Research Questions

So here are some research-related questions I have.

  1. Does it make any sense to invest time into publishing in conference proceedings? or should I just concentrate on writing my article (which is going to become part of the new book)?
  2. What’s better, publishing an article in a journal or a chapter in an edited collection? There is an edited collection that screams my current research topic, but I got some sense recently that edited collections don’t rank as highly as journal publications. Is that true?
  3. Is it crucial to try to become an editor of an edited collection? Or is it better to get the new book out as soon as possible since there is interest in it?
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5 thoughts on “Research Questions”

  1. These are very subfield-dependent. Unless someone is very close to your field, their answer won’t hold for you. For instance, computer science and some branches of applied math publish mostly in (high-profile, selective) conferences; for most of the rest of the natural sciences and engineering, conference proceedings papers are worthless (I stopped writing them altogether years ago) and journal articles are all that matters. Showing up at conferences is still worthwhile.

    From what I know about your field, I’d say focus on articles and books, because they showcase your specific scholarship. I’d rank these much more highly than editing a collection, for instance. However, if you feel there’s a new hot trend emerging in the field and you spot it before others and manage to get a first edited collection in it, which will be the “Who’s Who” of the hot trend, then that can be very impactful. But in general the hassle-to-usefulness-for-career ratio is quite low for edited collections.

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  2. Article. 2. Journal. 3. Your own book.

    That having been said, of course write what you can, publish where you can, edit what you think necessary. But the above are the classic answers for us and they are true.

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  3. 1) In general, conference proceedings are a bit of a waste of time. Definitely concentrate on the article.

    2) As Z states, generally journal articles are more prestigious than articles in edited collections. That being said however, this is a slightly context-dependent statement. Who is editing the collection? What press is the collection coming from? And, what journal are you looking at? Sometimes an article in a really well placed collection gets a lot of buzz and can garner a lot of prestige while an article in a lower-prestige journal might be ignored.

    3) Again, as Z says, monographs tend to be the way to go here. But, depending on your goals, if you edit a collection, it can be a great move. I put out an edited collection relatively recently and managed to get an “all star cast” to contribute and also placed it with a great press. (And I contributed an article in addition to writing the introduction. So I definitely had a “presence” in the book.) Because of this, the collection is getting reviewed in various great venues and was purchased by most university libraries. Also helpful to my purposes, is that it built some authentic networking opportunities for me. I generally hate networking and find it gross but, because of this project, I now know and have worked with some fairly major players in my field: people who are willing to write me letters and work with me on other projects. So, for me the edited collection was a great experience. But I don’t have a monograph and I’m fully aware of how important monographs are.

    Hope that helps! 🙂

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  4. No on conference papers. The tend to be shorter and less substantial, and you don’t need that at your stage.

    Journals are more prestigious, but edited collections get you more connections with colleagues. Our field is not as much a journal field, in that we don’t have that many journals that everyone would agree on being the best.

    Edited collections are fine, for networking again, as Evelina states above. You have two books so you need to network a bit to get reviewers for full professor case. Don’t do an edited collection at the expense of a third book, though, do it on the side. If you hate networking, this is a non-icky way to go because you are networking with another goal in mind: putting out a book, so you can impress people with your professionalism, etc….

    I’ve never done an edited collection because I don’t like other people’s writing that much. I wish I was more generous in that respect. I’d rather have my five monographs and be in other people’s edited collections when they invite me.

    There was a trend way back of people doing THE anthology in a field, like the New Historicism, and making their name that way. I don’t know if that works anymore. The guy who did the big New Historicism book, I don’t know what else he did, but he is known just for that.

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