Getting published: the great publish or perish conundrum begins!

I’ve been working on a publication with my husband and some other researchers over the last few days, reporting on some research I conducted at a university last year. Now we are in the write up phase of the work – well overdue, as my report went in last June. I am really thrilled that my husband has fought to have my name included in the authorship, as I actually did the research. I interviewed the participants, I created the report (such as it was), I analysed the themes, and I still have all the interview transcripts and video data. One of the academics has been arguing that my name ought not to appear on anything as I was merely a gun hired to do the work. However, my husband has been pretty pugnacious about defending my involvement and actually sought advice from the ethics division at the university, and they made the position clear: if I have been involved in the work, then my name goes on the paper. I cannot understand why my name should not have been part of the authorship and I do not understand why the academic opposed to my inclusion was so vociferous in his opposition. He chose to have his name removed from the research. I am glad the issue was resolved. Another of the authors also (surprisingly) defended my involvement, stating that when checking the paper in “track changes” mode, my edits were all over it. Yep. I spent about 10 hours on the paper. A good way to haul myself out of a little low patch and I am proud of the work I did on that research study.

The paper is going to a major journal this week, and we should find out pretty soon whether it has been accepted for publication. With all the other well-published authors on the paper, it should get up, but one never knows. It will probably need substantial revision – I think it is a little long, and I think we could successfully edit it to a more reasonable length: at present it is about 7000 words long, and the preferred word length for the journal is about 5000.

Apart from reporting on the study, publications are vital to academics. Regular publishing in journals and books maintains one’s standing in academia, publishing provides valuable research points for universities and for a young researcher (sic) like me, it is a vital aspect of my development as an academic that I publish articles prior to my PhD being awarded. As I have written before, I hope to have at least four publications prior to my PhD being awarded. I am working on a paper about vocal identity for a major journal; there are two arising from the (separate) research done last year, and I hope to prepare a few more for various other journals as the opportunity arises. This is part of the great frustration of working as an academic in the modern Australian institution: publish or perish. To be honest, I see the point of publishing. It clarifies one’s thoughts, it publishes results from the study for other researchers; it shows work being done in the field. But I dislike that universities are making it an indispensable part of the work one does as an academic. Some people are just better suited to teaching and service, and research should probably not be included in their work load. I know plenty of lecturers and academics who are not suited to research, who rarely publish in their field, yet they are great teachers and administrators. The university system does not always recognise this. And of course it is not the fault of the universities that they are making research track record so important: it is vital for their standing in the academic community that they show research outputs. It is also to maintain government funding that they insist their academics publish. Rather product driven, I fear.

This paper, should it get up, will be my second publication since I began my PhD in 2009. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, though, time to see my supervisor and discuss my first draft of one of my chapters.

And of course, keep working at the others.


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