De-mystifying the publication process: a workshop for graduate students and post-docs Presented byDenise Cuthbert, Dean School of Graduate Research, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
Welcome and introductions Information Technology Services
In this workshop we will: • Learn more about the academic publishing system & how to target the right journals • Talk about a range of writing techniques to help you refine your abstract and get your paper to draft form • Discuss how to handle the submission and peer reviewing process Information Technology Services
Group TaskIn your groups: share your publishing plans:- what is your proposed article about?- where do you plan to publish? - why? Information Technology Services
Academic Publishing – why? Research seeks to advance the stock of human knowledge and academic publishing is the key way in which knowledge is disseminated and shared amongst researchers. This occurs primarily through peer refereed scholarly journals, books& conferences. Key feature of academic articles: • Contain original research / findings or reviews • Are blind peer reviewed or validated
Academic Publishing – why? Why do researchers publish? We asked highly successful mid-career professionals: "I love learning and answering new questions. This drives much of my passion for science and my drive to do more. It is my personal philosophy that science in a vacuum is of no use. The data we collect must be distributed to the scientific community so we can all learn, grow, advance science and challenge one another." "I gain personal satisfaction through pursuing intellectually stimulating questions, and by making a contribution to the broader field of scholarship that I am involved in, both through publishing research, and interacting with other researchers."
Academic Publishing – why? Why is it so hard? For Kamler& Thomson (2006): • Writing is a social practice • Scholarly communities (i.e. disciplines) have distinctive discursive practices, or ways of writing and communicating • A doctorate provides an opportunity to learn these writing practices and conventions, but; • Writing a thesis is not the same as writing a journal article! Writing for research involves adopting new scholarly practices – it is not easy! (But you can get better at it by following tips and doing it!)
Why Publish – during the doctorate? Changes in the purpose of the doctorate Where once the focus was solely on making an original contribution to knowledge the focus now has broadened to that of research training and demonstrating the capacity to publish. Research training encompasses not just the thesis but also the researcher – their research outputs, transferable skills and capacities.
Why Publish – during the doctorate? Changes in the purpose of the doctorate This has led to: Increasing emphasis on publishing during candidature as a demonstration of successful research training, i.e. thesis alone no longer seems sufficient. • Positives: • Become a research peer (from consumer to generator of knowledge) • Great for CV & examination process • Negatives: • Pressure / time consuming • Aversion to risk during candidature
Why Publish – what? To publish, you need to have something to say, but how will you know? Knowing what would make a good journal article is learnt – it is not innate! Successful publishing during the doctorate requires a systematic, strategic, approach to research. “…if you can’t identify 5 potential journal articles from a piece of research then your not thinking hard enough!” Write early, write often!
Why Publish – what? To publish, you need to have something to say, but how will you know? Discuss with your supervisor how to position your research, i.e: • What are the contributions of my research to the field? • Where are the significantgaps? • What types of articles would be appropriate: • Review of literature • Report of new empirical findings • Reflection on theory or practice • When/what should you aim to publish: literature review in early candidature, preliminary findings, innovative methodologies? second year?
Why Publish – what? To publish, you need to have something to say, but how will you know? Be strategic. Consult your supervisor and co-author/s. • Write the journal articles then write the thesis. • Supervisor leads first article and candidate leads the rest. There is no single way to approach publishing. You need to find an approach that suits you/the nature and stage of your research – but don’t leave it to chance. Your research plan should include a publication plan.
What makes a good paper?LESS is MORE • One great idea/significant finding/compelling argument=one good paper • Don’t make the mistake of attempting to put too much in a paper. • A publication plan for a given project should slice of ‘bits’ of the research and craft them into publishable papers • You cannot fit a whole thesis into a paper. Information Technology Services
Plan Your Publications: A publishing strategy from Prof Dinesh Kumar (Electrical Engineering) Plan your publications before you start your research and experiments: • When writing the research proposal, develop the publications as milestones and deliverables at the start. Estimate the journals that are relevant. • That will help design the experiments. And the analysis. • If you are targeting a journal like Lancet, you need 1000+ data points, longitudinal studies, for recently identified medical or social issues etc. While high Impact factor, it does not have long half life. Fit the article to the journal, not the other way around • This is very important- do not do this at the end, and do not take it for granted that your journal is the same as the other person in your department. • Identify the audience and find the citations, read the editorial, and lots of papers in that journal.
Plan Your Publications A publishing strategy from Prof Dinesh Kumar (SECE) Focus • Start with the results section - not in your head - but on paper- and write your observations. • Ensure that you do not have 2 or 3 separate points in the paper- stick to one. Nothing should be in the paper that does not tell the story about the main point, ie; all sections of the Harry Potter book are about Harry Potter! Revise reviserevise • After you have written the paper, print it, and take a red pen. Ruthlessly, cut out all things that are not part of the story. Stick to the point, and do not assume that your reviewer will not check things, or let things slip. If the reviewer is in doubt, they will go against you. • For a good journal, in my lab, we can do over 100 iterations (!) before the paper is sent.
Why Publish - where? Finding the right journal • It is estimated there are about 25,000peer reviewed academic journals (and an estimated global turnover of at least $5 billion US dollars). See: UlrichsWeb • They fall into different categories: • Peer reviewed / non peer reviewed • Subscription / open access • Disciplinary / cross disciplinary audiences • Influential / not so influential • Special issues / standard issues.
Why Publish - where? Finding the right journal But you don’t want just any journal. Key factors to consider in finding the right journal: • What are the key journals in your field? • What journals areyou reading? • Impact factors – measures the relative impact of a journal - average number of citations to articles per journal – ie; Web of Knowledge • Journal Rankings – Applicable in HE systems with research quality audit regimes, UK, Australia And, be strategic: don’t aim too high & risk disappointment!
Why Publish - where? Finding the right journal Also consider the kind of journal it is by looking at the: • Aims • Scope • Nature of contribution sought – qual/quant? Empirical/theoretical? • Intended readership • Editorial board members It’s important to read these carefully or you risk your paper being rejected. Ask your supervisor(s) where they would publish and why
Why Publish - where? Building your CV • Aim for both breadth and depth: • Get some runs on the board – they don’t all have to be high ranking journals • Don’t ignore quality though – aim for a least one good quality journal • Conferences – can be easier than journals to have paper accepted • Book chapters – can open a wider range of options (but often less accessible for citation purposes) • Look for opportunities to publish different kinds of articles – ie; review, methodological, results etc. • Consider time to publication – it may be better to get a quick publication in a lower ranked journal than have to wait a long time for the article to be in print. • Cast a wide net: • Sometimes a patent is more appropriate than publishing • Explore other options, such as publishing your results on the web. • Look for opportunities to collaborate – can boost productivity through keeping you motivated as well as leading to multiple research outputs Ask your supervisor where they would publish and why
Write Early Write Often: • Write. How early? From day one. • Write what? • Identify do-able chunks of writing that could form the basis of an article, say 700, 1000, 1500 and up to 3000 words on a specified topic or theme • Build up a body of writing by accretion – ie; small bits at a time; one article after another • Treat writing as research planning and development: Don’t turn what should be molehills into mountains. • Treat writing as exploratory, contingent, provisional • Every article is just another idea – not the whole thesis • Get over perfectionism and masterpiece syndrome!
Strategies for CV development • Aim for both breadth and depth: • Get some rungs on the board – they don’t all have to be high ranking journals • Don’t ignore quality though – aim for a least one good quality journal • Conferences – can be easier than journals to have paper accepted • Book chapters – can open a wider range of options • Look for opportunities to publish different kinds of articles – ie; review, methodological, results etc • Consider time to publication – it may be better to get a quick publication in a lower ranked journal than have to wait a long time for the article to be in print. • Cast a wide net: • Sometimes a patent is more appropriate than publishing • Explore other options, such as publishing your results on the web. • Look for opportunities to collaborate – can boost productivity through keeping you motivated as well as leading to multiple research outputs
RESPONDING TO READERS’ REPORTS • Stay calm! • Accept – minor revisions – major revisions - • reject • Highlight main criticisms (major vs minor) • Criticisms versus suggestions for improvement • Scope of journal, IF etc • Re-read the next day • Send to co-authors (assign tasks with deadline) • Track Changes • Usually several weeks to revise – thinking time! Information Technology Services
THINK THINGS THROUGH • Stay calm! • Did the reviewer make a good point? • Did the reviewer miss the point? • Did you write it clearly? • If you REALLY disagree with a criticism of the paper, you can argue your case – politely and respectfully -- to the managing editor • More experiments/major rewrite vssubmitting paper elsewhere (lower IF, less prestigious journal)? • Bear in mind, overwhelming majority of the papers are improved by revisions suggested through the peer review process. Information Technology Services
MAKING ABSTRACTS CONCRETE • Through the writing process, the abstract is a living document. • Concise “road map” of paper you intend to write/are writing – but modifiable as the writing process shows a better way through • A good abstract can keep you “honest” as a writer. • On completion of paper, abstract needs to be revised and finalised to accurately reflect the paper now completed. • Good abstracts do no undersell or oversell the paper they describe • Good abstracts will invite appropriate audience/s to read paper Information Technology Services
What makes a good abstract? The what, why, how and so what statement of the research paper • A good abstract “abstracts” the salient features of the paper: it does not “retell” the paper in miniature. • What is the paper about? From what larger project does this paper arise? • Why is the research reported here necessary and important? Why the paper addresses a significant gap in knowledge. • How was the research reported in the paper conducted? • SO WHAT? What is the importance of the research reported here to the field.(Why should folk read this paper?) • Generally this statement is between 150-250 words. • Every word counts. • Consider vocabulary of abstract and keywords: accuracy and web searchability are key considerations • You want people to find your paper. Information Technology Services
How effective is your abstract? Volunteers? Information Technology Services
Acknowledgements • This presentation is a distillation of presentations given at The Write Stuff! Workshops at RMIT and draws on contribution made by a range of colleagues including Robyn Barnacle, Dinesh Kumar, Judy Smart, Sam Richardson, Kate Cregan, Julie Fisher and others. Information Technology Services