A blogger in the slow writing camp: My publication methodology

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:

writing 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?

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2 thoughts on “A blogger in the slow writing camp: My publication methodology

  1. Hi Naomi,

    Here is mine- that needs to be read in the context of the book I am trying to write- but here it is in any case (and will be subject to ongoing revision! They are written as Steps, followed by a Comment.

    The method is called “characterizing”…

    Step 1. Invent a reason to do some ‘research’. (Preferably do this with one or more other people who don’t know the same things).

    Comment: If possible, do what Latour has tried to do in his Modes of Existence work (see http://www.modesofexistence.org), that is “compose a common world”: He says, “The only worthwhile question is to know if the experience of this multiplicity of beings is shareable. And if it is, can one make use of this redefinition of what the Moderns hold dear in order to reopen negotiations with the other collectives on the composition of a common world” (B. Latour, 2015, p. 11)

    2. (left blank on purpose)
    Comment: This step is important later.

    3. Work out what ‘research’ means.

    Comment: For example: “to search again”.

    4. Talk to some other people about your (the plural ‘you’ is assumed henceforth, but if you are a PhD student you may be all alone) ideas.

    Comment: Preferably people you trust and who know some important things, and perhaps who are themselves important (professors, law makers, bureaucrats, politicians…). Then talk to some other people. Explain what you are interested in to people who have no idea about what you are trying to do.

    5. Decide to investigate some theory or philosophy or practical intervention and write about it convincingly.

    Comment: Preferably theory/ philosophy/ practical work will be ‘in’ the field you have decided to do research in.

    6. Go into the field and try to use this theory/ philosophy/ practical work to do something- begin your ‘investigation’. Pay attention to which phenomena emerge.

    Comment: You will fail (or at least you should). If you don’t fail, stop and return to step one. There is much to learn in failing. Perhaps one thing might be that whatever work has been done in the ‘field’ you are in contain some serious short cuts, some serious cutting up of phenomena into bits that are palatable to it (the field)- that help constitute it, and help give some semblance of possibilities for enunciation.

    7. Start again.

    8. Realise that some of what you did before was OK. Maybe there was something in the initial proposal that had some merit.

    Comment: Don’t throw everything away.

    9. Try to find out where the ‘field’ is heading. Work out what is (just) ‘outside’ the field, but trying to get ‘in’. Go up a level. So if you are education research, go ‘up’ to some of the ‘master’ disciplines- philosophy, sociology and so on. Then realise that there are many in-between levels- like sociology of education, philosophy of education and so on.

    Comment: Get confused.

    10. Stay confused. Ignore advice.

    11. Try to think. Together.

    12. Write some more. Read a lot. Work out what is important. What is important to say. What you want to, and can, say about the messy milieu-phenomena you are immersed in. What about justice, freedom and epistemicide (de Sousa Santos, 2009)? How does or will your work ‘work’? Will it make any difference to the injustices of the world, to the freedoms that people do not enjoy? How will you account for all the resources that you have used up (wasted?) so far?

    Comment: Might it be better to spend your time and these resources on something more practically interventionist? Support others who are doing work on the ground?

    13. Go back to Step 2. Or Step 14, if you are tired, or, have run out of money.

    14. Ignore the field as much as possible. Write about a few, very few phenomena, but write as much as possible.

    Comment: Collapse all the reading in on the phenomena. Bury it. See what pops up.

    15. Doubt. Radically, if possible.

    16. Get as many people to read your work as possible.

    Comment: At least half of your readership should intensely dislike and/ or misunderstand what you have done. If not, return to Step one.

    17. Joy.

    Comment: If there is no joy, start again.

    18. Invent a new methodology, that undoes the idea of methodology.

    Liked by 1 person

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