Navigating the chaotic and confusing world of academic publishing

Thanks so much to Associate Professor Neil Harrison who came along on Saturday (morning in London, evening in Australia) to give us an informative and enjoyable induction into the “chaotic and confusing world of academic publishing”.

Neil is Senior Researcher and Deputy Director of the Rees Centre at Oxford University and is also an Executive Editor for Teaching in Higher Education. From his considerable reservoir of knowledge, Neil demystified the process, encouraged the group to begin publishing no matter where they are at in their university journey, and suggested PhD candidates become peer reviewers because they will learn much from the process.

Comments from attendees:

Thank you for organising! 
I think the important thing is around making aspects of academic life explicit through informative, knowledgable and collaborative means.


It was so lovely to meet you all, albeit virtually. I personally loved all of it, however, my favourite part is when we openly discussed topics. I really enjoyed chatting to others, sharing ideas and worries about academia and publishing. I thought Neil’s slides and talk slides were very clear and engaging. I felt I learned a lot about the process of publishing and some of the difficulties that come with it. I am looking forward to the next one!


Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed the session, so much gratitude to Neil, for giving up his Saturday morning!

Neil broke down the topic, into manageable chunks, which was excellent.

For someone like me, who has always wondered about how to go about writing articles for journals and finding the subject bewildering, I found it extremely informative. It covered some of the topics I wondered about and much more. Neil giving  an account of how things work, behind the scenes, and other information as to how the system works overall, makes this topic much easier to navigate and not so fearful of approaching.

I also actually found that it boosted my confidence, as I always thought it was unachievable. I was always given the impression that it was for people of high esteem, but Neil dispelled this myth. 


I found it particularly useful as I am new to academia and the whole process seems daunting at this stage. It’s also been difficult starting a PhD remotely and I’ve found it significantly harder to access relevant information than during previous years at the university so again this was invaluable. I found particularly useful the tips for getting published and the discussion around not taking it personally when articles are rejected – I think I would have taken this much more to heart than if I hadn’t been made aware of this.


Top tips were: know the “aims and scopes” of the journal before submitting a manuscript, contribute to an ongoing conversation within the journal (eg by citing journal contributors), follow the rules regarding wordcount and referencing system, and don’t take rejection personally. Neil said his most cited article was rejected three times before it was published, so if you think what you have to say is important, and you’ve done good research, keep plugging away. Oh, and watch out for the abundance of fake journals wanting you to publish with them; if they say they are wonderful, they probably aren’t. 

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