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February 25, 2021

Top Exchanges Discourse Podcasts 2020

Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias

The Exchanges Discourse podcast series was first introduced last May, which means unlike our journal, we haven’t truly had a full year of availability against which to chart the download statistics. However, I thought, given we released 11 episodes in 2020, that it would still be worthwhile having a brief look at which were the top five most listened to episodes.

Rank

Article

Released

Theme

1

A Conversation with…Dr Julia Gauly

3rd Dec 20

Researcher interview

2

Art Students Then & Now

1st July 20

Special Issue

3

A Conversation with…Dr Ioana Vrabiescu

15th October

Researcher Interview

4

Do you want to build a Special Issue?

6th October

Special Issue

5

For Our Consideration

21st May

Author Guidance

It’s pleasantly surprising to see that a mix of episodes, including ones with guests, are all in the top tier for listeners. What you’ll be able to surmise too from glancing at the release dates is just how rapidly popular our discussion with Dr Gauly was. Now, the reasons for this may be the timing, released just as a very long autumn term was coming to an end when people were looking for something interesting but lighter weight to listen to. It might also be that Dr Gauly herself did a magnificent job of sharing the podcast episode with her peers on social media, for which we’re deeply grateful. I’d like to think it was the content though, as it was a really enjoyable discussion to participate in, as the interviewer.

Nevertheless, a year from now it will be interesting to return and see what will have been our most listened to episode for 2021!


January 06, 2021

Looking Backwards Before Moving Forward

Welcome to 2021, and the first of this year’s blog posts. As is somewhat traditional to be in a reflective mood at the beginning of a new year, I thought it would be useful to take a look back at preceding 12 months as they relate to the Exchanges journal and highlight some of the developments and occurrences we experienced and enjoyed.

January

The year began with a glorious triumph! In what was arguably our biggest innovation since we launched, we saw the publication of our very first special issue, entitled Cannibalism. Packed full of intriguing, challenging and thought-provoking articles, it also represented the culmination of over 12 months of effort behind the scenes by the Board and our associate editors. We produced a few promotional copies in print too, just to appreciate quite how ‘meaty’ an issue it was. These were intended to be used to publicise the journal at lectures, meetings and conferences during the year, although sadly global events would transpire against us.

February

The next month began on a continued high note, as associate editors gathered at the IAS’ offices to celebrate and reflect on the lessons drawn from preparing the special issue. It was clear from the discussions here there was more to unpick here than a casual conversation would reveal. So, ever the ethnographer at heart, I engaged in some semi-structed ‘exit’ interviews with the team. The hope was these interviews would help us better understand what the associate editors had learned, but also help clarify any of the unanticipated challenges they met along the way. In this way, we could reshape the training and support offered for future cohorts, while also allowing me to pass along my personal thanks to each member of the team. The outcomes from these interviews would also inform a planned conference paper in April, although as the next month arrived, it became clearer that our plans for 2020 were going to need to be significantly restructured.

March

As we moved into the third month of the year, it had rapidly become clear to me and the journal team, as it had to people around the world, that ‘business as usual’ was about to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. However, there was some positive news at the start of March, for while we were bidding farewell to some of our associate editors, we also welcomed two new Board members from CY Cergy Paris Université in the persons of Dr Guilherme Sampaio and Dr Salvatore Monteleone. Nevertheless, with the onset of lockdown in the UK, things drastically changed for Exchanges as I bid a regretful farewell to my campus office and relocated to my home one for the duration. Sadly, my planned Article in an Afternoon workshop scheduled for the end of the month was a casualty of the enforced shift to remote-working. While I hope to revisit, rework or represent this workshop eventually, finding time to reconfigure it for online delivery was less of a priority than supporting our editors and contributors as their working environments shifted drastically.

April

As the unprecedented, distanced summer term began, there was a least one piece of normality among the uncertainty. The IAS welcomed its latest batch of early career fellows in an online event, within which Exchanges took its regular slot, albeit slightly hampered by technical issues. Thankfully, your editor-in-chief had planned ahead and prepared a pre-recorded video to introduce the journal in place of a live broadcast! Nevertheless, it was a happy event, among an unseasonably gloomy month. Normally, April sees the publication of the regular issue of the journal, but it became readily apparent that we were lacking in sufficient publication-ready content for the issue, and so the decision was taken to push to the issue back to later in the year. Not a choice taken lightly, but an understandable one as we heard about the impacts from Covid and the varied global responses were impacting on scholars’ life experiences and working habits. However, for the journal there was a positive note to end the month on as a new associate editor, Melissa Pawelski joined the editorial team.

May

Behind the scenes fevered preparations continued towards the new issue of the journal. Reviewers and authors alike were encouraged by the editorial team, although ever sympathetic to the diverse and challenging environments each contributor now found themselves operating within. However, the space provided by the delayed publication and the diminished physical interaction with scholars finally saw me drive forward on a long considered but as yet unrealised project of creating a companion podcast series for the journal. The Exchanges Discourse therefore launched in early May with two inaugural episodes. As might be expected, these were themed around an introduction to the journal and our mission, and then an overview of the types of material the journal would normally consider for publication. I was delighted how the podcast and initial episodes were very warmly received by the IAS and our contributor community. As a result, awe pressed forward with developing the format and content for planned future episodes, something which continues to this day. Although, the efforts on The Exchanges Discourse may serve to explain why there were slightly fewer blog posts produced here last year!

June

As summer arrived, we finally rolled out the delayed but much anticipated latest issue of Exchanges (Vol.7 No.3). While the Covid-related delay to its production had been frustrating for the editorial team, and some of the authors too, we were naturally delighted by how enthusiastically the issue was received across the readership. After the extra effort of for the first time of coordinating an issue’s production entirely at a distance, the whole team took a moment to celebrate a job well done. Trying to avoid falling into the trap of so many ‘pandemic themed calls’, the issue also incorporated a new call for manuscript submissions on the broader and hopefully more uplifting theme of challenge and opportunity. Alongside the new issue, we also rolled out our third podcast episode, on the timely theme of Having your Manuscript Declined, & How to Avoid It: a topic evergreen in my mind and editorial labours.

July

The early summer continued to be a rich time for new episodes of The Exchanges Discourse, as we published two more this month. The first out of the gate was our premier guest interview episode, which saw Pierre Botcherby in discussion about the development of the Then & Now: Art Student Experiences journal special issue. As a new style, and one which increased the diversity of voices on the podcast by 50%, we were thrilled by the successful creation and release of the episode. This release was followed up by the first of our reflective podcast episodes, where we took a look back at the most recently published issue of the journal, highlighting the articles within it. July was also a month where the first of a series of regular video conference calls with the Editorial Board took place, to offer support and advice, as well as discuss forthcoming developments with the journal. Alongside providing some peer-to-peer support with the difficult working conditions within which we all found ourselves.

August

Normally a quiet month for the journal, with many of the team and contributors taking a well-earned break. As a result, perhaps the most significant event in August took place almost unnoticed by our contributing and reader communities, but for the editorial team was a most welcome occurrence. A long-planned update to the underlying OJS platform on which Exchanges runs was introduced, which added some much-desired new functionalities alongside squishing the odd glitch here and there. That the introduction of the new version of the platform passed by quietly in the background is a testimony to the hard work and professionalism of the Library Scholarly Communications team in preparing for and executing the upgrade.

September

Another editorial team meeting was held during September, to pick up the various threads of development and support needed across the Board. Chief among these were reviewing our progress against plan on each of our various special issues under development. Originally, September was to see the publication of our Cli-Fi special issue, but the Covid curse meant the Board and issue leads mutually agreed to push this back by four months to early 2021. Nevertheless, editors, reviewers and authors alike continued to work on this, and other contributions, behind the scenes, as we moved towards the start of the new academic session.

October

After a pause the previous month for myself to catch up on regular editorial work, the new academic year brought with it two new episodes of the podcast. The first provided a potted guide on the considerations and best approach to initiating a special issue of the journal, inspired by conversations with our various issue leads. The second was another of our increasingly popular guest episodes, with Ioana Vrabiescu in conversation with myself about her publishing experiences and providing some advice to first time authors. Meanwhile, October saw us welcome another new cohort of early career fellows to the IAS, with this time Exchanges much more successfully being able to engage with them during their induction event. This induction event was followed the next week by an ‘Ask me anything’ session (AMA) hosted by myself for the fellows, giving them the opportunity to enquire about Exchanges and how we relate to their researcher development experience. It was a highly successful new format and a highly energised session, and hence will be one we’ll be repeating in future Accolade slots for Exchanges related content, even once we’re all back together physically once again.

What was a busy, busy month for myself and the journal was capped by the publication of Vol. 8 No.1 of Exchanges, to much relief on the part of the editorial team, and much delight on behalf of the readership and contributors. The issue included our new thematic call for papers A.I. Panic or Panacea? It was to be a theme which generated a flurry of discussions and emails from potential authors, so I’m hopeful we’ll be seeing some excellent papers relating to it.

November

There was though, no time to rest on our laurels as we headed into the final months of the year. For November, the undoubtable headline event saw me speaking about the journal and the outcomes from our associate editors programme at the prestigious international Munin Conference on Scholarly Communication in Norway. Sadly, the pandemic meant that rather than a trip to the most northerly university in the world, I spoke from my home office. Conversely though, the conference experience generated more than a little new interest in Exchanges and our work, which was a very exciting outcome. You can watch my entire talk online, if you missed the opportunity of attending the conference.

During November we also took the time to produce two further episodes of The Exchanges Discourse. The first, was a reflective look back at the recently published issue. The second by contrast introduced another new format for the podcast, with our first foray into having authors present an oral version of their article’s abstract. If this wasn’t enough activity for one month, we also hosted the final Editorial Board online meeting of the year, bringing together my team together from across at least 4 different time-zones and several thousand miles. A tip of my hat especially for my Australian colleagues for joining us at what was a late hour of the day for them.

December

Publicly the year ended what was probably a relatively quietly note. Although behind the scenes there was a lot of work going on towards the volumes of the journal planned for 2021. Training was held for two incoming associate editors, Josh Patel and Pierre Botcherby for one. It was also a month where I seemed to be very busy interviewing academics about their publishing experiences for the Exchanges Discourse podcast, with two new episodes coming out just before the Christmas break featuring Dr Julia Gauly and another with Isabelle Heyerick. Clearly, looking at the healthy listener figures for these episodes, they were either highly engaging, or scholars found themselves with more time to listen as the year ended. It was notable the statistics for all episodes of podcast went up during December, so perhaps a little of both reasons. A further episode was also recorded, but with the encroaching Christmas shut-down period, it was held back from release until early 2021. For me though, the last event of the year was a discussion with some scholars in the Netherlands about an open access project of potential interest to the journal. A fine way to cap off a strange and unexpectedly eventful working year on a note of authentic positivity.

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So, that was Exchanges’ 2020 – and what’s ahead for 2021? More special issues being published, more regular issues too that’s for certain, as are more podcast episodes. I’m hopeful we’ll be opening the books to recruit some new editors and associate editors in the coming months, alongside contributing to a few conferences, workshops and forums in a professional capacity. We’ll also be quietly celebrating three years of the title under my stewardship, albeit at in a respectably socially-distanced manner, around Easter time. I do hope you’ll be at least joining us as a reader or may even be moved to contribute to a future issue. We are certainly looking forward to many, many new interactions with scholars old and new throughout the next year: via the blog, podcast, twitter, email or video-call. However, you approach us, know there’ll be a warm welcome!


December 22, 2020

Closing Down for 2020

Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias/episodes/A-Conversation-withIsabelle-Heyerick-eo42dq

'Don’t be blinded by where you want to publish, look for people you want to publish with

Well, it’s been a year, and what a year it’s been for us all. From the triumph back in January of our first special issue making it to publication, through the launch of the new podcast to speaking about Exchanges to the international community. A lot has happened.

You don’t need me to tell you 2020 has been a year like no other in living memory. It has changed how we work, but for the journal it has also reinforced the strengths of the links we have with contributing communities. From editors, to authors, reviewers and readers, I’ve probably enjoyed more direct interactions this year than I do when I’m actually sitting in my campus office. An office, I hope to see once more in the not too distant future, I may add.

We don’t know what the future holds, so I’m going to avoid any prognostication here, and perhaps introduce a mild sense of caution. I’m hopeful that 2021 will see the publication of two regular issues of the journal, alongside an unprecedented three (!) special issues – those are the plans as they stand right now. I know too that we hope to continue producing our Exchanges Discourse podcast, the latest episode of which went live this morning.

>Listen to: A Conversation with…Isabelle Heyerick

The next two episodes have already been recorded or scheduled for production early in the new year, so there’s plenty of content to come.

In the meantime, if you’ve read or in anyway contributed to the work of Exchanges this year, can I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and wish you a much, much better new year. Stay healthy, take care of yourselves, and I look froward to talking publishing with you very, very soon.


April 07, 2020

Turnitin and the Delights of Locating Student Papers

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

Let’s talk about one of the earliest steps in the editorial journal of a submitted manuscript to our journal. One of the very first things we do for manuscripts submitted to Exchanges is to run them through Turnitin. This tool primarily provides us with an outline check to see if the script has been published elsewhere previously, which alongside breaching the Inglefinger originality rule [1], would also likely contravene another publisher’s legal rights and is to be avoiding. Moreover, it also lets us spot where an author might be running the risk of breaching good scholarly guidelines on the reproduction of someone else’s work as their own. The more closely the text matches with previously disseminated work, the higher the percentage score Turnitin ascribes. It’s not a perfect system, and you cannot rely on the score alone, but it is a very valuable tool for the scholarly editor [2].

Most papers pass through with a fairly low score, although commonly used references within a field can sometimes boost a perfectly legitimate paper’s percentage score by a few points. A handful of submissions though score big, and it’s at this point that I have to do some more investigation. Thankfully, to date under my editorship we’ve not (yet) had any manuscripts which have been clear plagiaristic efforts. Nevertheless, it remains something myself, my editors and reviewers do have to keep a constant, watchful eye out for as part of our quality scrutineering activities.

Some submitted works score highly because they’re making use of attributed quotes, which because they’re taken from or have appeared in prior works are flagged up for attention. A lot of my own published scholarship falls into this category, and I’m acutely aware this means my work would be highlighted in this way. Naturally, provided authors have clearly cited the original work, blocking it out from the main text for long quotes as appropriate, after I’ve read through the Turnitin detailed report, there’s usually little to prevent us from progressing the material towards peer review.

Well, that is, of course if it passes through editorial scrutiny in terms of essential quality. Sending very poor-quality materials to peer reviewers tends to irritate scholars; much as I’d prefer to send everything to review.

However, some submissions don’t use quotations and still shine brightly with very high Turnitin percentages, with the highest I’ve seen scoring 99%! Thankfully, in my experience these high scoring submissions (the 99%er included) tend to be work based on non-formally published student work. For example, essays, thesis or dissertation chapters and even conference talks can commonly cause Turnitin to sound the alert. Like most journals, our policy is ‘Accepted manuscripts will be published on the understanding that they are an original and previously unpublished piece of work’ [3], which we take to mean ‘has not appeared in another published journal or collection’. Where items might have had an earlier digital public existence, like a blog post for example, we expect authors to notify us on submission and we do include a caveat if published to direct readers to the earlier work.

Unlike published papers or blogs though, Turnitin doesn’t have permission to share the text of any identified student papers with us, which creates a state of initial uncertainty as to the author of the prior work. Naturally, if the author is repurposing their own earlier institutionally submitted coursework, this is usually not going to be a problem. We don’t consider student essays for example to be ‘prior publications’ However, we do need to check in case a different person is seeking to pass off someone else’s work as their own.

This is where the ability to request permission to view the matching student work via Turnitin is a valuable additional tool. It helps in identifying if the submitting author, and the student paper author, are one and the same. I only need to use it a few times each year, but it is so helpful when fellow scholars reply and share a requested paper. What has been a relief, is to date, every time I have received access to the student paper, the authors have been perfectly aligned. Great to see people taking good quality work they’ve developed for assessment and converting it into a paper, although by the time it’s passed through review and revision the finally disseminated work will likely be a fair bit more developed.

So, a tip of my hat to all those scholars around the world who’ve responded to my requests, you make my life as an editor and the progress towards publication of your former students an easier one.

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References

[1] Relman, A.S., 1981. The Inglefinger Rule. N Engl J Med, 305, pp. 824-826. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM198110013051408

[2] Turnitin, 2013, 15 Misconceptions About Turnitin. 23 May. https://www.turnitin.com/blog/top-15-misconceptions-about-turnitin

[3] Exchanges, 2020. Journal Policies. https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/about/journal-policies


October 09, 2019

Refreshing Exchanges' Reviewer Database

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

Today I finally hit the big red button on something I’ve been working on over the summer. This has been a task which has oscillated between being a labour of love, while also posing a seemingly Sisyphean task [1]. Thus, reaching its conclusion has brought a combination of relief and satisfaction but also unsurprisingly generated a bit more work for me before I could call it a day. It involved that most crucial of academic journal contributors: peer-reviewers. As I’ve mentioned before, peer-reviewers aren’t just an essential part of the Exchanges editorial workflow, they’re contributions and insights are deeply valued by the Editorial Team and authors alike.

In short, in my spare working moments I’ve been methodically working though our database of registered peer-reviewers and examining what each and every one of them has listed as their reviewer interests. Registered reviewer interests are crucial as these are what my editors and I search when we’re looking for people to participate in peer review of our submitted papers. The main part of my ‘summer fun’ exercise was to identify those people who’ve registered profiles and expressed a willingness to be potential reviewers for Exchanges, and examine what they say about themselves.

But, and it’s a big but, where registered reviewers haven’t listed any research interests then, well they’re essentially invisible to the editors when seeking potential peer-reviewers. If we don’t know what field you work in, or the areas of expertise you profess, then we’re not going to approach you as a reviewer. A surprising 38.5% of our registered reviewers turned out to have failed to supply this key information on their registered profiles. Hence, today’s figurative ‘button’ dispatched emails to those would-be reviewers identified as deficient in this respect, asking if they’d kindly spend a few moments reviewing their profiles and adding in this information.

This naturally uncovered over 40 dead email addresses, and while I’ve managed to correct a few, sadly I’ve removed the majority from our reviewer register. This won’t stop people re-registering with a new email address, something I’d strongly encourage, but does mean our reviewer database now only contains contacts with valid contact addresses. I’ve also had a number of nice chats with former and would be reviewers as a result, which is an unexpected bonus, as engaging with our readership and continuators alike is always a pleasure.

A further serendipitous part of this exercise was the chance to do some light data cleansing work on the rest of the reviewer profiles. Quite a few of these had reviewer interests somewhat confusingly listed, which means, I suspect, they’d have risked being overlooked by my editors. I’m happy now these registered reviewers will turn up more frequently and accurately when we’re looking for people to contribute to our quality assurance activities.

If you are one of our reviewers, then checking your review interests are up-to-date, accurate and complete is one of the most useful things you can do for our journal. Many of the reviewers who do have information on their interests, have only listed one or two areas, whereas five or more would be far more representative of a ‘good’ record. Updating your reviewer profile only takes a few moments and there are easy instructions on how to go about it [2].

Conversely, if you would like to register as a reviewer with us, then by all means please do consider it. You’ll likely find our peer-reviewer guidance helpful [3]. And if you've never peer-reviewed before - then can I recommend this excellent text to get you started [4].

In the meanwhile, I can now crack on with planning my workshops, meetings and presentations for the autumn term now, with this grand summer task solidly in the rear-view mirror.

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[1] Foolishly I thought OJS might be able to run off a report for me, with a list of all reviewers lacking any entries in their review field, but it appears the way the database is designed or implemented makes this impossible. Or at least highly impractical for my tech support people. One of the many reasons why much better managerial reporting tools for the platform are right up at the top of my technical wishlist for the platform! The time they could save me is not inconsiderable.

[2] https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/FAQ#reviewers

[3] https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/peerreviewer

[4] http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Introduction-to-Peer-Review-Guide.pdf #ShamelessSelfPromotion



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


March 21, 2019

Introduction to Peer Review Guide Published

Writing about web page http://www.plotina.eu/plotina-documents/

Delighted to announce that the Introduction to Peer Review I co-wrote last year has finally been published by PLOTINA and the EU. It’s, you’ll be pleased to know, a relatively brief introduction to the art, practice and ethics of peer review, with a target audience of post-graduate and early career authors. Naturally I’m delighted to see it finally available, and deeply grateful to Warwick’s Department of Politics and International Studies, and the PLOTINA Project, for asking me to contribute to it.

Peer review booklet cover

http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Introduction-to-Peer-Review-Guide.pdf

Naturally, I retained the film rights and first refusal as to who plays me in the film of the book!

The booklet pulls on, among other sources, the wonderful contributions from last year’s summer school on peer review that I was honoured to be involved in facilitating.


October 31, 2018

Ghosting & Peer Review

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

This summer if you happened to be listening to one of my talks about the importance of peer review, and the associated challenges around it, you’ll have probably heard me mention the biggest issue for me as a journal editor-in-chief: ghosting peer reviewers. A suitable topic for a Halloween post, I thought.

When we initially locate and approach prospective peer reviewers for Exchanges, part of the subsequent discussion is making them aware of the timescale within which we’d expect them to be able to complete the review. We’ve a nominal month set as standard for a review turnaround, as we’ve found that seems to have suited most of our reviewers and authors over the years. However, peer reviewing is not a time trivial task for anyone to take on, for example with have a a guestimate that it will take at least 5 hours to peer review a single Exchanges article. Other titles can put the anticipated commitment even higher still. This is one of the reasons why the COPE ethical guidelines for peer reviewers state, individuals should ‘only agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise required to carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner’ [1]. Unsurprisingly, this time commitment is why some reviewers we approach, decline to participate.

Nevertheless, from the outset there’s an expectation on reviewers once they’ve agreed to conduct a review that they’ll carry it out. Naturally, as an editor it is important to understand how real life can get in the way, with peoples’ circumstances liable to change without prior warning. That’s why you have to ensure there’s an accommodation for individuals who suddenly need a little more time to conduct the review or who might need to drop out altogether. This is quite understandable, and as a journal we have our share of reviewers who have to drop out.

For us though, a problem arises when reviewers run silent, deep and dark. Typically, we spot this when they pass the review deadline without producing their review, and yet also stop responding to messages from the Editorial Board. There’s a tricky balancing act here for my team, we don’t want to bombard tardy reviewers with too many communications least we risk wreaking our relationship with them. Yet, reviewers have made a commitment to contribute to our quality assurance processes that we’d ideally like to see honoured. To borrow a term from the dating sphere, being ghosted, ‘The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone’ [2] has never represented a favourable turn of events, in either life or journal communications. Certainly, being ghosted as an editor can be a deeply frustrating experience. Even more so, the delays it creates in the editorial workflow present a bugbear for our authors, who end up waiting far longer than they’d reasonably expect to receive feedback or a decision on their work.

You might think being ghosted by reviewers was a rare occurrence, and yet over my 6 months as editor I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spotted one or more of my editors having to deal with it. On some submissions it’s been known to happen multiple times. While, as I said, I can appreciate life is rarely straight forward, I retain an optimistic view that scholars would have the requisite professionalism to let me know if suddenly being a reviewer is no longer a task they can satisfy. I’m never offended by a big, bold and honest ‘No, I can’t do this anymore’, as it is far better to know for certain than be left in the dark. Yet, sadly, I have no easy solution to reviewers who choose to start ghosting the editorial team. Beyond that is, taking reviewers who fail to respond off our call sheets for future assignments, albeit a move I’m loathed to take, given the diversity and spread of our reviewers’ pool importance to myself and the title.

With this in mind, I was interested to read today about technological solutions for ghosting [3]. OJS, the platform we run Exchanges on, does have the ability to send automatic and manual prompts to reviewers [4], but perhaps we’ve not been using these as systematically as we could. Perhaps too, we could think again about how and when we send out reminders to reviewers. I’m not sure I have any immediate solutions to the issue, but it is one that’s going to occupy me for some time to come, long after the last pumpkin has been consigned to the compost heap!

[1] Hames, I., 2013. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics. https://publicationethics.org/files/Peer%20review%20guidelines.pdf

[2]: Illa, G., 2013. Ghosting. Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ghosting

[3] Hern, A., 2018. Ghosting Busters: why tech companies are trying to stop us blanking each other. Guardian, 31 October. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/31/ghosting-busters-why-tech-companies-trying-stop-blanking-each-other

[4] And authors too – authors ghosting us is also a problem


October 03, 2018

Peer Review Finalé

The final day of the PLOINA Peer Review Summer School saw me spend most of the day working with the delegates. In the morning I was contributing to a session alongside some other esteemed journal editors, where we each contributed our thoughts on the process of being a reviewer from an editorial standpoint. My session was a development of a talk I’d given earlier this year to some of Warwick’s STEM post-graduate researchers, but it was still fascinating listening to the other talks (from Professor Cath Lambert and Dr Joan Marsh) and hearing their different points of view. Even as an editor, I feel there is still so much to learn about the art and application of peer reviewing, all of which is very much to the benefit to my continuing quest of quality assurance for Exchanges.

After lunch, myself and the hard working event host, Dr Charoula Tzanakou, facilitated a session wherein documents from delegates underwent a live peer review by other attendees. The idea behind this was not only offering a direct benefit to those brave souls willing to contribute their work in progress, but also to cultivate an attitude of constructive but empowering critique from the delegates. Interestingly, one of the lessons which emerged from this session was very much the amount of time and effort that goes into making a constructive peer review critique. It certainly isn’t a trivial exercise, and I hope the delegates were all able to take on board that while it can be a challenging exercise it is also a deeply satisfying one. Satisfying, especially in terms of being exposed to new thought, but also in helping to shape scholarship and assist fellow scholars in the development of their authorial voice.

Over the three days I was in attendance, I was deeply honoured to have been involved in what was clearly a much needed, well-received and valuable summer school. My thanks to Charoula, and Polina Mesinioti, for the invite to participate and their extensive hard-work in organising and hosting this excellent event. That is, if the conversations I had with delegates were anything to base feedback on! I also feel I’ve learned a great deal about peer review myself, and will be spending more than a few minutes looking to apply this increased expertise with Exchanges and our practices. I also hope some of the delegates will consider registering with Exchanges as part of our peer reviewers’ network: it only takes a few moments, and there are so many benefits in terms of enriching your personal scholarship and contributing to developing the scholarly literature.


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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