Publishing in English-language journalsDon G. Schley, Ph.D. | May 1, 2016
I will address English-language publishing, and it will be an eclectic treatment. For instance, the "top journals" are considered to be those that stress, almost exclusively, "empirical research" (i.e., research that involves statistical analysis of data). From the SJR Journal and Country Rank , one can obtain a list of the highest-rated English-language journals, and three of the top six are American publications by The Academy of Management (AOM). The empirical approach, which employs surveys and questionnaires and then breaks these down using statistical analytical methods (e.g., factor and regression analyses), is the preferred approach of these journals. Therefore, all graduate students have to take classes in statistical analysis. However, most people using these methods do not know what they are actually doing.
The Academy of Management Conference is the top political conference in the USA, but there are many others. I have attended many sessions where a scholar presented a study that he performed, and the sole element of the presentation was to say, “I used this method, and here are my statistical results”. However, the scholar had no idea what those results meant or how they might be interpreted. Accordingly, those who would publish empirical studies need mentoring in the selection and application of various statistical methods and in the subsequent interpretation of results. A real shortcoming of publications that focus on "empirical research" is that they are more about the math than about the topic. Thus, they bring a lot of status to those who employ them, but are read by few.
The work of Dr. M. Afzalur Rahim on conflict management (Managing Conflict in Organizations) is the exception to the rule. Rahim has worked to create a study that, while heavily empirical, is practical, engagingly written, and can be applied in everyday management situations. Indeed, I have learned personally from Rahim that
the biggest needs in management research and in writing are the works that are written for the practitioner, so that management scholarship can be directly appropriated by workplace managers.
Most of the “top management” research is never really read by anyone besides other academics.
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Thus, for new scholars, although publishing through the Academy may be important for tenure and tenure-track consideration, many other avenues exist. For instance, subsidiary management disciplines, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), have their own conferences and publications, which are also recognized for tenure and tenure-track consideration. Besides the AOM, many other smaller conferences with their own recognized publications exist and are better suited to the needs of new writers. The smaller conferences put a work of a scholar before an audience of peers and provide venues for mentoring and networking. For instance, since 2000, I have been a member of the International Conference for Advances in Management (ICAM; meeting this July at Jacksonville University, Florida). They are a smaller conference with top-notch speakers, attendees, and participants, and they offer a lot of mentoring. They also have their own publication, an annual, Current Topics in Management. I have gotten several important papers published through ICAM connections. While ICAM has sold off its "International Journal of Conflict Management", it retains Current Topics in Management. I do not suggest that younger scholars focus on the AOM, or other "monster conferences", but rather, that they find some smaller, more interactive conferences where they can find research and collaboration opportunities, and where they can also find mentoring and other legitimate publication opportunities. I am a long-time reviewer for Current Topics. One fact that most non-native speakers and writers of English need to realize is the necessity of correcting grammar and syntax by fluent English writers such as myself. In addition, one looks to make connections at these smaller conferences with persons with whom one can collaborate on serious research and publication work. Through connections at ICAM I have gotten several major papers published in respectable and recognized journals outside of ICAM. In addition, I have just published a major collaborative paper. One never ought to forget the fact that one receives as much credit for a two-or-three-author publication as for a publication where one is sole author. Additionally, the intellectual stimulation provided by collaborative research and dialogue is indispensable to one’s teaching and writing and further professional career.
Smaller conferences allow for opportunities to develop closer collaboration with other scholars and provide wider opportunities for networking and, thus, further access to publication opportunities. For example, over the last three years, I have been collaborating with a Swedish scholar from ICAM. We developed, wrote and submitted a major criticism of the obsolescence of modern accounting practices, rooted as they are in 15th-century Italian merchant banking. This paper was not well-received in the wider accounting world and in the top accounting publications, which took offense at our thesis. Thus, my Swedish colleague brought a third author into the project to rewrite and reposition the paper. Then my original colleague presented this paper at a small specialized European conference last summer. From that conference, a representative of the Journal of Business and Economics contacted us and asked us if they could publish our piece. It is now slated for publication in June 2016. The lesson here is that patience is required: a good paper may be years in the making, and at the same time, publication may come about from unexpected sources. Rewriting and repositioning the paper through a developed network of colleagues gave it new life, allowed it to be presented in a new conference venue, whence it was recognized as valid for publication.
The publication process is far more complex than one may initially imagine. It is certainly far more difficult than simply researching an interesting topic, writing a good paper, and submitting and getting it published. All of my most important publications have come about through networking, and that networking has been facilitated by attendance at smaller conferences, in particular ICAM. Besides these initial guidelines, new writers need to know a crucial dictum concerning publications. These I learned from Dr. Kenneth Mackenzie, whom I also met through ICAM. I was initially trained as a humanist and an internationalist, and thus I tend to write broader, more generalistic papers that go against the grain of academic publication protocol. In response to my first submission to ICAM’s Current Topics in Management, Mackenzie, then an editor, told me: “You have committed the three cardinal sins of publication: complexity, originality, and length. One is usually permitted one violation, but rarely two and never three.” This advice is crucial to new writers: editors are looking for simple, sharply focused papers that are not overly long. This approach allows them to maximize their page space. The accounting paper mentioned above suffered from all three violations, and the third author had the task of narrowing the focus and reducing the complexity, which she did. Thus, the final paper committed only two of the three sins—length and originality—but even length was shortened.
About the author:
Don G Schley, PhD, Post-Doc, PMP, trained as a humanist in foreign languages (ancient, classical and modern) and ancient Near Eastern studies before taking a post-doc with an MIT engineer in International Project Management (1994-1996), focusing on infrastructure development in post-Soviet Russia and Central Asia. His work concentrated on two areas: oil, gas and mineral development and transportation infrastructure. He began teaching at Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs in 1997 and has been there ever since. As a long-time member of the Citizens’ Transportation Advisory Board of the City Council of Colorado Springs he played a critical role in solving stakeholder issues and bringing about the successful COSMIX project—the largest transportation project in Colorado Springs’ history. He continues to play an active role in project development, both public and private, in Colorado Springs.
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