Books textbooks journals books monographs edited journals books journal articles how to make sense of all these different types of research publications my guest and i are going to try to make sense of this in this episode of that’s academic welcome back to that’s academic my name is stephen thompson and if it’s your first time here please stick around and check out the other videos that we have on the channel in addition to this one now in this episode i’m delighted to be joined by my second guest on this channel that is dr sandra marco colino an associate professor at the chinese university of hong kong and a very experienced researcher and she and i are going to be discussing the many different types of research publications which exist and we’re going to be looking at journals books different types of journals books chapters and journals books journal articles how are they different from each other how do you choose you know whether to write a textbook or a monograph all of that is coming up but just a quick word i made an absolutely stupid mistake i forgot to press record on my main mic input so fortunately zoom was running in the background and it did pick up my audio but my audio is definitely less than perfect so um i wasn’t joking when i said this is a steep learning curve what a stupid mistake so i’m so pleased that we’re joined by dr sandra marco colino she is an associate professor at the chinese university of hong kong and she’s joining me this week to talk about different types of research publication sandra it’s absolutely great to see you thanks for joining us oh it’s my pleasure thank you so much for inviting me now sandra one of the reasons why i’ve asked you to do this and you’ve kindly agreed is that you have authored lots of different types of research publications right you’ve got journals books and we’ve you’ve got different types of journals books you know within that you have authored edited journals books uh journal articles for the benefit of people who might be looking into this who are at the very earliest stages of their research careers maybe phd students can you just give us a kind of introductory kind of run-through of what these different types of research publications are and maybe how they’re different from each other absolutely so i actually just realized not so long ago that i started my phd 20 years ago so i think it’s i publish many different kinds of publications i think it’s mainly because of my age rather than any kind of merit but yes indeed i think it’s it’s useful um for early career researchers to understand the differences between these kinds of publications um i wish i had been told when i when i started out so i hope this is this will be helpful so first of course there are academic articles and for us in law we are normally talking about peer-reviewed or referee journals which is the same so peer reviewed, you’re hoping to really um leave your mark on the future development of the subject and third i think another main option is like you mentioned textjournals books and when we write textjournals books we’re thinking of our students basically and we need to cover every aspect of a subject briefly in a didactic way with many references to cases to legislation to guidelines etc and fourth there are edited journals books, i like the way you’ve separated out different types of journals books too because that’s something i would like to explore with you in a little bit more detail um one of the things that i would say is you know i think you’ve published you you’ve written all of these different types of research publications right you attribute it to your age but i i would attribute it to to other skills and and dedication rather than that um one of the ones that i have not written out of those or or or kind of taken charge of is an edited book so i’ve written soul authored journals books i’ve contributed to other people’s edited journals books and obviously written journal articles but i have not um actually uh taking charge of my own edited collection now the reason for that and and this maybe opens up um kind of avenue that we can explore is that and you know this situation will vary between different institutions maybe different countries but edited journals books have tended not to be counted at all in performance appraisals, the admin side of the job and we have to make sure that we meet expectations in all these different fields now if time is is short, then they decide whether they offer you a permanent contract or basically you might lose your job thereafter so of course it’s very important that you meet the requirements of the faculty that you’re working for i think that one of the main difficulties with edited journals books for whether you’re an author or whether you are in the editor is that sometimes authors do take their time sending you their chapters which is of course very frustrating if you are the editor or you are another author, what doesn’t count if if you can afford that i think that edited journals books are a very nice way to uh work with other peers and um you know these these journals books often stem from maybe like a conference on the topic or you may have been you may be familiar with the work of other authors, thematic consistency but also in terms of the quality point you know any form of research output can can vary in quality you get good journals books bad journals books good edited journals books bad edited journals books good articles bad articles so to me that just seems like a bit a bit of a a non-justification for failing to count edited journals books right would you agree with that assessment i think it’s hard to understand just the amount of work that they entail unless you’ve actually done one yourself and i think that like you say i think the the the hours that you spend editing especially if you take pride in the product that’s going to have your name on it um i mean i don’t really differentiate between submitting a chapter to an edited book or um to a journal i spend the same amount of time yeah as an editor as i say the amount of work if you want to have a finalized coherent product tends to be colossal so i mean i i get the point that maybe sometimes um i’m sure like you say that there might be some edited journals books that are worse quality but i’ve also seen you know some very very solid pieces um and i i’m sure we all frequently cite the work of of chapters in edited collections that are very very well put together very thorough very very important make a very significant contribution to the field i would say that’s in in my opinion anyway but i like you say that there is i’m sure there is all all kinds of quality i mean one of the i think we might come back a little later too because what i want to ask you later is you know based on all the things we’ve we’ve kind of gone through how do you kind of decide what types of research publication to actually generate so i might come back to that but i think it’s just worth adding something now because i’ll probably forget about it if i don’t mention it now which is that as far as um engines like google scholar are concerned and it’s something i’ll maybe come back to another time i mean i don’t really like google scholar i think it’s often quite misleading in terms of citations but one one thing that i think there is there is simply some agreement on is that google scholar is less good at picking up for example book chapters than it is picking up journal articles now again it depends on you know what databases uh works might be published in but i’ve personally found that journals books and book chapters are either not picked up at all or not adequately picked up by google scholar and i regard it as so misleading such a gross under counting of citations of those works that i don’t make my google scholar profile public because i think well you know why should someone think i’ve got this amount of citations for a given piece but actually you know i’ve got a lot more so maybe maybe we can come back to that but i wonder if we could talk a little bit about monographs versus textjournals books um obviously it is recognized that these are different types of journals books but could we just begin by thinking about whether we think the distinction between a monograph on the one hand and a textbook i’m adopting a maybe a different approach a more basic more didactic approach perhaps um trying to explain you know the developments to date on each aspect that the textbook covers so i think those would be the main differences that i would highlight you know you’ve made a really great point there about the the kind of the daunting aspects of the breadth of textjournals books and when you said that i just immediately thought about one of my journals books which i think is regarded as a textbook um, the extent to which you’re conversant with that subject matter is good enough to go into print right um so yeah the bread absolutely is daunting i mean i think it’s interesting the point about audience um so for example one of my um one of my journals books administrative law in hong kong is i mean i think it’s regarded as a textbook but actually there is um there is an english book i don’t want to say i was modeling on that book i think that book was more of an inspiration which has gone through multiple editions over a couple of decades and actually is really regarded as setting the tone for that subject.
Now i’m not saying my book does that i mean that’s what i would aspire to but it’s even used a lot by judges and it gets a lot of court citations too for me that’s something which i think slightly blurs this line though between monographs and textjournals books because definitely i had the students in mind but also i was trying to see whether i could make this useful to to maybe judges as well in the hope that i could get maybe some judicial citations, whenever we write we have our opinions and our voice is heard even through our textjournals books that’s clear and absolutely your your book can have you know of course a wider audience beyond your your your students um i just think that you know as a general you know as a very general rule um normally we would yes i would say that normally a monograph because of if if you adopt a uh let’s say a topic that is narrow enough it will enable you to really explore every little detail in a way that you might not be able to do in a textbook even maybe other jurisdictions so for instance what i found in my in my textbook it relates to eu uk so sometimes i i make some references to the us or china but i can’t really engage in very in-depth comparative analysis which is something that perhaps a monograph would allow you to to undertake so normally yes i agree with you that the line is is blurred and as i say in my case perhaps less so um but yes absolutely you want to produce when you write a text where you want to produce something that that would be citable like you say by courts etc and another thing i would say is um i mean you say textjournals books don’t count i mean new editions i think are even more problematic and oftentimes if you work in a field like mine, I’m sure people will leave comments to say that i’m wrong in this i get the sense that they just don’t have that same degree of turnover in material but then law’s not necessarily unique in that regard i guess you know a lot of the physical sciences might might be similar um in that respect you mentioned textjournals books sandra and we spoke a little bit about this before the interview right um textjournals books also in some institutions are not counted at all as far as research outputs are concerned um or i’ve seen situations where an institution has said well you can count this towards your teaching contribution but you cannot count it as research now i don’t want to prejudge or preempt what we have to say about this but i don’t think either of us think that’s a good thing right why why might we think that’s not a good thing well of course i can only give you my opinion
i’ve been writing textjournals books since 2010 so it might have been too much to take on so it’s now maybe that i have more time but again i thought maybe while it’s a question of updating and perhaps i didn’t realize just what i was getting myself into because you have to do a lot more than that of course yeah i mean i think the i totally agree with you that the you’re right one one should not always approach these things in terms of what you know counts and what doesn’t not least because what you know counts for one institution um might not count on another you know there’s that aspect um i mean i think the thing that that really concerns me is that if you do have an institution which says either a textbook doesn’t count in terms of how you’re evaluated or it counts for less than say a monograph i think my concern is that this really disincentivizes people who are specialists in the subject from writing journals books um again the justification i’ve heard is that although the quality is somehow lower or something i just don’t buy this i think in every form of research output there are variations in quality and i don’t kind of buy into this idea that some types of outputs are automatically you know better or worse than others um but the problem can end up being of course that you end up with a lack of textjournals books um or a lack of good textjournals books because people don’t want to invest too much time in them because they don’t feel they’re going to get the proper recognition from their own institution for for writing those so that then is not really promoting the interests of the students if either no textjournals books are coming through or you know textjournals books of of insufficient quality are coming through but i agree with you for for me and apparently for you too it is not totally discounted the advantages of or the attractions of writing textjournals books the opportunity to you know make your mark on a subject to affect the landscape of it affect the scope of it um and to kind of put the the tone of your research and your your expertise um into that but yeah i mean i i i’m not really persuaded that institutions should be differentiating between different types of journals books be the monographs or textjournals books i would maybe prefer to see maybe some form of peer review being used to speak to the quality of an output rather than just kind of these kind of bland categorizations but but that that’s only my view, turn off the computer and the brain really and disconnect i find that is sometimes increasingly hard especially i guess if we are doing you know textjournals books, this is supposed to be a kind of snapshot of the person’s productivity i just think that’s i just don’t like that at all we have no idea how those outputs are being counted right you’re talking about updating textjournals books which can be a major undertaking well imagine that that doesn’t count in that institution it’s not going to appear on the bar graph or you know if you’re doing edited collections and timing is out with your control as it is even sometimes with sole authored work you might end up with a year which which has nothing showing on the little the little bar on the charts implying that you were just not productive with your research that year but then the next year you know the bar could be huge because you had a really productive year um i mean do you find that that kind of device i mean it’s just one example right but does that kind of add to that sense that there’s a certain amount that i need to be doing here even as kind of um even in the opinion of kind of third parties who don’t really know how much work is involved or do those types of things not really bother you i think i mean it is also difficult for faculties to measure our performance i assume so,also how you know we are able to disseminate our findings but also how much we learn every time we we write something so i guess that this is you know each faculty has a different way of of looking at this um i assume i mean my in my experience um i mean faculties also do listen i mean we are faculty right we are we are parts we are also a part of the whole and if you talk to your to your peers um i mean i find that they’re normally quite understanding and you explain well i’m now working on this and this is a longer term project um they can be of course they can say yes this is of course worth spending your time on and and you should of course focus on that so i think it’s all they are understanding they are willing to listen and that other peers um sometimes sometimes enjoy what i write and that my students also hopefully find it uh useful and students around the world hopefully and uh so of course there is already um a lot a huge reward in that regard and so of course i would say that it’s still that that thing that maybe in in other jobs especially for people who have practice that they have that feeling that you know of course sometimes they can be in the office and all night um and there’s another kind of pressure and it’s extremely difficult to be you know a practitioner or an in-house lawyer extremely difficult in many many ways but at the end of the day when that case is finished that you’re working on you can you know kind of shut the door and it’s done whereas you know for us there’s always we could be doing something more so that is i think what is attached this specific thing about our profession i would say yeah and you know that’s really a nice optimistic and positive note to end on i think you write that one of the really precious things about being an academic is you get to choose you know the research that you want to to actually conduct and some of course there are time issues and you know resource and capacity issues but ultimately you get to choose what you want to research and you refer to practicing lawyers often they don’t get to choose the cases that they’re involved with right even though those specialisms might develop sandro.
I’m so grateful for your time your insights have been fantastic and i’m really grateful that you’ve joined us for this second episode of such a young channel on youtube thank you again for the opportunity and for the invitation stephen thank you sandra thanks so much so that was dr sandra marco colino discussing with me the many different types of research publications which are out there and i hope that gives you some sense on how these different types of publications are differentiated from each other and also that for example the distinction between a monograph and a textbook is perhaps not as straightforward as we might expect and also that you have to bear in mind institutional considerations about what counts and what doesn’t although as dr colinos said and i fully agree with her you shouldn’t just do everything and make all of your decisions about what you do in your academic career based solely on institutional expectations you also have to do what is valuable and what is meaningful for you i hope you found that interesting please consider subscribing to the channel and liking the video if you found this useful and if you know someone else who could find these videos useful perhaps a phd student or an earlier mid-career researcher please consider informing them about the channel we’d really like to have your input and also leave your comments below the video.
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