I listened to a podcast episode yesterday by Katie Linder on her Anatomy of a Book podcast (Episode 41; 2017 Writing Accomplishments: https://anatomyofabook.com/ep41/) and was inspired to look back over the past year to see what writing accomplishments I could list for 2017. I often remark to my research partner that it feels like we haven’t produced much in the way of publications in 2017 when I look at my seemingly very short listing of publications on my CV despite always being incredibly busy analyzing data, writing up articles and book chapters, etc…
The major reason for this is that it takes a seemingly long time for content to get published. It’s not uncommon for an article or book chapter to take 8 months or more from time of submission to actual publication. So when I heard Katie talking about all of her writing accomplishments for the past year, not just the official publications, I knew I had to go through this exercise for myself because I know I have more than what I can formally list on my CV right now.
In 2017, I had two articles published (which may seem like minimal productivity but it was twice as many as my one publication in 2016; Michalak, R., & Rysavy, M. D. T. (2016). Information literacy in 2015: International graduate business students’ perceptions of information literacy skills compared to test-assessed skills. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21(2), 152-174. doi:10.1080/08963568.2016.1145787). This year’s publications were:
- Michalak, R., Rysavy, M.D.T., & Wessel, A. (2017). Students’ perceptions of their information literacy skills: The confidence gap between male and female international graduate students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 43(2), 100. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2017.02.003
- Rysavy, M.D.T., Michalak, R., Wessel, A., (2017) “8 Years of institutional assessment feedback: students’ satisfaction with library services”, Reference Services Review, 45(4), pp.544-561.
2017 was also the year I had my first “first authorship” role on an article and one related to my new-ish position as Director of Institutional Research and Training. First authorship, or having the “first authorship position” rather, was emphatically emphasized throughout my graduate school experiences. I still find it to be a cool feeling to have that so-called coveted spot within the author credits, but as I’m in the midst of so many projects with my co-author, it honestly matters less. This is largely in part due to the fact that as an academic administrator who is not on the tenure track (I also have an assistant professor ranking but my institution doesn’t have tenure), I am not immediately concerning myself with ranking up in terms of professor ranking. However, to be mindful of future career opportunities, we are doing our best to evenly share the first author credit, i.e. we go back and forth with who gets the first author credit. Technically he has one more first authorship than me right now since he was first author for the 2016 publication and on one in 2017, but we have so many more upcoming publications that I’m truly not concerned about it. One of the many benefits to having a consistent research partner.
Book Chapter Acceptances & Submissions
I submitted my first book chapter proposal back in October 2016 and was accepted to write that chapter. In comparison, 2017 had significantly more chapter proposals accepted and submitted. We ended 2017 with three chapters submitted for publication. I think all three have 2018 publication dates.
I mentioned earlier about how there are often long timelines from article/chapter/book proposal to actual publication. A rather representative example would be a chapter we have appearing in Dirk Ifenthaler’s upcoming edited volume, “Digital Workplace Learning. Bridging Formal and Informal Learning with Digital Technologies”:
- October 2016: We submitted a proposal for a book chapter
- January 2018: The book will be published
So ultimately from our initial chapter proposal to edited collection book publication, the whole process took approximately 15 months. I’ll be interested to see when the other two chapters we submitted in 2017 are actually published and will make sure to share those details.
I’m not overly concerned with how quickly my publications come out, again because I’m not in a position of making a bid for tenure at my institution since we don’t have it, but being aware of how long it takes for something to be published has helped me understand the importance of continually having new projects in my writing pipeline. If I stopped planning ahead for the next project, next data collection, next article/chapter/book proposal, etc…, I would eventually get into a situation where I had no upcoming publications, which would mean a gap in the timing of my publications listed on my CV (and would limit the topics I had to propose for conference presentations since these often overlap to some extent). Since publishing consistently is important to me, I’m doing my best to make sure I keep my academic pipeline flowing!
I submitted my first proposal for an edited collection with my co-researcher to Nova Science Publishers and it was accepted. An edited collection of our own wasn’t really on our immediate list of projects, but we had an idea, flushed out the proposal, submitted it, and it was accepted. As of this writing, we’ve selected chapter authors and they are in the process of writing their individual chapters. Our deadline to submit the collection to the publisher is the end of summer 2018.
Total Publications Submitted/Rejected for 2017
This is a metric I wish I had tracked for 2017. I didn’t. I know we submitted a fair amount of articles/book chapters in 2017. Some were outright accepted, a few had revise/resubmit and were ultimately accepted, and some were simply rejected. I plan to track these data points for 2018 so I can share them next year.
If you haven’t made a list of your writing accomplishments for 2017, I highly recommend it. It was definitely the inspiration I needed to begin working on my 2018 writing goals.
2017, what a year!
I’ve been consistently presenting at regional and national academic conferences since 2014, averaging 1-3 conferences a year. As I was in the process of updating my website’s Presentations page, I realized that I significantly surpassed my initial goal of 3 conferences for 2017, with presentations at 7 conferences over the past year:
- ALA Mid-Winter (Atlanta, Georgia)
- GBC Annual Research Symposium (Wilmington, DE)
- DLA/MLA Annual Conference (Cambridge, MD)
- ALCTS Exchange (Online)
- Charleston Conference (Charleston, South Carolina)
- AECT (Jacksonville, Florida)
- Multidisciplinary Academic Conference on Education, Teaching and Learning (Prague, Czech Republic)
I remember sitting in my classroom while I was teaching high school web design discussing how to get started speaking at conferences outside of our school district with a colleague. It seems like a lifetime ago, when in reality it was only 7 or so years ago. At the time it seemed so far out of reach – I had no idea how to get started. Despite having taught for several years and feeling extremely comfortable in front of my students in the classroom and leading school district workshops, conference presentations felt daunting for some reason.
Life continued on, my career path took a turn (short version: I left my job teaching high school to go back to school for a second doctorate degree full-time at Penn State University; I’ll have to share an actual post on how that came to be later as it was an amazing experience), and I put conferences on the back burner until I started presenting nationally as a Ph.D. student just a few short years later in 2014.
But back to this year – how did I manage to attend so many more conferences this year than in previous years? I’ve spent some time thinking about this over the winter break and have a few points to share for those who are trying to figure out how to do the same.
- Apply to all conferences that interest you if you have a topic that you think would somehow fit the conference theme. I’ve had topics accepted that I thought were only marginally related. You never know when your topic might catch a reviewer’s interest.
- Apply even if you don’t think you will have the conference budget to attend. I make this suggestion rather tentatively. I’ll be blunt: this last year of conference travel was expensive. But remember this: an acceptance doesn’t mean you have to attend. Granted, be realistic with your submissions – kind people spend their personal time reviewing your proposals – but if you think there’s a chance you could make it happen, I say go for it! A few major details made these seven conferences possible for me over the past year:
- Two conferences were semi-local. One was at my institution (GBC Research Symposium) and another was a short drive away in a neighboring state (DLA/MLA). Semi-local typically means minimal transportation costs.
- Airline miles. If you have them and can use them, use them. I used them. Furthermore, consider getting an airline credit card to maximize points and obtain lounge access (I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and it’s 100% worth the annual fee for the lounge access alone, but it also speeds up my points earning and has other perks like it pays for a hotel if my flights are delayed beyond x number of hours).
- Hotel points. Again, if you have them and can use them, do so. I still had some hotel points (Hilton) built up from my years commuting to Penn State and used them. However, this was the last year I’ll be able to do that as I don’t stay enough with the same hotel brand to earn enough points to matter anymore. Consider minimizing days at a conference to save on hotel costs. ALA Mid-Winter, for example, was a one day event. I flew from Philadelphia to Atlanta in the morning, presented, flew home. Same day, no hotel necessary.
- Online conferences. ALCTS was an online conference. Online conferences save you travel time, money, and no time out of the office!
- Sponsored support. One conference had travel/registration support provided by a vendor and I’m incredibly grateful for that. To be clear, I wasn’t required to give a pitch listing the virtues of the product/service. However, I did happily share how I’m using it, the benefits and challenges of the particular service, and how I see I’ll be using it moving forward. If you’re comfortable with an arrangement for vendor/association sponsored travel (and your institution is as well), it’s a great way to make your travel dollars stretch.
- Attend back-to-back conferences to save on airline costs and time out of office. This sometimes works if the dates of your conferences line up ‘just so’. In the case of the Charleston Conference and AECT (which nearly 100% overlapped this year), I found that the cost of adding a stop to the flights (Philadelphia to Charleston to Jacksonville to Philadelphia) was significantly less expensive than purchasing two round trip flights from Philadelphia. Furthermore, while conference travel often involves a travel day the day before the conference and the day after, since these conferences overlapped so much I wasn’t out of the office any more days than I would have been if I had attended only one. The downside to this strategy? It can be rather hectic and tiring (with plane changes I think I was on 5 planes that week?), and you may miss events that you want to attend at one or both of the conferences. I had a bit of both of this, but not to the extent that it wasn’t worth it to attend both of the conferences.
- Attend conferences that take place at a location you’ll be at anyway. This was 100% the case for my last presentation of 2017 in Prague. I have family in Prague and I visit every December. My dates are flexible – I just have to make a visit sometime during the month for the holidays. I timed this visit so that I could present at the Multidisciplinary Academic Conference on Education, Teaching and Learning while I was there.
- Seek out a presentation partner. This enables you to share the workload of preparing and presenting. If you check out my presentations page, you’ll notice that every single presentation since early 2016 has been co-presented with the same individual – Russell Michalak. We’ve been writing together for about two years now and we present together as well. While I love to travel, I know that traveling with someone else can be challenging – people tend to be rather set in their routines and preferences. We’ve definitely lucked out in that we travel extremely well together and manage not to drive each other crazy, even when we’re following travel schedules that require a lot of running around.
I can’t emphasize point 3, partnering with someone for presentations, enough. I heavily attribute my presentation success over the past year to the fact that I’ve had a fantastic research partner. Pick someone that you get along with, of course, but also someone who will challenge you to be a better writer and presenter. I knew that I would never improve if I partnered with someone who simply said I was great all of the time. I believe that I can always improve and am honestly grateful when my research partner criticizes my work because I know that it’s said in the spirit of making us both better writers and better presenters.
Looking ahead to 2018
Will I present this much in 2018? Unknown. At the moment, we’ve applied to five conferences for 2018 and know about acceptances for two. We will likely apply to more pending our availability and budgets.
I’m Monica Rysavy, an academic administrator in higher education, educator (15+ years!), researcher, and author. Learn more about me by visiting my About page. You can also connect with me online using Twitter and LinkedIn.