Now the thesis is out of the way I need to fix my publication plans. There’s an added twist in the UK. We don’t have tenure here, we have the RAE/REF.
The RAE was the Research Assessment Exercise which was a way of grading the research produced by departments. It was bloated, bureaucratic and expensive and no one knew how the material was going to be assessed until after the submission deadline. Clearly it’s broken, so it’s being replaced by the REF, the Research Excellence Framework.This was going to be more bibliometrically based, but there’s been complaints about that so it’s now more likely to run along the same lines as the RAE, possibly with a few added layers. If I knew exactly how it was going to work I could get a job in any department in the country. It’s quite possible no-one will know how it will work till after the submission deadline.
I’m told that there won’t be bibliometric assessment in History, Archaeology or Classics, but that will mean the Humanities are being assessed in a different way to the Sciences. I’m working on the assumption that some form of citation count will be included. If there no such assessment that’s fine. If there is I’d rather be complaining that the system is nonsense from closer to the top of the pile than the bottom. It’s something I need to be aware of because interdisciplinary work will tend to be penalised by bibliometric counts. It’s down to how you publish, because while work might be relevant to people in three disciplines, it’ll probably be published in journals specialising in just one. I will only get to enter four papers into the REF, so I can’t submit a paper where only 1/3 of the potential audience will be able to read it. That’s why I’ll be adopting this golden rule.
I don’t know if that’s always going to be possible. Some journals in my field aren’t even web-accessible and at least one is extremely hostile — in a good natured way — to Open Access, but the situation is better than it was a few years ago. I’ve decided I don’t need Gold Open Access, that’s the one where you can read it at the journal. It would be nice, but I need to be able to put up a pre-print or a final draft. All I need is something good enough for people to read what I’m doing, and if they need to use the paper professionally they can order it through their libraries, buy it, or email me for an off-print. Anyway that’s the intention and now if I don’t you can point to the big letters above and ask me why I’ve not stuck to it.
I’ve got four papers in various stages of finalisation. One is going through the peer-review process. The others have yet to be submitted with Paper 4 5% finalised, which is so much more upbeat than ‘started’. The aim will be to get Paper 2 out to a journal by mid-October, Paper 3 by mid-November and Paper 4 by mid-December, but I can see that slipping to January.
I should also be looking at a book. That won’t be the thesis because it reads like sandpaper on the eyes. It might have made two good books, but not one. So the book will probably be something like Social Astronomy in Ancient Greece and built around the papers. The plan will be to finish the book and then tout it to publishers and not leave the deadline hanging over my head. I don’t object to people paying for it if it’s an affordable price. Robert Hannah’s recent books have certainly been affordable. It’ll also have to be the right publisher. If it’s a publisher that expects the author to provide his own referees and camera-ready copy then I’m not interested. That’s vanity publishing.
The thesis will be available via the Leicester Research Archive and the British Library’s EThOS system. Or at least via the Leicester Research Archive. I’ve had zero luck with EThOS. I’m kicking around ideas for electrifying it. It could be PDF via Lulu and Scribd but I’m looking to see if I can convert it to a website too so the data can be played with. If anyone can suggest a light CMS to do this I’d be grateful. I’ve tried Drupal, and that’s far too complex. It might even mean handcoding, because it’s not like I’ll be planning to change or add more text once it’s done.
Related posts by Michael E. Smith at Publishing Archaeology include: