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How to get ahead in academic publishing

Unfortunately I can’t be there in person to take part, but this Live chat: How to get ahead in academic publishing by the Guardian Higher Education Network will be really good. There are some great participants and Eliza Anyangwe always does a fabulous job of getting important questions answered. I’m going to really look forward to reading the archived session after the weekend. Enjoy!

Liz Gloyn – Turning a Chapter of Your Thesis into a Talk

This week’s guest post comes from Liz Gloyn, who has just completed her PhD in classics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She blogs on her research, teaching and classical receptions in popular culture. You can follow her on Twitter here. In this post, Liz talks about turning a section of your Ph.D. into a talk.

At some stage in your academic career, you are likely to need to turn a thesis chapter into a talk. You may be speaking at an academic conference in order to put your research into a wider public arena, or you may have been asked to prepare a presentation on your dissertation for a job interview. Putting aside the general issues of constructing an oral presentation, like keeping to the time limit, changing a chapter into a talk poses a number of special challenges. PhD2Published normally talks about how to take things the other way, how to get research into a publishable form from a conference paper, but there are a number of reasons you might decide to road-test an idea from your thesis in a public forum before preparing it for publication. You might want to check out how a particular argument fares in front of a jury of your peers before committing yourself to standing behind it in print. You might want to get some general feedback about your work, especially if you’re revising your thesis for publication and want some ideas about how you might broaden its appeal. Whatever you reason for talking about your thesis research, here are some things to bear in mind as you prepare your talk. Read more

Agata Mrva-Montoya – From a Thesis to a Book, Publishers Advice from Sydney University Press

Today’s guest post comes from Agata Mrva-Montoya. Agata is an archaeologist turned editor, currently at Sydney University Press and interested in books, publishing and social media. Here she gives tips on turning your thesis into a book.

Congratulations! After years of doing research and writing, you finally joined the ranks of freshly minted PhDs. You even have an endorsement from your examiners – ‘this work is brilliant and should be published’. So you send it in to a publisher, then another one or two. And your proposal gets knocked back, time after time. Why?

Publishers rarely consider unrevised PhD theses. A dissertation in social science and the humanities is written with a different intent and structure to a book, and for a different audience. Your thesis may be brilliant ­­– well researched, well referenced and well organized – but what the publisher sees is a manuscript that is too long, with tedious and predictable structure, full of jargon and repetitious announcements of intent, and so many quotes and references that it reads like compilations of facts and regurgitated opinions.

So before you send your dissertation to another publisher, you need to revise it, rewrite it and turn it into something that someone, apart from your long-suffering supervisors and briefly accosted examiners, might actually want to read. Read more

Weekly Wisdom #49

Weekly Wisdom #49 Make your book the one you wish had been available when you were researching your thesis!

Tim Rutherford-Johnson – Style vs Style

Today’s guest post comes from Tim Rutherford-Johnson. Tim is a freelance copy-editor who has been making academic authors more stylish for longer than they realise. You can follow Tim on twitter here.

Style? Simple: it’s Bryan Ferry, Oswald Boateng suits, Coco Chanel, the E-Type Jaguar. Right?

Well, for an editor ‘style’ also conjures up images of reference books, dictionaries and lists of acceptable abbreviations. It is – as far as such as thing is possible – a way of codifying certain characteristics of how an author writes, or how a publisher or journal would like to be represented.

A publisher’s stylebook is a guide for editors that gives definitive answers to most of the questions they will face when editing a text: 19th century or nineteenth century? Postmodern, post-modern or post modern? US or UK spelling (or U.S. or U.K.)? The idea is to make the whole text a consistent and even read, and to present it in a professional light. It goes further than pedantry: in large reference works, for example, it’s useful to have every instance of a person’s name, for example, spelt the same way. (This is especially important with the move to electronic searches.) Read more

Pete Langman – Promiscuous Penmanship
multi pens

Here’s a lovely and creative a guest post from Pete Langman – an academic with his pen in a lot of inky pies. Pete muses (and meta muses) on what it’s like to try and work across a range of writing sectors today while lamenting a distinct lack of permanent lectureships .

It’s the beginning, isn’t it? It’s always the bloody beginning. How to start writing a piece? Since I became Dr Langman I have wrestled with this conundrum on many occasions. Here is a selection of recent first lines:




CruuUnChH! Read more

Weekly Wisdom #48

Weekly Wisdom #48 If the jobs aren’t out there, pour your energies into getting your book pitched and written!

Donna Reish – Be Vigilant about Jargon: The Importance of Avoiding Academic Lingo

Today we present a guest post from Donna Reish, a freelancer who blogs about best universities.  She loves to write education, career, frugal living, finance, health, parenting relating articles. She can be reached via email at: donna.reish13@gmail.com. In this post Donna discusses the issue of academic jargon …

As anyone who has chosen the profession of professor knows, academia is hurting. The contracting job market and loss of tenure track positions aside, academic journals are also experiencing a paradigm shift.  At the same time, publishing is an important part of achieving tenure, not to mention the fact that it’s a very personally rewarding experience in its own right. As such, it’s not enough to be the leader in your field or specialty. It’s just as important to keep up with publishing trends, and that means knowing what acquisitions editors are looking for.

Just as Freud asked of women, academics must ask themselves of editors. And according to an Inside Higher Ed article from 2005, editors want expanding audiences, which means you’ll have to watch out for jargon. Of course, those outside academia have a very skewed picture of what it means to achieve that level of specialized education. Many contemptuously view academics as charlatans who spout obscure nonsense that they try to pass off as knowledge. While this portrayal is a definite misconception, in order for academics to attract the attention of editors, it’s very important to avoid technical, highly academic nomenclature when it isn’t necessary. Read more

Weekly Wisdom #47

Weekly Wisdom #47 Be conscious that a book has a complicated life-cycle which your editor is responsible for. The work doesn’t stop when your book hits the book shops!

Sarah Caro – REVISING YOUR PhD: Part 6 ‘More Revisions for a Monograph’
How to Publish Your PhD

Sarah Caro, author of How to Publish Your PhD has kindly offered us this six-part guide on revising a thesis for publication as a book. Over the coming weeks she’ll be explaining how to understand what type of book you can produce as well as discover ways of shaping it up into a more book-like body of material.

As final summary of how to revise your thesis into a publishable book:

  • Do be aware of the stylistic and structural differences between the different genres of academic writing.
  • Do identify those features which are original to your thesis and those which are common to the genre so that you can work to enhance the former and minimize the latter.
  • Do remember that a journal article needs to be focused, concise and is geared towards a highly specialized audience so you don’t need to spell everything out.
  • Do bear in mind that in a monograph theory, data and methods should be synthesized and integrated into the text rather than merely described. Read more

Vivienne Dunstan – Producing a Prize-Winning Journal Paper in Quick Time

This week’s guets post is from Vivienne Dunstan (follower her on twitter here & visit her home page). Viv gives us her experience of producing journal articles. The moral of this story is grab any opportunity you can, you never know what may come of it …

I finished my history PhD in 2010 (viva March, all completed and graduated by June). After a well-earned rest I decided to spend twelve months converting my thesis into journal papers. My external examiner had thought journal papers were a better bet than going for a book publication, and it’s also something I have experience of, having produced two journal publications during my part-time PhD. I can’t work as an academic due to progressive neurological disease (it’s amazing I made it through the part-time PhD), but have been awarded an honorary research fellowship by my department, which provides good access to journal papers (so essential when producing new publications), and therefore set to work producing more journal papers. Read more

Weekly Wisdom #46

Weekly Wisdom #46 Meet everyone you can in your field, and make an effort to understand their research before assuming yours is relevant!

Sarah Caro – REVISING YOUR PhD: Part 5 ‘Some Additional Tips’
How to Publish Your PhD

Sarah Caro, author of How to Publish Your PhD has kindly offered us this six-part guide on revising a thesis for publication as a book. Over the coming weeks she’ll be explaining how to understand what type of book you can produce as well as discover ways of shaping it up into a more book-like body of material.

How you decide to restructure your thesis will depend in part on the subject matter and discipline within which you are working but there are some more general points regarding style that are relevant what­ever your topic and disciplinary background.

One of the most common problems is a too heavy reliance on the opinions of others – in other words too many direct quotes from other critics/theoreticians/scholars. While it is perfectly understand­able that you will wish to position your own work in relation to those who have gone before you and show how your own work builds upon theirs, excessive direct quotation can distract from and weaken your own argument and even be quite confusing out of context. It can also become quite tedious if you are constantly referencing the same people and may give the impression that you are less well read than is actually the case (not a desirable outcome!). To avoid this pitfall read through your manuscript looking for opportunities to reduce the amount of direct quotation. Paraphrase or summarize arguments instead of reproducing them verbatim and perhaps cut them out altogether if they are not strictly necessary. Do make sure, however, that you still scrupulously reference any idea that is not your own – the last thing you want is to make yourself vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism. Read more