Thoughts on the Researcher-Publisher Relationship

What do you think about the latest publications in your area? Do you know how to get published? Are publishers able to provide the resources you need for your research? Are you incorporating new tools in your teaching based on what is being offered by publishers? Or, actually, you think publishers are not offering the sort of teaching tools you would like to use?

These questions spring from a simple fact: publishers and academics are not from the same world. So close, and yet so far away!

For us, researchers, the most important thing is our own research – no matter how specific this may be. Sorry, but an article that does not show me exactly how public policies in Argentina affected class relations during the 1990s is a total waste of my precious time! We want reliable, up to date, original, dense and specific information. If possible, in less than 10.000 words.

At the same time, we want our own work published – as fast as possible. Furthermore, we want views and, if possible, quotations!

We do not really know what publishers want. However, from the outside, they look quite busy publishing a lot of unnecessary stuff (i.e. everything not related to our own research). To be fair, if you take a look at any major publisher’s website, you will find an amazing amount of quite interesting publications, although the chance of us actually having the time to read them are none. On the other hand, how difficult it seems to get published! Especially if you are an early-career researcher.

Luckily, it seems that publishers are really making an effort to understand our needs. The Hive Scholars visited SAGE last month, and we felt a real interest for what we had to say as researchers. During our short presentation, eyes were attentive and hands were taking notes. Things that seem prosaic for us – such as the way we do our teaching or the resource materials we use – seemed very important to them.

SAGE isn’t alone in wanting to hear from researchers. Earlier this week, there was a panel at the London Book Fair called ‘NextGen Needs: What Do Young Academics Really, Really Want?’ According to the description, the panel drew from recent research and case studies to present the latest insight into the needs of the ‘next generation of researchers’. As part of this research, Bernie Folan is conducting a short survey, and is interested in hearing from MA/MScs, doctoral researchers, and postdocs in all disciplines. You can take part in the survey HERE, and make your voice heard!

Other contributors to this panel came from The Academic Book of the Future, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), and Taylor & Francis. These are all organisations with which you can actively engage on Twitter, both to see what sorts of things they are working on, and to contribute to discussions.

Despite having no illusions that publishers will ever think exactly like researchers, we believe that researchers should take every opportunity to make their voices heard in the publishing world. By doing so, we are not only helping publishers to improve their products, but also helping ourselves to find exactly the resources we need for our own research.



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