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

Publishing Strategies: An Anthropologist’s Perspective


Deputy Head (almost)

School of Humanities & Social Sciences

Peer esteem
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
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
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
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
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
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