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May 23, 2023

Reflections on the Publication Strategies & Metrics Panel

Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/global/europe/eutopia

Reflections from last week’s EUTOPIA-SIF panel on a couple of fascinating academic pubolication topics.

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion session as part of Warwick’s contribution to the EUTOPIA-SIF programme of events. To this end, I was joined by delegates from across Europe, as well as from here at Warwick to discuss a couple of topics close to my own professional interests: publication strategies and metrics. For once though, and thankfully given the challenge of the session’s theme, I wasn’t on the spot to talk about my own views but rather to enable the discourse between four wonderful panel members and the attendees. I can report from comments in the session and subsequently, that this was clearly a much-appreciated discussion opportunity.

For those of you who weren’t in the room here’s the session overview:

A major part of developing an academic track career is taking a strategic approach towards one’s publishing outputs. This helps in ensuring visibility among key audience demographics, alongside achieving credible impact and public recognition alongside generating markers of personal and professional esteem. Hence, understanding and engaging with the various publication measures of esteems – be they journal, article or personal – intrinsically resonates with any such strategic approach.

Illuminating these discussions through personal and professional insights will be a diverse group of scholars, sharing their experiences and perceptions around these crucial topics. Adopting a panel discussion format, the session will be largely contextualised and driven by attendees’ interests, questions and comments. In this way, the panel’s debates will organically evolve and resonate with the interests and concerns of the attending audience members.

In tackling these topics I was joined by a collection of academic panellists, drawn from contributors to Exchanges as authors and editors alike. These were:

  • Dr Alena Cicholewski (Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany)
  • Dr Huayi Huang (Usher Institute of Health and Wellbeing, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK)
  • Dr Ignaas Jimidar (CHIS (Chemical Engineering), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
  • Dr Sharon Coleclough (Department of Media, Performance and Communication, School of Digital, Technologies and Arts, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK)

Ahead of the session I’d made a call for questions, as well as developing a few provocations of my own to get the ball rolling. While I’d shared these with the panel beforehand as the session was also designed to be largely driven by the delegates’ thoughts, experiences and insights of the delegates a most dynamic session ensured. Hence, after an opening question to prime the pump asking generally about publication strategic approaches, we shifted very much to an dialogic and interactive approach for the rest of the 90 minutes or so.

Strategies

While I am not going to attempt to share the full session discourse – when you’re chairing there’s only so many notes you have time to take – to offer a flavour, in terms of overall strategies some of the suggested approaches included:

  • Bespoke: Remember there is no single strategic approach that works for all. Be adaptable with your publication approaches and ask yourself what you want to achieve - e.g., recognition, dissemination, career esteem or opportunities.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Balance the need for advancing complex and insightful niche work, with that which straddles interdisciplinary boundaries – in terms of readers or subject matters – for maximum impact.
  • Networking: View publishing as networking – consider who you are writing for and where, and use it to engender a discourse or dialogue between yourself and other key researchers. Can be the basis for an ongoing series of publications as a result.
  • Potential: Publication isn’t everything – it is possible to advance to a new role without an overtly strong portfolio of past works, but having the potential to achieve more in the future is always worth stressing.
  • Situtation: Understand where you are in the field, especially in terms of where you want to go and how you want to be perceived.

Following on there was also a fair amount of discussion contrasting the differences in perceptions of most esteem capital worthy works in different disciplines and fields. Certainly, comments around the (arguably unhealthy) predominance of STEM publication habits as ‘normative’ were richly represented here. These considerations were married with examinations of questions relating to single and joint lead-authors and the different advantages this might confer, alongside the challenges of breaking into an Anglophone [1] dominated publication field in some domains.

There were considerable discussions around metrics – their use and misuse in cases, and the importance of balancing your own career and output and trying not to be entirely dominated with chasing the illusive highest impact simply to amplify a quantitative score [2]. Of course, as any academic knows no matter how much we might try to resist such objectified metrification the reality is research assessment exercises such as the REF loom large in any scholar’s life. However, balancing the need to ‘feed the beast’ while still achieving the ongoing publication and research discourse you actually want to produce remains a nuanced topic.

Future Disrupters

During the panel discussions the topic of AI, as one might have expected, came under the spotlight. There was a smattering of debate considering how the panel and delegates saw it as part tool, but also something which might distort or disrupt academic scholarly communicative practices into unknown configurations in the coming years. As an ancillary to these discussions, the panel were challenged to explore those other publication technologies or developments which might be worth examining in greater detail. Suggestions included podcasts and non-textural publication routes able to reach and engage new and different audiences, alongside developments in normative peer-reviewing practices too. Certainly though, retaining a watchful eye on opportunities beyond the traditional journal and monograph vectors which might prove valuable routes to communicate research activities were agreed as an essential strategic awareness.

The session closed by the panel offering their final thoughts on, given a limited time resource, where they would recommend focussing professional attention to yield maximum result. Suggestions included seeking to be a solo or lead author wherever possible, considering how your publications promote your public, professional identity and create the backbone of your interpersonal networks. Alongside this the importance of always remembering where you were in your career journey and meeting both opportunities and need within your strategic publication aims was stressed. Certainly, the panel agreed opportunities abound in terms of being able to contribute and be recognised far beyond simply operating as an author of texts within the publication sphere.

Thanks

As always, my especial thanks to my panel quartet for their contributions and generous donation of their time and insights. From the reactions in the room, I can see that the delegates certainly were engaged by the discussions, and I hope we left them all with plenty to think over. As chair I certainly enjoyed the discussions and am still chewing over some of the comments and how they might relate to my own praxis and work on Exchanges. Naturally, I would like to extend my thanks to all the delegates too and especially to those posing questions or contributing to what was a very active chat-channel.

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Endnotes

[1] An Anglophone and high income economy perhaps?

[2] Alternatively, to amplify just a single quantitative score perhaps?


March 22, 2023

New Episode – Interdisciplinarity & Publishing – Panel Discussion

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

A new feature length episode of the podcast arrives to offer a lively insight into interdisciplinary research.

After a brief pause, I’m delighted to announce the launch of a new episode of the Exchanges Discourse podcast. It’s taken a few weeks to find a perfect date for all my guests to appear at once, but I think you’ll agree it was worthwhile. Listen in here:

In this very special panel discussion episode, I talk with four scholars from around the globe about the art, science and everything in between of interdisciplinarity and academic publishing. In a lively exchange the panel members explore their perceptions of what is, and what might not be, interdisciplinary work, with particular reference to publishing research articles. Along the way, the panel also takes a view on what a broader academic reader wants along with considering practicalities of reviewing and publishing articles incorporating an interdisciplinary voice, mode or perspective. We even touch on issues of integration within academic scholarship to a degree.

The episode features guest panellists: Alena Cicholewski (University of Oldenburg, Germany), Sharon Coleclough (Staffordshire University, UK), Huayi Huang (University of Edinburgh, UK) & Kwasu David Tembo (Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana). My thanks to each of them for their time and input to the episode.

As this is – officially- the longest episode we’ve ever produced, listeners might want to avail themselves of the episode index below – so they can jump in to the most relevant moment of the episode.

Episode Index

  • 00:00 Opening
  • 01:00 Panel Introductions
  • 03:00 Defining ‘Interdisciplinary’
  • 09:08 Interdisciplinary Fringes
  • 17:06 Satisfying Interdisciplinary Audiences
  • 27:12 Writing in an Interdisciplinary Mode
  • 34:42 Peer Reviewing Interdisciplinary Texts
  • 42:30 Knowledge & Integration
  • 51:40 Practical Advice on Publishing Interdisciplinary Work
  • 56:04 Outro

As always, for more on publishing with Exchanges, the interdisciplinary research journal, see our online guide for authors.


May 09, 2022

Panel: Developing your Publication Strategy '22

Last week I hosted a couple of workshops for the IAS. The first (3rd May) was the return of my popular Exchanges Ask me Anything session, wherein our early career fellows get to ask me, well, anything about the journal – and often the world of academic publishing at large too. They also get to watch me sip a cup of tea as I offer them time and space to think of their questions without me talking too. Seemed to go well, so far as one can tell in an online teaching environment. We’ll be running this again in the autumn I suspect for the next batch of ECFs we induct.

Thursday (5th May) though was the more significant of the workshop sessions. This was my second iteration of the Developing your Publication Strategy, which regular readers will recall I originally hosted back in March 2021. As this had been such a successful session, I was asked last month if I’d be willing to offer it again: a request to which I quickly agreed.

I decided this time fantastic though the panel members were last year, that for this new panel I’d try and recruit some different voices. Different academics would bring with them fresh and unexpected perspectives, and I hoped would contribute to an engaging session for the delegates. As before, I reached out to a goodly number of contacts, many of whom were unavailable (if otherwise willing) to participate. I did though, thankfully, strike gold with three past Exchanges authors and I will confess, past podcast guests too: Dr Catherine Price (Nottingham), Dr Mark Readman (Bournemouth) and Prof Monica Mastrantonio (York). Thanks to the efforts of the EUTOPIA Consortium, I was also able to recruit Prof Marcus Pivato (Cergy Paris) to add into the mix as well.

I was delighted to say we had a packed 75 minutes during which my four panellists handled all manner of questions from the audience. From complex ruminations on creating an interdisciplinary portfolio, through to their thoughts on the current scholarly communications field and advice on how delegates might refine their own practices. While I had a battery of questions to hand to keep the conversation flowing, should the audience be a little restrained in offering their own, I had little need to return to these during the session. It certainly was a lively debate, and feedback from speakers and delegates alike on the day seemed most positive.

I am naturally deeply indebted to all of the speakers for their participation and gracious gift of time, as each of them really helped the session come alive in different ways. As panel chair it was interesting to observe how we touched on similar topics to the 2021 session, albeit debating them within a slightly different framing. Such is the joy of running a panel session – you never know quite what you’re going to learn.

I am also grateful to the audience, who played their part well. Not only were they thought provoking in their questioning, but they also contributed to a wonderful continuing thread of debate within the text chat. Certainly, one advantage of hybrid/online sessions over a f2f one is that you get this wonderful additional thread of debate available for all, rather than just the people you’re whispering sitting next to you. Prominent among the topics tackled here were perceptions of peer-review and anonymization, which exposed some very big divides and surprising disciplinary assumptions among panellists and audience alike.

The text chat also captured a range of resources and links, that I promised to collate for further interest [1]:

I very much enjoyed running this panel, which was illuminating for myself as well. Hopefully, we’ll see this panel session revisited in some format during 2023 once more – with yet another set of fine panellists!

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[1] Beall’s ‘predatory’ trash journals list came up too, but given the considerable issues over this in recent years I’m not including it here.


November 15, 2021

Session Reflections – Educational Podcasting Panel

Follow-up to Educational Podcasting Panel from Exchanges Reflections: Interdisciplinary Editor Insights

I am pleased to report the Accolade session on education podcasting, organised in collaboration with Exchanges, certainly exceeded my expectations. All of my panellists were as expected excellent contributors and I am naturally deeply grateful for the time and enthusiasm they provided over the hour-long discussion. I was, perhaps, even more satisfied in how I did not have to work my way through many of the pre-prepared panel questions, as those which arose from the floor came so thick and fast. As a consequence, I think the debate was more dynamic and wide ranging along with hopefully being more directly applicable to the audience’s interests.

The session’s format, such as it was, featured introductions from each of the panellists, highlighting their own take on podcasting. What was unexpectedly delightful from a contextual as well as a performative standpoint were the ways each introduction seemed to seamlessly flow into the next. I would love to suggest this luscious flow was directly the outcome of my careful curation of the panel members. However, I would counter it was most likely primarily a serendipitous outcome from gathering an assemblage of knowledge enthusiasts in one place and time. Nevertheless, the manner in which the panellists resonated with each other reinforced nicely why each was there alongside demonstrating from the outset how they would be contributing different perspectives on higher educational podcasting within education.

For my part, I was happy to have a few moments to chip in the odd comment, although from the outset I made it clear I was there as a ringmaster rather than performer for once. Understandably, keeping the conversations managed took up a little more of my main focus, additionally perhaps diminishing the pressure to contribute anything myself!

Regretfully, such was my focus on enabling the conversation I wasn’t taking any notes of the debate. However, thanks to the joy of a Teams based discussion, I was able to capture most of the questions asked. Hopefully, were you not present, the reader will be able to gain an appreciation of the discussions that were consequently sparked through the selection below:

How did you get into educational podcasting, as a creator, user or listener?

In what ways has podcasting played a role in your educational or research practices?

Do you have to pay to upload podcasts to, for example, Spotify?

Can we talk more about the technologies, platforms and techniques for creating a podcast?

Are people willing to listen to podcasts on multiple platforms, or are there ways to distribute them more widely from their original, native, upload host?

Have you experienced any barriers to introducing podcasts as part of the curriculum or within modules? E.g. as a form of assessment, as well as an information resource.

How can you make a podcast with a guest who is not in the same room as you? Is it best to interview via video and extract the sound, or are there other ways to capture good quality audio/performances?

What's the best length for a podcast? Especially in the light of guidance for recording 'long' lectures to chunk them into 10-20 minute segments.

What is your favourite podcast to listen to, and why does it appeal?

From the comments on the day, it was clear the session was very positively received by the audience, which is a credit to everyone who was involved. Hence, I think everyone who attended - including panellists - felt they gained something of interest from the discussions.

Additionally, I am exceptionally pleased in the way the Exchangesbrand has once again been able to be associated with the organisation and hosting of a useful workshop session. Hopefully this is not the last we will hear of podcasting within Accolade or indeed Exchanges itself! Perhaps we will be able to return to this topic afresh in a year's time and see what other lessons or experiences we all have to share by then.

Useful Related Resources:

A few links were shared during the session which included:


November 09, 2021

Educational Podcasting Panel

Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/postdocs/accolade/calendar/autumn/

This Thursday I’ve the pleasure of hosting an Accolade Roundtable panel on educational podcasting. During the session invited panellists will share their personal experiences and perceptions on how they have engaged with podcasting within various higher educational and research contexts. Following this introductory exploration, the floor will be opened for participants to ask questions, add comments or share their own experiences with podcasting. The majority of the session though will be shaped through participant insights, comments and questions.

Hosting this panel naturally stems from my experiences creating and hosting the Exchanges Discourse podcast, but for once I’ve the pleasure of sitting back and let my invited guests hold forth. A bless’d relief for those who might be tired on my voice, perhaps, but more importantly an exciting opportunity to hear lots of different views on podcasting as a medium for professional development, research outreach and educational impact.

I am deeply grateful to the various panellists I reached out to who were able to participate, and a few who weren’t as they helped steer me towards others who were able to attend. For the session our panellists will include: Arun Ulahannan (Institute for Future Transport and Cities, Coventry University), Jessica Humphreys (Academic Development Centre, Warwick), Jim Judges (IT Services, Warwick), Julia Gauly (Warwick Medical School), Naomi Waltham-Smith (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick) and Rebecca Stone (Faculty of Arts, Warwick).

Some of this wonderful group are podcast creators and hosts, some have participated in podcasts as guests, and most if not all have found ways to incorporate, apply or embrace podcasting within their professional practice. While the panel is only an hour long, with so many engaging and interesting personalities on the panel, I suspect it will be a fun and informative session. I’m currently sitting here writing some provocations to get the conversation flowing, but I suspect I won’t need to use many of these before the audience start firing off their own inquiries. At least, that has always been my past experience of chairing Accolade sessions.

Will we inspire members of the audience to take up their own podcasting mics? Perhaps, although this is not the principal aim! Nevertheless, what the session does hope to provide is for everyone to gain a better understanding of educational podcasting principles, techniques and practice. At the same time, I would hope the audience and panellists alike will develop a greater appreciation for how, when and where podcasting can enhance pedagogical and research practices. Moreover, if nothing else, the delegates will become more aware of the ways in which podcasting can form a component of their career development strategy. And perhaps along the way we’ll all emerge with an awareness of some great academic podcasts we can all enjoy and from which we can profit.


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