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A smart way to add points without diluting your research

November 18th, 2010

One common problem Booklab authors report is having to come up with fresh topics for conference papers that may never actually lead anywhere in terms of published research.  Although the ideal situation is a conference topic that develops into an article and eventually becomes part of a book, real life is rarely that neat and precise.  Instead, scholars often spend a great deal of distracting, rush-rush time on conference papers that wind up as unpublished computer files.

Milena Santoro in the French Department offered a workaround that I like much better.  She suggests working on articles for publication from the beginning, and letting conference topics arise as the fruit of that research.  Her logic is sound — a paper published in a key journal counts much more at tenure review than a conference presentation (sometimes as much as 3-4 times more).  But if (for example) a journal article counts for 3 points and a conference presentation only counts one, they can be combined.  An author can easily craft conference presentations from the paper’s core concepts or from outtake material that did not end up in the final draft, turning a three-point paper into four or five points without either increasing the writing workload or distracting the author from the goal of publishing the paper.  Smart!

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