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February 22, 2022
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/about/submissions
With so many journals published today – what makes choosing to publish with Exchanges a worthwhile experience for potential authors?
It’s a good question!
Certainly, this is an existential topic I believe every editor-in-chief will probably have considered explicitly or implicitly at some point in their tenures atop the editorial tree. It’s certainly a regular point of debate I hear when talking with early career scholars or running my various academic writing workshops. It is undoubtedly a very valid question and hence well worth giving more than a few moments’ reflection in answering.
I might reconfigure it slightly to reframe the root of the enquiry as: Given there are so many (many!) journals out there for potential authors: what makes our title different, valuable and worthy of the labour in becoming one of our contributors. In essence, what makes it worth potential authors taking their hard-won, hand-crafted manuscripts and offering them up to be considered for publication in our pages than somewhere, anywhere else?
Firstly, in my perception, I should say there is no singular answer to this question which will satisfy every scholarly author. If there were, well, let’s say my job promoting the journal as a destination for quality research writings for an interdisciplinary audience would be a lot easier. However, like Soylant cola, the answer which satisfies differs from person to person. It is more of a matrix containing various elements which will appeal to greater or lesser degrees to different authors. I can’t claim this is a complete list either! But from my various conversations with past authors, including those on the Exchanges Discourse, along with casual and formal feedback these are the aspects which I best answer the question: what do you get out of publishing with Exchanges?
Early Career Focus: Exchanges has always aimed to not only appeal to early career authors, but also to take account of the additional support and understanding they sometimes need early in their publication career. This means not only are we willing to consider every submission we receive as a potential publication, but that our editorial team readily aim to provide support and guidance to newer authors. Alongside this, we’re more forgiving than the average journal where authors haven’t quite got our format and styles down correctly at the outset. Heck, we might event overlook a few typographical and spelling errors that can sink a paper at the first hurdle elsewhere. Why? Well, it’s because we know we’ll work on these together as the piece progresses towards, hopefully, publication.
Personal Mediation: This leads neatly to my second point, which is we are very much a journal with a human heart. What I mean here is every submission will be read, considered and progress based on a decision made by one, or more, living entities. Living entities which are willing to enter into a dialogue over your work, rather than making decisions based on metrics, or similar, numerical ‘fit’. With many top-flight titles deploying algorithm-derived selection methodologies, potentially good papers can fall because of a machine-driven evaluation. Okay, this might mean we take a *little* longer to respond, but be assured every submission will be personally considered and appraised, by the Editor-in-Chief at the very least.
Open Access: Articles need readers. It’s as true now as it has ever been, and as a diamond open access title, from our birth, that’s something we’ve always made as easy as possible. For Exchanges, there have never been any author fees to pay and all of our publications are provided without financial barrier to the readers of the world. Propagating good scholarship should not be restricted only to those with deep pockets or the ability to pay to publish. Additionally, as repeated studies have shown publishing in an open access title increases the reach, impact and citation of published work too.
Copyright Retention: Authors licence their work to be published in Exchanges as a condition of submission. But, and it’s a big but, we don’t make any claim over the exclusivity of the work once it’s published. Authors retain their moral and economic rights over their writing. Hence, you will be free to make derivative works from it, exploit it commercially or even republish it in some other organ. That’s right – you get to KEEP the fruits of your own intellectual labour – do the top journals in your field let you do that?
Counter-Commercial Ideology: I won’t prolong discussions on the commercial hegemonic dominance of scholarly publishing , but if you, like myself, want to take a stand against this – publishing in our scholar-led, institutionally funded, diamond-OA title is an obvious route to a win. By ourselves we might not be able to ‘disrupt’ the capitalised control and commodification of the scholarly publishing sphere. Nevertheless, each article we publish is one which the commercial titles are denied! Strike a (small) blow for academic publishing freedom – publish in Exchanges!
Stable Identifiers: Okay, slight nerd alert – but every single one of Exchanges’ articles is ascribed a stable unique resource identifier – a DOI. This means you can put a link to it in your CV, on your website, on other papers and be assured access will be maintained. Even if the journal was to be (gulp) discontinued, we’ve made archival arrangements to ensure as so long as there’s an Internet, access to your paper is stable and assured. It also helps in your paper being found via search engines and other indexes too, all of which enhances its discoverability.
Funder Compliance: Exchanges is compliant with most, indeed virtual all, funder requirements for open access work – including those proposed by cOAlition S. We adhere to the international standards for openness and copyright, alongside our efforts to produce a quality-assured publication destination. This means in terms of research assessment exercises, work published in Exchanges is perfectly viable for consideration. Incidentally, if you are aware of any major funder whose mandates for open publication we don’t meet – I would be very interested in hearing about it!
Interdisciplinary Audience: Let’s talk enhanced visibility! Writing for Exchanges means your work is going to be seen and read by scholars around the globe, and not only within your own discipline. While a reader might land on one article, many like to browse the rest of the issue too. This means they can and often do serendipitously discover work they wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Given all of our readers, authors and reviewers receive a publication notification each time the journal comes out there’s a chance for hundreds, even thousands, of new scholars around the world discovering your work. All of which raises awareness of both it and yourself, and we would hope an increased chance of being cited elsewhere.
Personal Promotion: A poorly kept secret about Exchanges is how every successfully published author is invited to come on our podcast to talk about their article, research and adventures in publication. Without wanting to head off into a secondary article about the benefits of podcasting – appearing on the podcast is a great way to raise professional visibility – both for yourself as a scholar and for your published work. Alongside this, we encourage all of our authors to provide a personal mini-biography and picture alongside their article, helping readers discover more about the people behind the names. We include these specifically to enhance your personal and professional recognition among peers and potential collaborators.
Partnership: Did you know we publish special issues? Did you know each special issue came out of a collaboration between people who had published, reviewed or otherwise previously contributed to Exchanges? As a past journal contributor, you are perfectly positioned to propose some form of collaboration with the journal. Be it a special issue, conference, seminar or research project. Exchanges likes to go beyond being a destination – we’re interested in becoming your scholarly partner! Plus, if there's a need for some academic writing teaching, the Editor-in-Chief loves to talk about this subject with interested audiences too!
Scholar Led: Finally, we are robustly and defiantly scholar-led, from the top down. This means we editors are a community of scholars, many drawn from the early career ranks, who understand the trials and tribulations of academia. We also appreciate the personal importance of the work each author has entrusted with us for consideration. In our own professional research capacity, we also publish and review, so we know what it is like to be on the other side of the author equation. We sincerely desire to offer then an authorial publishing experience configured to operate as the kind of journal we ourselves would wish to publish in. We sincerely hope that’s the experience of our authors too, and always welcome comments on what we’ve done well, and how we could improve.
Okay, that’s the areas which I think from a few minutes reflection make our journal one to consider. There probably are many more, and I welcome any suggestions in the comments below for other positive and attractive aspects we offer. Likewise, if there are areas we should aspire towards adopting, I am always interested in hearing about those from potential authors.
No matter what though, one thing I always remember as Exchanges’ Chief Editor is how every author has made a positive choice to try to appear in our pages. This conscious act is something we welcome, celebrate and applaud each time. Not primarily for any vainglorious reasoning because it inflates our own self-importance , although there is a measure of satisfaction in knowing our efforts continue to draw in new authors and their scholarship. No, it is mainly because the choice of an author to publish with us means Exchanges’ value, reputation and audience continue respected and appreciated by members of our potential author community old and new.
We were created to offer a route to propagate new and emerging scholars’ voices within an ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue. That people continue to choose to contribute to this – means we must be doing something right.
Although, there are always new things we can learn to make things better!
 Subject of course to whomever is publishing this second time’s own rules on prior publication and originality. Read the author guidance for the title or publisher, or ask their editor for more details. You will need to give us a link-back though to the Exchanges article 😊
 Read my thesis and published works for more on my distaste for this aspect of the field.
 And real-life travails and challenges too. See the note on our shared ‘human’ approach above.
 Some of us more than others. I know I’m long overdue a few articles or a book or two elsewhere…
 We are after all, a small fish in a very, very large pond. But there is a marked satisfaction I cannot deny.
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.