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February 28, 2023

Reflecting Back on Researcher Development: Spring Term

A few thoughts from last week’s researcher development session on publishing, editorial work and reviewing.

Last week I co-facilitated the second workshop sessions for the Leadership and Management Development course for early-stage researchers[1]. While the course is intended to take a look and share thoughts around various aspects of researcher development, my contribution was focused on publishing – specifically editorial and reviewing work. After the previous session in November I’d reworked my contributions, as I felt after that session how there was less interest in talking and quite a bit more desire for some learning and explanatory content. As matters turned out for this second version, this was a slight error on my part, as the delegates last week were far more interested in discussions. For early-stage researchers too, they also seemed to have a much broader range of experience within publishing, which meant I could have gone much deeper into some areas of argumentation than I did!

In terms of what was covered in the session by myself, this included:

  • Exchanges mission, purpose & opportunities
  • Metrics, esteem and publishing
  • Editorial workflows & processes
  • Peer-reviewing models & ethics
  • Trash publishers
  • Call for papers for a forthcoming special issue

On post-event reflection, I can see my next set of materials for the summer session are going to need revision once more – possibly finding a middle way between directed learning and discursive exploration. I confess, the online nature of the workshop rather reduced the degree of interaction I felt would have benefited my session, and certainly my ability to adapt on the fly to delegates’ specific interests. It’s one reason why last terms Exchanges AMA worked so well, as I was able to let attendees specific interests direct the entire event’s focus. Certainly, even after three long years of teaching online, while I note it offers some advantages, I feel for myself at least that it forms more of an effective barrier to learning than I would like.[2]. Undoubtedly, talking to a blank screen with slides on it utterly denudes the experience for me in gaining any affective resonance with the delegates, which I rather think is to the detriment of the experience for all.

It's not that it was a terrible session – far from it[3] – I just came away thinking there was a whole lot more I could have explored, or emphasised more, than I did. This is in rather stark contrast to last month’s CADRE session where I couldn’t have been happier with the delivery and delegate response. Of course, that session was face-to-face rather than online – so this might be a personal delivery style preference. Or it might have been that, for myself at least, online sessions work best when they are discursive rather than didactic in structure. A learning point I think for my own future delivery planning.

All this aside, there were however, some wonderful questions from the delegates – and if anything the discourse part of the session was a rich exchange of insight. I learned a few things myself too in the meanwhile. So, I don’t believe my time was squandered, but I am beating myself up slightly over offering a session which I didn’t feel like it reached my normal level of teaching excellence. I can, in the final evaluation, utilise the experience to improve the next session I deliver!

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Endnotes

[1] The course lead’s preferred term for newly minted academics. Roughly analogous to early career researchers.

[2] Which is slightly concerning as, at time of writing, I’m hosting another lengthy workshop session this afternoon.

[3] Delegates may disagree!


November 15, 2021

New Journal Launches – PGR Pedagogic Practice

Writing about web page https://t.co/PJm1ssqckY

Cover of the Journal of Pedagogic PracticeIt is not every day I get to trumpet the arrival of a new journal, but today is very much an exception. Last week saw the launch of the Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practiceon the Warwick Press journals platform. I can't claim Exchanges or myself played an especially large contributing role, and any praise for its content and operations deserves to go entirely to the editors and Board of the new title.

That said, at least one of the lead editors for the journal is a graduate of Exchanges’ associate editors programme. As a consequence, I spent a very enjoyable hour with earlier this year reflecting on my experiences and talking through the practicalities of running a journal title with him. I believe I've also agreed to act as an advisor to the journal team in the future at the point they need some more input. Not that they needed to have asked, as I’m always happy to help support the Warwick Press family of journals in whatever capacity I can. Nevertheless, I think we can claim a slender slice of the kudos pie for ourselves this time.

Of course, now their first issue is out, the greatest hill to climb lies ahead: getting the second issue together! Certainly, so many newly launched scholar-led journal initiatives flounder at this stage once the initial enthusiasm wears thin. And beyond that too lay a series of foothills which will continue to rise from the mists as each subsequent issue approaches. Or maybe that's just my experience running Exchanges - especially this year which has felt like a sprinting marathon at times rather than the light jog running the title usually represents.

Nevertheless, a huge congratulations to our 'sister' J.PGR.PedPract! Long may you attract interesting and insightful articles, thought and comment!



September 13, 2018

Handle with Care (Peer Review Day 2)

Day two of the PLOTINA Peer Review Summer School was a little more low-key for me. My only role today was to come along and help facilitate discussions during the end of day workshop, where delegates took the chance to review a range of conference abstracts. This was in contrast to the workshop I ran earlier in the year, wherein I got ECRs to look at anonymised paper submissions. I will confess, in the spirit of peer review, I think this afternoon’s workshop lacked a little of the meat of the earlier one. That said, it came at the end of a long day for the delegates, and I suspect it was more than enough for them to get a taste for the challenges of reviewing material. The light touch then, was probably far more digestible than my ‘mind bending’ challenging review.

Tomorrow of course, they’ll have the opportunity to review one another’s work in a little more depth, so I’m sure this taster session will have gotten them thinking about the whole process a bit more practically. I can’t confess that my contribution today was as valuable as yesterday, as the workshop was co-facilitated by a visiting education professor, to whom I must doff my academic cap in acknowledgement of their much greater knowledge in the realm of reviewing abstracts. Hopefully though, the few nuggets of information I chipped in were of value to participants.

I also hope they don’t groan too much when they see me turn up to talk to them again tomorrow – too much of a good thing, perhaps!

I did take away one really interesting thought myself – the idea that reviews should always be written ‘with care’, and consideration of the actual person on the receiving end of the reviewing process. Speaking as someone who’s had his share of acerbic review comments (pre and post publication), I would hope every reviewing academic would remember this maxim. Certainly, it’s an approach we’d strongly advocate to all our peer-reviewers for Exchanges. Critique not criticism, is the order of the day!


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