Posts Tagged ‘discourse’

My first peer-reviewed article: now available!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

It might seem strange that one can have a PhD degree for two years and still not have published a single peer-reviewed article. Strange especially to those who are used to the social science biz in the English-speaking world. Well, things are different in Germany. You will find lots of highly successful and respected people who publish almost exclusively in book form – either by writing complete monographs or by contributing chapters to edited volumes. I do not find anything wrong with this culture (except for the fact that publications will usually be German only and that only little non-German debate will be acknowledged in many of these publications). But, as everybody that is on the academic job market these days knows: those darned international peer-reviewed articles are what job descriptions and scholarship programs request with growing force.

Because of that pressure, I decided to overcome my reservations and prior frustrations regarding peer-review. As always, once you have jumped on a new ship, you like it and think it is the best thing in the world. So now I am happy to be able to say: I am one of them! A real scientist with a peer-reviewed publication in a well ranked international journal. So, this is a cause for celebration for me. In addition, getting this published also showed some of the good sides of peer-review, since I got really useful and encouraging feedback, which definitely improved the article.

The article is called Space, materiality and the contingency of action: a sequential analysis of the patient’s file in doctor—patient interactions and it has been published in the June 2009 issue of Discourse Studies. This is the abstract:

Focusing on the multi-dimensionality of interactional settings, this study analyzes how the material world is a significant factor in the sequential co-production of the video-taped doctor—patient interactions. The analysis shows how a material artifact, the patient’s file, is relevant in two ways: a) as a device which is employed in the sequential organization of the interaction. The patient’s file is being used in the contexts of topic development and topic change. b) The file with its specific physical and symbolic features is being co-produced and contested by both actors as a knowledge reservoir. Further inspection of the interactions in concert with theoretical reflections of the role of space and materiality suggests that interactions should be interpreted as happening in spatially arranged constellations of material objects and actors. In these both rigid and flexible constellations boundaries are established, access is distributed, and meaning is solidified.

It is a real conversation analysis (CA) piece, something that I am quite proud of since I really enjoy CA even though I do not have the opportunity to work in this field as much as I would like to.

The frustrations and delights of peer-review.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

About a week ago, the editor of the journal Discourse Studies told me that a paper which I submitted has been favorably reviewed and that it will be published after I re-work my paper according to what the anonymous reviewer has suggested. In itself, that already is great news! It was even more wonderful for two reasons:

  1. I had submitted a paper that was practically identical to this one to another journal quite a while ago. The paper was based on a study that I did for a class on conversation analysis offered by Douglas Maynard during my graduate year in Bloomington. I mentioned this in my letter to the editor of the journal, and I also mentioned that because of this and because of privacy issues, I did not have easy access to the videos that are analyzed in the paper. I wanted to tell this, because I think that this kind stuff should be said and that honesty in science would be rewarded. However, the opposite was the case and the first point of criticism was that the paper is closer in form to a term paper instead of a journal article. It was not even forwarded to an anonymous reviewer. When I got this reply, I was so frustrated that I tried to push this paper into the lowest recesses of my existence. Which did not work, unsurprisingly. In the course of time, frustration turned into resolve and I decided to resubmit the paper (adding a few good references that I found in the meantime) without mentioning that it is based on a student paper and that I do not have direct access to the videos anymore. (The latter being the second and a more important reason for rejecting the paper. But if a reviewer would have stated that something is missing and that I should re-examine the video data, then I would done so, of course.) I guess this is a lesson about gate-keeping in peer-review and about how even well-meaning people might not approach something neutrally if they have negative preconceptions about its origins…
  2. Because of the frustration that was generated after this rejection, I had very little trust in the whole peer-reviewed journal business. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise for me to read the review for my paper: it took my propositions seriously and then found parts of the paper that did not live up to the analysis that I develop in the rest of the paper. Thus it encouraged me to strengthen my argument – instead of watering it down by requesting to add another perspective or authors X and Y. This has definitely contributed in re-building my trust in the scientific review process. Thanks a lot for that to the editor and to my anonymous reviewer.

Since the post-peer-review paper overhaul is done and has been accepted, the paper will be available early next year under the title Space, Materiality, and the Contingency of Action in Discourse Studies 11(2). Since SAGE’s copyright agreement allows for an online publication one year after the print version has seen the light of day, I will be able to put the full paper online at this site in 2010.

Finally, I want to thank Charles Antaki, who read the old student paper that I put online several years ago and who encouraged me to re-work and publish it. Without this support, I would probably not have been courageous enough to try to get this paper published at all. In addition, I want to thank Elizabeth Nelson, a class-mate from Bloomington, who corrected and polished my English before I submitted the paper for the first time.