1

Suppose one would like to propose a new way of performing a specific task in academic writing, for example, a different/new way of citing. I realise this example is vague, but the example is not the focus of the question.

How would they go about doing so? Would they publish an article explaining the method in a journal dedicated to academic writing conventions? If such a journal exists, could someone share it here?

Alternatively, what other ways are there to propose new conventions?

6
  • I doubt there is a journal of academic writing conventions, or if there is, if it gets many readers. One question is, does the convention address a real concern? "Indirectly citing future work" seems, well, pretty fuzzy and ill defined. Particularly the "indirect" part.
    – Jon Custer
    May 9, 2022 at 22:16
  • I think what you are looking for is called an editor. May 9, 2022 at 22:43
  • 1
    What do you mean "indirectly cite future work"?
    – Bryan Krause
    May 9, 2022 at 22:58
  • Welcome to Academia SE! it seems to me that a question like this is too vague to be meaningfully answered here. You are giving, vague, generic examples of what you mean by new writing conventions, but an appropriate answer requires a clear, concrete case of a legitimately new writing convention. Otherwise, answers will be all over the place. Perhaps you could submit a new question with a concrete case? But if you do not want to reveal your new convention publicly here (which is perfectly understandable), then this might not be the right forum.
    – Tripartio
    May 10, 2022 at 2:22
  • You might be better off asking an experienced scholar whom you can trust with your ideas.
    – Tripartio
    May 10, 2022 at 2:28

4 Answers 4

1

Suppose one would like to propose a new way of performing a specific task in academic writing, for example, a different/new way of citing. I realise this example is vague, but the example is not the focus of the question.

How would they go about doing so? Would they publish an article explaining the method in a journal dedicated to academic writing conventions? If such a journal exists, could someone share it here?

Alternatively, what other ways are there to propose new conventions?

As noted by others, conventions develop through time. Furthermore, academic fields such as the history of science and philosophy of science study these trends and why these trends occur. I would encourage you look into these fields more.

Regarding proposing new scientific norms, work with groups of scientists to establish your proposed methods as norms within your field. Professional organizations have their own standards and guidelines. If you can convince your peers that your ideas are good, other will adopt them. Publishing your proposed methods would be one method to do this. However, persuasion and consensus that your method is complimentary, or even better than existing methods requires other be aware of your idea and want to use it. Sharing your results with your peers through meetings and working groups would help to raise awareness. Examples of professional groups with standards include:

These standards are often written by senior members in the field, working group members (often a somewhat thankless volunteer committee work), and editors/editorial board members. Hence, becoming active as a professional would help to you to raise awareness about your proposed methods, and, maybe even give yourself a chance to change the method!

Lastly, formal groups of groups exist such as the Council of Science Editors (homepage here).

2

Convention means "the way it is usually done". As such it is pointless to try to initiate a new convention, it can only become a convention when it reaches sufficient support. So, what you can do is to suggest a new way to perform a certain task and then wait, or argue for its merits, until your idea aggregates sufficient support. This may take some time or if it is a great idea attracting attention, it may be fairly quick. It will simply depend on the merits of your idea and how it is perceived by your peers.

One can perceive the slow reaction of the academic body as both positive and negative. The positive is that ideas will never be accepted until discussed and disseminated to a degree where a majority subscribes to the idea. The negative is of course that also necessary changes takes time. In some cases this balance is on the good side and sometime on the negative side. Which is best is still up for debate and certainly depends on the indivisual question.

1
  • Thanks! I probably used the wrong word with "convention" then. "New way to perform a specific task" is indeed what I meant. I will edit my question accordingly. Where does one "suggest a new way to perform a certain task and then wait, or argue for its merits, until [their] idea aggregates sufficient support."? This is why I was asking about potential academic journals dedicated to this. May 10, 2022 at 13:42
1

I won't make any assessment of the merits of your idea, but yes, if you want to propose a new convention (e.g., a new way to cite items) then you could publish this as an academic paper. I'm not aware of any academic journal that is tailored exclusively to academic writing conventions (probably too narrow a topic to sustain an entire journal) but there are plenty of academic journals on language and writing in general.

As to the substance of what you would need to do to establish a new convention, publishing an initial paper on the matter will require you to show how your proposed method works, what advantages it has over the existing (conventional) method, and what kind of drawbacks it might have relative to that method. Your paper should give a substantive contribution to the field of writing, and it should anticipate and deal with any obvious critiques of your method. If you are able to make a strong case for your new method then other people might start to adopt it; if it is adopted at a sufficiently large scale then it may become the new de facto convention over time.

0

Editors in chief are the ultimate gatekeepers of how things are done in journals. If you wanted to suggest, for instance, a different citation format for a journal, or adding video highlights, etc., then your first task is convincing an EiC to make the change in their journal.

The second challenge is for the EiC to convince the journal publisher to implement the change; and there is often a lot of inertia with traditional publishers like Springer or Elsevier.

Unfortunately EiCs are almost always busy people, so the best people to attract their attention are fellow academics that are already in their circle. If you are an outsider with little experience and publishing history it's going to be difficult to make your voice heard. The best people to change something are those who already know how it works, in the end.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .