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Cultural Historian’s Toolbox (PhD Core Course 2): ‘How to build your publication profile’

Publish or perish? The truth is that publishing is crucial to building an academic profile and getting your ideas out into the field. But what makes a successful book review or journal article? How does peer review work? And what’s the deal with open access? Once you’ve finished your PhD, there’s also the question of how to turn your dissertation into a book – for despite the ubiquity of the journal article, monographs still carry considerable weight in the field of cultural history.

In this workshop, taught by David van der Linden (managing editor of the journal Early Modern Low Countries), we’ll take a closer look at the submission, review, and publication process of book reviews, journal articles, and books. PhD students working on any theme, area, or period in cultural history are welcome to attend. Prior to each of the three sessions, participants are asked to draft a sample text (i.e., a book review, the introduction to a planned journal article, and a book proposal) and to peer-review each other’s work. We will discuss these texts during the sessions. The course will pay attention to both academic publishing and the growing field of public history, including on-line reviews of exhibitions and conferences, public history journals, and trade books (non-fiction for a wider audience). The sessions will include plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and shall offer useful tips and tricks for getting your work published.

You may register for one, two or three sessions. Please indicate in the remarks section which sessions you want to attend. RMA students can apply for session 1 or 2 (max. 5 spots per session available – all RMA spots for session 2 are currently filled).

Session 1. How to write a book review (and more) – 2 ECTS
Wednesday 30 October, 11:00-17:00, Utrecht University

The genre of the book review dates back to the eighteenth century, when learned journals began to include short essays on recently published books. Reviews still are an excellent way to establish yourself in the field and engage with the work of other scholars. But what makes a good review? What’s the difference between reviewing a monograph or an edited volume? Should you attempt a review essay? And how do you navigate the perils of assessing the work of senior scholars who may determine your career? This session will offer answers based on your own review of a book. Besides the academic book review, we will also discuss reviews for newspapers and magazines, as well the growing popularity of blogs reviewing exhibitions and conferences.

Prior to session 1, participants submit a short review (ca. 1,000 words) of a book, to be selected by the instructor (deadline: three weeks before the session). This can be a review either for an academic journal or a newspaper/popular magazine. You should clearly indicate the intended outlet for your review, and adjust your style and language accordingly .

Session 2. How to publish a journal article – 2 ECTS
Wednesday 13 November, 11:00-17:00, Utrecht University

Arguably, the best way to build up a publication portfolio is to publish a journal article – especially when in open access, which ensures a wider audience. Some PhD students even opt for articles rather than a traditional dissertation to obtain their degree. What makes a successful journal article? Which journals are most appropriate for your research? How does peer review work? And who’s responsible for image rights and open access fees? This session will discuss the process from draft and submission to peer review and publication. We’ll also pay attention to non-academic articles in popular science magazines.

Prior to session 2, participants submit an introduction (max. 1,500 words) to their planned article (deadline: three weeks before the workshop). You are also expected to write peer review reports on three or four introductions submitted by other participants; these texts will be assigned to you prior to class.

Session 3. How to turn your dissertation into a book – 2 ECTS
Wednesday 11 December, 11:00-17:00, Utrecht University

Once you’ve successfully defended your dissertation, a logical next step is to publish your research. You’ll probably find, though, that publishers will require a substantial revision before they will consider publishing your work. This session will help you navigate this process. Which publishing house is best suited for your work? How do you convince them to consider your dissertation? How much rewriting should you expect to do? And should you maybe consider writing a trade book rather than an academic monograph? We’ll take a closer look at the all-important book proposal and the ways in which the publishing industry for history has been changing over the past few years.

Prior to session 3, participants submit a book proposal (ca. 3–4 pages) for their intended monograph (deadline: three weeks before the workshop). The proposal should contain a book title, abstract, synopsis, chapter summaries, and marketing section. More detailed instructions will be given in session 2. You are also expected to write a peer review report of two proposals submitted by your fellow students; these proposals will be assigned to you prior to class.

Learning aims and outcomes
At the end of this course, you will have:

  • A thorough understanding of the publication process of book reviews, journal articles, and monographs;
  • The ability to adequately structure and write a review, journal article, and book proposal;
  • The ability to write a peer review and respond to comments on your own written work.

(Preliminary) Literature:

  • Kate L. Turabian et al., A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th ed. (Chicago, 2018). NB: relevant sections will be provided as a PDF file prior to session 2.
  • William Germano, Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books, 3rd ed. (Chicago, 2016). NB: relevant sections will be provided as a PDF file prior to session 3.

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