journal etiquette 1

I’m often asked if it’s OK to submit  the same paper to more than one journal at the same time. I’m invariably told that it’s someone-that-they-know who always does this because then ‘they’ have a choice of which journal they are in. ( And they always choose the higher status one it seems.)

My answer to this question is always a resounding NO NO and NO. I have two reasons for saying this so adamantly.

(1)   it’s not in the writer’s interests to do this.

 A journal article always needs to be tailored to a specific journal and its discourse community of subscribers and other regular readers. Writing a journal article is actually making a specific contribution to a particular field – and this happens through entering a conversation that has been going on.  

 The existence of an ongoing conversation is why you always need to refer, if you can, to other articles from the journal that address something similar or related to your paper. This helps to tie your argument and content into the history of the conversation that has been going on through the printed pages.

 It’s pretty tricky to do this for two journals at once and the likelihood is that if you aren’t terribly experienced at journal article writing you won’t manage this. It’s best to write for a specific journal and if it is rejected then use the feedback and start all over again with the same or another journal.

(2)  It’s exploiting the labour of academic colleagues who act as the referees.

 Even though many journals are commercially published, the academic labour of refereeing is really still part of a ‘gift economy’. In other words one of the things that we do as scholars is to contribute our expertise to others through activities such as refereeing, and we expect others to do the same for us. So sending something to twice as many referees as usual,  to get double the number of readings and comments as is usual, is tantamount to gross energy wastage…. it’s actually making very greedy use of the volunteer scholarly workforce!!  The equivalent of the carbon footprint of scholarly labour needs to be conserved just as much as the more commonly understood  kind… particularly in performative times.

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About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic writing, journal, publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to journal etiquette 1

  1. Liz FitzGerald says:

    I totally agree. Had a similar conversation recently with a friend who works in biomedical research – we were explaining the process of academic publication to a non-academic – and were talking about exactly the same things. It’s a big no-no for him.

    On a related note, have you seen the BBC story about making peer reviewing for scientific articles more transparent and a suggestion that formal training be given, to train people how to review? An interesting idea methinks.

  2. Liz FitzGerald says:

    Oops forgot to include the link to the BBC story – sorry, it’s here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14314501

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