publication strategies and plan b

This post is about publication strategy. In general, the advice one gets is to shoot for the top but what happens if that doesn’t pan out? What should  you do then? Well, as usual, a lot depends on your discipline, department, and specialty. A few strategies:

  • In all except the top programs, you can compensate for journal prestige with quantity.
  • In general, you get more credit for publishing in quality specialty journals than in regional journals.
  • Sometimes, it is better to move “laterally” from one discipline to another. That is a strategy I have used. Rather than let an article “fall” to a journal within sociology that doesn’t get a lot of credit, I’d rather try a higher reputation journal in a related field.
  • If you are in a discipline that values both books and articles, it may help to switch formats.
  • There are sometimes “hip” journals. They aren’t the most cited, but they get respect. Recently in sociology, we’ve seen two hip journals pop up in areas that I follow – Mobilization and Poetics. Not the “top” journals in terms of impact scores, but sociologists really like them.

Also, don’t forget to work on your numbers. Even the most prestigious academics have their papers routinely rejected. Therefore, it is important for most people to have two or three papers under review, if you need one accepted. That also entails a schedule. For you to produce the volume, you have to be good at getting projects done in a timely fashion. Dithering = death. Wait too long, and you won’t have time for your plan b.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 8, 2013 at 12:01 am

11 Responses

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  1. Useful stuff, thanks.

    Graham Peterson

    January 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

  2. Fabio: typo in the title of the entry!

    Patricia Ledesma

    January 8, 2013 at 11:05 pm

  3. Do-ooooh!!


    January 9, 2013 at 2:58 am

  4. Graham – can’t remember, are you in econ? If so, be careful. It’s a very hierarchical discipline, even in comparison with the rest of academic which is fairly rigid. So you don’t get credit for books or out-discipline pubs.


    January 9, 2013 at 3:02 am

  5. Oh yes. That is correct, sir. Which is one of a few reasons I left (sad, really — I like supply and demand curves quite a bit — if only economics were ready to discuss preferences, language, structure, etc. seriously). It’s not that one doesn’t get credit for out-discipline pubs in economics — it’s that one gets laughed at for it.

    In fairness, I don’t think the hierarchy of methodological and theoretical preferences in economics is dramatically worse than anywhere else — as these hierarchies are a product of the sociology (and history) of the academy largely.

    Graham Peterson

    January 9, 2013 at 3:17 am

  6. I mingle quite a bit with economists, so I am familiar with the culture. There’s also evidence that econ is the most hierarchical discipline in academia. For example, Jerry Jacobs gave a talk where he discussed a survey of professors which contained a question that asked something like “is it important to read/cite other disciplines?” Basically, the over whelming answer was “yes” except for two subgroups – economics and engineers. This also shows up in citation analysis. Economists are cited by others, but rarely cite others. The in/out citation balance is the most skewed in economics and law. There’s also qualitative evidence as well.


    January 9, 2013 at 3:22 am

  7. PS. The *only* credit that I’ve ever seen economists give for out discipline pubs is for pubs in math and statistics journals. I’ve heard some economists even complain that they don’t get credit for placements in Science, which is probably the world’s leading scientific journal.


    January 9, 2013 at 3:23 am

  8. PSS. That’s why I find economics to be an admirable and frustrating discipline. There is real intellectual progress, but it’s coupled with a disciplinary closure that’s truly puzzling. In my career, I’ve worked with people in disciplines ranging from math to medicine to computer science to politics. While each discipline thinks it is the best one, only in economics is there an entrenched attitude that no one has anything valuable to say except people in that discipline. In fact, a lot of academics in many fields recognize that there are good ideas all over the place and most disciplines evolve because of a healthy borrowing from each other.


    January 9, 2013 at 3:29 am

  9. The theory of comparative advantage predicts that the largest gains will accrue to parties whose specializations are furthest away from one another. That’s a point my adviser made years ago, and has kept making since. So I’m with you.

    This is the current attitude among economics grad students and young APs:

    Search “sociologist,” “sociologian,” “sociotard,” or “humanitard,” for more.

    Most economists don’t work on sociological topics, clearly. But most economists are aware of guys like Herbert Gintis or especially Gary Becker whom have — and that is sufficient evidence that microeconomic consumer and producer theory is generalizable to all social phenomena, and will be eventually.

    There are two sides to this war — it is not a case of economic imperialism. For every dismissal of other analyses among economists, there has been an equally polemical, uninformed, and ideological attack from poly scis or anthros or sociologists about economics. Frankly it’s a pretty messy situation to confront as a young guy.

    Sociology can go a long way, I think, by demonstrating how social norms and conventions evolve such that they are normally quite stable. That would create a world in which individual agents usually have quite stable preference sets, and as long as they are doing some kind of reasonably prudential tatonnement, or hill-climbing (looking for local maxima even if not global), then yes the traditional Samuelsonian optimization would produce very nice “as if” modeling results.

    The mistake of course is to assume that social structure and preferences are consistently stable after childhood, which has been suggested amazingly, or that it doesn’t matter anyway because any change in them will be revealed through parameter-inspired foot-voting anyway.

    There are a huge number of economics students now interested in behavioral economics, new institutionalism, decision science, etc. And the days of armchair theorizing are dying, because empirical analysis is so much cheaper than it used to be, and because students are tired of mathematical story telling. While most of the fields like behavioral or institutions continue to be subsumed under the theory of games, they are slowly I think building bridges that other social sciences can profitably cross, and vice verse, as we proceed.

    Graham Peterson

    January 9, 2013 at 5:04 am

  10. oops — meant to say “and they feel that is sufficient evidence to think neoclassical economics is infinitely generalizeable”

    I do not

    Graham Peterson

    January 9, 2013 at 5:06 am

  11. Wow that was longer than I anticipated.

    Graham Peterson

    January 9, 2013 at 5:16 am

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