Strategic Conference Attendance, Managing Rejection, and Finding Your Voice

Attending Conferences
Center for Excellence in Teaching, USC
Why presenting work at conferences is an integral part of academic life.

Conference Rookies
Vick, J.M. & Furlong, J.S. (December, 2006). The Chronicle of Higher Education
Multiple perspectives on getting the most out of a conference experience.

How to Publish in Scholarly Journals
Klingner, J.K., Scanlon, D. & Pressley, M. (November, 2005). Research News and Comment, Educational Researcher
Issues to consider when planning and writing a scholarly manuscript.

Overcoming Rejection
Pressley, M. Michigan State University. International Reading Association
Encourages faculty members to persist with a written piece, improve it with feedback, and continue to submit to publications until it finds a home.

The Co-Authorship Controversy
Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research (OEC)
Site offers cases and scenarios of co-authorship, with a discussion forum, teaching tools and links to ethics codes.

Joining the Larger Conversation

Necessity to go public
A knowledge base evolves over time thanks to researchers sharing their insights.  This gradual evolution of understanding deepens insights, offers new ideas, and sometimes prompts a change in direction.  All CSU faculty members are expected to be part of these developing conversations in their field of study.  There are a number of ways to engage in this dialogue, with two primary ones being presentation and publication.  These activities are critical to the quality and quantity of knowledge production in the academy.  New faculty members should expect to be part of this process from the outset of their careers.

Present in multiple venues
New faculty members have dozens of meetings, conferences, workshops and seminars to choose among as they present their research findings.  Take advantage of the variety, breadth and depth of possibilities to most effectively move your research agendas forward and into the stream of discussion.   A careful read of the conference request for proposals will help determine if a particular conference is appropriate for a presentation.  Accomplished faculty members think strategically about moving from conferences that are local to regional to national to international, from specific to general, and small to large to develop a pattern of achievement over a faculty career. By always pushing to the next level of involvement, faculty members broaden the impact of their work over time.

Publish in multiple venues
The number of publishing venues for putting research results into the larger dialogue is tremendous, and therefore necessitates choosing among many options.  Each publication describes the type of pieces they are looking for in a request for submissions.  New faculty members need to choose among informal venues such as newsletters or blogs, more formal peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and trade or practitioner publications.  Many professional organizations publish materials, along with a number of university presses and private publishers.  It is important to take the time to learn about the various types of publications and the sorts of issues they address to make an informed choice.  Accomplished faculty members may begin locally, and increasingly enlarge the scope of their audience as they build a reputation. This strategy of building a record of success in smaller publications will increase the likelihood that the more selective publications will seriously consider publishing your work in the future.

Make strategic choices
It makes a difference where and how research findings are disseminated. This impact factor is determined by the relative scrutiny with which submitted materials are examined.  The amount of peer review involved is one measure of the quality of a publication or presentation, along with the sponsoring body for the venue, the reputation of the publication, and the size of the audience. Several factors that determine how well regarded a journal is include: wide circulation, more people read it; low acceptance rate, selective; well known editor and editorial board members; and long citation half life.  One way of determining how often an article is cited over time is a citation index such as Thomson Social Sciences Citation Index.  Publishers have expectations that materials submitted will be original, and some publications take long periods from submission to publication.  New faculty members need to think carefully about where and how to publish their research findings.  They should spend some time investigating the level of respect of various venues by talking with veteran researchers in their field, and then strategically make decisions about where to submit materials.  Citation indices are an additional means of determining the degree to which articles are cited, and are therefore respected in the field.

As new faculty members think about building a record of accomplishment in the area of research, one area to consider is that of co-authorship. Early in a career it may be advantageous to co-author with colleagues who are respected in the field in order to increase the likelihood of findings reaching a wider audience.  Later in a career, take advantage of co-authoring with novice Masters and Doctoral students as a means of both assisting them and building a more substantive curriculum vitae on the path toward tenure. The way co-authorship is valued differs across disciplines, for example in medical sciences six to eight authors is common, while in education it rarely exceeds four.  Social sciences typically have even fewer authors on publications.   A rule of thumb is that a faculty member applying for tenure must have some solo-authored publications in order to demonstrate evidence of important contributions to the field. New faculty members should consider ways to use co-authorship to build a record of accomplishment, while considering the expectations in their institution and field.

Possible questions to ask about Joining the Larger Conversation:

  • Presenting in multiple venues
    What are some tips for being strategic with regards to presenting at academic gatherings?                    
  • Publishing in multiple venues
    What publishing strategies will position new faculty members to take advantage of opportunities as they begin a career in academia?
  • Co-authorship
    What are some of the conventions of co-authorship that may support a new faculty member as they make progress on their research agenda?
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