editing and publishing: a workshop @ IR9

On 15th Oct a workshop in editing and publishing took place in Copenhagen as part of the wider AoIR conference. As a fairly green post-graduate student my hopes were to gain insight into what appeared to me as a huge blackbox: the eminent celebrities of academia selecting in mysterious and unclear processes whatever they may want to publish, whenever and according to whoever’s rules. Something like this, admittedly cynical, had blurred my view. So it was refreshing to see a workshop aimed at de-mystifying the practices and rules, being actually overbooked, so obviously I wasn’t alone with my lack of clarity. Co-organiser
Marcus Foth – who did a fantastic job – reassured us that there would be a range of strategies available to make life somewhat easier and the help offered by the present co-editors would make the whole business much more of something that can be approached systematically.

Nick Jankowski, co-editor of New Media and Society clarified that the successful submission of a conference paper should be seen as the very first milestone prior to any publications in journals. Make sure you know whether your paper will be made available online or offline and how aspects such as embedded multimedia or screenshots will be dealt with. The UK standard is double blind and peer review – which may not be taken for granted around the globe, so better double-check.

We were then given an overview of abstracting and indexing services such as the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), and the ISI Web of Knowledge as well as CiteULike which will help you map your citations with Google Scholar being another interesting option.

There is criticism as to bias and reflection of relevance, though, in so far as the SSCI for example was accused of being ideologically driven against free market oriented research. In contrast, Google Scholar was hailed as much friendlier and intended to empower individual academics with their Publish or Perish policy. There is a nice piece of software coming along that lists your statistics – exactly what we all want to know in these days, I guess.

In brief, we were encouraged to submit our manuscript by trying to establish a relationship in person with the editor/s or attaching a proper letter to the draft manuscript. Keeping in mind that this may be the first steps towards a life-long relationship, well sort of. Submission rules may differ: whether online or hardcopies might be required, books can be sent for review to more than one editorial board, journals usually only to one. Expect 2 weeks for the internal assessment and 3-8 weeks for external reviews. The author will be notified of the outcome, so brace yourself to be accepted, rejected or for the review/revise/resubmit cycle. The max period should be no longer than 12 weeks for revision, then the above repeats and the final decision to publish hopefully is going to reward you for all the hard work. Don’t be shy when it comes to following up, as Lisa McLaughlin, Editor of Feminist Media Studies pointed out: the tiny number of people working under volunteer conditions in some of the journals and the large number of submissions are behind the max time spans which can be expected: 12 months for revision, 18 months for publishing.

Now, that is certainly a nightmare for anyone researching new media, online social networks and the blogosphere…clearly, we had some discussion about this issue and tried to shed some light on the ways new media should be harnessed in the publishing industry, however, much more is to be discussed yet. Not at least because the seismic paradigm shift may entail a power shift.

The following individual academics provided discussed in panels as well as in small groups with delegates and this was an invaluable experience. I am most grateful Daniel Cunliffe‘s generous support and patient answering of all my many questions. He is Associate Editor of the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia. Elizabeth Buchanan, Associate Professor at Center For Information Policy Research in Milwaukee and Brian Loader, co-director of the Social Informatics Research Unit (SIRU) at the University of York, were remarkable in their critical views. Issues such as cultural differences, personal attitudes, the standard of assessment as well as differences among disciplines were at the centre of debate. A discussion of the ethics and politics of reviewing constructively and in a reflexive manner made me help to understand the wider infrastructure and gain an idea of what is possibly going to expect me in the not so far future. Certainly, I will try to see a reviewer’s comments from a much more holistic perspective and keep in mind that publishing and editing is of dialogical nature and are meant to strengthen the paper under scrutiny.

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About Britta Bohlinger, CFE

Founder and Director of RisikoKlár in Iceland. Native German, global perspective - previously in London and Berlin.
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