Personal statement on publishing

Academics all experience a different set of personal and professional circumstances, and our decisions about publishing are necessarily going to be different each time. Rarely are these differences articulated. The point of this page is to make my own situation explicit in order to be fair and transparent towards all my colleagues.

I have a similar set of statements about reviewing and being reviewed here.

My policy on topics

As of 2022 I am working part-time (0.5FTE) on an ARC research project on the topic of Australian message sticks. The other half of my time is devoted to primary care. Given these limitations, I have come to the decision to prioritise the topic of message sticks over other topics.

My policy on submitting to edited volumes and conference proceedings

Miss Nancy Mitford is unable to do as you ask

I cannot commit to publishing in edited volumes, including conference proceedings. In large part, this is because of my commitment to a new research area (above) but it is also because the publication cycle for these works usually exceeds the average length of a postdoctoral contract. What this means is that I never really know if I’ll be available to put in the time and effort on a chapter when the editor requests it. Please don’t hesitate to invite me anyway since I may be in a position to agree, but please don’t be offended if I reject your invitation or ignore a call-for-papers.

Sometimes I am invited as a speaker to a conference and I may be paid an honorarium or have my travel and accommodation paid for. This is usually a huge expense if I’m coming from Australia. In these situations I understand the moral obligation to reciprocate this kindness by contributing to a proceedings publication, but for all the aforesaid reasons I cannot guarantee this.

My policy on choosing journals to submit to

I choose to publish in journals where I expect to get the most relevant feedback from editors and reviewers. Accordingly I do not always submit to OA journals, but I will always make a pre-print available online, and I will send a full published version to anyone who makes the request via email.

My policy on multi-authored papers

My research straddles the humanities, where co-authorship is rare, and the social sciences, where co-authorship is the norm. Order of authorship is a delicate issue. I think it is important to discuss the order of authorship early in the development of a paper, even if this is uncomfortable. It’s also worth having an open conversation about who may or may not be a contributing author. In the manuscript itself I am a strong believer in including an explicit statement in the acknowledgments or first footnote, explaining the precise role of each author on the paper. This is about accountability but it also helps readers. A way of framing this kind of discussion at the outset is to say “Let’s all work together on this idea, pay attention to how the project unfolds, and see who ends up as an author versus who ends up as a fellow traveller, without expectations”.

My personal definitions:

first author: does most of the overall writing work, does most of the lit review, develops the specific hypothesis relevant to the data (not necessarily the general theory), manages interactions with editors, and is also the corresponding author. As a rule of thumb, if an author is not capable of answering most of the questions put to them by editors or media outlets they should not be the first author. For data papers, with no hypothesis, the first author is the person who did the most work compiling, coding and organising the data. Note that if a first author is a postgraduate or undergraduate then more senior co-authors might legitimately manage interactions with journals and media.

secondary authors: contribute specialist knowledge to sections of the paper (including the lit review) but they also write those sections. Providing comments on a draft is not sufficient to award authorship even if they happen to be great comments. For me, a key part of collaboration is figuring out how to write together and to interact productively on the level of text, not just in meta-commentary.  A secondary or last author may be one who contributes a broader theoretical framing and guidance but they must commit to meaningful work on the paper too, and their specific contribution should be set out in the acknowledgments.

My current institution’s policies on authorship are here.