Publishing strategies an anthropologist s perspective
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Publishing Strategies: An Anthropologist’s Perspective. Rohan Bastin Deputy Head (almost) School of Humanities & Social Sciences. Peer Esteem. ERA has created an interesting set of dilemmas for academic publishing: Journal rankings Or, I wouldn’t belong to a club… Hang on! It’s all changed!

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Publishing Strategies: An Anthropologist’s Perspective

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Publishing Strategies: An Anthropologist’s Perspective


Deputy Head (almost)

School of Humanities & Social Sciences

Peer Esteem

  • ERA has created an interesting set of dilemmas for academic publishing:

  • Journal rankings

    • Or, I wouldn’t belong to a club… Hang on! It’s all changed!

  • To confer or not confer…

    • The slings and arrows of what matters in my field

  • Textbooks are not the only fruit …

    • When it comes to books, but some disciplines don’t write books and, therefore, 1 book = 5 articles (DEST).

The Strategic Academic

  • Indeed, one of the outcomes has been the sentiment that one should never put pen to paper unless there is something to be gained from it.

    • Book reviews

    • Letters to the editor

    • Articles in unlisted journals and magazines

  • Teaching study guides that cannot also be turned into DEST points

    • RohanBastin in press “The collected shopping lists of RohanBastin: A Semiotic Analysis of Cat Food, Baked Beans and Noodles.”

  • Sorry, I can’t read anything at the moment. I’m too busy writing. You don’t get any points for reading and it’s not on the workload model.


  • My argument is that you must never lose sight of what you understand to be the quality publications, the works that count in your estimation, in your particular field.

  • These standards derive from the nature of your own work, the works you read, the works that impress you, the domains of scholarly engagement that you think matter.

  • Peer esteem is precisely about one’s peers.

Know Your Product

  • Earlier this year at a colloquium-preparation training session I lamented that HDR students in the digital age have greater access to multiple sources and consequently become more dependent on key word searches than browsing the contents of journals.

  • This makes people less familiar with particular journals and less loyal to favourite journals

  • Opens the way for using seemingly objective quality criteria such as rankings or citation scores

  • However, those criteria relate directly to peer esteem and the reputation certain journals establish for publishing cutting edge content in a particular field.

  • Moreover, they can lose or change this reputation according to the vicissitudes of time (changes to editorial personnel, etc.)

Take Advice

  • Nearly all of the established scholars I know in my discipline treat their draft manuscripts as works-in-progress that their friends/colleagues comment on

  • Comments include suggestions of journals to which the article might be sent.

  • While it is VERY unusual for anthropologists to co-author with more than one other writer, it is also unusual not to see a list of names in the acknowledgements.

  • Therefore, put your work out there!

What Goes Around Comes Around

  • Journal editors increasingly struggle to find peer reviewers, especially as:

    • The number of journals has grown

    • The pressure to publish has grown

    • The workload system stresses one’s public output and not one’s private input

  • The situation is even worse for book reviews (zero DEST points)

  • Consequently, a journal editorial team will be a lot more receptive to someone who has previously laboured on behalf of that journal

  • They will also go the extra mile when one’s own books are published and one would like to see them reviewed.

  • So put your hand up for a book review, don’t say no to an anonymous article review and don’t do it badly or superficially.

  • This also means that one can have several writing projects on the go at the same time, which is very important given the publication times

What kind of Output?

  • It varies according to discipline but it’s worth noting that the criteria by which one gains academic promotion within an institution do not always match the criteria by which one gets a job at another institution.

    • Never mind the quality, feel the width!

  • Anthropologists write books and their worth in the discipline is measured to a great extent by the books they’ve written

  • They write edited books and usually write chapter-length introductions to those books which may become the main item ever cited because that chapter is a work of scholarship in and of itself

    • Books can be very slow

  • They write articles in journals

  • They also write consultancy reports

  • They don’t do conference proceedings

  • They think posters are cute but patronising

  • They find multi-author scholarship very funny

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