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August 01, 2022

August is the Cruellest Month

The Editor reflects on the quietest month of the academic year for publishing.

August is probably the hardest month of the year to be a journal editor. Why you ask - surely it’s a time of year when many people are jetting off on their main annual holiday, the weather (in the northern hemisphere at least) is fairer meaning it must be a positive period! Indeed, yes, for those people able to get away it is a great time – and fair play to them all! But when you’re running a journal and find yourself waiting on other people - authors, reviewers, editors etc – to do their ‘thing’ it can be a mite frustrating. With so many people heading off on or catching up after returning from vacation everything rather does stall to a crawl. Certainly, as I look over my ‘to do’ list for this month there’s a lot of dependencies pending which are waiting on the return and availability of other people.

These little delays are compounded by the preceding couple of months in academia wherein academics have been finishing teaching their courses, working through marking, examinations and reports and then on to various graduation related tasks.[1] Not to mention sorting out all the administration (and celebration!) that comes with that too. And if they’re lucky, getting in a spot of research and even publication along the way! [2]

All of these various ‘distractions’ [3] means by the time we’ve reached August and some scholars might finally be able to put their heads above the parapet for a while…well then it’s time head off on that a well-earned break. All of which means for we editors, it rather feels like we’re entering the third consecutive month of scholars being less able to engage with us. It makes for a frustrating time when you’re trying to move things forward as an editor and looking towards the next publication deadline creeping slowly up on you. Not to mention I’ve lost count of the number of authors I’ve had to contact in order to apologise for a delay in obtaining reviewer feedback…it’s just not the ‘right’ time of year for so many academics.

Now, I should admit, a quiet time is not intrinsically a bad thing. It does let one catch their breath and think about how the rest of the year can plan out, and even what things need to be set in motion or prepared for now. My recent data clean-up and call for registered reviewers to update their reviewing interests being an example of one such task! Nevertheless, I will almost certainly welcome the flood of messages as we hit September and academics en masse begin to become a bit more responsive.

That said, if you ever wanted to have a quiet chat with an editor about your publication ideas, or proposals, their calls for publication or even an exciting special issue proposal…here’s a tip: August is probably the perfect time to catch them with more time than normal to devote to you.

That said, even I might have to take some time off soon…so don’t wait around too long!


[1] Or at least that’s what I’ve heard from authors and reviewers when I’ve been chasing them for progress reports over the last few months.

[2] A PVC-R of my former acquaintance was known to refer (rightly or wrongly, I won’t judge) to the summertime as the ‘research term’.

[3] AKA the ‘day job’ for those on t&r contracts.

April 30, 2020

Spring Issue Pushed Back to Summer

This is the post I didn't want to have to write.

Normally, the end of April along with heralding a season of better weather, also brings with it the new issue of Exchanges. However, with the challenging current working conditions for scholars around the globe, as I feared, this is not going to come to pass.

Right now many of our editors, reviewers and authors are working in environments which are far from ideal for academic productivity dealing with: caring responsibilities, home schooling, health challenges and the general background anxiety of the current world order. Understandably, this has impacted on the journal, as we’ve seen a concomitant slowdown in authorial and editorial work for Exchanges. As I posted a few weeks earlier we can only be sympathetic to our colleagues in these difficult times, and seek to accommodate them as best we can.

Practically though, what this means for the journal has been a general reduction in the rate of throughput to publication for many papers currently under review or copyediting. My Board and myself are doing all we can, as much as is possible for us all, to keep things moving and on track. Nevertheless, we remain deeply appreciative to every one of our contributors who have been engaging and responding to our requests over the past few months.

As things stand, we have a few articles ready for publication. However, we haven’t yet met our minimum threshold for publishing an issue, and currently our platform won’t accommodate publishing a partial issue to my satisfaction. As such, after discussion with the Editorial Board, we’ve agreed to push back publication of the next journal issue to the early summer. Hopefully in a month or two we should be able to bring you another vibrant issue of original thought and insight.

In the meanwhile though, I’ve been excited this week as some scholars have taken the lock-down time to produce some new manuscripts for us to consider. Exchanges has received three new submissions this week alone, and I am delighted to be in the process of editorial review with them today. I look forward to receiving many more manuscripts to consider over the coming weeks, as we remain open throughout the year for submissions from every discipline.

In closing then, to our whole reader and contributor community, let me say ‘thank you’ once again for continuing to work with us. We hope you’ll be seeing something fresh and exciting from us in the very near future.

December 04, 2019

The Oncoming Storm of Christmas and Other Workflow Challenges

Writing about web page

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.


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

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