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June 12, 2019
It won’t have escaped most readers’ attention that Exchanges is an early career focussed, scholar-led journal. Given I write about this on a regular schedule in this blog, you’d be a rare visitor had you missed this aspect. As its Editor-in-chief, I passionately believe academics need to take a greater ownership for their publication processes if we are ever to ween ourselves away from the commercialised commodification of the publishing sector. This shift is far from the only consideration if the academy is to acquire a greater agency over publication, but I believe it’s an important one.
However, what might be less apparent, unless you’ve attended one of my lectures or thoroughly read our online guidance material, is how Exchanges serves an educational and professional development role alongside its publishing mission. The developmental role for those people working on the journal has been an intrinsic part since Exchanges founding in 2013 as output from the IAS’ early-career fellows programme. Since day one all members of the editorial board, and associate editors too, are drawn from the early career researcher community here at Warwick and further afield. This means all of us are still learning and growing as scholars in the post-PhD environment.
A key developmental need of course is to enhance our career prospects, which is where Exchanges provides the opportunity to deepen a practical appreciation of the processes, policies and ideologies which operate within the publishing field. Incidentally, serving on Exchanges’ boards delivers this sort of experience in spades, given members of our Board performs a greater ‘hands-on’ role than the more advisory structure of other journals’ boards.
This developmental mission for Exchanges, is a characteristic of the journal to which I’m devoting some considerable thought at the moment, as I’ve two forthcoming public engagements where I’ll be talking about the benefits to scholars from a closer scholarly publishing involvement. One is the session I’ve previously mentioned at the Utopian Studies conference in Prato at the end of June, while the other is a workshop I’m contributing to at the Vitae Conference in London this Autumn. Naturally, I’ll be sharing my slides and experiences from these events here afterwards.
I find though, as I sit down to write the outline for these talks, I’m left wondering to a degree about what exactly people such as my editors gain practically from their contribution of time and labour.
From a personal perspective, I feel I’ve learned more about the importance of patience and persistence with authors and reviewers alike, alongside deepening my practical knowledge of coordinating a publishing ‘empire’. I’ve also been polishing my relationship management skills, which are an essential adjunct to any manging editors’ toolkit. Alongside this, I’ve found it’s been illuminating to witness the authorial styles and voices deployed in our developing manuscript, especially as many diverge considerably from my own academic prose style.
That’s my perspective, and I must acknowledge it’s been understandably coloured by my managerial and editor-in-chief role. Hence, I’ve been talking to Editorial Board members past and present about what they’ve gained from their experience. Unsurprisingly, beyond developing the practical skills, the benefits from broadening their network of professional contacts are aspects which seem so far to be especially valued. However, it is early days and I’m still looking forward to more of my Board sharing their thoughts, and I expect I may well be surprised by some of the comments.
One thing has become clear from this simple critical reflection which is newly minted scholars do perceive benefits exist from taking up the reins to steer academic publishing endeavours. This must in part help explain why Exchanges has always had a steady stream of willing Board and associate editors. And I, for one, am delighted for their every contribution as well.