appreciation · research

On Being Published and Having No Idea, Again

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Almost two years ago here, I wrote about being published and having no idea. A lot of you wrote to me after that post and told me about your stories of this happening to you too.

I don’t know about you, but IT’S HAPPENING  TO ME AGAIN. AND AGAIN.

tl;dr –> Giant humble-brag. My essays are getting reprinted in supercool anthologies! And I am so happy and honoured to be in these books alongside my idols! But! Ummm! It’s weird not to know about until a friend happens to see it somewhere and tells me. Ends with serious discussion of Publishing Agreements. Also, why you should probably try to publish in journals owned by a university press.

A couple months ago, a super-smart grad student who is also a friend was working at the library and DM’ed me with a pic she took on her phone of an essay of mine in the newly published Diaspora Studies Reader. As my post from two years ago notes, I knew that one of my essays would be reprinted in this reader and I was excited about it. I knew about it because the editors had contacted me because Wilfrid Laurier UP owned the copyright to that essay (it first came out in this awesome volume) and WLUP wanted more money than Routledge wanted to pay and so the editors wrote to ask me to help with the negotiations. I was really happy to do so. As a scholar and a critic, I am just so happy to be read.

But I didn’t know that this other essay would also be in the Diaspora Studies Reader. And I didn’t know that the essays would be edited down for length. So much so that the grad student who sent me the pic, and who also teaches that very essay in her courses, did not recognize it. She was so surprised to learn that the anthologization of this essay came as a surprise to me. She said,  I didn’t know that’s how this worked.

I didn’t either.

And then, a couple days ago, a friend wrote to congratulate me on being included in the new Photography Cultures Reader. I didn’t know about this one either. Even before I searched my inbox for a note from Taylor and Francis (they own Routledge who is, coincidentally, also the publisher of this volume and the Diaspora Studies Reader — not saying that there is a pattern here or anything… ) I knew that there wouldn’t be one.

Here’s the thing. I am thrilled to be in these anthologies. Completely tingly-all-over thrilled to have had my work read by the amazing editors of these anthologies and be chosen for inclusion. These are people whose work shapes the field and, by choosing my essays for their anthologies, they are saying that I have a real part in shaping the field too. And, honestly, there is no way to get over the thrill of seeing one’s name in a Table of Contents that includes the work of people you’ve idolized since grad school. When I was in budding scholar, I would never have dreamed that my writing would be in a volume alongside the work of the people who had so profoundly shaped my thinking.

I have written to some of the editors of the anthologies that I mention in the 2017 post, and these more recent ones. Understandably, they thought the press was handling all the permissions. And, to be fair, the press did handle them.

I looked up my Taylor and Francis agreements. I have a few from over the years and they all say the same thing: I gave T&F the right to republish my articles in any form in any time in the future in any part of the world. Here’s the relevant section from a recent agreement that I signed with T&F last spring:

t&f2018

I don’t know about you, but by the time I get to this stage of publication, I am happy to sign anything. I’ve survived at least one (and sometimes two) rounds of peer review, the soul-searching revisions process, copy editing, finding five keywords which is always way harder than it should be, writing the abstract which is also way harder than it should be, and writing my 100-word bio which is also often weirdly hard to do. So, yep, I’ll sign. What would you do? Has anyone ever gotten to this stage of an academic publication and decided not to sign? If so, I would LOVE to know.

So, every time I published an essay (each one of which, as you know, involves a huge amount of research and sweat and tears and time) in a journal or edited volume owned by T&F, I gave the publisher the right to republish it, in any shape or form, anywhere, anytime. I know this sounds very naive, but I never thought about this when I signed those agreements. It honestly never occurred to me that my work would get anthologized. Or that the publisher would do it, several times now, without sending me a note (I’ve stopped dreaming of a desk copy). How silly of me.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up two other agreements that I’ve signed over the last few years. They are totally different than the T&F one!

The Johns Hopkins UP agreement that I just signed for a piece in Postmodern Culture clearly says that I make the decision to republish: “In any re-publication of the Article that you might authorize you will credit the Journal as the original place of publication.”

My agreement with ESC: English Studies in Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins also puts the permissions for future use in my hands (as long as I acknowledge that the article came out in the journal first): “… the author may use all or part of the article for educational or research purposes, in a work under his/her authorship, or editorship subject only to full acknowledgment of its original publication in ESC.”

I also looked at TOPIA since I am co-editing it. The TOPIA agreement also gives the author the authorization to republish but the journal, published by University of Toronto Press, asks for $75: “The journal retains joint rights for the Author’s republication in any other publication venues. The Author will arrange for reprint payments of $75.00 to be paid to the journal for reprint of an article previously published in ​TOPIA, a​nd will ensure that the previous publication by ​TOPIA is properly credited.”

We are more aware than ever before that we need to have a robust conversation about academic publication and the circulation of that work. I suspect that I am like many other academics in that I don’t care that much about the ownership of my writing. I don’t really need to own it. Or I am very happy to exchange ownership for seeing my work circulate. I want my research to be out in the world and am so grateful when I get to share it by being published in a serious journal edited by people I admire and am even more grateful when that essay is given a new life in a smart and beautiful anthology about the field that is also edited by people I admire so much. The question is really about how work circulates rather than ownership. They are not the same thing but often amount to the same thing. And in terms of ownership, that conversation is going to involve not just the author and the publisher, but also the peer reviewers and editors whose often invisible labour makes all of this publishing possible.

So we need to talk a lot more about this. UCLA’s negotiations with Elsevier, which I am following with keen interest as someone who peer reviews her fair share of papers, are just the latest variation of this conversation. My experience with being anthologized is another small piece of this much larger conversation. In the meantime, look at your publishing agreements and maybe, maybe, maybe consider sending that awesome new article of yours to a journal published by a university press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “On Being Published and Having No Idea, Again

  1. I just stopped signing those things. I publish mostly in places where I retain the copyright on my stuff. And I tend to forget to submit those publication agreement forms. I guess they still think that they can do things with my work, and so will. But, more important to me is that _I_ can still do things with my work.

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