Academic Publishing: A Necessary Evil?

For the early academic, the rallying cry is ‘publish or die’! In an over-saturated job market, we are trained to focus on publication, believing—because we are more or less told—that we are only as good as our publishing record.

I have long dreaded the publication process. The stakes seem so high and I’ve been resentful of how the pressure to publish shifts my focus from my research topic itself to how I can market is successfully. I know that publishing is a ‘necessary evil’ in academia, but I also know it as a hollow and demoralising process.

But is it an ‘evil’ at all? Academic publication is not fundamentally about building up the individual researcher or their CV: in theory at least, it is the means by which researchers benefit their scholarly and wider communities by making research available to others who care about it. Essentially, publishing is about sharing and building up communal scholarship.

I wonder if the community-building aspect of publishing and presenting could provide me with a new motivation and desire to push on with disseminating my research. Like most academics, I do my research because I think it’s really interesting and important to my field. I should be excited then to share what I’ve found with other scholars!

I find it so easy to give in to anxiety and despair as I compete with other young scholars—and their publication records—in a very competitive marketplace. But as always, Christ brings a new perspective and a new light to the issue. I need to remember why we actually publish as academics, and how God can be glorified in that process. It needn’t be a self-focused and stressful endeavour: it should be the joyful and natural conclusion to the research I love doing, in which I can contribute to other scholars and build up my field.

And in terms of my job prospects, they will always be in God’s hands anyway.

 

Comments

Thanks for this Georgina. This post has really helped me in my work with TFN. It is stressful promoting articles, books etc and it can create anxiety. Thanks for reminding me why we do this in the first place.

Thanks for this Georgina. Really good to be reminded that publishing has many positive aspects and that rather than despair the bad parts we can unearth the good!

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