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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 18: Publish papers

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

Extract





Get started on publishing as soon as you can. It is the key determinant of progression.

Focus on research and international publications; do as little teaching and service as possible.

(Anonymous university managers, New Zealand, cited in Sutherland et al., 2013, p. 26)

As these quotations from a major study of academic success in New Zealand proclaim, publishing is one of the key activities expected of an objectively successful academic in contemporary universities. For universities, funding agencies and other organizations, publishing offers a fairly straightforward, high-quality empirical marker by which the ‘performance’ of individual academics from almost every discipline may be assessed. Although the quality of the marker is becoming increasingly questionable as dubious new journals and predatory publishers emerge (see, for example, Beall, 2016) and as academics and universities learn to ‘game’ output-based evaluation systems (e.g., Bonnell, 2016; Delgado López-Cózar et al., 2014; Gans, 2011; Lin, 2013), publication productivity remains a central consideration in individual and institutional assessments of worth and excellence (e.g., Center for World University Rankings; Times Higher Education World University Rankings). The combination of simplicity of measurement, arguable cross-disciplinary comparability, and the growing public relations significance of academic ranking systems (discussed in Chapter 12) mean that publication output, and, to a lesser degree, quality, have been stressed increasingly by universities since the late 1980s.

And as institutional emphasis on publications has grown, so too has the volume of advice on how to...

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