not a critique of you; even the most established researchers receive negative feedback sometimes; feedback is subjective and depends on the location theoretically, methdologically and personally of the reviewer etc.
Re/writing discussion of findings and concluding and preparing for submission„They feared that what they wrote would be „wrong‟ and unspecified people would laugh at them‟ Howard Becker
Discussion section Different concerns for different genres of paper Some tips for empirical studies Make sure themes logical and build on each other Make sure themes answer the key questions/speak to the key arguments made Unpack quotes/narratives/data clearly If qualitative not too many quotes – at least two to three paragraphs for each quote/s Ensure speaking back to the literature (unless separating out results and discussion of findings sections and depending on the journal) Logical flow
Sexual shameTeenage motherhood and pregnancy are framed as moral problems playing on thebroad anxieties around young peoples‟ sexualities. Schools are expected to be spacesof sexual innocence and many teachers were unhappy with the challenge of dealing witha policy that brought to an end the illusion of schools as sanitised sexual spaces.Pregnant teenagers incited anger and hostility, were framed as sexually immoral andwere censured: I think that they should not be in school. It encourages the other girls to do the same– if she can get away with it, why can‟t I do it? Although the education department issaying that we must accept them etc., . . . [they] should not be allowed in school.(MrsNaidoo, Nehru High, a formerly Indian school in KZN)Teenage pregnancy is thus objectified, shamed and punished and the spectacle of morewomen becoming pregnant elicits repulsion and sexual defilement. MrsNaidoo, forexample, describes a situation where the presence of a pregnant teenager could lead tosexual anarchy among other young women in schools. The policy to allow girls backpermits a situation without punishment for sexual defilement. As MrsNaidoo says, a girlbecoming pregnant „can get away with it‟.Against the backdrop of the policy, is a strong appeal by teachers to protect the schoolas a site of sexual purity:They come to school, have their baby, leave it home, come back to school, and carry on. And they don‟t feel at all ashamed! I mean, when I was at school and someone fell pregnant it was: „Oh my word! Biggest secret!‟ But today they flaunt it. (Mrs Parker,
At the end of the paper Reassess: identify strengths and weaknesses Key questions to ask: Do I have enough literature Am I making „knowledge claims‟ or just reporting? Is this an argument or it it just „a rave‟? Is my data sufficient to the claims I am making? Are my conclusions based on my findings/arguments? Am I making a „new‟ contribution: what kind? Conclusion
Final alignment assessment Overview of sections: Introduction Methodology Discussion of findings Conclusions
Editing rule of thumb „can I live without this sentence, this word, this paragraph‟ be ruthless Obvious copy edit – language, spelling, typoes, referencing conventions Edit systematically: 3 levels: start with largest level to minutae of articulation – each will impact on the next as problems at sentence and word level will tend to disappear as you edit at paragraph level Effective paragraphs that flow logically Improve long and complicated sentences Words – choose carefully (cut unnecessary, VARIETY, delete some of your favourites!)
Finalising document for submission Check Journal conventions Referencing conventions Layout and design conventions Additional requirements e.gbionotes, keywords, cover page layout etc. Submission requirements
Submitting to journals and responding to reviews Submission as a draft – not the end but often the beginning of major reworking A review is an act of scholarship within a normative framework of critique that is frequently harsh and destructive & about self posturing & competition Prepare yourself emotionally for critique and more work
Kate Chanock‟s 7 stages of rejection/negative feedback http://www.slideshare.net/ingermewburn/write-that-journal-article-in-7-days-127421951. Outrage, noise, unladylike (sic) rejoinder2. Incomprehension3. More outrage4. One or two of the comments might make sense5. There‟s a bit of truth in that one6. I‟ll just have a go at doing what they say to do here7. Actually, the paper is a whole lot better with those revisions
Response to reviewers Emotional Distance feedback from yourself & put in perspective Even though you feel like throwing it all in or submitting to a new journal it is always more pragmatic to try to rework and resubmit Intellectual Read and re-read the reviews: focus on the recommendations Thematic analysis: draw out commonalities across reviewers Paradigmatic differences: differentiate between critiques that are coming from an alternative theoretical or methodological perspective (eg an empiricist response to a qualitative paper is usually problematic) Assess which recommendations are pointing to a different paper and which will enrich the paper
Implementation Summarise key changes you will make Order by sections in paper e.g. introduction/literature review; methodology; findings; conclusions Take each change one by one (suggest keep tracked to illustrate to editor) Write response to reviewer‟s report [again this is a knowledge production activity – you are making an argument!] Acknowledge value of reviewers (even if caustic!) Elaborate on your responses Changes you made and how Changes you DID NOT make and why Avoid defensive responses and rather attempt to show constructive engagement with reviewers
Example of response challenging perspective of reviewer (in this case necessary but avoid defence)Reviewer(s) Comments to Author: Responses from authorsThe reviewers have clearly engaged deeply with our paper and have raised a range of issues in theirassessment of it. After careful consideration of their reports we detail our responses below after thecomments from reviewers.Overall CommentsThe main argument of the paper is weak and this is the main limitation of the paper. The paper is largely adescription of „narratives of transactional sex‟ at a university campus and does not add much new to what isalready known about the phenomenon. Much has been written on transactional sex in Africa, and although theauthors allude to some of the debates that have been raised on the phenomenon, especially concerning women‟svulnerability and coercion, they do not critically engage with these debates. As a result, the paper is still toodescriptive.Author’s response: We agree that the paper is descriptive and we believe that to be a strength. The narrativesforeground a range of rich dynamics relating to the particularities of transactional sex, how it is understood andconstructed by a particular group of SA students on a local campus thus providing insight into the complexity anddiversity of these interactions in this particular context. Examples raised highlight the link with xenophobia, thesignificance of university status, academic assistance etc). Such data is important for local interventions andpolicy but also for the larger imperative of understanding sexualities in cultural and sub-cultural contexts. Here weshow that there are particular dynamics peculiar to this campus life – both the life of students but also of SAdisadvantaged universities in current context. We also believe that the paper adds some valuable ethnographicdata to the larger literatures on transactional sex and also offers a critical engagement with dominant Northernpositions on transactional sex at both a popular and scholarly level. The paper makes a further argument that webelieve has not been well documented; that is, over the last few years much of the research on transactional sex,while critical and non-moralising, has tended to assume a materiality of sexuality and love that is framed aroundeconomic materiality (and we show that this is not the only axis of power that transactions hinge around) whicharguably inadvertently „others‟ African sexuality. Indeed feminist literature has long argued the materiality ofheterosexual relationships over history and across all patriarchal societies.
Example of requests for a different kind of paper and responding by acknowledging thevalue of this, illustrating what was possible and what was deemed not possible:The authors state that they conducted 20 focus group discussions and that some were with menonly and others with women only and yet others were mixed. Twenty focus groups, of 60-90minutes each, translate to A LOT of data. I therefore encourage the authors to re-examine theirdata and perhaps analyse it according to what the men said and what women said etc, so that theycan provide a more nuanced narrative of transactional sex.Authors response: This is a useful suggestion, and a paper focused on examining in more detaildifferences between men and women would be a very interesting paper. It is not the focus ofthis current paper however although where it was possible and of significance we have nowattempted in the analysis to acknowledge any gender differences or similarities that may bepresent in the findings reported on . While we are engaged with a gendered analysis we are notin this paper attempting to unpack the gender differences in responses. That would be a furtherpaper that we will certainly look into working on in the future.The authors allude to issues of gender-based violence and coercive sex but these issues are not adequatelyaddressed in the rest of the paper. Author’s response: There is a great deal of literature that focuses on this although more work isrequired on Gender-Based Violence and coercive sexuality at SA campuses (and the Departmentof Education and the Gender Commission of SA are currently engaged in such a research andintervention programme). However this is not the main focus of this particular paper as we areteasing out a specific emerging finding from the study. We have elsewhere published a paper that ismore focused on violence and coercive sex on campus as emerges from this particular study.However where GBV overlaps with the narratives on transactional sex we will of course elaborateon that finding as we have done. We do not feel that the paper would be strengthened by diluting
Example of reviewer with paradigm conflict (epistemological and methodological)I finditdisconcertingthat the FGDsseem to recountotherpeople‟sexperiences to the degreethey do,not „ownexperiences‟. It is all about „they‟ and „them‟. The data appears to be second-handratherthan original narratives of ownexperience. I reallywonder about the value of FGD research inthiskind of study. I have yet to seeityieldmuch of interest. Why not indepth interviews about„ownexperience‟?…..I regret to saythat I don‟tfeelthisstudymakesany new headway in understanding the challenges ofreducing new infections in student populations.It needsmuch more work and I amconcernedthat the quality of data availablemay not sustain adeeperanalysis. It seemsthat the authorsbroughttoomanyassumptions to the table, theydid notgetdeep conversations going, and the respondentsspoke in terms of the categoriespresented tothem for discussion. When are wegoing to hearpersonal stories about how people have respondedto HIV risk ; and what has made themsucceed and fail ? There are manyways in which onemightresearchthis, and in myview focus group discussions will have relativelylittle place,besidesperhapsexploring the viability of recommendationsthatmay arise. HIV behaviourresearchersmust step out of the box.….."It isalsoevidentthatracialised and classeddiscourses on AIDS facilitate a sense of immunity, practices of„othering‟, and denial of riskamongsomestudents." How about the authorsacknowledging the realities of HIV inSouth Africa, whichreallydoes put Africans at risk to a hugelygreaterextentthan white people (to use the extremesfor illustration). There issoundempirical data to suggestthat white studentshavingsexwith white students areengaging in verylowriskbehaviour, at least wrt HIV infection. White students are technically not in an HIV epidemicand black students are, althoughtechnically not in a generalisedepidemicliketheir non-studentcounterparts. Thisbearssome recognition doesit not, whenitcomes to othering ? This is a case of imposing „discourse‟ on asituation ; a purelydeductiveexercise, whichis not acceptable in rigorous qualitative research.
The constructive experienceof reworking in response to reviewers Paper is always better = forced to express yourself clearly, clarify areas that were hazy, often read more literature that deepens, achieve more complex, nuanced arguments etc. Attempt to hold onto your academic integrity and confidence: enjoy the positive constructive responses and avoid devastation by the negative, destructive ones “what doesn‟t kill you makes you strong!” See Barbara Kamler „Revise and Resubmit: The role of Publication Brokers in Aitchison, Kamler& Lee (2008) Publishing Pedagogies for the Doctorate and Beyond. Routledge