts and videos!

[2] I include those scholars I’ve worked with on the other two special issues as well, it’s been a wonderful experience for myself as well as (I hope) for them.

November 14, 2019

Building a Better Journal Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of contributing to the Institute of Advanced Study’s (IAS) Accolade researcher development programme once again. Last year, I contributed a session to the programme on Exchanges and related scholar-led publishing topics which lasted around 90 minutes; although this year due to room availability my slot was regretfully cut back to an hour [1]. I’d originally been planning something a bit different for this year, as after reflection on the previous session I concluded that it contained too much ‘chalk and talk’ and insufficient discussion and interaction. Before I heard about the session’s length, and with my own kinaesthetic learning tendencies in mind, I’d outlined a healthy 90 minute workshop deconstructing scholar-led publishing in a series of interlinked exercises. Yes, a healthy dose of gamification was included in the outline too.

Faced with my ‘reduced Shakespeare’ session, I reconfigured the workshop into roughly 20% talk and 80% activities for the research fellows. It was, thankfully, a highly energised session which engendered plenty of questions and group discussion during the guided activities. As with any lectrure, seminar or workshop there were still elements I’d tweak for a future performance, but nevertheless it was a clearly workable format that I’ll be able to reuse elsewhere [2]. Additionally, the input, questions and insights from the fellows were extremely useful in helping to clarify various issues.

Given the appropriately spooky date for the session, I posed a question asking people to talk about and share their publishing horror stories. Every academic has them, and some may even keep people awake at night! I captured a few of them here, and I’m sure it’s a rare scjholar with whom these don’t resonate on some level.

Publishing fears

I also ran the prototype of an exercise which challenged attendees to prioritise editorial and process elements to construct for their ‘perfect’ journal. Once again there were some key learning outcomes from this. Firstly, for the timescale I gave people too many options, and a re-run would likely need to introduce a prior winnowing technique or utilise fewer options. I might also need to introduce some clearer rules or criteria for assigning items to each category, although given the point of the exercise was to leave as much decision making in the hands of the delegates, that aspect may remain as it is. For example, here’s one of the six group’s final grids [3] showing one possible configuration using about 20% of the possible options.

Process Document

Practically, I also learned that if you’re printing paper props off give yourself plenty of time, as I spent my entire lunch break cutting out strips of paper. Obviously, as this was the inaugural run for this session it was difficult to realise how it would work under-fire, but I’m confident with some slight tweaks it’ll produce a series highly stimulating and reflective exercises. I might also enhance the ‘playing pieces’ somewhat to make them clearer. Failing to realise that not everyone speaks fluent editor terminology was a very apposite point of feedback.

So in conclusion: what did I learn? Well, aside from the comments on the efficacy of running the session, I gained some insightful feedback on running a journal like Exchanges, and the perceptions of people within our potential contributor community. I’ll be using this feedback to help shape my planned focus groups, where I want to explore some related issues with groups of post-graduates and early career researchers alike. Naturally, I’ll talk about the results of these here.


[1] Rumours of a second slot in term 3 abide, but have yet to be confirmed! I'll worry about that in 2020.

[2] Possibly in my other teaching and workshop commitments over this academic year

[3] Image credit Hsiao Lie, to whom I note my thanks!

November 05, 2019

New Issue (Volume 7 No. 1) Published

Writing about web page

exchanges_cover_v71-small.jpgIf you’re a registered reader of Exchanges, or follow our twitter feed, you’ll have already spotted the great news that last week we rolled out the 13th issue of the journal. For those keeping score, this makes it the 4th issue under my own august editorship, equalling the previous best run of my predecessor. This issue’s varied table of contents is as follows:

Johnson, G.J., 2019. Effective Contributor Communication and Editorial Process Efficacy: Editorial, Volume 7, Part 1.

Tan, I., 2019. The Artist in and of the Work: Joyce’s Artistic Self-Fashioning.

Eze, V.C., & Ejiofor, S.O., 2019. Problems of Reading Comprehension In Learning Chinese As A Second Language Among Undergraduates of Chinese Studies in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.

Tho, N.H., et al. 2019. Multi-objective Production Planning for a Flexible Manufacturing System based on NSBBO Method.

Pisaturo, M., & Senatore, A., 2019. Electric Motor and Dry Clutch Control in Launch Manoeuvres of Mild-Hybrid Vehicles Based on AMT/DCT Transmissions.

Heyerick, I., 2019., Is there an I in Impact? Considering the two-way process of public engagement.

Vince, R., & Teichler, Hanna., 2019. Challenging Binaries and Unfencing Fields: An Interview with Bryan Cheyette.

It’s been great once more to bring together such a wide-ranging set of articles and authors; with notably two of our first published authors from Africa. This just leaves South America and Antarctica as the continental regions from which we’ve yet to publish work: if you’re a scholar based in these regions looking for a friendly, early career focussed, quality assured title to publish in, we’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, as I go back to deal with all the various promotional and post-publication tasks for Vol 7(1), I’m also scaling work in preparation for our anticipated January publication of the Cannibalism special issue, not to mention dealing with submissions for consideration for future volumes. Naturally though, as an editor, my appetite for manuscripts remains unsated, so hopefully there’ll be plenty more potential submissions coming to us over the last couple of months of this decade. Do get in touch if you’d like to talk through an outline article, or just take the plunge and submit – we look forward to hearing from you!

November 2019

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