Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The power of networks: Mobilising interest in the Twitter in Education special issue

A preamble

A fortnight ago, we posted a Call For Papers where we have outlined ideas for submissions to the E-learning and Digital Media journal.  Of course we had to tweet it. This blog post is about what happened next, because our networks have been amazing - talk about the bush telegraph of the 21st century!

Within a very short space of time, we had a very sizeable group of people who have put up their hands to be involved:

The blog, our starting point, enabled us to get the CFP word out the same day it was approved by the editors of the journal E-learning and Digital Media

Given the focus of the special issue, Twitter made it very easy to identify colleagues who would potentially be interested in writing and reviewing for the special issue - that is, educators who use twitter.

Using Twitter

Reviewing our followers/following lists, we tagged in likely candidates to alert them to the call. From there, the magic spread. In the same way as the old advertisement for shampoo: "She told someone, and he told someone, and she told someone and so on and so on and so on". Like a chain letter, the word spreads. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcskckuosxQ)

One strategy was to send out a RT with a @likely_writer_or_reviewer post - it has been incredibly effective at reaching people interested in contributing to the Special Issue, because within hours, the RT and tags spread. We've now established a hashtag: #TwitterEDSI
Within days, we achieved international reach, thanks partly to colleagues at the University of York - an example of this is in the images posted above (@UoY ELDT).

While we also posted the CFP on LinkedIn and via our faculty newslist, nothing compares to Twitter's reach and of course its special relevance to this publication. And we are very grateful for those who have retweeted, favourited, and made a fuss. It is even in a Paper.li curation!  Thank you!

We do, however, want to encourage Twitter-skeptics to contribute also. If you want to dig into some of the hype around social media (Twitter specifically), we welcome your critical perspective. We also want reviewers - they are absolutely critical! Please sign up!


A couple of colleagues have said: "I really want to support the special issue, but I don't tweet"
My response: If you are an experienced reviewer and know a quality article when you read one, we need you. You do not need to be a Twitter expert to evaluate clarity of ideas, and coming fresh to the idea of twitter can enable critique of assumptions made (the flip-side of the hype/skeptic writer). After all, not all readers of the Special Issue will be tweeps.

In terms of authors' enquiries so far, we have had a couple and would like to clarify:

1. Word limit - text types.

The journal has this to say:

The journal publishes five kinds of submissions:

- Quality academic articles (generally 6000-8000 words);
- National and international policy reports (unspecified length);
- Policy research notes (2000 words maximum)
- Reviews (1000 words maximum)
- Interchanges (interviews, right of reply etc.)
So,: about 6000 words for a full academic article, or 2000 words for an explanation of research and practice in progress.

2. Peer review process: for those new to it

For those of you new to what this means, it is very common practice for peer review of one's work to take place. This process supports quality and authors can grow hugely through this - especially if the reviewers provide feedforward advice and the author is new to this process. Essentially, it is usual for two people to review each article. The author then has an opportunity to develop the work for publication as a result of this feedback so the journal can be sure that academic rigour is assured. 

3. Writing an article

There is a kind of formula to this. The title should be engaging and short, while the abstract is the 'window' to the article. It needs to tell readers the context/field, 'problem' or focus, methods, key findings and significance. This should also entice a reader to read the whole thing. If it's written well, it is a snapshot of everything that follows- an introduction to set the scene, a review of literature that informs the study, information on how it was undertaken (methods and analysis), what the evidence had to say, and discussion about it what it means. The conclusion is the take home message. Overall, the article should tell a story - preferably in the active voice. 

Ask colleagues you KNOW will be critical to give you feedback before you submit. It's better if your colleagues can drive a truck through it than a reviewer... That way, you get to refine it before submitting it. It can be arduous; writing clearly and simply to tell a complex but readable story is incredibly hard. 

Advice from general editors of the journal

An exciting thing is that if we have an embarrassment of article riches, we could have TWO issues of the journal! And let's not stop there - we could aim for a monograph of the best articles that follows that... Let's take over the world!

Due date for submissions

Please check the due date - it is 26 February 2016. We have deliberately given a long lead-in time to provide the space for quality research and submissions. Start now!!!

If you have questions or you want to review, please contact either Dianne (diforbes[at]waikato.ac.nz) or Noeline (n.wright[at]waikato.ac.nz)

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