I believe in slow writing. It takes me months (even years) to put together a paper for publication. I refused to publish anything from my thesis until it was almost completed.
When I was writing my thesis I didn’t know what it was about until six months before submission. I knew what I had, but I didn’t have a frame of reference that made it palatable for general consumption. The random thoughts were too random. Only I got it and that isn’t good enough for an examiner.
The tipping point was a conference theme. I knew I needed to publish so I tweaked my thesis to the conference theme. All of a sudden my research worked! I knew how I could begin to put my ideas together. The thesis flowed from there.
But now I am eighteen months past my thesis submission and I have only one journal paper out (well behind the Taylor and Francis firewall). It’s my ethics. The next paper will be my method.
I have been deliberately strategic in the order. As the PhD work used social media data, the two questions I am often asked about are about my ethical journey and my digital methodology. By publishing these first, the distribution of my results will become more manageable because I can cite my own work.
It will probably be two years before my results are formally distributed.
But that does not mean I haven’t been writing. I blog semi-regularly. I tweet very regularly. I usually tweet my notes as I am reading. I read diversely. I have joined a sociology special interest group that demands I think differently to my usual empirical self. I blog about my conceptual journey. I play with ideas in the public sphere and respond to feedback.
As I blog and read and tweet, I have begun to see things in my PhD study that I didn’t see when I was writing the thesis. Ideas have come to the forefront and others have crystallized.
The publication bandwagon is important for winning an academic position. But is the speedy publication cycle good for the the reason we research? Research needs to slow down and think a bit more. If a study is done well it will age gracefully and there will be many publication opportunities. Possibly more than just straight dissemination. I have so many ideas for thesis based publications but I don’t think they will be directly taken from my thesis. I think they will be the product of distance and a richer reading list.
I use social media, not to quickly get my publications “out there”, but to help them develop slowly and publicly. I tweet, I use personal, institutional and curated weblogs, open access journals, and conference paper planning to develop my papers for journals. While still engaging with current literature and strategically auditing journals to target my papers, I intentionally use the open access tools to develop and refine my thinking as a core part of the writing process. In doing so, I am learning to write for diverse audiences, not just the echo chamber behind the journal firewall.
Here is my method:
So I might be a blogger and that may suggest I write quickly, but I don’t. When you read my social media, you read my thinking. My sometimes-random-thinking that has an undercurrent waiting to be published.
What is your method?