Publishing Doctoral Work
Seminar Leader: Paromita Goswami, XIMB
Journal publications are an important medium for communicating research. Publishing in scholarly journals serves many purposes: peer review (which may bring some useful course-correction to one’s research), recording of work, recognition, networking with researchers, and so forth. Even when a submission is not accepted, the review comments can help one identify shortcomings in the work. The comments may also be educative and serve to expand the author’s knowledge of the field. However, sometimes there may be a difficulty when the reviewers differ from each other in their observations and suggestions. This can lead to dilemmas for the author. One way to deal with such dilemmas is to improve the focus of the article, so as to reduce the potential of multiple readings of the work.
A lot of effort goes towards finding the right journal and getting one's article accepted for publication. Before establishing oneself as a scholarly author, a suggested path for a doctoral scholar could be to do a book summary first, then a book review, and then attempt a somewhat less scholarly magazine article. This could be followed by participating in academic conferences. In the second or third conference, one could present a research paper. Such experiences would prepare one for writing in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Sometimes, it may be relatively easier to publish in the journal brought out by one’s own institution. However, eventually, one should target journals which are known to publish articles related to one's research area.
There can be many surprises in the publishing process. Some journals complete the peer-review in a matter of weeks, say 3-4 weeks, while others can take a long time to decide and publish. The Web site of a well-known journal in India states, “It can take upto four months for a final decision on whether the paper is accepted for publication.” Further, “Articles accepted for publication can take up to six to eight months from [the] date of acceptance to appear . . .” Often, journals do not specify their rejection rate (i.e., the proportion of submissions usually rejected). Although all useful information may not always be available through formal channels, sometimes such information can be obtained informally from one’s colleagues, seniors, and others in one’s research network who have first-hand experience in academic publishing.
While some editorial offices are very quick and responsive, some can be quite casual and insensitive. Not all journals promptly acknowledge a submission. There are cases where editorial offices misplace a submission and realise the fact only after repeated reminders from the author. However, authors should be careful not to annoy editors with too many reminders; some editors are used to a relatively slow pace of work and they may not like being pressurised to respond fast. Sometimes journals reject submissions without assigning any reason, or without sharing the reviewers' comments with the author.
Therefore, while submitting one's work for publication, journals should be chosen with care. One option these days is to publish in electronic journals, some of which are “open access” journals--providing free full-text access to readers. The Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ) provides a selected list of such journals. The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) provides a mechanism through which one could post one’s work, if only to establish authorship of a new idea or method.
Journal articles should be edited as per the journal's specified style. Many journals relating to management follow the APA style.
Top-rated journals tend to have a clear editorial focus that reflects their scholarly vision. It may help to read any articles written by the editorial members in order to get a clearer idea about the journal’s focus and scope. Since many scholarly journals are associated with research communities, it helps to read and cite the work of some of the important members of the associated research community.
Some reviewers expect the authors to be familiar with the most recent work in the field. Therefore, it helps to cite recent publications in one’s article. At the same time, some reviewers expect the authors to be familiar with the older but more seminal work in the field. So, it also helps to cite such older literature.
Publishing parts of one’s doctoral research before one’s thesis defence does establish one's scholarly credentials. It certainly helps in the thesis examination process.
Reported by Sanjay Varma, with inputs from Madhavi Latha Nandi, C. D. Kuruvilla, Adwaita Govind Menon, D. P. Dash, and Paromita Goswami. [January 10, 2008]
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