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June 13, 2022
Reviewers are a vital part of the Exchanges team - and making sure our records for each of them are up-to-date is just as vital.
Today I’m working on one of those tasks that’s been sitting in my to-do list for sometime: going through all the registered reviewer records to see which ones haven’t added any reviewer interests. Long-time readers will recall I did a similar task a few years ago, and the result was a wave of researchers upgrading their records, albeit alongside some who decided to request we remove their contact details – as is their right.
You would think tools which permit functionality like ‘display all reviewer users’ where ‘researcher interest is a null field’ would be the sort of thing baked into a journal management system like OJS. But, as with so much of the platform’s management information systems it’s not really been as well developed as say the core editorial workflow controls. The most recent update we applied to the platform did – I am pleased to report – provide some much-improved managerial tools that I’ve been pleased to make use of on more than one occasion. It is now possible for example to output a .CSV file containing the names of all users within a certain group. So, I guess from where I’m sitting, we’re halfway there.
However, in this file the reviewer interests information is not among the information which can be outputted. This is a shame as a simple Excel function would have enabled me to filter all 700+ registered reviewers down to just those lacking any listed research interests. Which means I had to go to speak to my technical guru in IT Services and crave a boon from them! Thankfully, this the lovely OJS Technical Lead was able to deploy a little back-office Python scripting to quickly draw out exactly the data I needed. Kudos, as on so many occasions, to them. It’s no reflection on them that this obvious functionality is lacking from a editorial user perspective. Maybe I can wish for it to appear in a future update…
Following a little data clean-up - names with non-British characters seem to have been rendered oddly in the output file for one – all that remains now is to prepare my mailshot text and send it out (BCC of course) to all our reviewers via a mail merge. Based on the experience last time, I suspect we’ll have one of three reactions from those were contact:
(1) Email bounceback, indicated a defunct account
(2) A request for us to remove the account
(3) An update to the record made by the user
Option 3 is my desired outcome of course, but I suspect I’ll be dealing with a fair bit of (1) and (2). Users can inactivate, or remove their reviewer registration themselves, but if they ask, I’ll happily adjust their account as requested. For those dead accounts though, I’ll need to go through and check they weren’t actively involved in any recent reviews before, with regrets, removing them from our reviewer’s list.
Hence, if you are one of our reviewers, and you get a message from me this week to update your account details – don’t feel singled out – you’re just one among many we’re asking to help us to help you – and direct the right kind of reviews in your direction!
 Livin’ on a prayer or not
 I shall not hold my breath on this one.
 If you want to jump the gun and update your details - you'll find instructions here: https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/FAQ#reviewers
March 10, 2022
With a little more time on his hands at last, the editor takes a wander through his technical and platform wish-list to assess how things have changed over the past few years.
Today I’ve been taking the time to review, reformat and refresh my technical wish-list for Exchanges. It’s been a veritable stroll down memory lane as this was originally one of the earliest documents I drew up when I first came into post. My intentions at the time were to clarify, in my own head at least, those aspects of the title where I thought it was lacking and could benefit from some upgrading. Some of the early comments to myself are perhaps a little naive, a few apposite and even fewer maybe even a smidge visionary .
Today, I will confess this is not a document I’ve had too much time to much work on over the past couple of years. Certainly, since early 2020 keeping all of the routine journal plates/wheels/cogs  etc., spinning has taken a goodly chunk of my time. Glancing at my document control notes, it seems the last time I did any updating was way back in the early summer of 2021. Now I’m blessed (huzzah – thank you lovely IAS!) with a little more time to devote to the journal, it seems only right and fitting that I return to a guiding document too long neglected.
Reading through it, through and completely, for the first time in years, numerous elements of I was once keen to implement on the journal have changed in status when viewed through the lens of today. In fact, I can reclassify them in one of three different ways. Firstly, for a lucky few they’ve actually been implemented, sometimes as the result of a platform update or a policy change, and occasionally through direct action by myself or the lovely technical team. These are easily most gratifying to spot, as it demonstrates how Exchanges today, is no longer the Exchanges I took on back in 2018.
Secondly there are those, after taking account of the journals evolving policy and practice direction, or indeed developments in the wider scholarly publishing world, are no longer relevant. Indeed, it is possible to observe a divergence from what I thought would be crucial back then, to today when they are no longer of great import or relevance. In some cases, it isn’t that they’re no longer of any value, but in contrast to other, more salient and pressing priorities, they simply aren’t worth devoting any time towards. After all, all those various spinning objects haven’t entirely retreated into the distance thanks to my longer hours! And so, with no guilt, they can be moved to the deprioritised pile.
The third category though, these are those developmental and aspirational goals I had for the journal which still continue to burn brightly in my mind. True, a fair number of these pending developments will be subject to a long conversation with our platform hosts at Warwick in order to achieve. Certainly, with the way our host and platform are configured there aren’t simple things which I could move forward on alone. For example they may have implications for the other titles hosted on Warwick University Press Journals, so can’t be adopted in isolation, no matter how much Exchanges might desire them . A few more though, these are wish-list items which require action beyond the confines of Warwick alone.
These are those aspects which require pressure being brought to bear on external actors. Again, we are but one small open-access journal in a sea of hundreds of thousands, which means it would be unlikely I’d be able to make much headway on achieving these goals alone. I had hoped the local journals family would be a good source of collective agency, but in the last year with various staffing moves and changes the coherency of this group has rather evaporated. Just as it was finally getting up steam too - if mixing steam with evaporation isn’t too strained a metaphor to adopt here!
Then we come to the last few items, and this is where I can feel myself getting a little more excited. Why? Well, because these are things I can, resplendent in my additional weekly hours, begin to make some degree of ingress on. Tease that I am , I’m won’t share details of these our potentially achievable aspirations, but I can reveal one of them concerns our journal audience’s interests. For now, I’ll say no more, but would strongly suggest you keep an eye on the editorial coming out in the next issue of Exchanges for a few minor revelations in this respect.
I am pleased, in closing though, to note that while there is but a single, minor, niggle unresolved but scheduled for swift action over the coming weeks by our tech team. The rest of the platform issues we’ve experienced over the years – all thankfully relegated to the ‘completed’ column. That, in the very least, is bringing me some measure of satisfaction in reading through my wish list today. Not to mention, reminding me of how grateful I am to our tech team for their ongoing work behind the scenes.
 Scarily so – I would have to do a lot of policy and process work to make them work, even if the platform supported them!
 Insert your preferred circular linguistic contrivance here
 Mutter, mutter, commericial indexes, mutter
 You’d probably be horrified by how ungrammatical some of these notes were if I did.
March 03, 2022
Writing about web page https://anchor.fm/exchangesias
Lovely to hear back from one of our recent Exchanges Discourse podcast guests that their episode's been getting a lot of traction among their peers and colleagues.
'Just thought I'd share that this podcast [episode] received one of the most views on my LinkedIn page after I posted it on my feed'
I will confess our two recent episodes were among some of the most enjoyable and informative it's been my pleasure to host. Possibly slightly due to the fact that I've reworked the questioning structure that we use to shape each show, but mainly I would agree due to the generosity and sparkle of our guests themselves. Fingers crossed our future guests can keep this high standard up!
On the back of these recordings going live though, I decided the time was due for a light refresh of the podcast's branding. We've had the same default logo based on the cover of an old issue of Exchanges since we launched in mid-2020. I had also been reading an article from our hosting site about improving your podcast's impact with its audience by keeping your descriptive text brief, on point and engaging. So in case you hadn't had a chance yet to visit us yet - here's what the new logo looks like.
Click on it to visit the podcast site and you'll be able to read the updated mission statement/description too. (also available on Spotify).
August 04, 2020
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/FAQ
One of the most important attributes each registered contributor for Exchanges lodges with us is their personal email address. Currently, the journal platform can only store a single address, which means if you are coming to the end of your doctoral studies or are about to change institution it’s vitally important that you update your details at the earliest opportunity. Notably, some journal contributors prefer to use their personal, non-institutional email with Exchanges instead as their primary contact address. This is absolutely is fine, as this usually guarantees a continued line of contact outside of any changing employment circumstances. Whether you register your personal institutional or non-institutional email address with us is very much a personal choice.
But this illustrates a simple fact: if your email address isn’t up-to-date on our system, we’re won’t be able to contact you about developments with your submission, requests to participate in reviews or highlight new publishing opportunities.
Thankfully, changing your contact email address only takes a few moments:
- Log into your Exchanges account at: https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/login
- Click on your profile name in the top right-hand corner of the screen and select View Profile
- Click the Contact tab and change the address at the top of the screen
- Finally, click save to confirm
My hope is in the longer term, as the OJS platform develops, that we may be able to allow contributors to register an alternative, secondary email address. This would certainly benefit the editorial team’s work in keeping in touch with all their respective author and reviewer contributors. For now though, the message is clear, if you’re about to or have recently changed roles, make sure you’ve got the right email address registered with Exchanges!
Naturally, if you have any issues with updating your address, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.