Getting scholarly-published, part three: Things I learned

To finish off …

 

How was I notified of publication? By a mass email sent out to ARLIS members!

This kinda took me off-guard. Since at my last look, my own article was covered in editing marks, I didn’t have a sense that things were in their final phase. I’m definitely more used to publishing online, where you can always withdraw or delete something if you change your mind. The permanence of print is kinda scary, especially if it’s your first scholarly work in a new field. Augh. I still haven’t read the finalized copy.

 

Under the U Chicago Press publication agreement I signed, I am free to distribute copies of the printed article on my own website (for free and with full credit to the journal), to any classes I teach (not yet applicable in my case), and via institutional repositories to which I belong. This last one is interesting, because I work corporate right now and am no longer affiliated with any institution. Would I ask my alma mater to be my IR? I dunno, it’s a big commitment….

If you’re like me and not represented by an institution with an IR, you can try to find one! Some IRs allow total strangers to apply for membership. Not sure if “member” of an IR makes me “affiliated” with that IR for the purposes of the Publication Agreement I signed, but, if I get sued I’ll let you know.

I asked the lazyweb what to do in this circumstance, and I had a few other suggestions sent my way: use academia.edu, use figshare.com, etc. I think for now I’ll just host it on my personal website until I decide where I want to “affiliate” (that’s a verb, right?). Your personal site has no time restrictions (“embargo period”) whereas an IR would — something to note if you are expecting to be cited in a timely manner, or using the publication as part of a portfolio or job application or what-have-you. I would steer away from anything that involves signing a Terms of Use. Another thing I’m not sure about is uploading the PDF to LinkedIn: it does have that capability, but I think that’s a grey area as far as a “portfolio” or “personal website” goes.

What’s nice about the U Chicago agreement is that I can reproduce the article in its entirety, in its final published format, which they emailed me shortly after the publication date. Some agreements only allow you to publish a pre-print version (usually with a big unsightly watermark across each page). You also can reprint your work anywhere else, at any time, with the proper credit to the U Chicago journal as first publication.

professor mayer

The U Chicago Guidelines are here. In contrast, some other journals and publishers you might be signing with have taken far more draconian measures aimed at keeping your work behind a paywall. But, we all know it’s no match for Open Access.

Print has a powerful allure, and Art Doc is a great journal. But scholarly research shouldn’t be behind a paywall, and I’d like to commit to only publishing my work in OA journals from here on out. As a first-timer, I think “anywhere that’ll accept me” is pretty fair, but make sure you read that publication agreement and make sure you have the right to offer a free copy somewhere else (and watch those embargo periods!). You’ll realize very quickly, when your mom says “Can I read that thing you wrote,” that being able to send her a link without a paywall or an embargo is pretty awesome.

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Alright, here are my warnings, tips, and lessons:

  1. Edit yourself as much as you can, but do it intelligently. Reading your own work five times in a row until the words blur together and the sentences lose all meaning isn’t good. My habit is to change the format and context when you need “fresh eyes” – use Word styles to change fonts and themes, print it out and work with a pen, move the main text into Google Docs and back again (if you can manage not to mess up your footnotes that way). I can’t tell you how much it helped to look at the printer’s proof, to see words that were repeated too often, or sentences that contained pointless clauses. (I think Scrivener and LaTeX are better for this sort of thing.)
  2. Relish the peer-review experience, especially on the reviewer side. It can teach you a lot, not just in the way of improving your own writing, but perhaps also of empathy. Keep it constructive.
  3. Trust your editorial team! We’re all in this “making good content” business together. But don’t slack: put as much effort into cleaning up your own copy (and other people’s work) as you can. Don’t take your peer-review comments to heart; everyone’s trying to objectively improve scholarship, with a couple exceptions. (If you’re interested in the ideology behind peer review and scholarly rigor, we can jam on those subjects another time; my personal fave is Retraction Watch for news on that front.)
  4. If you’re publishing on technology, current affairs / trends, or any topic that can change quickly, it might be best to enquire first about the length of the publication process. Turnover time matters, and if an OA journal can take you from submission to publication in 4 months, that might help your contribution to the field matter more. From first writing to final publication was 16 months, for me; the normal submission-to-publication for peer-reviewed work in Art Doc is about eight.
  5. The initial ego-boost is great! But do consider publishing only with journals that have an Open Access policy. Ideally, have your own portfolio or website to host the copy of your article that the press sends you (my email was started with “Professor Mayer,” which I admit made me feel amazing).

 


About allanaaa

allana.mayer [at] mail.mcgill.ca

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