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March 01, 2023
Taking Control & Trusting Your Heart: Monograph Proposals Panel (Feb ’23)
A brief narrative of the key points coming out of the healthy and hearty debate stretching over ninety minutes concerning academic monograph proposals.
This week (Tue 28th Feb) I hosted a panel discussion as part of the Accolade+ programme, with a focus on monograph publication. It was the sequel event to one held last June on the same subject, albeit this time featuring an entirely new panel. For the session I was joined in discussion by a most excellent foursome comprising:
- Marcos Estrada: Department of Global & Social Studies, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
- Rupert Gatti: Open Book Publishers, Director, Cambridge, UK
- Valérie Hayaert: EUTOPIA SIF Fellow/School of Law, University of Warwick, UK
- Yvonne Budden: Scholarly Communications Manager, University of Warwick Library, UK
Each panellist brought some unique to the table from international perspectives through rights management and publisher specific knowledge, and a whole lot more in between. Personally, I felt the panel neatly complimented each other in the breadth of knowledge and variety of insights they brought to the session, and was delighted as a real conversation emerged over the ninety minute session.
After exploring some issues contrasting the subtle but distinct differences between UK based and internationally based publishers, we moved to explore an important key question: why go to all this effort to publish a monograph at all. A number of points were made alongside identifying while in some subjects, the print format monograph retains a unique and specific value, the idea of a book as a ‘digital research object’ means something more. Something which has the potential to reach a far greater number of readers than ever before, all to the advantage of the author, their career and their disciplinary contribution alike. It was highlighted that – especially for open access (OA) books – when contrasted with the average ‘sell-through’ of the research monograph being around 200 copies, online, OA books can achieve hundreds of downloads monthly. Unquestionably a significantly beneficial in terms of visibility and career esteem for the publishing scholar.
The panel moved on to explore ideas around the clarity of any monograph proposal, starting with the underscoring the importance of the author being clear about its unique selling point (USP). We touched too on ideas of publishing and any text’s potential marketability being a crucial element to identify for commercially configured presses. Although one panellist identified their dislike for any commercial publisher requirements in authors identifying ‘competing texts’. It was proposed such an element was a reification of the regretful communication of academic publishing which continues to maintain a hegemony over monograph dissemination praxis. Hence, one theme strongly espoused from the panel was the importance, value and impact from publishing via an OA press, be they commercial, scholarly or institutionally based. Certainty, in terms of readership and hence in the longer-term impact and recognition of the work, OA makes a strong, coherent argument for helping any author achieve the career esteem they desire.
Panellists raised a related issue with the importance of authors achieving compliance with any funder requirements . This was followed with a healthy debate around issues of self-plagiarism and reuse of work published by authors elsewhere within a subsequent monograph. The thesis it was agreed is a document constructed and addressed to a very limited and restricted readership. It was characterised as an examination object, something designed to primarily demonstrate the depth and appreciation of the authors knowledge, and original contribution, to defend and demonstrate their expertise and learning. By contrast the ‘mutation or evolution’ of this work into a monograph, requires a transformation of this text into something new, addressed within a more persuasive mode of address and targeted at a much broader readership audience. Importantly when considering self-plagiarism, the importance of retaining author rights when publishing materials in short form – say in an edited collection – was highlighted as being a valuable consideration.
The panel proposed how making use of any local rights retention schemes, or adding clauses expressing their rights over their work during any contract negotiations were vital. These, it was suggested, would help ensure authors retained maximum control over the expression and reuse of any prior work utilised in later monographs. One handy tip was made concerning depositing a version of the text in the local OA repository, and thus having any future publication agreements would be subservient to those of the already available repository version.
The panel returned at this point once more to considerations of the prospective book’s USP, and how while it might include work published in one form or another elsewhere, the sum of its parts would be greater, in terms of making a substantive claim to a contribution to knowledge. Naturally, in constructing the work, here was where ensuring any previously established rights over portions of the text, e.g. previously published elsewhere, which might have been transferred or acquired need to be acknowledged and respected. This illustrated why retaining author rights is so vital, although as was noted, while expressions can be copyrighted the same was not true for ideas. Hence, rearticulating an author’s ideas in a new way, would not form a self-plagiarising or rights breaking addition to a monograph. When agreeing to a publishing contract, the panel suggested strong and effective negotiation between an author and a publisher was important. Where any particular publisher seemed intransient though, then it was advised it would be best to ‘move along’ to another, more accommodating publishing house.
A crucial question suggested from this debate arose: how to go about achieving the evolution of the thesis text to monograph. The panel highlighted how this was where support, advice and insight from the author’s colleagues would prove invaluable. As one panellist stressed, even colleagues from outside your discipline – including specialist librarians and knowledgeable editors-in-chief  – can make a vital contribution in advising the author in drafting an effective, engaging and appropriate proposal. The panel considered how there is no ‘one size fits all’ proposal, and how each publisher will respond to any submitted proposal would be just as varied. Which they discussed was why being able to learn from these varied prior experiences can serve to inform, refine and ameliorate any would-be monograph author’s preconceptions and strategies in drafting their proposal.
One especially strong theme represented by the panel was the importance of recognising the client/service relationship between author and publishers. Whilst commercial publishers are, regretfully, focussed on what can enrich their shareholders, scholars should remember the power is theirs. The panel argued that research, and its outputs, should not be shaped by commercial interests, but by the passion, knowledge and growing wisdom of those scholars working upon it. If authors are preparing to embark on what may be a multiple year journey to publication, then they need to stand their ground, trust their heart and seek to publish – in essence – what they wanted to publish.
In a related point, the panel considered how this might require publishing a ‘stand-alone monograph’ rather than a contribution to an established series: which might be more challenging prospect for some. Especially, it was noted, where publishers are swayed by cultural, social or historical events and more receptive to ‘flavour of the month’ proposal themes. Naturally, it was advised that savvy authors could use such biases to their advantage by skewing their work to fit such favoured themes. However, the panel cautioned once more against distorting a monograph extensively simply to achieve a publication contract.
There was some focus on the ideas of publishing with ‘significant’ publishers vs lesser known ones. The panel agreed that yes, on a basic reading the career capital of publishing with a ‘major’ publisher might offer greater personal validation. However, it was suggested disseminating your monograph with a publisher willing to publish it outside an enclosed, commercial milieux because this is an author’s preference, would also pay dividends. In this latter respect, being able to justify an author’s rationale for publishing with their desired publisher to hiring committees, promotion boards and the like, was highlighted as an excellent route in demonstrating self-actualisation and validation as a discerning scholar. Hence, why an author chose a publisher matters, the panel suggested, more than whom they decided would be their publisher.
The panel also touched briefly on matters of affect as it pertains to impacts on establishing and maintaining publisher relationships. The panel suggested that, unlike journal articles, simultaneously approaching a small number of publishers with a monograph proposal was a valid option. Provided that is, authors are totally transparent about this strategy in all of their dealings with the publishers. The panel noted any lost labour time for their editors or reviewers which occurs where authors decide to take up a – hitherto unknown – other contract option, would be a rapid way to gain a poor reputation in the publishing field. The panel remarked how it was not unknown for the same peer-reviewers to be contacted about a text from different publishers, and for them to whistle blow on the author’s multi-pronged approach!
Moving on, the discussions touched on ideas of allowing publishers to shape your proposal, and as had been discussed previously it was suggested this was something to be approached with extreme caution if not overt avoidance. Again, reiterating their earlier comment of ‘follow your heart’ one panellist, underscored the importance of seeking to publish what authors wanted to. The panel opined how adapting texts to suit the mores or perceptions of specific geographical audiences – e.g. the US – for reasons of marketability were also inadvisable. Although, they countered if these specifically were the major audience the academic wanted to touch with their work, then some regional modification to the proposal might make for a desirable aspect. The panel noted these comments were in contrast to reviewer feedback, which at a later stage would help to enhance and improve the authors text. This though was something which would occur after a scholar had a contract with their publisher.
The question of how advanced in should an author be in transitioning their thesis text to a monograph format ahead of their proposal’s submission was raised. The panel’s view was that once more this was a matter which would vary between publishers. It was suggested some commercial publishers would be happy with a sample chapter and strong proposal. Alternatively university-based presses it was thought were likely to want the whole monograph essentially in a final draft form before they were willing to take it on as a publishing project. As in all publishing matters, the panel advised checking websites and speaking to past authors about their experiences with specific publishers as a route to significantly help clarify options for prospective authors.
Looking ahead to the latter stages of publication, the panel also touched briefly on the art – and costs – of professional indexing. Again, it was noted this could be a service which some publishers offered, although for others this would be an add on cost. However, where authors worked for wealthy institutions, such costs may well be covered locally or from their own research funding.
Finally, as chair, I asked each of the panellists for their key advice for prospective monograph authors. Yvonne stressed it was the importance of talking to everyone you could about their experiences, insights and advice. Rupert reiterated the importance of always that how the author should remain in a controlling, commanding position throughout the proposal and publication process in terms of of how and where your work is published. Marcos resonated with these points adding, how crucial it was for authors to always retain sight of the uniqueness of their work, their voice and their scholarship throughout: from proposal to revision to publication.
I would of course like to express my thanks to all four of my panellists, and of course my audience for keeping the questions, comments and observations coming thick and fast. My apologies we couldn’t get into every single point – I suspect we might have filled the entire time discussing the nuance of rights, reuse and self-plagiarism alone! I hope there will be some highly energised follow-on conversations to come out of this panel, and naturally am more than happy to chat with any of the delegates (or panel) at length. Hopefully, we’ll see some or possibly all of the panel back when this session returns in 2024.
 Specifically here the UKRI’s 2024 policy for all their funded researchers. If you’re looking to publish a monograph from next year in the UK, it’s something with which I’d strongly advise authors familiarise themselves.
 The phrase ‘published’ of course has a discrete and highly-variable character from publishing house to publishing house. The panel’s advice here, was check any contract carefully, alongside speaking with the commissioning editor if the author was unsure how any prior distributed or disseminated work would be perceived.
 Look, if I’m going to chair and write this report, let me have a least a single tiny moment of self-aggrandization and valorisation, okay? But seriously, I do enjoy talking over all aspects of the publication processes with our fellows.
 This being a theme I often discuss myself in my workshops and lectures.
 Having, as an editor, been on the receiving end of such behaviour I can ensure you it significantly declines the professional reputation of the author. And the academic publisher community isn’t that large a world…
 Strong might be the wrong word here – as we touched on the idea of how interesting or appealing a proposal might be, or how thematically it might fit within a publishers target demographic better as being reasons for it being commissioned by them. Hence, simply being a good proposal might not be enough.
 Valérie had unfortunately had to depart after an hour to teach a class. However, I suspect she might have had some key points about the differences between disciplinary traditions and monograph publication approaches and experiences. But, obviously, speak to her to be sure!
January 24, 2023
Publishing for Arts & Humanities Post–Graduates: CADRE Workshop January 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
New Episode: The What, The Why, The How and The Where of Critical Reflections
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.
November 10, 2022
New Podcast Episode: So, What Makes a Good Peer Reviewer?
Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/So--What-Makes-a-Good-Peer-Reviewer-e1qi7ju
Another week, another new episode of the Exchanges Discourse Podcast goes live.
Following on from the other week's Exchanges AMAseminar in the IAS, I've tried to capture the answer to one of the most interesting questions I was posed in the session. To whit: So, What Makes a Good Peer Reviewer? It's a question I've never explicitly tried answering before, even if implicitly I've long had opinions and thoughts on the subject. Now you can listen in and decide for yourself how these - and probably other - qualities make up an 'ideal' peer reviewer.
So, What Makes a Good Peer Reviewer? https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/So--What-Makes-a-Good-Peer-Reviewer-e1qi7ju
(Also available on Spotify!)
Next episode, which I recorded yesterday, I’ll be speaking to the first of a number of authors who published in the most recent issue of the journal.
June 17, 2021
It’s so funny, how we don’t talk anymore…
Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/postdocs/accolade/calendar/summer/#story8
I was speaking today as part of the IAS’ Accolade programme in an AMA (ask me anything) segment about the journal and the podcast. There was an excellent question from the audience about the different formats we accept for publication, and I waxed lyrical for a while about interviews. Hence, I thought it was perhaps worth capturing some of the points of interest for future authors.
Interviews, or conversations as they’re termed in the journal, were very much Exchanges’ stock-in trade in the early years. If you look at those nascent years, you’ll see time and again interviews with significant figures and scholars cropping up in the pages. This was, in part, an artefact of the close association the journal enjoyed (and continues to) with the IAS’ fellows programme. Many of the participants would, as part of their research programme, arrange for a significant scholar to visit Warwick for a period, to engage with the local community and potentially spark an ongoing collaboration. During such visits, keen fellows would stage a recorded and transcribed interview with these visitors, which would then be submitted to Exchanges as a partial record of the engagement success.
In recent years, as the journal has consciously decoupled from Warwick somewhat as part of our move towards a greater internationalisation, these interview submissions have dropped away. It is not that they solely come from Warwick, but with our close organisational and operational links, I suspect we spurred more of our local scholars to produce them than the wider author community. I am racking my brain currently to think about the last time I actually had a conversation piece which we saw through to publication.
Nevertheless, what I wrote in an earlier blog post about the value of these interviews/conversations stands. They are always highly read, often downloaded and very warmly received by the readership. They provide an accessible gateway into a subject area for scholars old and new alike, and do wonders for the authors in associating their names with that of their interview subject in print! They are also, relatively speaking, an easy format to create an article around and as such I remain surprised we don’t continue to get more of them. Compared to the weeks and months you’ll labour over a peer-reviewed article, a conversation piece  is a relatively easy ‘win’ to add to your publication record: while also making a valuable addition to the wider disciplinary discourse!
Which brings me to today and my discussions about formats for the journal. In the past we’ve generally had conversation articles which are comprises of a singular subject along with one or two interlocutors providing much-needed context, asking questions and steering the debate. It is a talking head format which works well, so well in fact that I’ll confess it forms the basis of The Exchanges Discourse’s configuration when we have guest speakers on the podcast. What we haven’t had though on the podcast or as interview papers in the journal are true discourses: that is, debates between a small coterie of speaking-heads in discussion. I’m know such discussions are frequent occurrences in formal and informal settings aplenty, not just at our home institution of Warwick, but within the various interdisciplinary-led early career researcher communities around the globe.
While part of me thinks such a format would be ideally suited to appear on our the podcast , I think such a discussion transcribed would also create an engaging, entertaining and informative article. If I’m being honest, I can almost see one now with three scholars: one drawn from within the STEM social science and arts and humanities disciplines apiece; debating what they envisage or perceive impactful and fruitful interdisciplinary research and practice to comprise.
Such a discussion represents a titular topic for the journal, but oddly not one with which we’ve ever had an interview specifically dealing. There are undoubtedly many other topics which might be debated in this collegiate manner as a conversation article for the journal. Certainly, I would strongly encourage anyone who is inspired by this idea to consider proposing or submitting it. Naturally, I stand ready, as always, to provide guidance and advice on the format, and to act as a sounding board for any potential authors considering such a submission.
Of course, we could take one step beyond this and actually have the discussions appear in both print AND as an episode of the podcast simultaneously. Now, this would not only enable readers and listeners alike to access the debate in whatever media format they preferred, but serve to link together these two key arms of the Exchanges operation. It seems, the more I think of it, as an idea whose time has come.
So, there’s my challenge to our readership and any budding authors out there: start thinking about a discussion topic or interview subject that could form a readable and valuable article for Exchanges next issue. They don’t take long and you’ve a few months ahead of our next scheduled October publication date to go through our editorial processes.
I look forward to hearing more about your thoughts, and even more so, reading any submissions.
 It wasn’t that long ago – Vol 7(3). But safe to say they have been submitted exceptionally rarely in the past two years.
 Or a critical reflection, if I’m being honest about the work involved.
 If you agree, and have or two like minded scholars, get in touch and let’s see if we can feature your discussions in an episode.
January 14, 2021
Getting Published: PG Tips Workshop
I had the pleasure this week (Tue 12th) to participate in my first teaching/seminar of the year. I had been invited, alongside my wonderful library colleague Julie Robinson, to participate in a 45 minute panel discussion for Warwick post-graduate students on the topic of ‘getting published’. Seasoned academic authors will likely realise 45 minutes is way too short a time to cover a great deal on this topic, but in the end, it seemed like we managed to pack a lot of content in what was a highly interactive and engaging session. So engaging, in fact, that we ran on for an extra 15 minutes or so due to popular demand.
Now, that’s the kind of session I like to deliver!
Thanks to David Richardson who hosted, we captured audience questions during the session. As a result, I thought it might be worth highlighting a few of the most salient ones and my responses as they refer to particularly apply to Exchanges.
Q: If I wanted to submit an article to Exchanges, would it be better to submit an abstract or the full paper already?
A: Very much the author’s personal choice. As a journal we don’t expect, unless part of a specific call requirement, authors to send us pre-submission abstracts or draft versions of their papers. Some choose to do so, and I’m always happy to provide some feedback and guidance at this stage, although I’ll hold off any fulsome critique until the final manuscript is submitted. Likewise, I’m always happy to schedule a video-call to talk through an author’s ideas for their paper, if they might find that helpful. On the whole though, the bulk of our submissions are the full paper manuscript, received without any prior conversation or engagement with the author: which is perfectly fine too.
Q: What are the most important elements that should be in abstract if the journal you are targeting is only allowing you to submit an abstract rather than the whole paper?
A: There’s a lot written online and by other authors on this subject, I personally like Rowena Murray or Helen Sword’s writing on this topic and would advocate seeking out their work. However, in brief, the abstract should be the article in miniature, containing the key ideas or arguments, along with a taste of the most significant finding or conclusion. What it should do is whet the appetite of the reader, from your prospective editor to the wider academic community, and draw them in to want to read (or accept for consideration) your paper. The abstract should also closely resonate with your paper’s text, with each abstract line approximating an introductory sentence within the article itself. This provides essential structure and signposting to guide the reader through your writing, methodology, methods, arguments, findings and conclusions in a structured and more readily comprehensible manner.
Q: Do you have any advice about how to choose the journal to publish in?
A: Aside from suggesting you consider a wonderful, friendly and highly early-career author focussed title like Exchanges I would suggest thinking about:
(1) Who are your audience and what titles are they reading?
(2) Where are your peers/supervisor publishing?
(3) Consider, but don’t be a slave to, journal metrics/impact factors etc – although be wary as ‘significant journals’ are more likely to reject your submission.
(4) Do you know or have contacts with any editors? Knowing someone will be receptive to discussing your submission can be a big help in choosing your destination.
(5) Especially for a first paper, consider seeking out early-career specialising journals. They may be more forgiving of initial errors, formatting oversights or typographical errors than some of the more core/mainstream titles.
Q: How different should a journal [article] drawn from thesis or dissertation work be?
A: This is a common and understandable issue for first time authors. An article manuscript needs to be its own discrete and contextual entity, with a slightly different authorial voice than you would likely use within your thesis/dissertation. Especially too, where you’re adapting a chapter, you need to ensure the piece can stand entirely on its own legs, supported naturally by appropriate citation. You might even need to consider simplifying the work, because there may be too many contrasting central ideas or themes in your original text to coherently present in your article. You should also consider adopting the style/voice of other pieces which appear in your chosen target journal or field, to enhance your chance of acceptance.
Q: How does one go about proposing a special issue to Exchanges or working with/for this journal as an editor?
A: As to the first part, I’d recommend listening to our recent podcast on exactly this topic. Then coming and having a chat with myself as editor-in-chief about the idea. One thing to bear in mind, we have a lead time of at least 12 months from initiation of special issue to publication, so this isn’t going to be something we can achieve overnight. There’ll also be some expectation of work from the proposer to bring the issue to publication too, part of which may well be involvement as an associate editor. We do issue periodic calls for associate editors, usually via our twitter account (@ExchangesIAS) and the journal's announcement pages - so you should follow and visit these periodically.
Q: What are the main outcomes after articles are peer-reviewed? Are articles rejected by journal editors when reviewers actually suggested major corrections?
A: At Exchanges we have four major post-review outcome: acceptance (rare!), revisions requested and then acceptance (most), additional reviews (occasional) or decline (aka reject). Hence, usually after peer-review there will be a period of revision and rewriting by the author, and in the case of where there are major (extensive) revisions requested by the editor, the piece may need to undergo a further round of peer-review, and minor corrections ahead of acceptance for publication. Different journals will handle these post-review steps slightly differently, indeed some take ‘major revisions’ to equate to reject and request the author work on them for a future resubmission. Read their author guidance to find out how it works for each specific journal/publisher.
Q: Is it better for your cv and career to publish with your supervisor or independently?
A: This varies enormously and is often affected by discipline. STEM authors are often members of team projects, and frequently only publish as one of a number of authors, with sole-authored works rare. Conversely, AHSS scholars often are lone or at most pairs of authors. That said, if you have a good working relationship with your supervisor, it can be a really great learning experience to co-author a paper with them. Just remember, just because they’re your supervisor, if you’re doing most of the writing, be prepared to insist on being the first named author on the work! You may find though, that co-authoring a paper with an established author like your supervisor might make it easier to publish in a ‘higher’ ranked journal…but there are not guarantees, and I’ve heard of many supervisors who are busy/get distracted and don’t come through on their contribution to an article: so approach, with caution!
These are only a handful of the topics we touched on in the session, hence if you have questions of your own about publishing, and especially in Exchanges, then please leave a comment or get in touch with me. I look forward to talking more about this fascinating, and essential, area of academic development.