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December 21, 2022

Exchanges Review of the Year 2022 – Your Month by Month Guide

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

The Editor-in-Chief of Exchanges takes us through a month-by-month rundown of the year in the life of the journal.

We are almost at the end of another calendar year here at Exchanges Command and looking forward to a Christmas and New Year’s break in activities. Before we get to that firstly we’d like to thank all the readers of our blog and the journal for your attention this year. Naturally, there’s also a big thanks to everyone who contributed in 2022 in some way to the life of the journal. There are far too many to thank by name but know that it was appreciated by me and the Board members especially.

So, for this final blog post of the year, I thought it would be interesting to draw together a rundown, month by month of what happened for Exchanges during in 2022.

January

In January as is typical we looked forward and back, starting with the launch of a new third season of the Exchanges Discourse Podcast, albeit with an episode recorded the previous December. We also explored what had been the most popular journal articles and podcast episodes in the preceding 12 months as well. Alongside this we closed the call for papers to appear in the forthcoming Anthropocene special issue, and began working closely with the associate editors for that volume.

February

Three more podcast episodes were published this month tackling a mix of topics, but there was also a long blog post concerning what makes Exchanges special for authors. Based on conversations with research fellows at Warwick, it made for a useful think piece that would be referenced throughout the coming year. It was especially interesting though to hear throughout 2022 from podcast guests how much validity they’ve found in these perceptions within their publishing experiences on the journal. Meanwhile behind the scenes, activity was speeding up as initial publication preparations were underway for the spring journal issue.

March

As winter began to give ground to spring, for Exchanges the focus on the new issue preparations continued and increased in scope. Yet it was still a healthy month for the journal’s aim to bring transparency to its operations with multiple blogposts exploring various issues. These included updates on the podcast’s branding, thoughts around the platform’s technical and developmental wishlist desires alongside a refresh of our open call for papers too. There was also a new podcast episode tied into February’s look at publishing with Exchanges from a prospective author’s perspective. Plus, the journal’s patron (the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at Warwick) increased its funding to bring in more hours from the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) on the title, reflecting the need for greater staff time and attention on the journal.

April

Undoubtedly the big news for April was the publication of Volume 9(2) of Exchanges itself – the 21st issue of the journal to appear since its founding. This issue brought with it the announcement of call for papers for the 10th birthday issue, scheduled for publication in late 2023. As of writing we’ve had a few contributions already, but there’s still time for plenty more critical reflections to boost this issue’s scholarly content. There was also the launch of a readers’ survey, but this, sadly, wasn’t a resounding success.[1] This month also marked 4 years at the helm for the EIC, a small personal milestone, especially given more issues (and articles) have come out under his aegis than during any previous lead editor’s tenure.

May

With the new issue out, there was a shift in editorial gear behind the scenes as authors whose work had just been published were now being approached to appear on the podcast and offer feedback on the journal. More excitingly, two online workshops were hosted by the Editor-in-Chief for Warwick researchers. The first was the latest iteration of the now biennial Ask Me Anything (AMA) session dedicated to exploring Exchanges entirely driven by audience members’ interests. A session the EIC hosts in a very freeform manner and is generally warmly received. This event was followed days later by a panel session entitled Developing your Publication Strategy. Chaired by the EIC with guest speakers, this made for a lively and illuminating debate on the methods and approaches different scholars adopt in producing their research literature outputs. If all that wasn’t enough, towards the end of the month, the EIC also hosted a session for arts undergraduates on the nuances, benefits and approaches to article writing.

June

As the summer arrived, and we got a taste of the very warm weather the UK would experience this year, it prefaced a busy month for the journal. New podcast episodes featuring authors from the recent spring issue started to appear online for listeners. Plus, over on the journal the altmetrics, PlumX metric package was formally rolled out for all articles, offering new insights into the discussions, links and social media impact of Exchanges’ publications visible to all. Behind the scenes the EIC was hard at work at some data cleansing activities. To this end he was locating ‘dead’ reviewer accounts – or at least those where the email address no longer functioned - and removing them from our active user database to save any confusion when locating potential article reviewers. Meanwhile there was also a chance for the associate editors working on the Pluralities of Translation special issue to meet up and exchange experiences on their progress to date. Finally, one more workshop was hosted by the EIC with guest panellists, this time focussing in on Developing a Monograph Proposal – a second iteration of which workshop is scheduled for late February ’23. On top of all this activity, there was also an opportunity for the IAS and Exchanges team to meet the incoming IAS Director and departmental head for the first time on campus, as we prepared to say farewell to our outgoing director in September.

July

A warm month, and also as the busy academic sessional year came to a close a relatively quiet one publicly. Behind the scenes though the EIC was hard at work bringing together the contents for the Nerds special issue. Sometimes the busiest months editorially are also the ones with the fewest public announcements – reflected in the mildly surprising revelation that there were no blog posts this month. Still, there were plenty of twitter tweets to keep people interested and informed about the journal’s activities.

August

A heat wave in the UK would make August a challenging month to keep working on the journal, but it was also a significant time for multiple reasons. Firstly, the long gestating Lonely Nerds special issue (Volume 9.3) was finally published to an eagerly waiting readership. It brought to an end three years of collaboration with the universities of Oxford and SOAS meaning it was a moment of celebration and mild regret that it had all come to an end. Looking to the future, August was also the month when Exchanges opened a wide call across the EUTOPIA partnership for new Board members, a call which received a high standard of applicants from around the world.

September

This month saw a split in focus. In part efforts to promote and celebrate the previous month’s special issue on social media and podcast episodes were a focus. At the same time, preparations were in full swing for the publication of the next regular issue of the journal scheduled for the end of October making for a busy time. September also saw the departure of editor Giulia Champion after three years working first as an associate editor, before progressing onto the Board. Among Giulia’s many contributions to the life of Exchanges had also been the instigation of our very first special issues (Cannibalism and ClifFi) – a remarkable feat for which she will be long remembered. Behind the scenes, the EIC was also preparing to shortlist and interview prospective new Board members.

October

The biggest journal news in October was of course the publication of Volume 10(1) of Exchanges, the 23rd journal issue to date and also the last one to appear this year. October was also the 9th birthday of Exchanges itself, meaning attention was once again drawn to the call for papers for the 2023 10th birthday issue. The EIC hosted two Board meetings as well, opportunities for editors and associates alike to share updates and issues, as well as hear about forthcoming developments for Exchanges too. Behind the scenes podcast interviews with the authors from the Lonely Nerds special issue continued to be recorded and released too. Weirdly, this month the EIC wrote his 2022 annual review for his host department mid-month, which had to make some educated guesses as to what the remaining 14 working weeks of the year would herald for the journal. Of course, beyond this for some the twin highlights would be the welcome to new IAS early research fellows and the subsequent Exchanges AMA workshop – hosted live and in person for the first time in three years. The latter session was certainly a riotously successful session, and exceptionally well received by the attendees – and the EIC himself! Alongside this the new Editorial Board members were agreed and prepared to be revealed to the world…

November

The penultimate month is often a busy one at Exchanges before the end of year slowdown. With the publication of an issue, there’s all the follow up and promotional activity which comes with it, and for Exchanges especially the recording of author interviews for the podcast. Certainly, all these things happened, but we also sneaked out an episode devoted to peer reviewing too, inspired from discussions at the previous month’s AMA. This November though was a little more special as we formally welcomed on board seven new members of the Editorial Board, and put them through their induction training programme. Alongside all this the EIC found time to contribute to Warwick’s Leadership and Management Development course for early-stage researchers focussing on editing and peer-review. Tied into this course, which is running twice more in 2023, was the announcement of a new special issue focussing on researcher reflections. More than enough to bring us almost to the end of the year, even as we launched our new Mastodon Twitter-alternative channel too.

December

Aside from our EIC celebrating his birthday [2], you’d think the ‘quietest month’ would see only a few minor highlights as the journal wound down operations for the year’s end. Not so, as behind the scenes a number of the new Editorial Board members got their first real taste of manuscript and author guidance. Meanwhile the EIC finally found the time to collate and review the feedback gathered from the last three years of author experiences [3]. Incidentally, initial indications are very positive! On top of that after years of effort, the EIC was delighted when they were finally able to get together with all the editors of other journals at Warwick Journals for the first time in years. Discussions centred on plans for joint activities and operations along with sharing areas of mutual concern and debate. To say it was a useful meeting would be an understatement, and hopefully a harbinger of more such gatherings in 2023. December was also the month we said a fond farewell to one of our longest serving Board members, as Natasha Abrahams (Melbourne & Monash universities) stood down after around five years working on the title. And just to round off the year, and our 44 blog entries to boot, we also released three more episodes of The Exchanges Discourse, featuring our last authors of 2022 in conversation.

Into 2023…

And that’s it –our busy and eventful 2022. What, I hear you ask is coming in 2023? Well, currently we have three special issues likely to see publication alongside our two regular issues to begin with, which will be a record if they all appear. Additionally, we have a handful of workshops to talk about Exchanges already in the diary. Hopefully we’ll be able to add a few more dates to these, and maybe a couple of conference papers as well [4]. All this and the growing work with our colleagues across the Warwick Journals family too to look forward to means next year is already shaping into a busy and suitably active one for our 10th birthday year.

In the meantime, merry Christmas and happy New Year to all those of you out there! See you in 2023.

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Endnotes

[1] One of the things planned for exploration in 2023 are different approaches to finding out what our readers, rather than our authors, value most about Exchanges. I suspect conversations with our fellow journal editors may help here.

[2] Not as of yet a public holiday but we live in hope that it will be one day.

[3] Finishing writing up the report on this feedback remains my final 2022 unfinished task after this blog post…

[4] Don’t ask me where – I’ve not as of yet spotted any suitable events! However, if you’re interested in having someone from Exchanges appear at an event – please do get in touch.


August 02, 2022

An Incomplete History of Exchanges

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

Last spring I gave a couple of conference papers on Exchanges and the experiences of our associate editors. Part of these talks included presenting a potted history of the journal, from day 1 to 'today', as a way of adding context and showing how we weren’t a fly-by-night title. At the time of writing, I was surprised to find no one had actually collated anything like this before, and so I spent an engaging/frustrating couple of days combing over the website, through past issues and into what email correspondence I had from the 'before times' to create it. At the time I thought, while I did make my slides public, that afterwards it might be a nice idea to add such a historical perspective onto the journal website.

Well, time has passed and more history has happened for Exchanges, and now we find ourselves on the cusp of entering our (eep) 10th birthday year in the coming months. So, given if you read my last entry, you'll be aware how things are slightly quieter than normal presently for Exchanges HQ, which providentially removes any excuse I have for not getting the information added to the journal site. Here's the direct link - although you'll also be able to find it from the About the Journalpages too.

The page is not, I hasten to add, intended to be a complete and critical analysis of the journal and its developmental journey: I'll save that one for an ephemeral future paper, book chapter or monograph that I may write one day (or more likely won't). What it does provide are some of the key beats and moments from the journal's almost ten-year history, and an idea of the some of the discussions behind the scenes too. All of which hopefully goes to show how from our humble beginnings we've managed to emerge into something a lot more interesting and - I would hope - useful to our readers, reviewers, editors and author contributors alike.

Naturally, as the moment strikes me, I'll update the history. There are quite a few developments going on ‘under the hood’ right now, that I’m not quite ready to talk about publicly. Not because they’re especially secret, but rather because we’re not quite ready to announce them to the world. Hence, the entry for 2022 is likely to get a lot more populated by the end of the year. Furthermore, should anyone have any additional nuggets of historical interest they'd like to add, let me know. I might have been the Chief Editor on the title now far longer than anyone else, but that doesn't mean my knowledge of what happened before my ascension to editorial prominence (hah!) is absolute! [1]

But in the meanwhile, have a look at our past, and maybe reflect on what it might mean for our future!

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[1] Apologies for the hyperbole, I am writing this entry on a swelteringly humid summer afternoon, and it’s likely impacting on my prose style.


April 11, 2019

One Year Later

CakeToday marks the one-year anniversary since I took over running the Exchanges journal as its Managing Editor-in-Chief. Hence, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look back at what’s occurred during in that time, along with casting my gaze upon the road ahead.

The past year has seen two issues of Exchanges published, as might be expected. Perhaps more excitingly, it saw shift in the journal’s title as part of a ‘conscious-uncoupling’ from the Warwick brand. As our statistics show, the vast majority of articles published in Exchanges have historically originated from Warwick based or associated scholars. That’s nothing of which to be ashamed though. In fact, I continue to be delighted by the number of local scholars who’ve chosen to publish with us, and I hope to welcome many more contributions from them in the months ahead Nevertheless, going forward, our Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal brand makes plain our global ambition for readers and contributors far more than the title’s original name. Revising Exchange’s full title name was one of the earliest changes I introduced, and I’m happy to say one which I remain deeply satisfied I made.

Meanwhile, in the wider world we’ve had the rise of the Plan S [1] initiative from research funders, representing the strongest effort yet to force compliance with an open access publication norm. There are many issues or concerns over the impact of the plan, and almost as many detractors, naysayers and counters often located in the commercial publishing sector. Nevertheless, Plan S is undoubtably one of the biggest potential game changers within the academic publishing sector, certainly in the UK since 2012’s Finch Report [2]. That said there remains much which remains uncertain or unknown, a theme Prof Martin Eve highlighted at this week’s UKSG conference in Telford [3]. As the publishing lead of a scholar-led open access journal, Plan S is naturally a development I’m keeping a close eye on. Even if largely Exchanges already meets with the requirements…or at least as they’re currently understood.

I guess as a journal hosted at a UK university, I can’t avoid mentioning the B word. Brexit is something we British-based scholars can’t help but fret over, with its potential impacts on funding, partnerships, student intake and opportunities. I am pleased to say, in line with the IAS’ global ethos, over the past year the journal has continued to make links with scholars across Europe and further afield. Whatever Brexit’s outcome, this increasing international engagement is without a doubt something that’ll be continuing as long as I’m running the journal!

In a somewhat related development, the past year has also seen changes in and an increased internationalisation of Exchanges Editorial Board. There’s been the departure to pastures new of a half-dozen of valued past editorial team members, but our ranks have swollen with nine new members of the Board. Not to mention only yesterday the introduction of our first three assistant editors too, as I broaden the idea and reenvisage practically what it means to be a member of the Exchanges team.

Behind the scenes there’s also been a shift in how the board works with myself as Editor-in-chief, largely down to my more consultative managerial demeanour. I’ve also created a series of evolving supporting materials for the Editorial Board, demarcating their roles and responsibilities more clearly, alongside providing more accurate guidance in how to perform their editorial duties. Anecdotally, the editorial team members seem to have relished these progressive moves, which has pleased me considerably. I’ve undoubtably learned and benefitted even more so from the professional relationships I’ve forged through working with them. I hope they’ve also benefitted from my increased professionalisation of journal operations, procedures and policies – things I strongly believe are vital to Exchanges’ long-term sustainability.

One of the reasons why I’ve believed it’s important to provide greater support for my editors’ practice, is because behind the scenes we’ve had various improvements to the OJS (open journal system) platform that Exchanges runs on. Generally, I suspect these enhancements won’t have been visible to readers and authors, but for those of us working on the journal, they’ve helped introduce some much-needed new functionality alongside streamlining other elements. It’s (sad to say) not a perfect system, and my technical wish list continues to be a living document that’ll I’ll be using to try and instigate further developments in the system over the next year. Chief among these, I don’t mind mentioning, are better author metrics and better integrated multi-media. Keep your eye on this blog for news about this!

More visibly long-time readers will probably have spotted that one of my early endeavours was to overhaul, review and revise every single piece of information on Exchanges’ websites. It was clear to me from day one that this was long overdue, and served to remove numerous errors, oversights and in some cases directly contradictory material. I’m (slightly) hampered by the OJS system in terms of how much additionally functionality I can add to the journal’s website, but hopefully it’s a much richer resource especially for prospective authors and peer-reviewers.

Continuing the more tangible developments of the past year have been the numerous occasions when I’ve stepped out from behind my desk to engage with the early career researcher community at workshops, conferences and events. Personally, I have a deep love of teaching and public speaking, and so I have been utterly delighted to participate in these occasions. My mantra of ‘any time, anywhere’ when it comes to speaking about academic publishing, exchanges or scholarly communication remains at the heart of my personal professional practice. Hence, I can only encourage further invites globally to speak on behalf of the IAS and the journal.

Perhaps principally among these was my work with Warwick’s PAIS (Politics and International Studies) department in co-facilitating their academic writing and peer review summer school. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to promote the journal, and discuss potential article submissions with emerging scholars, but it served as an impetus for revisions and improvements to Exchanges peer-review guidance and policy. I’m happy to say, that these are now more robust than ever, and importantly, more closely aligned with best academic praxis. I’m also proud that this event led to the publication of an extensive work on peer review by myself [4], which I hope early career scholars will find invaluable in supporting their own efforts.

Finally, there’s also been a rash of other efforts on the marketing and awareness front. The launch of our various associated social media channels (including this blog, twitter and Linked.in) have given our contributors and readers new ways to hear about developments with the journal, alongside highlighting individual publications. Our ever-popular Exchanges black pencils (have you got one?) too have been distributed far and wide, turning up on at least four different continents thanks to the efforts of the Editorial Board. And of course, that’s not including the various videos, posters and flyers which have served to raise the journal’s presence within the early career researcher community.

As you can see, it’s been a busy and eventual year for Exchanges and myself as it’s Editor-in-Chief. Looking ahead, we’ve a new issue coming up in a few weeks (my third!), and another regular one scheduled for late autumn too. Moreover, we’ve also got the preparations for the oft-mentioned special issues, which looking at the abstract proposals from the prospective authors for the first, looks likely to be exhilaratingly insightful contributions to the interdisciplinary discourse. I’m also booked to speak about academic publishing in the summer at one international conference already. So, here’s to a prosperous, scholarly and eventful Year Two for me and Exchanges!

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[1] Fun fact, the S stands for shock

[2] Finch, J., 2012. Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings – the Finch Group. London: BIS/Research Information Network.

[3] Eve, M.P., 2019. Plan S: Origins, Developments, Speed. In: UKSG 42nd Annual Conference and Exhibition, 8 April - 10 Apr 2019, Telford, England. (Unpublished).

[4] Johnson, G.J., Tzanakou, C., & Ionescu, I., 2019. An Introduction to Peer Review. Coventry: PAIS, Warwick. http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Introduction-to-Peer-Review-Guide.pdf


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