Getting Published : Three editors offer advice
Young researchers working away in libraries, archives, and labs, and scholars who have reached the top echelons of academia agree: getting published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal is important to one’s career. We asked the chief editors of three eminent journals to offer their advice on getting published.
- switch to list view stand1
Chief Editor, Socio-Economic Review
Chief Editor, Industrial and Labor Relations Review
How would you sum up the editorial policy in terms of publications of your journal?
Wolfgang Streeck: SER is part of a broader movement in the social sciences for the rediscovery of the socio-political foundations of the economy. SER deals with the analytical, political and moral questions arising at the intersection between economy and society. Articles in SER explore how the economy is or should be governed by social relations, institutional rules, political decisions, and cultural values. They also consider how the economy in turn affects the society of which it is part. The domain of the journal is deliberately broadly conceived, so new variations to its general theme may be discovered and editors can learn from the papers that readers submit.
SER is eager to promote interdisciplinary dialogue between sociology, economics, political science and moral philosophy, through both empirical and theoretical work. Empirical papers may be qualitative as well as quantitative, and theoretical papers are not confined to deductive model-building. Papers suggestive of more generalizable insights into the economy as a domain of social action are preferred over narrowly specialized work. While firmly committed to the highest standards of scholarly excellence, Socio-Economic Review encourages discussion of the practical and ethical dimensions of economic action, with the intention to contribute to both the advancement of social science and the building of a good economy in a good society.
Tove Hammer: The ILR REVIEW, or the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, is an interdisciplinary and international journal focused on work and employment. We define industrial and employment relations broadly, publishing theoretical and empirical studies covering a wide range of labor market, organizational, and institutional processes related to the world of work in both union and non-union settings. Topics of special relevance include the organization of work, the nature of employment contracts, human resource management, employment relations, conflict management and dispute resolution, labor market dynamic and policies, labor and employment law, and employee attitudes and behaviors at work. Within the field of labor economics, we emphasize studies of gender, discrimination, wages, personnel economics and behavioral economics. We are particularly interested in attracting papers describing comparative-international research. Researchers publishing in the ILR REVIEW come from a broad range of social science disciplines and fields, including economics, sociology, psychology, political science, management, law, and history. We welcome qualitative and quantitative studies, field work, institutional analyses, survey research, the use of archival data, and field and laboratory experiments.
Didier Demaziere: The editorial policy of Sociologie du Travail has three main purposes: publishing diverse research, organizing scholarly debates, and fostering exchanges among sociologists in and outside France.
This first dimension of our work means that Sociologie du Travail is not tied to a single theoretical or methodological movement. Its field – work, as stated in the title – is broad, and the articles we publish cover a range of topics, methods, analytic frameworks, explicative schemes, theoretical concepts, and so on. Our editorial policy tries to promote a style of research rather than a style of sociology: papers must be empirically based, structured by a consistent question or issue, discuss existing research in the field, and propose original results and conclusions. The journal's goal is to publish the most cutting-edge and innovative research available. Among other things, it encourages younger scholars and Ph.D. candidates an annual "young author prize" which distinguishes three articles submitted by social science researchers under the age of thirty-one. The journal has taken a number of initiatives to encourage scholarly debate, our second purpose. Most of the articles we publish are spontaneous submissions, which shows our journal draws attention on its own. But the editorial board also promotes questions it considers neglected or up for debate, and organizes at least one thematic number per year. Other sections in the journal have been created in order to organize debates and give voice to controversies: for example, our "Symposium" section gathers various points of view and arguments defended by different researchers on an interesting book, while our "Dossier-Débat" section publishes differing points of view on a much-debated issue. A significant portion of the journal is devoted to book reviews, of which there are about fifteen per issue.
Third, Sociologie du Travail is forum for exchange among sociologists in and outside France. This means we make a special effort to see the journal is distributed beyond French-speaking areas of the world. Since 1999 the journal has been available through Science Direct, an English-language online academic portal; and since 2005 the journal has published a special English-language issue through this channel, composed of a selection of the year's best articles. At the same time, the journal has become more and more sensitive and attentive to social sciences as they are practiced throughout the world. Social scientists from various countries are solicited for contributions to thematic issues, and books written in various languages are presented and discussed (through the "Symposium" section or in book reviews).
What would you advise younger scholars? Is it still worth taking the time to write a book? Or, given that the more publications a scholar has, the better her chances at career advancement, is it better to write an article?
WS: Have something to say. Listen to your intuitions, and follow them. Do only what you like to do, and what makes you grow. Never repeat yourself. Don't be shy.
Yes. Everybody can write articles. Books are the highest art form in our field: complex arguments about complex issues based on a broad and well-narrated supply of empirics. Never forego doing something exciting that takes you beyond your limits, only because something less exciting from which you learn nothing new is said by others to be more useful for your "career advancement." Do good work and a career will eventually ensue.
TH: We ask two initial questions about every manuscript we receive: Is this interesting? Can we trust the findings? Authors should be prepared to answer both. First, that something has never been asked or done before does not guarantee that it is worth answering or that it is interesting. By all means, choose topics or research questions that interest you, but be prepared to offer a compelling argument for why they are important and why they should be of interest to others. Second, make sure that you design your studies or build your theoretical models in such a way that you can answer your questions. If you are doing empirical research, are your data reliable and valid? Are your models properly defined, your research samples sufficient for the analyses you run, and do your conclusions follow from your findings? Have you subjected your manuscripts to the critical eyes of colleagues or other experts in your field before you submit them to a journal or, if preparing a book manuscript, to a publisher? These are mundane questions, but you want to answer them yourself to avoid having an editor asking them of you.
That depends on the field or discipline. Where books are the norm there is usually a good reason for it. With respect to journal articles, I recommend strongly against carving up the results from a research project into several small journal articles. One substantial and complete article is worth more, both in terms of its contribution and the subsequent reputation it will give its author, than a collection of minor pieces.
DD: The priority is to publish articles in academic journals, and to target the most visible and renowned ones. Publishing an article provides solid evidence of the quality of one's research and shows scholarly recognition, as it implies success in peer-review process. As it is better to submit papers to selective journals, it is important to offer original results and to avoid writing repetitive papers or articles that resemble previous publications.
Beyond that, as a second step, it is useful and important to publish a book, because a book can bring a good visibility, especially if it is discussed in academic journals. But it is rather difficult to write a stimulating book; it takes time and requires quite a lot of work.
Should we be looking ahead to a post-print era where scholarly journals will only be read online?
WS: I have no idea. I don't care if stuff is read online or in print, as long as it is good stuff and is in fact being read.
TH: There is no clear answer to this question, but lots of opinions. The important question is not hard copy print vs. online publication, but how one can best ensure the quality control that comes with peer review.
DD: Nowadays almost all academic journals are published online and readily accessible through that medium. This phenomenon has accelerated considerably over the last decade. Based on the experience of Sociologie du Travail, which has been published online (via Science Direct) since 1999, I think that digital access broadens a journal's reach and increases the number of readers, even if a condition for this is to be published by an attractive and important online portal.
Otherwise, based on the practices of scholars and students today, reading online and downloading articles has become more common – and more comfortable – than visiting a library and reading print journals.