In September 2015, Matti Peikola from the University of Turku and Adam Borch from Åbo Akademi University held a seminar for doctoral candidates. In a workshop held after the presentations, the participants called for more contact between doctoral candidates of UTU and ÅAU, and so a committee was created for this purpose. The committee members, Sirkku Ruokkeinen (UTU), Ira Hansen (UTU), Eva Norrman (ÅAU) and Emma Kanckos (ÅAU) named the group ÅboutU – a most clever play on the words Åbo and UTU.
During the past year, ÅboutU has focused on organizing social events and providing opportunities for networking. In addition to the bi-monthly get-togethers at Koulu, ÅboutU organised a seminar for PhD candidates in late September 2016 with the theme ‘publishing’. The seminar had two keynote speakers, Dr. Jason Finch (ÅAU) and Dr. Pekka Lintunen (UTU), who spoke on the processes of writing an article from one’s conference paper, and on acting as a referee, respectively. The PhD candidates then held five-minute presentations on their work of late.
Dr. Finch’s presentation was titled “From Conference Paper to Published Article: Preparing Submissions to Journals and Edited Collections”. Dr. Finch began by pointing out that for those who are planning a career in academia, there is a need to distinguish oneself by writing journal articles. Conference papers are a good starting point.
The most important part of a conference paper as well as an article is a new idea that somehow contributes to your field. However, working that idea into a conference paper or into an article are two different processes. When planning a conference paper that will be turned into an article, you might want to write the full length article first, and then present a shorter version of it at a conference. You can also write the conference paper first, and expand the paper based on the feedback received at the conference. In any case you should have a clear vision of the journal you wish to publish in and edit your text accordingly.
Dr. Lintunen’s presentation was titled “The Peer Review Process from the Perspective of the Reviewer”, and it described the do’s and the don’ts of acting as a reviewer. The review process begins with contact: usually the editorial board contacts you through email, sending the title and the abstract of the article. It is a good idea to accept, should your schedule allow it. There is no need to worry about qualifications – if you have been contacted, Lintunen reassured us, you are probably qualified.
The instructions for the reviewers can sometimes be found on the journal’s website. If not, you can email and ask for them. You might also want to check the journal’s instructions for authors. In a review process you should pay attention to the goals of the paper, its theoretical framework, references, and argumentation. You should consider whether the paper is suitable for the journal it has been submitted to. If so, think whether the argument is clearly presented, valid and reliable. Are the results well evaluated and defended? Are the results based on the data? Remember to stick to your own field and expertise when you are giving your feedback.
After the keynotes, thirteen PhD candidates gave five-minute presentations on their ongoing work, for example recent publications or difficulties they had run into during the process. The presentations were followed by discussion. Issues dealing with article publishing were naturally a recurrent theme; Marja-Leena Niitemaa discussed reviewer’s comments she had already received, while Eva Norrman and Aino Liira spoke of the process of co-writing and the content of their articles. Sara Norja and Susanna Mäkinen discussed their articles in preparation; both were writing an article based on a conference paper. Jay Rauhoff, Emma Kanckos and Ira Hansen focused on more specific sections of their dissertations, while Sirkku Ruokkeinen and Cathryn McWilliams used the opportunity to ask for advice concerning their work. Timo Savela, Eva Fjällstöm and Johanna Rastas, who were there for the ÅboutU seminar for the first time, presented the topics of their dissertation work.
The September Seminar was also the venue for selecting a new committee for ÅboutU. Jay Rauhoff, a UTU PhD candidate, has already volunteered. The current committee is searching for two new members from the Åbo Akademi University, and one additional member from University of Turku English Departments. If you’d like to take part in bringing our two departments together, please contact Jay at gajara[at]utu.fi.
The 2016 ÅboutU committee would like to thank the keynote speakers and PhD students from ÅAU and UTU!
Text and photos by Ira Hansen, Emma Kanckos, Eva Norrman and Sirkku Ruokkeinen