Ing. Vendula Kratochvílová, Mgr. Jana Veličková
Interview with Tomas Janík
In this interview, Tomáš Janík, Vice Dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the Faculty of Education at Masaryk University, speaks about the publishing activities of male and female academics and the opportunities for support at the faculty.
1. How would you describe the current situation in the field of publishing scientific texts? What is expected of authors, what challenges do they face, and how are they prepared for them?
The expectation of scientific publishing is a legitimate requirement at a university because a university fulfils three general functions: in addition to education and social engagement, it is the pursuit of science, which presents mainly in the form of publications, i.e., texts. Expectations towards authors are quite high, which is a result of the research profile of Masaryk University. Academics are expected to conduct research projects and produce research results that will be published. On the one hand, it is about publishing in renowned foreign sources (journals, books). On the other Czech language texts are important as well, as they have significance for the national environment. Both are linked to quality assessment, typically with a review process that is supposed to be demanding to benefit the text. For authors to succeed with their texts, they need to be supported, not only during the ''up to'' stages of text production itself but also in the earlier stages, i.e., during the research project preparation, its implementation, data collection, and analysis. Therefore, ideal support should focus on how to design and implement research, evaluate data, and contextualise everything. The main challenge is thus to create a comprehensive support system.
2. What should be the role of the faculty in publication support?
In addition to expressing a certain expectation, as discussed above, it is good if the faculty simultaneously offers various forms of support to their authors so that they are able to meet these expectations. This support should be differentiated with regard to whether the author needs support in publishing domestically or internationally. When publishing internationally, the support is much more demanding and complex, involving foreign language translations, proofreading, and communication with publishers or journal editors who operate on a global level. Support must also be differentiated according to the type of text, e.g., a journal publication has different requirements than, for example, a professional monograph or outputs of another kind (e.g., in the arts, a musical work, an exhibition, etc.).
3. What forms of support can the university and faculty offer to authors?
At the university level, a number of activities are underway to support authors in publishing, but also in finding suitable platforms for publishing. The aim is, among other things, to prevent people from publishing frivolously or fraudulently. I would mention, for example, materials such as The Practice of Good Publishing at MU, which are produced by the Research Department at the MU Rectorate. Each faculty naturally adapts its publishing practice and strategy according to its disciplinary specifics, and this is also the case with the Faculty of Education. It has its own Publishing and Research Support Strategy at the Faculty of Education ‒ to link publishing with research. The strategy is a tool that supports authors, enables them to secure funding, supports them in terms of language translation and proofreading, editorial fees, and Open Access fees, and allows them to consult with experts or even travel abroad to visit the authors' collective. Significantly, this year, thanks to the contribution of colleagues at the Faculty of Education, a new website has been created in relation to the HR Excellence in Research Award (HR Award) project to systematise this support. This means that they gather together sources of support that were previously available, albeit in a scattered and unclear way. This is the Publishing Support website, which will be launched in the week of 30 May 2022 via article the Publishing Support at PdF MU: step by step. (Editor's note: We would like to thank the experts for their contribution to the creation of this tool, namely Ing. Vendula Kratochvílová, Mgr. Jana Veličková, doc. Petr Kachlík, Mgr. Monika Foltánová, Dana Nesnídalová, Mgr. Martina Lužná, prof. Tomáš Janík, Mgr. Daniela Marcollová, Mgr. Petra Hromádková, dr. Michaela Spurná, Mgr. Zuzana Konvalinková).
4. So when is it appropriate to visit the site and what topics or areas does the publishing support cover?
When? Good question. An author or a person that works at a university has multiple identities – from an educator to a person engaged in society, to a researcher or member of the scientific community. The question of authorship of texts and their dissemination is promoted in scientific communities in the form of various identifiers of scientists and scientists, bibliometric and scientometric data with which they are associated, which allow them to take various inventories of their publication activity, and to be evaluated by various scientometric procedures, etc. Scientific identifiers are important because they ensure the dissemination of scientific papers, projects, and results on social networks specifically designed for this purpose (e.g., ResearchGate, Academia etc.). In the process of creating texts, authors encounter a number of topics that may be relatively new – for example, the topic of Open Access publishing, the issue of intellectual property, and the question of ethical requirements for publishing. Then there is the quality of the texts themselves, their linguistic performance, which is linked to the need to master the academic language, but also to the need for linguistic corrections, to the very important question of impact on practice. And this is the often-underestimated issue of disseminating and communicating research findings. So, although it doesn't seem like it, what a university teacher / college lecturer / academic addresses as an author is a wide range and needs to be professionally navigated. All faculty and university publishing support are for orientation and information support – it’s about advice: which way to go, what is good practice, what is problematic practice, and so on.
5. Is the promotion of publishing at our faculty also a topic within the Postdoctoral School, which focuses on early-stage researchers?
In the Postdoctoral School, we try to bring together under one roof doctoral students who are starting a phd program, as well as fresh graduates of doctoral studies, hence the Postdoctoral School. It is true that topics in the field of publishing and its support are among the most sought-after and well attended. Be it courses on publishing skills, courses directed towards academic English, or informal support in peer-to-peer sharing of research and publishing experiences. I want to emphasize the importance of sharing experiences within the text production process because it's a type of peer support where aspiring authors read each other's texts and give feedback. This is significantly applied to our faculty, for example, in the Ph.D. in Didactics of Foreign Languages. In the field of social pedagogy, the production of texts in the longer term is intensively worked on with the support of external experts. We have expert support in the sense of experts in academic English and the content of a particular topic and issue. We also try to engage these people as lecturers or speakers in the Postdoctoral School on the topic of text production support.
6. What would you like to say to current and future authors?
I would tell them that their texts are their "family silver" and present them as experts and scholars. At the same time, their texts are how they make the issues they deal with accessible. And if we are talking on the premises of the Faculty of Education, then the texts can also have a didactic overlap. They can convey certain topics to the general public and so on. I would therefore recommend that our authors, in addition to writing texts aimed at the scientific community, should also write for the general public, to try to combine these two types of writing.
7. What is waiting for you now? Where are you heading?
Think of it as an invitation – we encourage you to follow us on – the HR Award, Postdoctoral School, or Faculty of Education web pages. Occasionally activities are going on that you might like or might be useful for your professional development. In June, our faculty will host a research symposium to present outputs from practice-oriented research. You can also find out about the activities of the MU Editing Centre, which presents newly published book titles in the form of christenings or symposia. There will also be (university-wide) activities related to Open Access in the autumn. And many more. Supporting authors is close to our hearts.