Publishing and Open Access Journals

I am now in my third year of my PhD and I have come to realise, over the past few years, that publishing in international, peer reviewed, REF returnable journals is an important part of my future if I am to enter the world of academia. So, in order to be employable I have been working hard to meet the criteria of the jobs I have been applying for and trying to publish in certain respected journals alongside writing up my thesis. Not an easy task and it has been one big learning curve but one that I have been getting to grips with because I have had to and because…. I have now come to quite enjoy writing.

It therefore came as a bit of surprise to me when I learned of the death of Aaron Swartz and his campaign for open access journals where articles can be accessed for free by anyone.

Following on from Aaron’s work is Alex Leavitt who argues that non-open access journals are “outdated, profit-driven models of modern academic publishing companies” which block access and charge fees for knowledge that everyone should be able to access for “the primary purpose of the education system as a whole: to teach and share knowledge with others” . Whilst Alex recognises that some scholars need to publish in closed journals and then free their own writing individually he does not believe that this method will help in changing the status quo and is asking everyone to stop doing this, calling instead for a complete abandonment of this form of publishing (Alex Leavitt’s blog).

Although I truly believe in this argument and would like to, one day soon, publish in open access journals, unlike Alex, I am afraid that publishing in certain types of journals might affect my career. I have applied for a job recently where I wasn’t shortlisted due to not having enough REF returnable papers.

So it got me wondering, what do others in similar positions to me feel?

What are your thoughts and opinions about the open access argument?

How has publishing affected you?

And have you noticed any journals that have changed by binning the restricted access and opening up information for everyone to access? (I know Qualitative Social Work has recently done this following Aaron’s death)

Look forward to hearing from you all.

Jad 🙂

Wales and SW England Social Work PhD Conference 7th January 2013 – and beyond

We had an email from Jon Symonds, a social work doctoral student at Bristol University, who organised the Wales and SW England Social Work PhD Conference which took place yesterday.

Jon writes:

Dear Colleagues
A big thank you to everyone who came along, showed an interest in and joined in the day yesterday which was great fun and very stimulating.
I have uploaded all the presentations to the website so for those who weren’t able to make it, they are well worth a look (though I’m afraid you’ll have to imagine the discussions!).
Just to recap on other developments as well, next year’s event will be organised by colleagues at Swansea University so look out for information later in the year (and start thinking about those abstracts).
And for those who are interested in a national (both England and Wales national, thanks Vanessa!) platform for social work doctoral students, check out the website here for developments on a national conference.
Thanks again

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all social work doctoral students! Hope you had a good break and are feeling motivated.

I am now in my third year and starting writing up my thesis. I am finding it really daunting as writing is not my forte – I much prefer to read and to chat to other students! One tip I have been given by my supervisor is to write every day so I get into the flow of writing. I am determined to do this and hope it will help. I would really welcome any tips from other doctoral students – what works for you???


Minutes from the very first national social work doctoral meeting held on Tuesday 23rd of October 2012.

Minutes  from the meeting held on Tuesday 23rd of October for a National Network for Social Work Doctoral Students.


Professor Steven. M. Shardlow, University of Salford.

Lisa Morriss, University of Salford.

Jadwiga Leigh, University of Salford.

Professor Hugh McLaughlin, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Sian Lucas, University of Salford.

Julie Lawrence, University of Salford.

Dr. Judy Foster, Tavistock Clinic.

Barry Fearnley, University of Leeds.

Lucy Mort, Manchester Metropolitan University.


Following introductions Steven explained the purpose of the meeting which was arranged primarily as a means for students and academics to get together and share ideas as to how this network could be created, how it would benefit its members and what it might be likely to achieve in the future.

Jadwiga shared information with the group about the background research that was conducted prior to the project starting and Lisa then shared the findings from the survey which a number of people completed at the start.

Everyone who attended then made suggestions as to how the network might be constructed and what it might entail. A discussion then followed and from this evolved two main ideas:

  1. 1.      To have a workshop/ conference event exclusively for social work doctoral students.

The main aim of this event would be to focus primarily on post graduate education, research and practice.  It would also prove to be an opportunity for students to meet others, from the same field, face to face. It is hoped that this would encourage the beginnings of a network and lead to the creation of a social work doctoral identity.

One idea was to use the event to hear from students who are due to complete their PhD or have completed their PhD in order to learn what they have done with it and how it has made a contribution to practice.

Another was to provide doctoral students with an opportunity to present papers to others within the same field and receive feedback from academics/ peers.

  1. 2.      To have an Internet Forum exclusively for social work doctoral students/ academics.


The main purpose of this would be to encourage a form of virtual contact between all students and academics nationally.

One idea was to use this space to meet ‘reading partners’ who could review certain pieces of a student’s written work. Students would be able to share parts of their thesis or article drafts with other peers/ academics within the network to receive constructive feedback and supportive guidance that might help them with, for example, publishing or writer’s block.

Another idea was to use the forum to create an opportunity for a doctoral social work online journal. This could allow students to then practise their publishing skills. Someone suggested the idea of a ‘special editions’ section that could encourage students to write specifically for a particular theme.

Another suggestion was that the forum could be used to create ‘virtual rooms’ which could allow students and academics to talk, or discuss ideas, in small groups.

The forum could also be used for ‘bloggers’ who wish to raise certain ideas/ themes and chat openly with others.

It could also be used as a means of contacting other PhD students prior to inter/ national conferences and arrange social meetings prior to and after the event so that students could connect and make links with other friendly faces.

Conclusion from the meeting.

It was agreed by all that both the above ideas would generate a lot of work and that, because of the very nature of this group, most of this should be carried out by doctoral students/ members of the network. Therefore the agreed actions from the meeting are as follows:

  1. A flyer will be sent out, in the near future, to all those wishing to be involved in the future of the network. It is hoped that we may be able to draw primarily from the skills and talents of other students so that they may be able to contribute to the development of the workshop/ conference event and/ or the internet forum either by volunteering skills or ideas and/or contributing to the creation or management of both of these tasks.
  2. It was agreed that the workshop/ conference event would be held in November 2013, at the Chancellors Meeting House, Manchester. This location was chosen as it was considered to be a central point for those travelling from all areas around the country.
  3. It was also agreed that the minutes would be disseminated by email in a written format alongside a podcast in which, directed by Sian Lucas,  Lisa Morriss and Jadwiga Leigh would be interviewed about this meeting.

Lisa, Steven and Jadwiga would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and interest in the network. We look forward to meeting and working with you all again in the near future!