advice to young scholars

On the OMT blog, Huggy Rao, the editor of ASQ, talks about the pressures that young scholars face to publish early and often.

We find that our desk reject rate has gone up – people may be tempted to send papers too early in the process. My advice to younger scholars is to expose their ideas to selection pressure in the form of seminars and presentations and then send it to ASQ. This will give you your best shot.

Huggy suggests that young scholars don’t seek enough feedback before submitting their papers for review. We hear the clock ticking, leading us to send papers off to journals before we get the necessary feedback that would help they sufficiently mature. Younger scholars also face another problem – the inability to accurately assess the fit of their paper with the journal’s personality and expected quality. An editor at another top journal recently told me that senior scholars are much more careful about which papers they’ll send to a top journal. They’re more likely to send papers to specialty journals first. Of course, younger scholars don’t have tenure and so we feel more pressure to publish in journals of the caliber of ASQ, ASR, or AJS.  We almost always send our papers to these journals first, regardless of the breadth or depth of the paper.

I doubt this is a problem that will go away anytime soon. As European and Asian schools  give their scholars more incentives to publish in top American journals, the competition will only increase, leading to more congestion in the review queue. Huggy’s advice would seem even more apt in these circumstances. The young scholars who succeed in getting published will be those who get proper feedback before submitting, who allow their papers to develop, and who figure out how to appropriately match their paper with the right journal.

Written by brayden king

December 14, 2010 at 6:47 am

Posted in academia, brayden

5 Responses

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  1. Definitely good advice, but I will ring one skeptical note. The best jobs in academia revolve around a handful of journals, which reject many good papers. Promotion often means getting multiple pieces accepted in about 3-4 years. The top programs will denigrate publications in journals with less than stellar reputations. Thus, if you want a really good job, you simply have to play paper roulette at some point.

    Furthermore, what is considered good and cutting edge is often developed by a relatively small group of specialists. A lot of folks may not have access to these taste making networks. So submission may be the only way to figure out what the top people in your area *really* think. The typical ASA or AoM panel audience is very different than the reviewers who set standards at the major journals.

    Until we change the system of hiring and promotion, Huggy’s excellent advice will not be heeded.



    December 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm

  2. Good advice.

    But having said that, I’ve also seen this advice take scholars awry, i.e. not get tenure. Some get locked in on two-three things, which might come at the expense of smaller “wins” at other journals (I was recently noting that the most highly cited and/or early pieces of many, now, luminaries show up in “B” outlets — someone’s probably analyzing this out there somewhere) and even if these one-two things get published, it may not be enough (so, just how “impactful” particular pieces are, of course can be relative).

    Of course no one says that one should only focus on a couple big things (the advice from the interview is to get lots of pre-submission feedback to develop the paper further). And, some have done well with really focusing (and publishing) a couple, landmark papers. Overall it’s of course good to have a portfolio of projects and papers (and to spend adequate/lots of time on all of them).



    December 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  3. The subtext of “having said that” (from Curb Your Enthusiasm) —



    December 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

  4. […] a comment » Continuing our conversation about journal submission practices, I thought I’d point you to a new study that shows that scholars may hurt their chances of […]


    hot seasons «

    December 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm

  5. So, if you are continuing more conversations about journal submission practices, I’d love to read more advice about the re-submission process as well. I am always (ok, so my N=2, but…) struggling between how much to revise, how long to take, figuring out where to go next, etc.


    Sara Soderstrom

    December 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm

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