Publication Strategies and Issues - Professor Geoff Wood


Published on

Part of the HDR Development Seminar Series, Professor Geoff Wood had conducted a presentation outlining the following themes: What Constitutes Publishable Research?; In the case of in-depth interviews; Presentation of Findings; Other examples of publishable research; Review Essays; What is not a research article; Issues to Consider; Issues to Consider; Finally; Books; Types of Book; Monographs; Textbooks; Edited or Authored; Choosing a publisher; Writing a book proposal for a publisher.

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Publication Strategies and Issues - Professor Geoff Wood

  1. 1. Publication Strategies and Issues Professor Geoffrey Wood Chair of International Business, University of Warwick
  2. 2. What Constitutes Publishable Research?• 1. Articles based on a new body of fieldwork. But:• - Is the study likely to be of broader interest? Why for, example, will a wider audience want to know about the case of a particular company, industry or region within a specific country?• - What makes the study new? How does it add to knowledge?
  3. 3. • - Are the methods sound? Different journals have very different views as to what constitutes an acceptable method. Examples would include:• -- Business history journals. Typically expect a lot greater usage of primary documents.• -- Economics journals. Often expect systematic usage of macro-level data.• -- Enterprise journals. Have very specific views on the application of theory in informing methodological approach and in developing an argument
  4. 4. In the case of in-depth interviews• Expectations vary – compare enterprise to industrial relations journals.• But, questions include• -- how were respondents selected?• -- can one get a nuanced picture from only a specific category of respondents?• -- do the respondents really provide any new insights?• How are the findings presented?
  5. 5. • - In the case of surveys, typical questions include:• --- who conducted the survey?• --- was the survey really just an in house survey conducted by a company?• --- what is perception and what are factual questions? Are the two clearly delineated?• --- sample size, response rates• --- questionnaire construction
  6. 6. Presentation of Findings• Increasingly, in the case of quantitative papers, journals are expected more sophisticated forms of data analysis. In the old days, descriptive statistics were sufficient, but, increasingly multivariate methods are demanded.
  7. 7. Other examples of publishable research• 2. Systematic literature reviews. However:• - a. A broad cross section of the relevant literature must be reviewed.• - b. The review must add to existing debates/ understanding.• - c. Review journal articles and monographs, generally not textbooks• - d. Clear themes/ issues/ propositions must be drawn out
  8. 8. • But.• - only a few journals like literature reviews (eg International Journal of Management Reviews, Academy of Management Review).• A good review paper is generally more work than a paper based on primary research.
  9. 9. Review Essays• This is normally an article reviewing either one book or a set of related books. It places the books within an earlier body of literature, and systematically explores how it/they adds to knowledge, and draws relevant issues for future debates. Such essays use similar referencing (in format and often number of references) to a normal article, and are often considered of similar worth (Some can have huge impact - e.g. Hannah Arendt’s review essays).
  10. 10. What is not a research article• A normal book review. This simply reviews the content of the book, without extensively and systematically relating it to a wider body of research.• Literature reviews based on basic textbooks.• Personal excurses, based on homespun theory (bear in mind, emerging, rather than established scholars can get away with far less in this regard).• Summaries of textbooks
  11. 11. • One that fails to add to knowledge, either because of an inadequate empirical base, or a lack of theoretical rigour.• Pseudo-Science. Making scientific claims without the evidence to back it up.
  12. 12. Issues to Consider• Interest. Is my paper of interest to a wider audience? What makes it interesting? Is there anything new about my paper?• Flow. Is the paper logically structured. Is the theory section coherent.• Hypotheses or propositions. If you set out to test them, then you must do so, and clearly state whether you have proved them or not.
  13. 13. • Clarity. Are the findings clearly presented? Even a specialist is unlikely to want to wade through tables to work out what you are saying in the text.
  14. 14. • Tables provide supportive or illustrative evidence – the reader wants the text summarize the key aspects what you have found, and explain what this means/the significance of findings. Tables need to be clearly labelled (abbreviations must be fully explained, statistically significant relationships marked with *s or highlighted)
  15. 15. • Literature Review. The reader will expect a proper review of the existing literature.Avoid an over-reliance on basic textbooks. Make sure you have covered core relevant debates. Make sure your literature review is up to date (a very dated literature review could indicate that the paper has been rejected many times before)., sEven if you don’t have a subscription to a journal, you could still cite abstracts of articles (but, be careful - some abstracts do a poor job of explaining the core argument/findings)
  16. 16. • Method. Are the methods you have employed adequate? Do you have a “MR KURTZ PROBLEM”? Provide adequate detail in your method section• Trust your reader. You must tell them where precisely your study was conducted (if you cannot name the organization, name the sector and setting). Explain why the study is interesting.
  17. 17. • Add to the literature. Make sure you are adding to the existing literature. Make sure you have read – and cited – past articles in the journal you are targetting. Take on board relevant debates in target journal.• Round-tripping. Be careful. Some referees review a lot for many journals. If you have a rejection and comments, take them on board. You can hit the same referee twice!
  18. 18. • Style. Proofreading, adherence to journal style, US or UK (or Canadian or Australian) spelling, length.• Note that electronic submission systems scan and highlight material that appears elsewhere. Even if it is your own work, unacknowledged copying is seen as plagiarism.• Some referees can be ill-informed, others know a great deal about the subject.
  19. 19. Choosing a Journal for a Particular Article• Journal Rankings list – eg the ABS list (available online – simply google ‘ABS journal ranking’)• Others include ISI, Australian Dean’s list and the Harzing composite index• The plus with the better lists is that• - they help identify journals one may not have thought of.• - they give some guide of the quality of the journal, even if they are never 100% accurate.
  20. 20. • But, the trouble is that the less well established or in-house (eg specific to a particular university) lists is that they can be very selective and somewhat arbitrary (e.g. the professors at a university agreeing to rank highly the journals they get their work published in, and rubbish others).• And, no list is ever complete. Even the best lists leave journals out.
  21. 21. • Publisher. One can simply trawl through the journals published by the more established journal publishers (e.g. Taylor and Francis/Routledge, Sage, Blackwell/Wiley, Kluwer, Oxford University Press, Emerald, Elsevier, etc).• However, some of the top journals are published by particular universities in the US (e.g. Industrial and Labor Relations Review by Cornell University, Harvard Business Review by Harvard, etc)
  22. 22. • By aiming at the journals put out by established publishers, one at least has some basic assurances of quality, and an assurance that the journal is likely to come out regularly (some journals have very erratic production schedules)
  23. 23. • Free online/open access journals. The idea is a good one, but low production costs mean that anybody can set up a journal. This means that there are fewer assurances of quality. There are some very good online journals, but most are of poor quality, and publishing in a new online journal is very risky, as the chances are, you will not receive any recognition for it.
  24. 24. • Focus. Some journals favour particular methods. An obvious example would be journals that tend to publish more quantitative research (e.g. British Journal of Industrial Relations) or qualitative research (e.g. Organization). However, some journals are even more focused (e.g. some journals are skeptical about the value of factor analysis)
  25. 25. • Philosophy of journal. Some journals are cross- over journals and seek to publish articles that are of interest to – and accessible/understandable – both academics and practitioners• Theoretical orientation. Some sub-areas understand theory in different ways. For example, compare how enterprise journals refer to the term “institution” to how organization studies journals do.
  26. 26. • Quality and scope of research. Be realistic. For example, a very focused study on a single firm that is not very well known is unlikely to be of interest to a general audience. A more specialised journal is a better target. Another example would be a small scale survey of an ordinary social grouping – again, it is unlikely to have wide impact
  27. 27. • But, also, it sometimes pays to aim high. Better journals often treat one more professionally – ie quicker review times, tighter production schedules, better editing. And, even if one is rejected, one is likely to get better quality feedback.
  28. 28. • General or Specific Journal. Publishing in a general journal means one will reach a wider audience. Such journals also tend to be more theoretically pragmatic. But, unless the article is really groundbreaking, it may be harder to get cited.
  29. 29. • And, it is worth noting that some quite good specialist journals appear to favour work by a relatively small pool of scholars. It may be hard for an outsider to break in to such circles/ debates.• Examples would include Socio-Economic Review and Journal of Southern African Studies
  30. 30. Finally• Don’t be confused by the title – look closely at what the journal publishes.• What do you think the journal “Enterprise and Society” publishes?• And, the “Journal of Human Resources”?
  31. 31. Books• Why books?• - Can present a more sustained argument. In the traditional academic model, scholars wrote a new major book after completing their doctorate, presenting detailed insights on a specific area of specialisation. In a journal article, it may be difficult to present a complex argument in a few pages
  32. 32. • Books can allow one more free reign. Whilst some publishers (e.g. Manchester University Press) send all books out for peer review, some only do so in the case of textbooks. This allows one to present a more ambitious and free ranging argument. Journal referees tend to be skeptical of major new theoretical material or empirical approaches; they much prefer incremental building on existing arguments
  33. 33. • Edited books can allow one to showcase a debate around a particular issue, or develop specific sets of ideas.
  34. 34. • In the case of textbooks, one can seek to influence how a subject is taught.• One may even make some money!
  35. 35. Types of Book• Academic monographs (edited or authored)• Cross over books (a book that seeks to inform practice/popular debates, whilst retaining some academic rigour [eg Jared Diamond’s books on the rise and fall of societies).• Textbooks
  36. 36. Monographs• These are “serious” books. These are the ones that peer academics are likely to take seriously, and in some settings/subjects/locales may be accepted as published research by the institution/ national authority.• One has relatively free reign with monographs – once one’s proposal is accepted, the publisher will generally print the book (unless it is obviously faulty)
  37. 37. • Monographs are also now increasingly listed in ISI (ie citations for one’s books will “count” in the future.• BUT• In many contexts, writing books does not accrue the same rewards are getting published in highly ranked journals• Publishers, with modern technology, can make money out of as little as 100 sales of hardbacks to libraries!
  38. 38. Textbooks• Normally, publishers will subject to peer review at least part of the textbook.• In the case of textbooks, sales do matter. A publisher is unlikely to print a textbook if sales may be only in the early 100s.• This means that having concrete proof that the book will be prescribed helps
  39. 39. • In the case of textbooks, publishers can be quite demanding, requiring textbook features:• - Case studies (not subject to copyright!)• - Problems, questions• - Model answers for the above• - Examples/Lessons for practice• - Lecture slides• - Instructor manuals
  40. 40. • And, they often require these to be regularly updated• In other words, there is a lot more required out of a textbook than simply writing the core text.
  41. 41. Edited or Authored• Authored• - Benefits. It is all one’s own product. One can develop an extensive argument. If one is working one’s PhD into a book, this is generally the approach that is followed.• - Disadvantages. Increasingly, there is pressure on scholars to produce a steady stream of published work. Working on a lengthy book precludes completion of several articles
  42. 42. • Edited• - One can amass an impressive collection, whilst only writing relatively little oneself.• - One can set up a debate between different points of view.• - Eminent contributors can help sales.• - But, one is at the mercy of contributors. Many academics are notoriously unreliable. Publishers expect a manuscript of a length specified in the contract, not half a one. This means one may have to write chapters at short notice.
  43. 43. Choosing a publisher• The new economics of desk top publishing mean that publishers are willing to take on books that are likely to sell fewer copies than what was the case before. This means that general publishers are gradually eating into the market of specialist publishers.• Nonetheless, general publishers will still be skeptical of a very specialist text, focusing on an area unlikely to be of general interest
  44. 44. • Examples of general publishers: Sage, Palgrave Macmillan, OUP, Routledge.• Examples of specialist monograph publishers: ILR Press, James Currey, Manchester University Press. University publishers in many countries.• Examples of primarily textbook publishers: Thomson, FT Prentice Hall, etc.
  45. 45. Writing a book proposal for a publisher• Each publisher will supply their own guidelines.• But, the following are issues that they normally expect to be covered:• - Context of book. What is the broader body of knowledge/ area in which the book will fit. Why is there is a need for a book of this nature?
  46. 46. • Broad overview of what the book will contain.• Specific objectives of the book , more precise information as to the areas covered.• Chapter summaries. If an edited book, then the publisher will want to know the names of at least some contributors (to see how feasible the project is).
  47. 47. • Sometimes, they will like to see a sample chapter.• List of competing texts, and how the proposed book will differ. What will distinguish the proposed book?• Expected market (e.g. undergraduate students, postgraduate students, academics, practitioners, etc.)• A paragraph on the author (as well as, sometimes, a separate full CV) explaining how/why they are equipped to undertake a book project of this nature