Simple advice for academic publishing

Last week I gave a talk on career and publishing advice to a cross-disciplinary audience of graduate students.  Here were my major points:

1. You can improve your time management.  Do you want to or not?

2. Get something done every day.  Few academics fail from not getting enough done each day.  Many fail from living many days with zero output.

3. Figure out what is your core required achievement at this point in time — writing, building a data set, whatever — and do it first thing in the day no matter what.  I am not the kind of cultural relativist who thinks that many people work best late at night.

4. Buy a book of stamps and use it.  You would be amazed how many people write pieces but never submit and thus never learn how to publish. 

5. The returns to quality are higher than you think, and they are rising rapidly.  Lower-tier journals and presses are becoming worth less and less.  Often it is the author certifying the lower-tier journal, rather than vice versa.

6. If you get careless, sloppy, or downright outrageous referee reports, it is probably your fault.  You didn’t give the editor or referees enough incentive to care about your piece.  So respond to such reports constructively with a plan for self-improvement, don’t blame the messenger, even when the messenger stinks.  Your piece probably stinks too.

7. Start now.  Recall the tombstone epitaph "It is later than you think."  Darth Sidious got this one right.

8. Care about what you are doing.  This is ultimately your best ally.

Here is a good article on academic book publishing and how it is changing.


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