March 24, 2020

Keeping In Touch and Engaged with Exchanges

Good morning Exchanges contributors, readers and wider community. I thought it was worth briefly highlighting the various ways you can engage with Exchanges and our team, especially given the currently complex and changing international situation. Albeit currently, we’re limited to these being all at a distance.

Firstly, and most importantly, for potential authors looking to talk over a submission, then our Editorial Board members can always be contacted for initial discussions (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/editorialTeam). Naturally, you can come straight to myself as Chief Editor, especially if you’ve got something more unusual in mind (e.g. a potential special issue!).

Secondly, if you’re a Linked.In user, and you’re looking to bolster your personal career profile and information on publishing opportunities, then you should join our group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12162247/). It’s where all the key announcements from Exchanges are regularly posted, and importantly it’s a fairly low traffic group, with maybe a post a week, so you won’t be overwhelmed with information.

Undoubtably, the best way to get with the journal involved is contribute material for future issues. You’ll find our current calls on our announcement pages (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement). Remember, Exchanges take peer-reviewed articles but also interviews, essays and critical reflections, which while they are still subject to editorial scrutiny before acceptance can see publication faster. They’re also incredibly popular items with our diverse, global audience too, and a great way for new authors to add a publication in a quality title.

We also have a twitter feed: suitable for scholars of all disciplines & interests (http://www.twitter.com/ExchangesIAS). It’ll keep you at the forefront of news, views and opportunities at the journal. Hopefully, you already follow us, but we’re always keen for more early career and post-graduate researchers to join us. We’re stronger together, and it’s a really engaged community we’re building.

Then there’s this blog…which you’re currently reading (https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/exchangesias/)! Every other week (and more frequently as time allows) our EIC writes about the journal and developments behind the scenes. Comments and discussion are always welcome on our open forum.

It’s worth remembering too, that Exchanges is published through our existence as part of Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Study (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/). This means there are many other ways to get involved with activities within the IAS and Exchanges, albeit virtually for the time being).

Finally, we’ve also introduced the opportunity to engage with the Editor-in-chief via video conferencing. So, if you talk over publishing matters, opportunities or potential future projects you’d like to work with us on, then you can still talk directly to a friendly face. Get in touch to set up an appropriate time: UK office hours Tue/Thur normally available (https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/contact) .

Stay safe, stay strong and stay in touch in these uncertain and extremely challenging times


March 19, 2020

Journal Management in Challenging Times

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

When I took over running Exchanges back in early 2018, I expected to deal with various challenges. Getting to grip with the journal system, learning to work with my team of editors, tackling intricate author questions and resolving ethical publishing dilemmas: these were anticipated and, to be fair, encountered. Conversely, dealing with an unprecedented public health crisis necessitating personal isolation and remote working for an extended period of time wasn’t even at the back of my mind. Perhaps it should have been, but I suspect I wasn’t alone in my assumptions.

As readers will know, Exchanges is a scholar-led, editor-mediated academic journal, run by and for early career researchers. My editorial team, scholars all, are scattered around the globe in four different times zones and at least five countries. The Corvid-19 outbreak is also a global event, meaning each of us is dealing with unexpected challenging personal and professional circumstances of varying levels of severity. As of writing, this week the outbreak has especially impacted on the UK and its universities, and I’ve now been advised to work from home for the foreseeable future. Luckily, this is something I do on a regular basis, although I’m going to miss my frequent personal interactions with the Institute of Advanced Study’s staff, fellows and the rest of the Warwick university community. Not to mention my lovely office!

We are though, an international journal with contributors around the globe who are also likely finding their lives and work impacted by illness, closures and disruptions. We have always prided ourselves as a journal with an ethical empathy and understanding of challenges faced by our contributors, embedded within our professional ethos. Nevertheless, my team and I understand that our normal timescales for contributor responses may need to be more flexible for the time being. Personal and family health and well-being must come first.

What does this mean for the journal? I am thankful virtually all of Exchanges’ core editorial work can be conducted remotely, which means the journal can continue to function as close to normal as we can manage. However, there is no denying that through the uncertainties introduced into all our daily working lives, that our anticipated future issue timescales will have to be treated with a little caution. I’m hopeful that we will still produce the anticipated Spring volume of Exchanges on or close to our regular April publication date, but right now I’m treating this with a little caution.

Nevertheless, if you are currently or considering contributing to Exchanges and have any concerns about deadlines or timescales, please don’t hesitate to speak to your editor or myself directly. We are always happy to discuss your concerns.

I should note, all our currently calls for contributions – Nerds and Loneliness, Falsehoods as well as our general call, remain open and we look forward to reading your articles and abstract submissions.


March 05, 2020

Editorial Entrances & Departures

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/editorialTeam

This week we’re witnessing a slight changing of the guard with Exchanges. Firstly, some of my associate editors who have been working on our various special issues have come off the team. My thanks to Sophie, Freya and James for their various contributions to the title, and I hope they’ve found it a useful learning experience [1].

Meanwhile, behind the scenes at Exchanges I’ve been working these past two years to gradually increase the internationalisation of the Board, by talking with Warwick’s various institutional partners. It can be tricky overseeing and supporting a distributed editorial team around the globe, and it’s a time consuming (and occasionally frustrating) task to engage with those institutions where we don’t have any direct representation for the journal. Much as I’d like to do a spot of globetrotting and make some connections in person [2], it hasn’t been practical – so I’ve been involved in extensive chains of email correspondence. It probably won’t surprise you to read that Exchanges isn’t top of many scholars’ priorities. This might be understandable, but from a Managing Editor perspective, it can make for false starts and occasional stagnation.

Nevertheless, as of today, I’m delighted to welcome aboard our newest two members of the Editorial Board as Dr Guilherme Sampaio and Dr Salvatore Monteleone join us from CY Cergy Paris Université. Guilherme is an intellectual historian, specialising in particular on the French reception of Keynes and generally on the relation between economic thought and policy in Modern France. By contrast, Salvatore is a researcher focussing on cyber-physical systems, embedded systems, and network-on-chip architectures. I’m confident they’ll both bring some much appreciated new perspectives and insights, alongside their more practical contributions to the journal.

[1] More about that in a later post and conference paper next month!

[2] Perhaps less so currently, given the current global health crisis


March 03, 2020

Special Issue Call Announced Nerds, Culture and Loneliness

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement/view/20

Hopefully by now you’ll have seen the announcement from Exchanges about our latest call for papers. This time we’re teaming up with SOAS and the University of Oxford to produce an issue with papers which ‘explore fictional representations of nerds and loneliness across various media and culture’. Naturally, those of you who know me in real life, know this is a topic very close to my heart and lived-experience. Unlike earlier calls, we’re only seeking abstracts in the first instance (300 words by 6th April), so hopefully this’ll net us a rich range of potential contributors.

If you’ve been keeping track, this represents the third of our special issues we’ve formally launched preparations towards: with the recently published Cannibalism issue being the first and the pending CliFi issue the second. Interestingly, with each of these issues we’ve followed a slightly different pattern for submissions. For Cannibalism, we had a preselected number of authors who had already contributed to a conference, who were directly invited to submit. For CliFi, while we were associated with last year’s European Utopian Society’s conference in Prado, the call for contributions was very much open to any scholar globally. This time we’re almost blending these prior approaches, by starting with a call for abstracts, which will be followed by a workshop event (in early 2021), and then expecting contributors to the workshop to contribute a paper to Exchanges’ special issue.

In many respects, I think this last model may be my favourite, as it embeds Exchanges in the workshop processes and discourse from the outset. It’s not to say it’ll be the only model we’ll use in the future. I’d be lying if I suggested that. Certainly though, given a free hand with future collaborative special issues, I’d hope we can emulate as many elements as possible of this approach, as I believe it’ll serve to offer dividends in thematic coherency and editorial efficacy alike.

I should note at this point, my big thanks to Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS) and Dr Benjamin Schaper (Oxford) who came to me with this proposal a few months ago, and following some enthusiastic discussions on both sides, have helped guide us to this point. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what sort of material this call elicits, and working with Filippo and Ben over the months to come.


February 10, 2020

Fun with Metrics

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/issue/view/27

Today I’ve been having a quick exploration of the numbers around the most recent couple of issues of Exchanges. Metrics are for (most) journals a hotly contested topic, with their value quantitatively established and promoted with profound pride by editors and publishers alike. Regular readers of this blog will be aware than I’m from the qualitative school of research and have some deep ideological objections to the metrification and quantisation of academic publication, and consequential transformation in a highly fetishised quasi-market mode. Ahem. To read more on this topic, see my publications or come and have a chat with me, although I cannot promise not to get onto my soapbox!

Personally, I’d rather see the valorisation of an article through post-publication discourse in the social and public spheres, than watch the uptick of citations or downloads. However, for most of our authors and readers alike metrics and journal publications, love ‘em or loathe ‘em, are intrinsically linked. I can appreciate being able to see how people are reading the work author’s have slaved over for months, in an employment sector often detached from tangible esteem measures, can be a key personal satisfier.

As an editor-in-chief too, I confess I do get a little frisson of delight watching the download statistics slowly (and not so slowly) grow post-publication [1]. For the authors, seeing these figures climb mean people are at the very least reading their publications, although how they are using it, citing it, teaching from it, learning from it, remain to be elicited. As a journal publisher, it helps me to promote the journal as a publication destination for future authors, and to answer questions to my employers about the continued viability of the title.

In recent issues of Exchanges, we’ve shifted to include more ways within articles to recognise and identify authors, notably ORCIDs, twitter handles and biographical sketches. This means it has become easier to spot a portion of the buzz around an issue and its concomitant articles. Certainly, Vol 7.2 (Cannibalism Special Issue) has generated a highly visible amount of discussion following its publication, which I hope will continue as more people read the issue [2]. Including author twitter handles means I’m at least able to observe part of these conversations, even though monitoring discussions within departments, conferences and the like isn’t practical. I fervently hope this most exciting issue will continue to receive a suitably wide discussion, as we continue our promotional efforts over the next few weeks [3].

But back to my original point: metrics. I was curious this morning, now we’re just over 10 days post publication, to see how the issue was progressing. So, I ran some quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations to contrast v7.2’s readership numbers with the preceding issue. Here’s what I found.

Table 1: Download stats/article for the two most recent issues of Exchanges [4]

Issue V7.2 (Cannibalism) V7.1 (Regular issue)
Mean 34.2 144.9
Median 30.5 139
Min/Max 19/106 118/196
StdDev 20.1 28.9

This is by no means conclusive but these numbers suggest the level of interest in this issue is potentially above the norm for Exchanges. If this degree of reader engagement continues, it wouldn’t surprise me if after 100 days post-publication most of this issue’s articles will have developed an especially commendable download rate. Kudos to the authors, who through being associated with such a broad, critical mass of learned discourse, will be able to reap additional benefits. I’ll certainly endeavour to return down the line to see if my assumptions are being met.

Additionally, this also suggests how adopting a publication mode which embraces more special issues such as this one can be considerably beneficial to Exchanges health and longevity as well. The more readers we garner, the more likely people will cite the articles, helping enhance the title’s valorisation and recognition, which in turn encourages more submissions. As the managing EIC, right now, I couldn’t be more delighted with how all these efforts have turned out. Even if it has substantially increased my own workload!

[1] Incidentally, my own IP is masked from the stats, so it doesn’t matter how many times I open or download an article to check something, my interactions aren’t actually counted. But then, I’ve already read each article a handful of times already on its journey to publication…

[2] I’m still keen to develop post-publication commenting functions for readers and authors on our journal site, but currently, am awaiting an update to the platform before I can make any strides in this direction. If you’re one of our readers, authors or reviewers and you’d like to see article comments; drop me a line – as the more people who ask, the more I can lobby my lovely technical team to devote some time to it!

[3] Another medium-to-long-term goal is to introduce altmetrics scores for each article, to try and capture a value for how ‘talked about’ each issue is in the public domain. Watch this space for details as soon as I have them, but I can assure you, this is one of my ‘top 5’ goals for Exchanges in 2020.

[4] V7.2: 11 days post-publication, V7.1, 101 days post-publication


February 04, 2020

Special Issue on Cannibalism Published

Writing about web page https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2

I’m delighted to announce that we have published our first special issue, after a year of preparatory work behind the scenes. I couldn’t be happier with the way the issue has turned out, not least of which the fact that this is the BIGGEST ever issue we’ve published. By my calculations this issue contains 63% more peer-reviewed articles than its nearest comparator (v5.1 fact fans), and fully 38% more total pages than our previous longest issue (way back to v2.1). It’s also, incidentally, the fifth issue to come our under my stewardship, one more than any previous lead editor’s stewardship, so I’ll be basking in that minor glory for a few days at least.

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read the special issue, I’d strongly encourage you to do so. This is a really fascinating issue, on a topic I confess I’ve given very little thought to personally, before working on the collection. Nevertheless, there are some corking pieces in there and as you’ll see in the editorial, I’ve a few favourites among them. That’s not to denigrate the other pieces, which have all passed successfully through our rigorous quality filter and are filled with fascinating insight, but rather purely personal taste.

Maybe I shouldn’t mention taste in an issue on cannibalistic issues?

Nevertheless, the next week or so will see the usual post-publication activities of promoting the issue and each article as widely as possible. For ease of viewing, here’s a table of contents (TOC) for the issue.

Shorland, A., 'Bites here and there': Literal and Metaphorical Cannibalism Across Disciplines Conference Review. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.550

Ramos-Velasquez, V.M., Anthropophagic Re-Manifesto for the Digital Age: 10th Anniversary Rendition. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.465

Frost, D., ‘Provisions being scarce and pale death drawing nigh, / They'd try to cast lots to see who should die’: The Justification of Shipwreck Cannibalism in Popular Balladry https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.459

D’Antonio, C.S., Consuming and Being Consumed: Cannibalism in the Consumerist Society of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Edible Woman’ https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.446

Henderson, L., Anthropophagy of the Werewolf. An Eco-Feminist Analysis of Justine Larbalestier's Liar (2009). https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.402

Moran, T.F., The Camera Devoured: Cinematic Cannibalism in Pedro Costa’s Casa De Lava (1994). https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.461

Shames, D., Consumption from the Avant-Garde to the Silver Screen: Cannibalism, Fetish, and Profanation. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.466

Wheatley, M., For Fame and Fashion: The Cannibalism of Creatives in Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted (2005) and Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon (2016). https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.458

Jackson, K., Dejects and Cannibals: Postmodern Abjection in Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.476

Alsop, J.S., ‘Funeral Baked Meats’: Cannibalism and Corpse Medicine in Hamlet. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.460.

Leta, M., Cannibal Basques: Magic, Cannibalism and Ethnography in the Works of Pierre de Lancre. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.408

Green, W.D., 'Such Violent Hands'. The Theme of Cannibalism and the Implications of Authorship in the 1623 Text of Titus Andronicus. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.462

Davis, H., ‘Monkey Meat’ and Metaphor in Shohei Ooka’s Fires on the Plain. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.457

De Leeuw, U., 'A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism': Julia Ducournau’s Raw and Bataillean Horror. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.463

Das, R., Haun-Maun-Khaun: A Postcolonial Reading of the Cannibals in Some Fairy Tales from Colonial Bengal. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.454

Johnson, G.J., 'But He Looked Suspiciously Well Fed': Editorial, Volume 7, Part 2. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v7i2.561

Phew. That really is quite the collection of work. And now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to catch up with the outstanding submissions for this issue, and the submissions for the next few issues of Exchanges. Safe to say, 2020 is off to a cracking start for the journal, and long may it continue.


January 09, 2020

The Exchanges Top 10 2019

Happy New Year to all our readers, authors and reviewers. As we enter into the New Year, I thought it would be a great moment to highlight what were the most read (downloaded) articles in 2019. So here they are:

1. Wilding, D., et al. 2017. Tokens, Writing and (Ac)counting: A Conversation with Denise Schmandt-Besserat and Bill Maurer. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v5i1.196.

2. Haughton, A., 2015. Myths of Male Same-Sex Love in the Art of the Italian Renaissance. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v3i1.126.

3. Benhamou, E., 2014. From the Advent of Multiculturalism to the Elision of Race: The Representation of Race Relations in Disney Animated Features (1995-2009). https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v2i1.106.

4. Namballa, V.C., 2014. Global Environmental Liability: Multinational Corporations under Scrutiny. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v1i2.85.

5. De Val, C., & Watson, E.A., 2015. ‘This is education as the practice of freedom': Twenty Years of Women’s Studies at the University of Oxford. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v3i1.128.

6. Opaluwah, A.O., 2016. Participatory Development: A Tool of Pedagogy. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v4i1.151.

7. Shepherd, J., 2015. ‘Interrupted Interviews’: listening to young people with autism in transition to college. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v2i2.114

8. Wilson, S., 2016. Anorexia and Its Metaphors. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v3i2.135.

9. Jung, N., 2017. For They Need to Believe Themselves White: An intertextual analysis of Orson Welles's ‘Othello’. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v4i2.163.

10.Reed, K., et al. 2017. Training Future Actors in the Food System: A new collaborative cross-institutional, interdisciplinary training programme for students. https://doi.org/10.31273/eirj.v4i2.161.

It’s great to see that there’s continued interest in articles on Exchanges years after their appearance in the individual issues. Incidentally, for statistics junkies, in a year where the mean number of downloads of each article was 717 (median 676) each of the above articles out performed this value, in some cases multiple times. Even the lowest read paper on all of Exchanges in the past year (it’s my editorial from the Oct 2019 issue, so it’s not surprising to see it there) has 145 downloads.

So, for any prospective authors out there – get submitting your manuscripts: these numbers suggest they’re going to be read at least 150 times, which isn’t bad at all.


December 04, 2019

The Oncoming Storm of Christmas and Other Workflow Challenges

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement/view/19

As you may have noticed if you follow our twitter account, or have visited the journal’s home page, this week, we’ve announced an extension to the deadline for our climate fiction (CliFi) special issue. I confess I’d always built in a few buffer weeks post the original 30th Nov 2019 closing date for a few late submissions. However, over the last few days chatting with my Board, it’s clear there’s been a few hillocks unanticipated when we launched the call way back in Mid-August. Undoubtedly, the UCU HE strikes in the UK over the last couple of weeks are one of these – with reviewers and authors alike pulling back from all professional activity. Some of my Editorial Board are among the strikers too which, understandably, means they’ve not been able to work on the journal over this time either. All of which adds up to a potential to miss out or progress some great papers. Hence, now the closing date is 13th Jan 2020.

We could have pushed the date back to mid-late December, but I suspect many academics may have other things on their minds than finalising papers for a few weeks. Hopefully, refreshed by their Christmas/winter break a few might be inspired to make a contribution to the issue. We could, of course, have pushed the deadline back even further, but this would begin to put our anticipated Sept 2020 publication date at risk. So, for CliFi contributions, mid-Jan is going to be it. I’ve already spoken with one author who was unable to contribute in time, but had almost finished a manuscript for us, so I know we’ve already managed to secure one more contribution by the extension.

Christmas logically does mean that things here at Exchanges will get quiet for a few weeks, at least from myself as I’m spending some of my long banked, rarely expended, vacation days to have a few weeks off. As the only paid member of staff working on the journal, and in a part time capacity at that, I’m always acutely aware that when I’m out of office and away from email, visible activities and communications alike tend to diminish. However, while I’m away this doesn’t mean you can’t talk to someone about the journal or any potential contributions, as many of the Editorial Board will still be contactable during part of the break. However, if you’re looking for a conversation with the Editor-in-Chief, early January is going to be your best bet after Mid-December. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes preparations are shifting into the penultimate phase for the Cannibalism special issue, expected to see publication in late Jan [1]. We’re close on having enough articles ready to publish, but my intention is to get as many as possible through our editorial and review processes by the end of next month. My thanks, as always, to the editorial team members, authors and reviewers who are helping me make this happen!

In my EIC capacity I’m also currently developing various training, teaching and outreach activities for 2020. A little fewer than would be ideal, due to my limited working hours on the journal, but all the same great opportunities to engage with our local researcher communities on publication matters. I’ll talk more about one of these in particular, scheduled for late Feb 2020, in the new year.

I should also flag up my thanks to Monash Editor, Roy Rozario, who once again helped facilitate a PGR event in Australia last month on behalf of Exchanges. It’s really great when my editors can get involved in these kinds of events, and promote the journal alongside providing input to the professional development of their local research communities. I’m hopeful we’ll see more of these around campus, and the world, in 2020.

For now though, it’s back to the day job and updating myself on the progress of all the manuscripts we have currently under scrutiny and development! Don’t forget, we have two other open calls for papers – (1) on any topic from any discipline with no deadline and (2) one deadlined for 1st May 2020 for papers on the theme of Falsehoods, Misinterpretations & Factual Divergence. Get in touch or read the webpages if you want to know more.

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[1] Or just possibly, due to strike delays, early Feb. But we’ll have to see how things are progressing in the new year.


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.

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[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.

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[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!


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