Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #46 by Linda Levitt

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Consider your audience. An often-repeated reminder: your dissertation or thesis

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Random Post: Announcing AcWriMo 2013

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It’s time to get planning your Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo)


Weekly Wisdom #55 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
Posted by Charlotte Frost

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A MENTOR early in your career. The old apprentice system still exists. Try to find mentors who were success­ful with others, who will support you, and who believe that further­ing your career helps their own career. Such a mentor is preferable to the internationally famous Nobel Prize winner who exploits you.

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Katherine Reekie – Publishing In The Sciences
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

In this post Katherine Reekie discusses the issues surrounding publishing in the sciences.

“Publish or Perish” is a mantra which will be familiar to many of those working in academia. The pressure to publish your research in order to advance an academic career can be intense. PhD students and early career researchers in particular often find that their career prospects seem to go hand in hand with their publication record. I have heard several colleagues lament, after an unsuccessful interview, that the successful candidate had several first author papers. In the current climate, where funding for research is harder to come by, the competition for research posts is increasing, and having a good publication or two under your belt can be a considerable advantage.

The ultimate aim for a researcher in any field is to publish their research – to have it put out there in the public domain, to share their findings with the rest of the scientific community and to receive well deserved recognition for their research. The format of publication may take a variety of formats, for example journal articles, a book chapter, short news articles, reviews or letters. In Science, my own field, publishing of novel research is most typically in the form of a research paper in a scientific journal. These papers can be the result of many years of work, carried out by a great number of people. Due to an emphasis on collaboration, which is often encouraged by calls for grants involving groups of researchers all over the world to work together on the same project, the resulting research article can be a product of the work of many individuals. Therefore, rather than single or dual authored papers it is common to have several tens of contributing authors on a research article, and this number can grow to hundreds for large consortia, for example the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium which published the sequence of the human genome in 2001. Continue Reading »

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Claire Warden – Interdisciplinarity: Variety Is The Spice Of (Academic) Life
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

In this post Claire Warden, lecturer in Drama at Lincoln University, returns with another guest post, this time looking at the issues surrounding interdisciplinarity. You can follow Claire on twitter here. Recently I went to an Iron Maiden gig in Nottingham. Earlier in the day I had attended a yoga class and had then grabbed some sushi for lunch. Not owning an ‘Eddie’ top I decided to wear my Peter Gabriel 2003 tour t-shirt instead. An insightful friend called me ‘eclectic’ and I must admit that in all areas of life I rejoice in my slightly unusual day-to-day combinations: a lover of progressive rock but also a former classical soprano, a devotee of professional wrestling but also a reader of verbose Victorian novels. My friend is clearly right…I am nothing if not eclectic. This approach (call it eccentric if you will) actually impacts my work daily and I am starting to feel its effects more and more keenly.

In my last article for ‘PhD2published’ I briefly mentioned the importance of developing an interdisciplinary approach, of connecting our work with (or at least reading it alongside) the ideas of others outside of our immediate field. In this article I want to briefly begin to explore why and how this can be done. Continue Reading »

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Weekly Wisdom #54 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Welcome to our exciting new set of tips filling the regular Weekly Wisdom slot. We’re lucky enough to be featuring a year’s worth of tips sampled from a great book called What They Didn’t Teach You In Graduate School, by Paul Gray and David E. Drew. The book itself features over 200 hints and tips for a successful academic career and it’s a really enjoyable read to boot (with some very amusing illustrations)!

Weekly Wisdom #54:

MOST ACADEMIC FIELDS ARE DOMINATED BY FEWER THAN 100 POWERFUL PEOPLE.

These people know one another and determine the course of the field. Early in your career you should get to know as many of them as possible. More to the point, they should know who you are. You want them to see you as a bright young person at the forefront of your field. Although this tactic is important, be aware of the dangers associated with it. You should not begin the process until after you mastered the literature (particularly the papers they wrote!) and developed some ideas of your own. If they get to know you and conclude you have no ideas, you’re finished.

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Klaus Dodds – Publishing in Academic Journals: Part 2
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Following on from yesterday we continue with Klaus Dodds looking at publishing in journal articles. In this second post Klaus gives advice on how to deal with issues following on from submission.

Journal Submission

By the time you have a paper ready to submit it is highly likely you would have a sense of your target journal. There is absolutely no reason not to aim for a leading journal, especially if you have received positive informal feedback. In human geography, for example, this might include journals such as Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Annals of Association of American Geographers, Environment and Planning A-D, The Geographical Journal and leading specialist journals such as Economic Geography and Political Geography.

Determining your journal will in part be shaped by content and scope of your paper compared to the journal’s stated mission. In order to maximise your chances of being successful you need to do the following – ensure you comply with the journal’s submission guidelines, engage with recent papers within the target journal, think carefully about an engaging title/abstract/keywords and finally make sure that your paper has a good balance of theoretical and empirical material. Top journals, as based on citation factor or overall reputation within the field, do not tend to publish empirical papers. Do contact the editor prior to submission if you want to reassure yourself about the suitability of the piece Continue Reading »

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Klaus Dodds – Publishing in Academic Journals: Part 1
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Today we present part 1 of the second RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Annual Conference Training Symposium (PGF-ACTS) follow up pieces. In this post Professor Klaus Dodds looks at getting published in academic journals. Klaus is Professor of Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Klaus is also Editor of the Geographical Journal.

For the vast majority of people undertaking a doctorate, getting their work published either during the research period or in the aftermath of the defence is a priority. The focus on journal publication is, more often than not, shaped by a number of factors; journal publications are highly regarded when it comes to future employment in academic and academic-related circles, journal articles are more manageable in the short-term compared to a potential monograph, articles are more likely to get read by non-academic audiences, and importantly publication whether in a journal or not fulfils a general desire to witness one’s scholarly work published online/print.

We target journals, therefore, for a variety of reasons including to secure that first academic post, after graduation. My comments reflect very much my own experience in the discipline of geography alongside publishing elsewhere in historical, political science, policy orientated and regional studies journals. I am also the editor of The Geographical Journal, and serve on the editorial boards of six other journals. Finally, multiple conversations with doctoral students I supervised in the past, and increasingly in the present, were sources of inspiration. Continue Reading »

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Kevin Ward – Writing an Academic book – Some Thoughts
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Following on from my appearence on the panel at RGS Postgraduate ForumAnnual Conference Training Symposium (PGF-ACTS) last week I present the first of three posts from the speakers on publishing. Todays post looks at writing and academic book and is brought to you by Professor Kevin Ward. Kevin is Professor of Human Geography at Manchester University and has been the Editor of Area a journal published on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) since 2010.

So, you’ve decided that you are going to write an academic book.  Well, here are five tips:

1. It is worth considering the sort of book you want to write.  Look at publishers’ websites and consider the following: 

- Does the publisher produce the type of book that you want to write in your field?

- Are hardback and paperback versions of the book published simultaneously?  If not, how many hardbacks does your book have to sell before the publisher will commission a paperback run?

- What marketing and distribution system does the publisher have?

- Does the publisher send out copies to academic journals for review?

- Does the publisher attend large academic conferences and participate in book exhibitions? Continue Reading »

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Charlotte Frost on Academic Blogging
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2965186113/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Leonard Cassuto said in the Guardian: ‘If a graduate student asks me, “Should I blog?” my answer, at least right now, would still be, “Probably not “’. Just weeks ago I gave a talk at the British Library saying very much the opposite. Cassuto is a more established academic than myself, but I still think I have a point – and so did the people who invited me to give that opinion.

To discuss the fact that I came across Cassuto’s article and talked about it on Twitter would be to open another – if related – can of worms. Suffice to say that engaging with twitter for this type of academic commentary is the way I work. I’ve said time and again that Twitter and blogging allow me to usefully interact with so many academics – and non academics I hasten to add – whose opinions I value. I stand by this method of working as it helps me find great new people and ideas on a daily basis and this regularly directly informs my work.

I do recognize that my subject area lends itself particularly well to this type of information exchange. I’m currently writing a book on art mailing list culture and social media and my area of expertise is in art forms that thrive in these networks of sharing. I have had many people point out to me that they themselves aren’t working in a field where social media is considered appropriate and/or they are handling sensitive data that can’t be shared. However, I still take issue with much of what Cassuto says and I still think online discussion platforms have their place in academia.

Like Cassuto, I will divide my response into two sections. The first deals with form because I would argue that he doesn’t credit blogging or any other type of online communication with being anything other than ‘unpublished’, ‘unedited’, ‘unofficial’ writing. There is much about his tone that indicates he sees it as a lesser form of writing and I take issue with that. Continue Reading »

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We Ask Ken Wissoker: Do We Need to Rethink Academic Publishing?
Posted by Charlotte Frost

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

Continuing to gather responses to the Guardian article by George Monbiot on the broken model of academic publishing, we asked Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director at Duke University Press, to wade into the debate. Here’s what he had to say:

I thought Monbiot’s article was very valuable for getting the word out about how the big publishers – especially Elsevier – but also Taylor and Francis and Wiley-Blackwell have extracted as much money as possible from university libraries. Elsevier pioneered this, coming up with big packages of journals that universities needed and pricing them as high as possible.  Universities with researchers in those areas (mostly science and medicine) had to pay or they weren’t supporting their professors. Since every journal was unique intellectual property, there was no competition and no market. If a library wanted to cancel a journal, Elsevier didn’t lower the price of the collection. This really was wealth extraction in a frightening and damaging form. So the article’s account of all that was a good wake-up call for those, including many academics, who were not aware of these changes over the last ten or fifteen years.  He is totally right about the infuriating way these arrangements cut out anyone without access to a university library. Continue Reading »

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We Ask Martin Paul Eve: Do We Need to Rethink Academic Publishing?
Posted by Charlotte Frost

In his Guardian article, George Monbiot makes an excellent case against the existing academic publishing industry. Knowing that Martin Paul Eve would have much to say, we asked if he’d like to address Monbiot’s points in advance of his talk at the UKSG next year.

George Monbiot builds a good case against the corporate publishing machine that dominates the academic world and his article has had portions of the Twittersphere buzzing. I am due to speak in the opening plenary of the UK Scholarly Group conference next year – the biggest gathering of librarians and academic publishers – to make a similar argument: we don’t need academic publishers. While I won’t reiterate every aspect of Monbiot’s piece, there are several aspects, here, that are worth unpicking, especially where I diverge from Monbiot’s stance.

Firstly, Monbiot approaches, but never directly engages with, the driver of prestige in academia. He mentions the necessity of publishing with high impact factor journals and states that we can “start reading” new OA journals, but can’t “stop reading the closed ones”. Actually, we can, but only if people stop publishing therein. This will not happen in the UK because of the Research Excellence Framework and its insistence that the higher “impact” band a journal, the more weight a piece will have. This is a delegation of the critical task of the researcher into the arms of a commercial entity. While peer review serves as a useful filter, merely trusting this, based on journals which achieve their prestige based on rejection rates, is a foolish move, driven by the equally foolish baseline of a research assessment dependent on corporations. The REF, alongside competition for academic jobs, drives this system.

Secondly, publishers are able to use institutional libraries as a shield to hide a researcher’s autosubversive behaviour. Consider that, by publishing in a closed, proprietary journal, a researcher actually limits his or her own access to material by constricting his or her own institution’s library budget. This is not how it appears to the researcher, though, because the spend is at one remove. Researchers publish for prestige and it is the library’s fault if material is not forthcoming. Open Access supported by commercial entities does make a researcher aware of the problems, because in this case they will be asked to pay up front. However, most reactions from researchers to this tend to be: “I don’t want to pay, let us revert to the model where I didn’t pay”. In this way, publishers have built a “command and control” system for an entity that functions, in its obfuscation, distribution and resilience, in a mode most akin to a piece of computer malware. Libraries must educate researchers of their own complicity in this web. Continue Reading »

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PhD2Published @ Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

As a Geographer I am very proud to say that today I will be representing PhD2Published at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference. I have been asked to be on the panel for the Postgraduate Forum Annual Conference Training Symposium (PGF-ACTS). The purpose of the postgraduate forum is outlined below: Continue Reading »

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Getting From PhD to Published at InterFace 2011
Posted by Charlotte Frost
I was really excited to speak at the amazing InterFace 2011 humanities and technology conference on the 29th July at UCL. It was organised by a really diverse and highly-skilled group of PhD students and it was such a pleasure to be involved with.
I spoke on ‘Getting from PhD2Published’ as part of a session on publishing. My Prezi is below and for the rest of the contributors head over to the publishing page on the InterFace website.
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Dr Jigar Jogia – Advice From a Prize Winning Author
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Over the last few months we have looked at writing and publishing journal articles from a variety of different perspectives but mainly in the social sciences so here is a post for the natural and clinical scientists amongst our readers. Todays post comes from Dr Jigar Jogia. Jigar completed his PhD in the field of Psychiatry and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, (King’s College London, KCL) in 2010. He is currently a Postdoctoral researcher in the section of neurobiology of psychosis (Institute of Psychiatry, KCL). He also lectures and delivers training to staff and students for the Graduate School Researcher Development Unit at KCL. Jigar recently won the Samuel Gershon Award for Bipolar Disorder Research, in this post he reflects on the importance of journal selection. 

Recently I have published some original data in a peer reviewed Journal Molecular Psychiatry which is the highest ranked psychiatric journal at present with an impact factor of 15.470. The impact factor is a measure of the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals. It is commonly used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important. My advice to young postdocs in any field wanting to publish their research is to be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your studies and select the right journal, it is one of the most crucial parts of the publication process but the importance of this step is underestimated by many. Selecting a journal whereby your research can reach your target audience and have a real impact in your field is vital for furthering your career as a postdoctoral researcher. Publishing in a good journal will add indirect credibility to your work and also introduce you as a new researcher in the field. Continue Reading »

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Weekly Wisdom #53
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Weekly Wisdom #53 Don’t start promising free copies to everybody you encounter, you wont actually get that many!

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Claire Warden – How To Spend The Time Between PhD & Publishing
Posted by Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Today’s post comes from Dr. Claire Warden and considers how to spend your time while moving from PhD to published. Claire is a Lecturer in Drama at the University of Lincoln. Her first book, British Avant-Garde Theatre is out with Palgrave next year. You can follow Claire on twitter here.

While commenting on a draft copy of my book, my wonderfully generous proof-reader made me rethink my use of citation with the following soupçon of wit:

“Quite a lot of references to what other scholars are doing. Sometimes these get rather too close to the ‘as Dr Dryasdust has said, “Shakespeare lived before the steam-engine”’.

The point being, citation in a book is substantially different from citation in a thesis. Dr Dryasdust’s comment is factually correct but we do not require the good doctor to tell us! And this gets to the crux of the difference between a thesis and a book: the former is written for examination, the latter is written to be read.

The humorous comment also points to a broader issue: the PhD-to-Book process is one of learning, personal development and transforming the way you write. While I completed my PhD in 2007, my first book will only hit the shelves (or shelf on my less ambitious days) next year. This might seem like a large gap and, as I finish the final draft, it certainly feels as if I have spent half a lifetime on it! But, as the story above shows, there is merit in taking your time over this process. There is a great deal of useful material on this site about the PhD-to-Book process, so what I want to do is focus on what to do while you’re waiting. Obviously honing our writing skills and ignoring Dr Dryasdust’s unnecessary interruptions are vital, but what else can be done? Continue Reading »

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