The perils of edited volumes

Ten years ago, fresh out of my PhD, I completed three papers. One I submitted to a regular journal; it came out in 2012. One was for a special issue; it took until 2017 to appear. One was for an edited volume; the volume is yet to appear.

These may be extreme cases, but I think they reflect quite well the relative risks for early career researchers (in linguistics & perhaps more widely) of submitting to regular journals vs special issues vs edited volumes.

Avoiding the latter is not always possible; in linguistics, handbooks still have an audience. If I could advise my 2012 self, I’d say: 1. always preprint your work; 2. privilege online-first & open access venues; 3. use #RightsRetention statements to keep control over your work.

A natural experiment

Anyway, these three papers also provide an interesting natural experiment on the role of availability for reach and impact. The first, Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones, now has >400 cites according to Google Scholar, improbably making it one of the most cited papers in its journal. This paper has done amazingly well.

The second, Expressiveness and system integration, has >50 cites and was scooped by a paper on Japanese that I wrote with Kimi Akita. We wrote that second paper two years after the first, but it appeared one year before it, if you still follow the chronology. As linguistics papers go, I don’t think it has done all that bad, especially considering that its impact was stunted by being in editorial purgatory for 4 years.

The third, “The language of perception in Siwu”, has only been seen by three people and cited by one of them (not me). I am not sure if or when it will see the light of day.

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