Image description: Tweet from @edward_mills saying ‘Publication plans! So proud of you and so keen to hear about the process.’
So. I’ll be being published in the Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies at some point in the future! People who follow me on Twitter probably already know this, but count this as the official announcement for those who don’t. I had always had vague hopes of publishing something during my PhD but I was a bit reluctant for fear of self-plagarism! My first step was to speak to my supervisor, who was really helpful and a total star in the whole process. She recommended the journal, and gave me good advice about how to approach them.
The next step was speaking to the coeditor at Leeds IMC 2016 (still the only IMC I’ve actually made it to!) – it was at the end of my first year of the PhD and meant she was prepared for my later email, I was able to introduce myself and find out some more insider information. ‘Networking’ has never been a strong point for me even though it is pretty essential in academia, but I think I managed to get through the conversation without embarrassing myself too much!
I’d decided to submit a version of my MLitt dissertation, which I had also presented at conferences in St Andrews and Cambridge. Because of other commitments, mostly teaching, it took me a lot longer than I had hoped to make the edits but it was still a lot quicker than working on something from scratch, and meant that I didn’t have to worry about covering the same things as I did in my PhD. I finally send it off in January 2017!
I was notified that I was going to be published in May that year – I had a few suggested edits but not too many, and until the end of October to do them. At the time that seemed like a very reasonable time scale – most people will be aware of what happened a couple of months later, and unfortunately this meant that there wasn’t really any possibility I was going to be able to do any academic work at that time. Because I was very unsure about whether the work was good enough though, I had done a lot of work before submission and there were only a few edits (I’m not sure how common or uncommon this is!) – and fortunately, my supervisor was able to finish it off for me and get it all submitted by the final deadline. I’m very grateful to her for this as it was one thing I didn’t need to worry about (at a time when I was worrying about quite a lot!) and means I’ll still get to be published and have my name in print. I’m not yet sure when this will be – it’s an annual publication and I think there has either just been or is just about to be a new issue, so I suspect you’ll be able to read my thoughts in early 2019! I should chase up the publication date but it keeps slipping my mind at appropriate times and I only think about it at 3am or when I’m doing something else!
It’s not necessarily been a standard publication process, particularly with becoming ill midway through, but it has been a good one – if I get to the point of being able to publish again, I hope this experience serves me well! I know this is said a lot in academic circles, but fellow PhDs, make as much use of your supervisor as possible (assuming you have a good relationship with them) because that really was the most invaluable thing for me.
The thing I haven’t done yet is think about the acknowledgements, which I intend to do at some point soon! I particularly need to find out what the etiquette is regarding funding and how to acknowledge that!
So in summary, a few pieces of advice from someone very inexperienced (and bearing in mind that my experience may be specific to my discipline or situation!)
1) Try to get something published that isn’t going to involve too much extra work! Doing a PhD can be overwhelming at the best of times and adding to that workload isn’t usually necessary.
2) Use your supervisor and their expertise – whether that’s for which journal to try first or the process. They also probably have more connections.
3) Networking is one of my least favourite things but I think it is particularly necessary if you want to get published. If you can’t speak to the journal editor in person, then sending them an email as a way of approaching them works.