Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Radio Drama Featuring Ima Ass

I have a specialty Intro to Hamster Fur Weaving class. One of the positives about it is that students are often able to score a publication, if not in this course, then the Intermediate Fur Weaving course to follow.

I recently discovered that a rather poor journal was still publishing. I took it to class and we looked it over as an example of things not to do. I then suggested that this may be a venue for a first publication which resulted in the following discussion with Ima Ass.


Ima Ass: “Why would I want to send anything to this thing if it’s so bad?”

Me: “One of the goals we are working on is getting students ready to publish and that first publication is very difficult”

Ima Ass: “So you want me to waste time on these people?”

Me: “No, I want you to get published. There is no way major journals are going to read your work if you don’t have a track record. Publish in shit journals, get known, and move on to better things.”

Ima Ass: “That is just stupid! Journals will recognize good writing and you are just telling me to waste my time on shitty journals!”

Me: “Last term we had a student not only publish but win an award. It was journal I had never heard of but now the student….”

Ima Ass: “…waste of my time.”

Watching student: “Excuse me, but can I send something I’ve finished now. Is that wrong?”

Me: “Heck no. I’ll look it over if you want.”

Forward to end of class.

Ima Ass: “I’m going to be away for four weeks.”

Me: “That is not acceptable and we have a formal attendance….”

Ima Ass: " …all my other profs are fine with it. And I know the material anyway.”

Me: “You will need to supply me with a formal letter explaining why you will be away so I can place it in my records.”

And I think, gentle reader, you know why I want that letter. After all, I cannot force attendance. Grades, on the other hand……


  1. I think this captures a moment we've all had nicely. And yet, I can't get over that Ima should include her middle initial -- N -- for the sake of grammar.

  2. Post of the ... oh, never mind.

  3. Well, butbutbut: in the Humanities 'tis better not to publish at all than to publish in a true piece-of-shit journal or with a vanity press. The idea is that you aim high, the step down the ladder as needed. So I sent my seminar student off to the flagship journal in my field, and on his first try he scored a publication that really matters. For his next two dissertation chapters, ditto. He now has 3 pubs in major-league journals for the market. If someone's truly not ready for a decent journal, they should wait, because publishing in crap venues indicates crap ambitions. Is that not the case in other disciplines? I'm really truly curious.

    1. I, too, am confused, especially by the "you need to be published to get published" idea. Whatever happened to blind review?

      And I, too, am genuinely curious, both because I generally tend to be curious, and because I teach writing in the disciplines, and tell students in various fields about things like blind peer review, and I thought that practices were more uniform across the disciplines than they apparently are.

    2. I can't name the discipline without outing myself. Let's just say that in this area there is no blind peer review process. The work is assessed by an editor or editorial board. The quality of the work matters, but, if all things are equal, the better known writer gets the publication. Sometimes the well-known name gets published just so the journal can claim they published that person.

  4. In science, it depends on what the goal of the department is. Lesser known schools just want their name out there so they want quantity of publications. Typically, students don't publish anything without a great deal of help from a faculty advisor. Still, publishing in a journal that nobody reads isn't the worst thing in the world, especially as an undergrad.


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