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Our Opinion: Setting A Productive Example

By The Editorial Board Posted: 04/20/2009
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When the average American university student hears about an incoming speaker or workshop, chances are the thought “Why should I even waste my time?” enters into his or her head at least once.

Credit is due, then, to Emory’s department of economics, which organized a a workshop featuring editors from a variety of scholarly academic journals — including editors of the top two journals in economics (the Journal of Political Economy and the American Economic Review) and political science (American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics) and the editor of the American Sociological Review, considered the top journal in sociology — came for an “art of publishing” workshop, in which there were discussions and presentations on the publishing process.

The editors provided the attendees with what was essentially a cradle-to-the-grave treatment of the process, from when and how to submit articles to scholarly publications to how long they may have to wait for a final decision is made on whether or not it’ll be run.

What’s so special and useful about this type of workshop is that it seeks to disseminate typically informal knowledge that is rarely taught and that most are left to acquire through (often trying and difficult) personal experience. The publishing process is a very particular one, and involves etiquette that hopeful authors must understand in order to be published.

Junior faculty members and graduate students in particular rely on being published in such journals to gain recognition in their fields and to gain employment or tenure. And the publishing process is more important now than ever, with increased pressure on graduate students nationally as they prepare to enter the work force in a difficult economy and generally face a decrease in resources and available sources of funding and stipends. Participating included hundreds of online observers, following on a live webcast, while a couple hundred people from around Atlanta were in physical attendance and actively participated. Since everything will be on iTunesU, the workshop has the added benefited of remaining a valuable resource even for those not in attendance.

Currently, the economics department is planning to hold a similar event next year, with a different topic. And while we wish them success in this valuable endeavor, we would also like to take this opportunity to urge other departments to follow their lead and attempt to stage similar, highly productive events.

The above staff editorial represents the majority view of the Wheel’s editorial board.

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