The WCC UK is pleased to announce a series of webinars featuring classics editors from book presses and journals, who will demystify the publication process and answer questions live. This is a free pre-lunch hour webinar from 11am to noon (GMT) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (We will confer with speakers about recording their talks). This series has been organised by Manu Dal Borgo and Cressida Ryan, the WCC UK’s mentoring officers, in response to our members’ requests for more support around publishing, and to provide some support which might address concerns around women submitting less work for publication in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, the 10th of July 2020, the WCC UK hosted its annual early career research event, focusing on the dissemination of research. As the event was held entirely online, the organisers have provided notes for the various sessions as well as links for further resources on the topics discussed.
Live tweets from the event can be found at #WCCECR.
things to consider in turning a (section of a) PhD chapter or a conference presentation in a journal article
tone (e.g. if a very conversational oral presentation)
specificity – e.g. a very broad lit review may be needed for a thesis chapter, should be more closely tied to precise topic of article. (If the lit review is outside of your specialist area, consult colleagues from that area for help!)
number of footnotes – long discursive notes that are necessary in a thesis can often be cut from articles
it’s fine to publish articles from your PhD before submission, though do consider how these may overlap with an eventual book (cf. monograph publishing below)
articles sent back for ‘revise and resubmit’ can still get published! NB these can take two routes – can be sent back to the same reviewers or to a different set; the latter case is going to be more like an initial submission than the former
if you receive a really unfair review, engage with the editor on it; taking it to an advisor or mentor to see how to proceed/respond is also a good idea
for multilingual authors, it’s a good idea to publish in a mixture of English and other language(s)
trade publishing aims at a general audience, with books marketed widely
two main kinds of relevant trade publication: narrative non-fiction (60-90,000 words) and illustrated non-fiction (25-50,000 words; more pictures!)
ways to find a publisher: go bookshopping! talk to independent booksellers, talk to colleagues
should you have an agent? they advocate/negotiate for you, but getting one without a completed MS is tricky; you’ll need to self-represent to get a book deal before MS completion. Small publishers are more likely to accept MSS without agents.
things editors will consider when commissioning a trade book: why publish this now? who is the audience? what are the competitor publications?
you can approach editors directly; they may also commission books based on previous publications, journalism, public events, social media…keep profiles up-to-date!
book proposal should be succinct and direct, specifying audience (age, what shops they visit, what else they read…). check out what books are bestsellers in your area. tone should be similar to that of a cover blurb. and personalise your emails to the editor you’re writing to!
remember in trade publishing deadlines are REAL
Publishing trade and academic monographs Q&A (Issy Wilkinson and Michael Sharp)
IW tries to find new/less-published authors – maybe half of her authors are ECRs; specialism is more important than experience
market for ebooks is increasing for narrative non-fiction, but not for illustrated, and in general hard-copy sales are not being pushed out by ebooks
point at which contracts are issued varies – may be based on just an initial proposal, or on a complete MS
deadlines are firmer and turnarounds quicker in trade publishing than academic: a couple of years is really the maximum time between agreement and publication. other commitments can be factored in when making agreement, but timing is just less flexible
the key difference is that trade books are not new research, which is what takes most of the time for academic publications
co-authorship can lighten the workload or lead to its own issues; it’s more common to have multiple contributors to a volume with a single main editor
for the ‘thesis book’ – it’s worth embargoing your thesis if it’s deposited in an online repository as some presses will not publish it if it’s freely available (not CUP – MS regards the book as sufficiently different from the thesis that it doesn’t matter – you will need to revise it for publication anyway!)
for the ‘second book’, most people approach a publisher with an idea, perhaps with some related articles published. a good first book plus strong proposal including sample chapters can lead to a provisional contract before the MS is completed
NB contracts for first-time authors often specify that publisher is to be given first refusal on the author’s second book
publishers may issue a ‘letter of interest’ if needed for e.g. applications – this will come after some input from readers, enough for editor to know they are interested, but is not a commitment to publish as a contract is
generally a contract is only issued after a full MS is submitted (though no need to have fully sorted out e.g. conforming to house style at this stage)
authors who are not in academic jobs are just as welcome to publish as those who are; time-frames can be flexible (deadline specified in agreement can be up to 4-5 years away; to allow for longer timeframe it’s possible to wait until later in writing process before making agreement)
co-authorship is the exception, not the norm, for monographs (as opposed to edited volumes)
you can include work previously published e.g. as articles or book chapters – rule of thumb is something like up to 1/3 (academic) or half (trade) of the complete work.
Agreements with article/chapter publishers should mean you are able to re-use your own content in the book, though you may need to notify them
pros/cons of trade vs academic publishing: trade books have larger reach, potential greater impact; but may be less of a contribution to ECR academic CV
Research plans for job and funding applications Q&A (Naoise Mac Sweeney and James Clackson)
Key discussion points
Start looking for postdoc jobs/funding early – you never know when e.g. the perfect postdoc will come up – but final year of PhD is when to start seriously applying
If you know of people who are applying for/have got project funding in your area, by all means get in touch to ask about opportunities even if formal job ads not yet published
post-PhD projects should be connected to your PhD but new — e.g. expand outwards to a bigger topic; transfer the question to a different dataset/context; comparative analysis
When writing research plans, show drafts to as many people as possible — including non-specialists (especially for funding applications and JRFs); ask to see previous successful (or unsuccessful!) applications
You can use current trends/debates to make your research topical for an interdisciplinary committee – but remember research doesn’t always need to be topical, just to matter to your particular discipline
Ditto, if you can show an impact on adjacent fields of research, do – but a single project doesn’t need to do everything: sell it on its own strengths
When writing for people outside your own discipline, tell them what the current debate is, what your contribution to this is, why it matters
Job applications imply an applicant needs to do everything – you can’t tell from them what criteria are actually key for a particular department’s. Look at department members/activities, esp those on interview panel – e.g. for impact, look at previous REF submissions (environment statement, impact case-studies) – different departments will have different focuses on e.g. media work vs local community engagement
When choosing an institution for a funding application, the most important thing is the benefit to your own research, rather than strategy about e.g. how many previous grants they’ve won
As well as individual research, research plans can certainly include things like organising a conference/journal special issue/edited volume. Make sure these include a proper research output from you – ie a paper and/or intro/conclusion with substantial research content, not just a summary of contents
Value of (published or proposed) trade publications in applications varies – for a job it can be a plus, showing wider impact/knowledge transmission/communication with wider audience; less so for a research grant. More traditional institutions can still see trade books as less ‘serious’ than academic.
Ditto other forms of wider communication like blogging, running workshops, etc – the system has not yet figured out how to properly value things like this. Academic publications should still be the priority. NB that people interviewing you will look at your social media if you have it.
Differences between applications for jobs and funding:
for a job, it’s about the whole person, not just the research project; but can be harder to sell interdisciplinary work in a job app than a funding proposal
Proposing to spend time on turning PhD thesis into a book is fine in a job application, not for a funding application – these expect to fund new research
BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers Q&A (John Gallagher)
Application: pitch for a radio show plus review of recent cultural item
Pitch for show should be based on your research but potentially broadened in scope (e.g. JG’s was about phrasebooks – his area of research – but expanded beyond early modern period)
Review: good idea to review something unrelated to your research – showing breadth/range (e.g. JG reviewed a recent novel). Subject doesn’t have to be “highbrow”!
Anyone at an AHRC-funded institution (including e.g. cultural heritage orgs as well as unis) is eligible to apply; no previous media experience required but having some definitely isn’t a disqualifier
60-person shortlist -> workshops in groups of 20 with BBC producers and AHRC people; talks, workshopping and delivering pitches and answering questions on them (e.g. unpicking jargon, backing up big claims, giving examples – reacting on your feet is what’s important), simulated radio show discussion
Just because there’s already a high-profile person who’s often in the media talking about your area doesn’t mean you can’t apply/won’t be successful – aim in first instance is to create interesting programmes rather than finding new ‘go-to’ people in particular topics
Benefits of programme – as well as the obvious media exposure, there are benefits in expanding presentation skills (helpful for teaching!), answering the ‘so what’ questions about research, and definite CV benefits
Question about support provided for dealing with potential harassment arising from media exposure, especially as e.g. a woman or person of colour. JG has experienced a lot of discussion around potentially sensitive subjects, but not so much about protection of individuals; senses that producers are increasingly aware of this as an issue but the support mechanisms are not necessarily very strong. But NB a social media presence is not required either for application or if successful.
Possible starting-points: local meet-ups, mailing lists/networking events for organisations you might want to collaborate with
When setting up a collaboration, be clear on IP ownership, and who has control over which elements of the project — best to have elements where the timeline is under your own control in case of external delays affecting your research/publications from project.
Consult uni legal teams for advice on contracts, NDAs, etc. Note that universities will often want to control IP.
Start small and build up – e.g. having an existing collaboration (with seed money, or even unfunded) can help gain larger-scale funding to scale up the project
Ditto in job applications – existing projects with room for growth and potential to attract further funding are attractive
Institutional backing can help – e.g. some funding opportunities are only available to those with (permanent) uni jobs – but there’s also a freedom to explore possibilities when not on a permanent/research contract
consider that you may wish to borrow research methods from other disciplines when involved in KE but that you’ll have to explain clearly how you’ve adapted them
there could be all kinds of ways you could participate in KE – let your imagination run wild!
The Women’s Classical Committee UK is pleased to announce the full programme for its online ECR event on Friday 10 July. Designed for early-career and postgraduate researchers in Classics, Archaeology, Ancient History, and other fields relating to the study of the ancient Mediterranean world and its reception, the aim of this online workshop is to provide information and opportunities for discussion on both traditional and non-traditional forms of reaching out with research.
The majority of presentations will be pre-recorded, and will be available to watch on the WCC UK’s YouTube channel from a week in advance of the live event; they can also be watched on the day during the breaks between live sessions. Two other presentations will be given live, immediately before their respective Q&A sessions, all of which will take place over Zoom. Live events will not be recorded but a written summary of the information and resources shared will be published after the event.
We also plan to offer 5-minute prerecorded “spotlight” talks, in order to provide a chance for delegates to share projects, experiences or research connected to the WCC UK’s aims. We would especially like to hear from delegates who have been involved in innovative or unusual activities related to outreach, widening participation, knowledge exchange or public engagement. If you would like more information or to volunteer to give one of these talks, please email Rhiannon Easterbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for expressing interest is 5pm on Monday 22 June, and videos should be submitted by 5pm on Tuesday 30 June.
People of any gender expression or identity who support the WCC’s aims are welcome to attend this event; registration is free for both WCC members and non-members (if the event reaches capacity, WCC members will be given priority). The link for registration is here.
Registration closes at 12 noon on Thursday 9 July.
Pre-recorded presentations Publishing journal articles – Carol Atack Publishing academic monographs – Michael Sharp Research plans for job/funding applications – James Clackson BBC New Generation Thinkers’ programme – John Gallagher Knowledge exchange projects – Emma Cole Research plans for job/funding applications – Naoise MacSweeney
Live sessions, Friday 10 July (all times are UK = GMT+1) 10.00-10.15 – welcome remarks 10.15-10.45 – Q&A on journal articles – Carol Atack 10.45.11-15 – break 11.15-11.30 – live presentation on trade publishing – Issy Wilkinson 11.30-12.15 – Q&A on publishing (academic and trade) – Michael Sharp & Issy Wilkinson 12.15-1.30 – break 1.30-2.15 – Q&A on research plans in job/funding applications – James Clackson & Naoise MacSweeney 2.15-2.30 – break 2.30-3.15 – breakout groups to discuss participants’ research plans 3.15-4.15 – break 4.15-4.45 – Q&A on the New Generation Thinkers programme – John Gallagher 4.45-5.15 – Q&A on knowledge exchange projects – Emma Cole 5.15-5.30 – Closing remarks
The Women’s Classical Committee UK is pleased to announce its 2020 ECR event on Friday 10 July. Designed for early-career and postgraduate researchers in Classics, Archaeology, Ancient History, and other fields relating to the study of the ancient Mediterranean world and its reception, the aim of this online workshop is to provide information and opportunities for discussion on both traditional and non-traditional forms of reaching out with research. It will include presentations and Q&As on topics including publishing journal articles and monographs; writing research plans for job and funding applications; the BBC New Generation Thinkers programme; and knowledge exchange projects.
Presentations will mostly be pre-recorded, and available to watch from a week in advance of the event, with live Q&As with the presenters taking place on the 10th; there will also be time to watch the videos in between each Q&A session. Following the Q&A on research plans, a breakout group session is planned for attendees to discuss their own plans. The full schedule and details of speakers will be available shortly.
We also plan to offer online “spotlight” talks, in order to provide a chance for delegates to share projects, experiences or research connected to the WCC’s aims. We would especially like to hear from delegates who have been involved in innovative or unusual activities related to outreach, widening participation, knowledge exchange or public engagement. Given the current situation, we plan to make 5-minute videos of the talk available on YouTube from seven days prior to the event and to encourage discussion on them via the YouTube comments or during breaks between sessions on the day. We are happy to make videos unlisted/ private and to make them available for a duration of your choosing. If you would like more information or to volunteer to give one of these talks, please email Rhiannon Easterbrook (email@example.com). The deadline for expressing interest is 5pm on Friday 19th June, and videos should be submitted by 5pm on 30th June.
Registration is free for both WCC members and non-members (if the event reaches capacity, WCC members will be given priority). The link for registration is here.
Registration closes at 12 noon on Thursday July 9th.