Publish or perish?

The new level in this game of academia – the postdoc level – seems to include making a decision on getting the PhD published as a book or not. Encouraged by one of my PhD reviewers, Michael Nentwich, I started to contact publishing houses to get information about the procedure of transforming PhDs into books. Well, the first answer I got was pretty disappointing. One of the central points in the publishing guidelines was to consider whether I would like to spend another 12 months, minimum, up to 5 years on reworking my thesis. And whether I have got a contract that allows me to do so. Well, the quick answer to all that is no. No, I don’t want to rework my thesis for the next couple of years and no, I don’t have a contract that gives me time to do so (is there any contract despite tenure track positions – pretty rare in Europe up to non-existent in Austria – that allow you to do so?). Further, my empirical research conducted in Austria turned out to be too specific for the US market according to one publisher – although “it looks like an interesting piece of research”.. hm, local contexts don’t seem to be appreciated much in globalized academia. Since I wasn’t sure whether to go down this road anyway, I take it as an interesting experience having figured that out. Also, my heart beats for open access and thus an online publication may not be bad either. However, my own experiences made me talk to other people, also from the HUMlab, about this issue and it seems as if there are no standardized solutions to this problem. Rather, each local academic culture seems to have a different approach. While some people from the British context are convinced that it’s not worth the trouble and therefore better go for peer-reviewed journal publications, people from the US tend to go for a book publication straightforwardly. And of course, disciplines matter as well. So much for the globalized academic landscape. An interesting contribution in the digital arts context comes from Charlotte Frost, who has just set up the platform PhD2Published with helpful tips etc. Check it out here.

Besides these burning questions, I was exploring the surroundings of Umeå the last couple of days.. well, surroundings, this lake is approx. 5 min from my appartment – can you believe it?