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Weekly Wisdom #60 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
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DOWNLOAD COUNTS. Tenure and review committees like candidates who develop a personal reputation and hence reflect glory on the institution. Impact factors are one crude measure.  Another is the Download Count.  That is, if you have an academic publication that is accessible on the Internet, is anybody reading it or, better, downloading it?  Some publishers maintain download counts and send them to authors.  If you are fortunate to receive download counts, keep them.  They are handy at tenure and performance review time.

The (relatively relaxed) Rules of AcBoWriMo


1. Decide upon a target word count. Try and make this something that would really push you beyond anything you ever thought possible. Admittedly, 50,000 words is a bit of a nutty goal for academic writing in one month. It works out at something like 2,500 words a day. But hey, as a project, AcBoWriMo is still very much in the trial stages and we can at least try right? As many of you have said, think of how great you’ll feel if you even come close to your crazy goal! It’s okay if numbers aren’t your thing. Just set a productivity goal of another kind.

2. Declare your participation and target word count (or productivity goal) publicly. You can do this by adding to the comments of the AcBoWriMo blog posts on here, on Twitter using the #AcBoWriMo hashtag, or on the PhD2Published Facebook page. If you want to be really private about it, maybe just tell a friend who will hold you to it (although we’d rather you shared your commitment and progress with us, we want to do this together). Read more

Graham Steel – Publish or Parish

This post is by  Graham Steel who has been been actively involved in Patient Advocacy work for over 10 years. Graham acted as Vice-Chairman for a UK Charity, the Human BSE Foundation 2001 – 2005 and then as Information Resource Manager for the CJD International Support Alliance (CJDISA) 2005 – 2007.

More recently, his activities have been focused more on Patient Advocacy generally, but mainly upon Neurodegenerative conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease. He also is involved in and advocating for Open Access/Science/Data and now acts in un-renumerated advisory capacities to the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and most recently, Digital Science

–So pretty much completely out of the blue, I received this tweet from Charlotte to which I tweeted back with “sure”. Read more

Review of How to Publish Your PhD
How to Publish Your PhD

As a PhD student puzzled and disorientated by the seemingly impenetrable complexity of academic publishing, reading How to Publish your PhD by Sarah Caro was a balm for my anxieties. At present, I find myself occupying a point on the winding and erratic road to doctoral submission at which I am grateful (sometimes pathetically so) for advice, any advice, about demystifying academia. Having read several books on thesis writing early in my doctoral research, I had yet to discover a book that convincingly dealt with the practicalities of publishing a book from one’s thesis. In this ‘publish or perish’ world, it is really never to early to begin thinking about ‘the m word’. Monograph. Even reading the word itself gives me the willies.

This thin volume (a sprightly 136 pages) is packed with valuable material for the angst-ridden PhD student with no idea of where to start, or the confused early career academic staring down the barrel of their first monograph. Filled with sensible advice and divided into self-evidently useful chapters such as ‘Books or Articles?’ and ‘Revising your PhD’, Caro has created a text to be read, re-read and referred to when needed. Every chapter is summarised in point form, making quick checks exceedingly simple. As the current Publisher for Economics and Management journals at Wiley and obvious veteran of the publishing world, Caro is ideally suited to be the author of such a book.

The text provides the reader with a series of things that a would-be creator of an academic monograph can do to help themselves, with particular focus on small and yet oft-overlooked details. Attentiveness to these details, according to Caro, can mean the difference between a submission ending up in the ‘no’ pile or the ‘maybe’ pile (p. vi). To say that Caro has thought of everything in this book would naturally be an exaggeration, but it is definitely fair to say that the book contains all of the major aspects of importance to the author. Given that these points are based on years of experience, I am inclined to believe that they are significant. Read more

Martin Paul Eve on Open Access Week

This post is by Martin Paul Eve,  a researcher at the University of Sussex working on the novels of Thomas Pynchon. Until recently he was chief editor of the postgraduate journal Excursions and he has just launched a gold-standard, libre OA journal, Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon. He is speaking as the opening plenary at the UK Scholarly Group next year on auto-subversive practices in academic publishing and has a forthcoming book chapter on Open Access in the edited collection, Zombies in the Academy.

For several years now, academic libraries worldwide have played host to Open Access week, an international celebration of the revolution in academic publishing. For the same number of years, a question has circulated among participants at these events: “is 20XX the year of the tipping point?” It is that question, after a brief excursion into the history of Open Access, that I wish to address. Read more

Weekly Wisdom #59 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
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JOB HUNTING IS A RESEARCH PROJECT and you should treat it as such. Gather as much information as possible. Read the ads. Contact sources. Follow up leads. Be aggressive. Use your contacts. The chance of landing a good appointment is higher if you search broadly than if you sit in your office waiting for one or two possibilities. Begin job hunting early and make it a project you do along with your other work. If you are a graduate student, don’t wait until your dissertation is finished to start looking.

NaNoWriMo as AcBoWriMo Beta!


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s an initiative designed to turn the month of November into a month-long write-fest for current or would-be novelists. The idea is that you set yourself the task of writing 50 thousand words in November and bingo, you’ve got yourself a novel – or at least a first draft of a novel.

I did the bulk of my thesis writing in a fairly short amount of time. Not a month, I hasten to add, but I did embark on some intensive writing (as well as intensive Nutella-eating). Currently, I’m doing a Post-Doc in the US and part of why I’m here is so I can finish my first book. So after hearing about NaNoWriMo a colleague and I started wondering whether AcBoWriMo might be possible.

That’s right, we are here-by declaring November the first Academic Book Writing Month or AcBoWriMo Beta/0.1 or something. We are going to wear comfy clothes, drink a lot of coffee, probably nap in our offices at strange hours and see how close we can get to writing 50 thousand words in one month. I know, it’s totally insane, there can surely only be a handful of academics who can actually turn out decent material in such a short space of time. There are also a lot of differences between writing novels and academic books, but aren’t you just a little bit curious to know how much of a kick-start a dedicated writing month could give your book? Read more

My Guardian Blog Post on Job Applications US-Styleee
October 20, 2011


Now that I’m in the US I’m experiencing a whole lot of academic-culture shock. One of the main things to startle me these last weeks has been the difference between the way you apply for a job in the US compared to the UK. I know I am not alone in being panicked by the differences because I have often heard from UK academics settling in the US and being wrong-footed by the system over here. To share what I’ve learnt so far I wrote a piece for the Guardian Higher Education Network called: Job Seeking in the US.

Of coures these things are never cut and dried and there will always be a variety of opinions on the best approach (the same is true of academic book pitching), but I hope the article draws out some of the main differences. Job applications involve a ridiculous amount of hard work and I wanted to help British academics with wander-lust save a bit of time. I’m also hoping some US academics will wade in some insider knowledge too and help build on my early findings!

Pip Bruce Ferguson On “Getting Published” – a Workshop for PhD Students and Staff at the University of Waikato


This post is by Pip Bruce Ferguson, Teaching Developer at The University of Waikato. Hamilton, New Zealand”

Two weeks back I facilitated a workshop that was advertised to a combination of PhD students plus staff at this University, where I work as a Teaching Developer. While my unit doesn’t work directly with PhD students nor supervise them, we do offer ‘Supervisory Conversations’ in conjunction with our Pro Vice Chancellor (Postgraduate), and have done for a couple of years now. These have been an effective way of supporting our supervisors, but have rarely included PhD students. We offer them in a beautiful location on campus, away from main teaching rooms, and provide a finger-food lunch.

Hospitality is important in New Zealand, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of ‘normal’ work and having time to discuss and reflect is very important to our supervisors, who can participate in cross-disciplinary discussion at these events.

Because of the pressure for staff to publish under our Performance-Based Research Fund (the New Zealand equivalent of the U.K.’s Research Assessment Exercise, but funded by rating individuals rather than units) we decided to offer a workshop on how to get published. This was also advertised to PhD students, and the workshop attracted a significant cohort of these, mainly international students. As with the conversations mentioned above, we offered morning tea, some resources such as hardbound notebooks and highlighters to help with the inevitable handouts (!) and an environment where people could ‘come apart’ from their normal workplace. Read more

Weekly Wisdom #58 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
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A PHD IS PRIMARILY AN INDICATION OF SURVIVORSHIP. Although the public at large may view your doctorate as a superb intellectual achievement and a reflection of brilliance, you probably know deep in your heart that it is not. It represents a lot of hard work on your part over a long period of time. You probably received help from one or more faculty to get over rough spots. Your family, be it parents or spouse, stayed with you over the vicissitudes of creating the dissertation. You stuck with it until it was done, unlike the ABDs (All But Dissertation), people who complete all the other requirements but bail out before they finish their dissertations.

Scientist Meets Publisher
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“Your manuscript has been accepted by the journal I own. Just sign here.”

Changes Afoot…

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pumpkincat210/with/3416918382/

We’re changing a few things here so please bear with us.

You may have seen that Sarah-Louise, our managing editor since January, has moved onto pastures new (she’ll like that metaphor, she’s mad about sheep!). The idea behind editing this site is to provide useful research into academic publishing for the wider PhD2Published community and in doing such, move your own career forwards. Sarah has managed to achieve a mind-boggling amount over the last 9 months and it seemed high time she focus on her new projects and give someone else a go. As a result, we’re interested to hear from anyone who fancies either running or contributing to the site. You’ll get all the support you need and don’t need to bring a single skill to the table – just a desire to build a shared knowledge base for us early-career academics. Just drop us a line and we can have a chat and see what works best for you. And bear in mind that the first two editors of the site (founder/director Charlotte, and Sarah herself) both now have book contracts (and more than one journal article published or in the pipeline) so we can guarantee that getting involved works!

Our amazing designer Sam Beddoes is also helping us tighten up the design a bit, and make sure buried content is more accessible. So the look and feel of the site is about to change just a little bit too. And then we’ll be back on track with lots more useful info!

Weekly Wisdom #57 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
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PUBLICATIONS ARE THE ONLY FORM OF PORTABLE WEALTH.  Teaching is a great personal satisfaction and an important public good that you perform. It is an important, necessary condition but not a sufficient one for being hired or tenured.