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2484RE: [americancomm] Advice for Aspiring Academics?

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  • Daren Carroll Brabham
    Nov 28, 2008
      Leigh Ann -

      I think a number of things need to be teased out from each other. First, I don't know of any adjunct or fixed-term teaching openings at universities that require you to have a publishing history. Those types of teaching positions are interested in your ability to teach (and, especially in journalism and PR, your ability to teach as an expert professional in the field...which probably means a record of publishing news articles and landing press releases in media outlets and such). But as for scholarly publishing, I don't think it's a requirement to be an adjunct teacher somewhere. It would never hurt, but it's not required.

      If you're looking for a tenure-track professorship somewhere, then you will probably need a Ph.D. to be competitive, and a record of publishing becomes even more important. The more research-intensive the school, the more important both the Ph.D. and the record of publishing becomes.

      You don't need to be affiliated with any institution to submit to academic journals. The blind review process means the reviewers of your manuscript will not know your identity or affiliation. The editor will be the only one who knows you. Editors *shouldn't* discriminate based on what institution you are affiliated with (or not), though I have overheard careless conversations from editors of journals who have mentioned denying manuscripts because they came from people at online universities, community colleges, or graduate students. I think this is rare, though you can't really deny that editors are people too, and they have their own prejudices. I think the more common atrocity with editors (and reviewers) happens when your manuscript doesn't cite the "right" people when trying to make a certain theoretical argument (e.g., "if you're going to write about 'virtual communities' you *have* to cite 'Rheingold'!")

      My opinion would be to send your work out to a journal if you think you've said something new and worth saying. There are a ton of journals out there, including several niche start-up e-journals. Presenting your research at a conference in the interim may be helpful, but you should know that not all conferences are created equal regarding the level of feedback you'll get on your research. For instance--and this is of course only my opinion and experience--NCA is too big, too social-networky, and too polite to really give you good feedback. Every panel I've attended or presented on at NCA has had empty "that's interesting" comments from respondents and the audience...if the respondents or audience even showed up. On the other hand, I've found AEJMC and the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conferences impressive in the amount of feedback and participation presenters enjoyed. I've also heard from other colleagues that smaller conferences (e.g., Conference on Communication and the Environment [COCE]) provide good feedback. WSCA has been a mixed bag for me - Media Studies Interest Group has always provided good feedback, but other divisions are hit and miss. Conferences are expensive and time consuming too, so you may find the peer feedback you're looking for just by having a colleague across the hall read your manuscript.

      Hope some of this helps you. I'm sure others on this list have varying interpretations of the publishing process...but for me it's been easier than people make it out to be, and I think that has more to do with the fact that many people are simply too afraid to send their work out!


      Leigh Ann and others interested in this getting into academia stuff

      We all wonder without ceasing about "how blind is blind" in editorial review. I once joked to an editor that he must have been using me to kill stuff, because he was sending me such crap. He did not think this was funny. But you would have to be a babe in the woods not to see that an editor can send your stuff to someone who is likely to hate it or, at minimum, not get it.

      But, overall, the process is conducted in relatively good faith, and the outcomes are probably about right,

      I would NOT worry about not having an institutional affiliation, because that just leads to worrying about not having a good enough affiliation, which leads to a life spent twisting in pointless agony.


      That said, and assuming you are confident you have something to say:

      It depends on your specialty, but if you are in the old broad "speech com" tradition-- I would send things off to state, regional, and the NCA conventions, and never forget the ACA meetings! And then when you've been to a couple of meetings, have a feel for what is going on, and are getting some feedback on your work, you will have a sense where to send your stuff for publication. If you are in journalism, mass comm, public relations, grants, etc.-- I'd forget academic writing and write/produce in your line of work-- as a better entry into the academic first job. Unless, of course, you really do have something to address to the academic audience. But generally, I think we have a steady stream of applicants to teach our traditional courses part-time, but are really hungry to get teacher-practitioners for our more "applied" or "market specific" courses. Others, who do more hiring than I do, should weigh in on this.

      A number of presenters have appeared at NCA in recent years as "Independent Scholars" in the convention program. Unaffiliated people. No problem. Now, I have to say, the LAST things these people are is "scholars"-- people of the schools. They are researchers, writers-- some other accurate name we could think up. Those of us "of the schools" have an unmistakable stink of it on us. Some people like it, trust it, even require it-- others don't need it or even despise it. Fair enough.

      You are asking good questions. I think the answer is, go do it. If you want to ask off this list about where you could send specific ms. you prepared in grad school or since, I'm sure a number of us on here would be glad to shoot through it and tell you what we think. I'll close with my e-mail, so you can send such to me, if you wish.


      Tom Duncanson
      Millikin University
      tduncanson@... <mailto:tduncanson%40mail.millikin.edu>

      >>> "Leigh Ann Whittle" <leighannwhittle@... <mailto:leighannwhittle%40earthlink.net> > 11/27/08 8:24 PM >>>

      Thank you for your advice. I have been diligently applying for open teaching positions ... though it's been mostly a waiting game for openings. One thing I'm particularly curious about is publishing without any institutional affiliation. It appears to me that I have to be established in a school before I can publish anything -- or do I? Perhaps I'm just questioning how blind the blind review process is, in that if I submit quality work, will it really matter that I'm not (currently) teaching?

      Thanks again!

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: dale cyphert
      To: americancomm@yahoogroups.com <mailto:americancomm%40yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: 11/25/2008 12:29:47 AM
      Subject: RE: [americancomm] Advice for Aspiring Academics?

      Leigh Ann,
      The answer is to take an adjunct position teaching writing, pr writing, or whatever else someone might offer you. Like consulting, successful adjuncting involves a whole lot of "sure, I can do that!".

      You probably won't get hired at a Community College without some teaching experience (and generally speaking, an MA only qualifies you to teach at that level), but you can adjunct for both community colleges and many universities with that degree.

      Then, get involved...lots of face time with the regular faculty, keep on publishing, and somewhere down the road you'll either find a full time job or find yourself ready to do a PhD program.

      have fun!

      From Leigh Ann Whittle <leighannwhittle@... <mailto:leighannwhittle%40earthlink.net> >
      Sent Mon 11/24/2008 8:53 PM
      To americancomm@yahoogroups.com <mailto:americancomm%40yahoogroups.com>
      Subject [americancomm] Advice for Aspiring Academics?

      Hello all,

      I am a relative newcomer to our group and would like to obtain some advice from you-all (Or "y'all", if you happen to be in the same region of the U.S. as I am!). First, a little background on me before my advice request:

      Since receiving my bachelor's in corporate communications and journalism in 2001, I have been a communication practitioner, be it in public relations or contract writing (the latter of which I do now). A layoff from PR in 2005 forced me to re-think what I'm after in my career, and I enrolled in an online grad school English course to see how I liked it. And, boy, did I like it! The learning, the being among others of a like mind, the immersion into communication study (and having people actually understand what I was talking about!) was invigorating. I felt I had finally found my niche, and I am re-directing my career path on teaching and the academic community.

      Needless to say, I did finish that graduate degree. I have no complaints about my method of obtaining that degree -- entirely online from a brick-and-mortar school you can actually visit should you ever find yourself in Greenville, NC -- but the inability to do GA work and be face to face with my professors and colleagues left me wanting. I feel like I'm stumbling along behind my peers who completed their degrees on campus.

      Now here's my request for advice: What would you recommend someone like me do? Obviously, I have been applying for teaching positions, but as you all know, the job market isn't at its best right now. What are some other avenues I can take to transition careers? I am especially curious about publishing because my perception is -- and I could be wrong -- that you must already be part of an academic community to perform research and have your findings published. I have published a review in Business Communication Quarterly, but I realize one article isn't enough.

      I realize there is no single tried and true way to get into academia, but I would like to hear what people inside the field have to offer.

      Thank you in advance and have a wonderful day,

      Leigh Ann Whittle
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