Publishing PhD Research in the Journal: Interview with Laura Clancy

This month we are highlighting the excellent work of PGR students on our digital platforms. Many PGRs will be thinking about publishing their work, and we spoke to Laura Clancy whose 2020 paper ‘The corporate power of the British monarchy: Capital(ism), wealth and power in contemporary Britain’ was published in The Sociological Review and was based on a chapter of her thesis. She talks us through her experience and tips…

TSR: How did you go about the process of adapting a chapter of your PhD thesis to a standalone publication?

The most challenging aspect of adapting the PhD chapter to a journal article was trying to separate the article from the overall thesis, so it made sense as a standalone piece without all the context and theorising that happens in the thesis. This was quite a long process of editing the background and context down, so it became short introductory paragraphs. Thinking about them as separate entities did help with this – so not trying to answer all the questions of a thesis in one journal article, but positioning it as its own, separate (although connected) article. I also made use of citations to direct the reader towards other pieces of work that I’ve also published/will publish from the thesis, to help link it all together.

TSR: How did you identify which aspects of your thesis publish?

My external examiners recommended I publish this particular chapter, so that did help! But I also purposefully chose a chapter that a) made sense as a standalone piece, and b) introduced some of the key ideas I knew I would later be using in the monograph version of my thesis, so they link together. It is also the chapter where I unpack my key theoretical framework through the term ‘The Firm’, so publishing it on its own meant I could describe this term and my approach of cultural political economy.

TSR: How did you select a journal?

The Sociological Review is an important journal for sociology around the world, so it was always a top choice for me. I also like what the journal is doing around making sociological research accessible. From a research perspective, my work is somewhere between sociology and media and cultural studies. This particular thesis chapter is perhaps the most ‘sociological’, so it made sense to be published in a sociology journal. Others have made more sense in cultural studies journals, and even history. It helped to separate the chapters and think about their individual elements.

TSR: How did the editorial process differ from your experience writing up this research for your thesis?

I was lucky enough to get extremely helpful comments from my reviewers, which really helped with the revisions process. I think reviewer feedback is often more interpretative than feedback from a supervisor, for instance. Supervisors will often go through the feedback with you face-to-face, or give tracked comments on a draft, whereas journal reviewer feedback is more general and you can interpret what changes to make. I found copying the reviewer feedback into a separate document, and then splitting it down into individual points from which I could make changes, was helpful. Re-grouping the feedback so similar points are together is also good. It can be a bit overwhelming to just get a few pages of text, so finding a way to break it down and make it manageable is important.

TSR: Your article was very popular on Twitter. What benefits (or otherwise!) does social media bring an ECR?

I have found social media very useful – although it does of course have its downsides. I have made many connections on Twitter, including discovering potential publishers for my book. It is also a good place to chat with other ECRs in similar positions, and get advice or support. Asking for recommendations or advice usually gets you a range of responses! I have an open profile so people can find my work, but this does have its downsides in that anyone can find you and send unsolicited comments. Hannah Yelin and I have written about this. I have found changing my settings so I don’t get notifications from people I don’t follow to be helpful to mitigate some of this. Overall, I do think social media is good for ECRs – with some caveats!

TSR: What advice would you give to PGR or post-PGR students looking to publish their work, maybe for the first time?

I have been lucky in that all of my reviewer comments so far have been helpful and constructive, and it has helped to develop my work elsewhere too – my book has benefitted hugely from the advice of reviewers of journal articles. So getting those comments will really help elsewhere. Also, I think choosing your journal carefully and making sure your research is a good fit is important.

Laura’s paper is free to access this month, along with Bolaji Balogun’s ‘Race and racism in Poland: Theorising and contextualising ‘Polish-centrism’’ which was also based on PhD research.

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