On May 12, I attended the CDMI’s workshop, “How to get published in academic journals,” and met the journal editors of Feminist Media Studies, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Social Media & Society. The two-hour seminar was a great opportunity to demystify publishing and to learn from colleagues and friends, new and old. Also, it made me think further about academic publishing in this era defined by a perceived acceleration of issues such as pandemics, wars, extreme weather events, and knowledge production itself. Considering the multiplicity and complexity of these issues and our scholarly aims in tackling them, I suggest thinking more about the idea of publishing with care.
We, humans, inhabit the world in an embedded learning process. Our experience with the publishing world is not any different. Within this embeddedness, there are certain things, such as the need to publish, graduate, find a job, and perform family-related and other responsibilities. But we also face various uncertainties during our individual journeys—the COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious one. In fact, it is never only our journey! We create and share spatio-temporal experiences with other human and more-than-human agents such as families, colleagues, viruses, computers, etc.
Under these circumstances, “publishing with care” can be understood to have three different but related meanings concerning the publication, the author, and the community. All of these meanings correspond to unique—obviously interrelated—challenges.
First, from the standpoints of both scientific ethics and career-related concerns, caring for the scholarly quality of a publication is much needed. This requires a thoroughly thought-out research design combined with a response-ability to contingency. As we have witnessed in the last couple of years, some certainties may quickly transform into uncertainties and contingencies for both researchers and the research they care about.
Second, the uncertain aspects of research and publishing join forces with the unprecedented challenges of the Anthropocene. The hunch of “for which future am I working/writing” never leaves us during our research and publishing efforts. This may mean publishing with care should also be about self-care and even publishing as self-care, by ensuring our voice is heard and making ourselves useful for the issues we are concerned about. We can think of research practices that bring us, and the communities we are committed to, closer to the spaces of goodness, joy and empathy while navigating (or not) the submission deadlines, rejections and revisions.
Lastly, these research practices may differ according to the disciplinary and individual ontologies, but there will (and should) always be a community-related dimension. Therefore, the third meaning of publishing with (self-)care is knotted with the idea of community. On the one hand, our research efforts will be embedded and embodied within specific more-than-academic communities of care, and on the other hand, our publishing will flourish through academic communities of care. “Publishing with care, publishing with communities” is, thus, our way of slowing down and caring-more/caring-better in an era of speeding-up knowledge production. As the fabulous editors of Feminist Media Studies, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Social Media & Society aptly put it during the seminar: “At the end, publishing is about conversation!” And to me, only with care and community, we can attend in conversation.
Cansu Ekmekcioglu (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her research draws on critical data studies, design theory, human-computer interaction, and public policy to explore the use of emerging technologies in migration and humanitarian contexts. With a background in political science and digital media, Cansu is also interested in digital research ethics and the ways in which digital/remote methodologies mediate ethical responsibilities while working with, and around, human and more-than-human agents in research practices.