Publishing practice(s) of academics from Group of Eight universities in Australia

Padmalochanan, P 2019, Publishing practice(s) of academics from Group of Eight universities in Australia, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Publishing practice(s) of academics from Group of Eight universities in Australia
Author(s) Padmalochanan, P
Year 2019
Abstract Motivated by the ever-increasing pressure on academics in higher education, this study investigates the challenges faced and strategies adopted by academics in attaining and maintaining their research publication goals. The performance-based criteria introduced as part of Western neo-liberalisation policies in academia have strengthened the impact of hierarchical structure on the academic publishing practices within the field of higher education. While there is an extensive body of knowledge in relation to the publishing policies followed by different universities or the higher education sector, most of these studies have not explored, firstly, how the interests of diverse stakeholders in academic publishing are perceived and addressed by the academic community, and secondly, what strategies academics adopt to achieve the publication criteria set by their universities or research bodies.

The present study aims to understand how academics, as members of the higher education community, address the challenges experienced in the competitive publishing environment. The study achieves this objective by exploring and evaluating the hypotheses: (1) researchers adopt strategies to overcome these publishing challenges to ensure a high-volume of publication; (2) publishing habits of researchers are framed only by university or institutional policies; and (3) individual academics’ publishing choices are influenced by publishing opportunities provided by publishers only if they help to meet the publishing expectations of their university.

Bourdieu’s concepts of field, capital and habitus inform the study. While the concept field assists in identifying the field of higher education in relation to publishing, the concept capital provides an understanding of the factors that are significant for academics in the field, and the concept habitus provides an understanding of academics’ publishing practices.

A self-administrated online survey is used as an instrument to collect data from academics working in research-focussed Australian universities (Group of Eight Universities, Go8). The study finds that, although academics use various publishing strategies, only some strategies directly contribute toward enhancing their publication volume. The results also reveal that the relationship between academics and publishers remains opaque. The study leads us to the realisation and understanding of the dynamic relationship between research assessment policies, universities and academics’ use of digital media platforms. The nature of the relationship between academics and academic publishers is comparatively less disrupted by digital technology when compared to that in other media industries.

By addressing the real-time issues related to an activity that has multiple stakeholders, this study contributes to different academic disciplines at various levels, whilst being significant for academics, since it is an original empirical study of academic practices. The critical evaluation of academics’ publishing goals imparts insights to universities for administering best human resource practices for developing and retaining academic talent. The study also provides an opportunity for academic publishers to understand their customers, their challenges and how to potentially address those challenges, and to customise their services to the Australian region.

This study successfully demonstrates how Bourdieu’s concepts of field, capital and habitus can be applied to increase our understanding of other social field theories. By critically examining the practices in a public management environment using Bourdieu’s concepts, the study accomplishes the advantage of using social theories in different contexts. Mostly importantly, the study enhances the body of knowledge by explaining Fligstein and McAdams’ concept of field relations (2012) using Bourdieu’s concepts.

The findings of this research are limited to the Australian Go8 HASS context, and further empirical evidence is suggested to visit these challenges in other developed nations’ universities. The study offers researchers and stakeholders of higher education an opportunity to replicate the study in other contexts, and to benchmark and compare the research results.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies
Keyword(s) academics
academic publishing
Bourdieu's theory of practice
Excellence in Research of Australia (ERA)
field theory
Go8 universities
publishing challenges
publishing strategies
publishing practice
publishing environment
social and cultural theories
research active academics
scholarly communication
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Created: Mon, 07 Oct 2019, 14:02:08 EST by Keely Chapman
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