17th February 2012: Academic Entrepreneurs & Intellectual Property

The Lowy Institute’s Sam Roggeven recently started an important debate about academic blogging in the Australian community of international relations (IR) academics. It raises issues about communicating IR and national security knowledge to a broader audience. Roggeven’s post attracted responses from Professor Nick Bisley (La Trobe University), Dr. Nicholas Farrelly (Australian National University), and myself. In an overview, Roggeven also mentioned the role of intellectual property in either fencing off or facilitating the dissemination of academic research. A response to several points that these authors raise:

 

1. The academic entrepreneur may be an empowering self-image. Benjamin Cohen suggests in International Political Economy: An Intellectual History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008) that those who conceptualised IPE in the 1970s were intellectual entrepreneurs. Lisa Stampnitzky‘s influential 2008 PhD on counter-terrorism studies (PDF) juxtaposes the efforts of core academics, think-tank pundits and journalists as idea entrepreneurs. Richard Slaughter, Sohail Inayatullah, and others played similar roles in the formation of academic futures studies and strategic foresight. At its extreme are former academics like David E. Shaw and Jim Simons who left academia to fund ultra-secretive quantitative hedge funds. The mid-ground is held by academics like Clayton Christensen, Andrew Lo and Robert Shiller who separate their basic research from commercially-oriented applied research and institutional vehicles.

 

2. Universities and the higher education sector face disruptive innovations. This point came up in a Twitter exchange I had with Ken Wark. Canadian academic David Robinson emphasised the death of universities in New Matilda. Nick Bisley mentions several factors: aging demographics, small numbers, avoidance of “semi-digested thought bubbles”, time, and research incentives which emphasise peer reviewed journal articles over other contributions. I see all of these factors on a daily basis as a research administrator who teaching staff confide in. The Golden Age for professors that Robinson yearns for does not exist for the mid-level or early career academic who is on a casual or short-term contract. I see people trapped in poorly working administrative systems and broken processes that a Six Sigma consultant would reengineer.  Today’s undergraduate students have grown up in a world where the corporate ideals are firms like Apple and Google, whereas many universities are closer to a Yes Minister public service. In this environment, academic blogging is embraced by a minority — usually digital media academics — who see it and social media platforms as a creative tool for self-liberation.

 

3. Open publishing can enhance peer review processes. Nicholas Farrelly and co-author Andrew Walker extol the power of public blogging to improve the quality of academic research and to create feedback loops with different audiences. Blogging can do so, under specific conditions. Peer review depends on the field, its norms, the specific academic journal, the editorial panel, and the developmental awareness of the reviewers. Unfortunately, the one-way nature of blind peer review in the Australian Research Council competitive grants process and in many journals can lead reviewers to write nasty, brutish, short feedback. This dynamic often disappears when the reviewers’ identities are known to all parties or where the authors have a rejoinder process to clarify the feedback. Blog publishing platforms are perfect for this — but research incentives, metrics and journals prevent the public circulation of drafts for comment outside a conference, seminar, or peer group. An academic with a personal webpage in 1998 had more freedom than an academic does today: publishers have serious restrictions on public dissemination that didn’t exist a decade ago. Institutional repositories are a positive development.

 

4. Bloggers often have to fight to do academic blogging. In 2003-07, I was a senior researcher at Swinburne University in the Smart Internet Technology CRC. Its brief was to explore the internet’s possibilities – but this didn’t extend to research management or to how it published its own research. The work I did had to navigate institutional capture and commercial embargoes. At the same time, at night I edited the US-based alternative news website Disinformation: we daily published stories and an email newsletter, and I got immediate feedback from readers. “We own you,” was the CRC’s response. Towards the end of my CRC contract, I convinced the CRC to let me write a daily, public blog about relevant news items, trends and developments. It lasted about six weeks before I left: I wrote more timely and public information than the CRC had published of my research in the previous year. Bisley’s “semi-digested thought bubbles” can have more relevance in a climate of time-based competition. Blogging — like regular writing — is not about scarcity and can help you to self-reflect and to write more productively. It’s closer to being a like a good DVD extra or director’s commentary than a finished motion picture film: it can give insight into the creative process and inspire dialogue with others. Apart from writing a PhD, I already have enough journal article ideas for the next four years.

 

5. Academics need to know — but often don’t — about intellectual property. Sam Roggeven raises the role of intellectual property (IP). In reality, most academics face a ‘stacked deck’ about IP. Teaching staff face complex workload models that are calculated retrospectively, to gain research time. International publishers usually demand that the IP be assigned to them for academics’ journal articles (unless they advocate open publishing).  The articles are needed for competitive grants and for convincing promotions committees about your research track record. Getting research incentive money for published articles depends on knowing how the institutional system works, on your Faculty’s policy, and whether or not you have a full-time academic contract. Some academics try to play the system: ancillary income via consulting and speakers bureaus; publishing in obscure conferences; or going to academic conferences that are really junkets. Research administrators can spot these strategies from looking at the data. Many academics have no idea about how to translate their research into an entrepreneurial venture. This frustrates the IP specialists, lawyers, and research administrators that I know. Areas that have a more laissez-faire approach to IP — like digital media — are more likely to embrace academic blogging. Despite these challenges, it’s possible to still blog about your initial ideas and the writing process, and to craft the insights for a good academic journal. A blog also gives you the visibility for academic citations and helps to build the international research networks needed to advance your career.

16th February 2012: Academic Blogging

fred and academic blogging

 

The Lowy Institute’s Sam Roggeveen contends that Australian academics would benefit from blogging their research (in response to The Australian‘s Stephen Matchett on public policy academics).

 

I see this debate from several perspectives. In a former life I edited the US-based alternative news site Disinformation (see the 1998-2002 archives). I also work at Victoria University as a research administrator. I’ve blogged in various forums since 2003 (such as an old LiveJournal blog). In contrast, my PhD committee in Monash’s School of Political and Social Inquiry are more likely to talk about book projects, journal articles, and media interviews.

 

As Roggeveen notes, a major uptake barrier is the structure of institutional research incentives. The Australian Research Council’s Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) initiative emphasises blind peer reviewed journal articles over other forms. Online blogging is not included as an assessable category of research outputs although it might fit under ‘original creative works’. Nor is blogging included in a university’s annual Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) outputs. University incentives for research closely follow ERA and HERDC guidelines. The ARC’s approach is conservative (in my view) and focuses on bibliometrics.

 

I know very few academics who blog. Many academics are not ‘intrinsic’ writers and are unused to dealing with developmental editors and journals. University websites often do not have blog publishing systems and I’ve seen several failed attempts to do so. Younger academics who might blog or who do use social media are often on casual or short-term contracts. The ones who do blog like Ben Eltham have a journalism background, are policy-focused, and are self-branded academic entrepreneurs.

 

Roggeveen is correct that blogging can potentially benefit academics — if approached in a mindful way. I met people like Richard Metzger and Howard Bloom during my publishing stint. I am regularly confused with QUT social media maven Axel Bruns — and we can now easily clarify potential queries. Blogging has helped me to keep abreast of sub-field developments; to build networks; to draft ideas for potential journal articles and my PhD on strategic culture; and has influenced the academic citations of my work and downloads from institutional repositories.

 

Problem is, HERDC or ERA have no scope for soft measures or ‘tacit’ knowledge creation — so blogging won’t count to many universities.

 

That Roggeveen needs to make this point at all highlights how much the internet has shifted from its original purpose to become an online marketing environment. Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal HyperText and CERN (1989) envisioned the nascent internet as a space for collaborative academic research. The internet I first encountered in 1993-94 had Gopher and .alt newsgroups, and later, web-pages by individual academics. Regularly visited example for PhD research: University of Notre Dame’s political scientist Michael C. Desch and his collection of easily accessible publications.  It’s a long way from that free environment to today’s “unlocking academic expertise” with The Conversation.

 

Photo: davidsilver/Flickr.

15th February 2012: MITx and Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education

Ken Wark and I had a brief Twitter exchange yesterday about an Atlantic Monthly story on MITx and disruptive innovation in higher education.

 

“It’s a complete misunderstanding of the business(es) universities are in,” Wark told me. “B-school bullshit.”

 

I spent Valentine’s Day night thinking about Rakesh Khurana and Henry Mintzberg, whilst writing PhD notes on the speculative bubble in terrorism studies.

 

The changes Wark notes have unfolded in Australian universities since at least the mid-1990s. As an undergraduate I saw cuts made to La Trobe University’s cinema studies department. Several of the senior academics went to Monash or University of Melbourne. I then worked in publishing, saw several companies fail, and lived through the dotcom era. As a postgraduate student, I lived through the rise and fall of the Australian Foresight Institute at Swinburne University and the first years of Monash’s counter-terrorism studies degree. As a researcher, I worked for a cooperative research centre and on a successful rebid. As a research administrator, I’ve worked on university audits and several institutional reviews. I’ve worked closely with three professors who have thought deeply about these issues over the past 8 years. What business(es) universities are in can look very different depending on whether you are a student, academic, or university administrator.

 

B-school has several lessons on navigating this debate:

 

1. Emphasise research programs and teaching that create (and extract) institutional value. Wark for example has made significant contributions to new media theory, cultural studies and to the debate on intellectual property. His distinction between people who create intellectual property (hackers) versus people who own it (vectoralists) has some implications for who controls the copyright on academic journal articles. This emphasis on value is foreign to many academics. It’s a view closer to music producers like Rick Rubin and musicians like Jay-Z and Kanye West, and to private equity and venture capital firms. However, my experience is that it’s vital to gaining tenure track, dealing with promotions committees, and handling salary contract negotiations. Successful academics can articulate their individual value and why it should be hard to imitate. Wark and I agree that there’s a ‘winner takes all’ dynamic for many academics.

 

2. Content differs from credentials. Mid-way through my Swinburne Masters studies, the professor and his teaching staff faced a student revolt. It occurred in a subject that used cohort-based learning to generate a lot of the content and insights. Several students decided they would get more value from coffee discussions with their new colleagues than paying for a five-day subject in accelerated delivery mode. When I recently wanted to understand the debate about high-frequency trading systems and market microstructure in finance, I assembled a personal reference library and spoke to industry professionals for less than the cost of a university subject. Students with Amazon Kindle software and research skills can do the same. HR managers still value credentials for specific degrees and career pathways.  Universities use credentials (and their absence) in contract negotiations. Initiatives like MITx promise to fulfill or satisfice the desire for credentials and quality content but without the current levels of student debt. It’s a value migration gambit that is potentially disruptive to tenured professors and their expertise.

 

3. Cost structure matters. Wark and I agree that higher education faces a ‘race to the bottom’ dynamic. In Australia, I see this as a competition in part between the Group of 8 institutions, a group of ‘challenger’ specialists (including Griffith, RMIT and Swinburne), and universities burdened by a high cost structure and operational inefficiencies. This impacts a range of managerial decisions from the institutional budget process to patterns of academic hiring and the quality assurance of international program delivery. The B-school curricula of GE, Jim Collins, Clayton Christensen, Michael Jensen, Aswath Damodaran, Moneyball, Stephen Schwarzman, and others has lots of relevant insights on how cost structure can be a shaping influence on institutional management. Academics who understand cost structure — even if they personally disagree with it — will have a shared framework to communicate more effectively with others.

31st January 2012: Public Policy Stars

From an email to Harvard’s Stephen M. Walt in reply to a blog post on public policy stars:

 

1.     Scholars like Anthony Giddens, John Lewis Gaddis and Clayton M. Christensen had a research program with attention to research design/methods. Gaddis’s 1968 PhD, Strategies of Containment (1982) and We Now Know (1997) were hallmarks of Cold War strategy, historical methods, and multi-archival research. Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) based on his PhD was more robust than other dotcom era theories on market change. All of these authors could transition their research program into commercial publishing which then had an impact on broader audiences. Publisher selection was important — such as in the HarperBusiness’  branding of Jim Collins’ management work. Paul Krugman, Robert Putnam, Joseph Stiglitz, Charles Perrow and Herbert Simon also fit this mould. Robert K. Merton, Aaron Wildavsky, James March and Anthony Downs continue to have an impact in emerging sub-fields such as strategic foresight and sustainability.

2.       Each of the scholars mentioned above had a supportive Faculty. This created a ‘success to the successful’ dynamic which means we remember the contribution of these scholars over others. It meant they could combine  basic research in academia, and more applied research in consulting,  publishing, and spin-out ventures. For instance, Gaddis is well-known for  Yale’s grand strategy program, whilst Christensen has the consulting firm  Innosight and a network of collaborative co-authors on recent books.

3.       Media involvement (Krugman and Stiglitz in ‘quality’ media  outlets); collaborative research projects (Gaddis and the Cold War  International History Project); and event-based serendipity (the Cold War’s  end and Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ thesis) can all act as  amplifiers of their ideas.

27th January 2012: Handling Article Rejection

I recently got negative reviews for two articles submitted to the Journal of Futures Studies (JFS). Many academics I know find article rejection to be highly stressful. Below are some comments and strategies addressed to three different audiences: academic authors; reviewers; and university administrators. Attention to them may improve the probability that your article is accepted for publication in an academic journal.

 

Academic Authors

 

1. Be very familiar with your ‘target’ journal: its editors and review panel, its preferred research design and methodologies, and how it handles controversies and debates in your field. Look for an editorial or scoping statement that explains what kinds of articles the journal will not accept.

 

2. Before submission do a final edit of your article. Define all key terms or cite past definitions if you have referred to the scholarly literature. Check paragraph structure, connecting sentences, section headings, and that the conclusions answer the key questions you have raised in the beginning. Cite some articles from the target journal if possible. Consider who is likely to review your article and factor this into your discussion of key debates. Use redrafting for honing the article and for self-diagnosis of mental models.

 

3. Ask if the journal has a rejoinder process for authors to reply to the blind peer review comments. A rejoinder is not an invitation to personal attacks or to engage in flame-wars. Rejoinders do enable authors to address situations in which one or more reviewers misunderstand the article, frame their comments in terms of an article they wish the author had written (rather than the actual article), or where there are concerns about the methodologies used, the research design, or data interpretation. An effective rejoinder process respects all parties, maintains the confidentiality of the blind peer review process, and provides an organisational learning loop. A rejoinder response does not necessarily reverse an editorial decision not to publish.

 

4. If the journal does have a rejoinder process then carefully examine the feedback pattern from reviewers. Highlight where one reviewer answers the concerns that another reviewer raised: this should neutralise the negative comments or at least show that varied opinions exist. It is more difficult when several reviewers raise the same concerns about an article.

 

5. Set a threshold limit on the amount of editing and rewrites you will do: you have other opportunities. A rejected article might fit better with another journal; with a substantial rewrite; with a different research design; or could be the stepping stone to a more substantive article. Individual reviews also reflect the particular reviewer and their mental models: this can sometimes be like an anthropological encounter between different groups who misunderstand each-other. Sometimes reviewers like critics just get it wrong: one of my most highly cited publications with international impact was dropped from the blind peer review stream.

 

Reviewers

 

1. Use the ‘track changes’ and ‘comment’ function of your word processor to provide comments. It can be difficult for authors to read comments that you provide in the body text and that is written in the same font. Be time-responsive: authors hate waiting months for feedback.

 

2. Do a first read of the article without preconceptions: focus on the author’s state intent, their narrative arc, the data or evidence, and their conclusions. Be open to the article you have been asked to review, rather than the article that you wish the author had written. Be open to innovation in data collection, methodologies, and interpretation. Even do a self-review of your own comments before you send your feedback to the journal editors.

 

3. Know your own mental models. That is, how you see the field or discipline that you are reviewing in; your preference for specific methodologies and research designs; your stance on specific controversies and debates; and what kind of material you expect the journal to publish. Be aware of situations in which you are asked to review articles because you have a particular stance: the tendency is to write lukewarm reviews which focus on perceived deficiencies or ‘overlooked’ material. Be careful of wanting to ‘police’ the field’s boundaries.

 

4. Use your feedback as a developmental opportunity for the author. Don’t just give negative feedback, faulty sentence construction or grammar. If you don’t like something then explain why so that the author can understand your frame of reference. Focus also issues of research design, methodologies, and data interpretation. If there are other external standards or alternative perspectives (such as on a controversy or debate) then mention them. Articles often combine several potential articles or can have scope problems so note them. Highlight sections where the author makes an original, scholarly contribution, including new insights or where you learned something. It’s important to provide developmental feedback even when you reject an article for publication. A developmental review may evoke in authors the ‘moment of insight’ that occurs in effective therapy. The mystique of the blind peer review process ultimately comes down to the reviewer’s attention to the craft of providing constructive yet critical feedback that sets up future opportunities for the academic to advance their career.

 

5. Poison pen reviews have consequences. This is clearer in creative industries like film and music where bad reviews can kill a project or career. Pauline Kael and Lester Bangs are honoured in film and music circles respectively because they brought sensitivity and style to their reviews, even when they hated an artist. In academia, the blind peer review process can lead to internecine wars over different methodologies or research designs: problems that don’t usually arise in open publishing (because all parties know who is making the comments) or that can be handled through editorial review standards and a rejoinder process. Nevertheless, a negative review will have consequences. The author may not revise the article for publication. They may publish in a different journal. They may drop the project. In some cases, they may leave the field altogether. Consider how to frame the review so that you address the developmental need in a constructive manner.

 

University Administrators

 

1. Know the norms, research designs and methodologies, leading research teams, and the most influential and international journals in at least one discipline. This gives you a framework to make constructive inferences from. You will develop awareness of these factors in other disciplines through your interviews with different academics.

 

2. Understand the arc or life-span of academic careers: the needs of an early career researcher and the professor will differ, and this will influence which journals they seek to publish in. Every successful publication navigates a series of decisions. Know some relevant books and other resources that you can refer interested academics to.

 

3. Have some awareness of international publishing trends which affect journals and their editorial decisions. These include the debate about open publishing, the consolidation of publishing firms, and the different editorial roles in a journal. Be aware of the connection between some journals and either professional associations or specific university programs.

 

4. Know what to look for in publication track records. These include patterns in targeting specific journals; attending conferences; building networks in the academic’s discipline; and shifts in research programs. An academic may have a small number of accepted articles when compared with the number that have been written and rejected by specific journals. Use the publication track record as the basis for a constructive discussion with the individual academic, honoring their experience and resources, and using solution-oriented therapeutic strategies.

 

5. Understand that quality publications require time which equates to university investment in the academic’s career. The journal letter rankings in the Australian Research Council’s Excellence for Research in Australia led some university administrators to advise academics only to publish in A* and A-level journals. But not everyone will realistically achieve this. There can be variability of effort required: one A-level article I co-wrote required a substantive second draft; another took months to discuss, a day to do the first draft, and it was then accepted with minor changes. On the other hand, articles accepted in the A* journal International Security (MIT) have usually gone through multiple rounds of blind peer review, the authors are deeply familiar with the field’s literature, and have work-shopped the article extensively with colleagues, in graduate school seminars, and at international conferences. This takes a median two to five years to occur. The late Terry Deibel took almost 20 years to conceptualise and refine the national security frameworks he taught at the United States National War College for Foreign Affairs Strategy: Logic for American Statecraft (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Deibel also spent two years of sabbatical — in 1993 and 2005-06 — to write it. John Lewis Gaddis spent 30 years of research on George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: The Penguin Press, 2011) and five years to write it. Both books make substantive scholarly contributions to their fields; both books also required the National War College and Yale University to make significant financial investments in the authors’ careers. Are you making decisions based on short-term, volume-driven models or helping to create the enabling conditions that will help academics to have a similar impact in their respective fields?

7th December 2011: 4 Publications, 3 Years

New Matilda recently published articles by Henry Barnes and academic staff on Sydney University’s announced budget cuts.

 

Buried in the debates about academic institutional governance and infrastructure projects is one decision rule: academics must have published four articles over a preceding three year period (January 2009 – November 2011) to be exempt from potential job loss.

 

This is a mixed rule which prioritises publishing volume over strategic research programs and citations impact. Three A* journal articles are far superior to four C ranked papers (although the ARC’s Excellence for Research in Australia initiative has now dispensed with letter rankings for journals). Publishing cycles can vary for ARC Discovery and Linkage grants. More prestigious journals have higher rejection rates and longer cycles for ‘revise and resubmit’ drafts and blind peer review feedback. Collaborations can also take longer. The decision rule doesn’t address quality criteria for research programs.

 

That said, Sydney University’s decision rule sets a low threshold for publications output. It’s far lower than the output levels expected of Associate Professors and is on par with the research active index of a senior lecturer (Level C academic) at most institutions. Academics with a coherent research program; research design knowledge; and existing collaborations should be able to publish four journal articles over a three year period. That’s roughly 20,000 to 28,000 words over three years — or 12,000 to 15,000 words for some online journals. There are even guides like Wendy Laura Belcher‘s Writing Your Journal Article In 12 Weeks (Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks CA, 2009) that take you step-by-step through the drafting process. Throw in a personal productivity framework like David Allen’s Getting Things Done and you can navigate some common workload issues. (Sure, perhaps workload issues are important to you — and there are ways to reframe how you deal with them without getting caught up in workload model arguments.)

 

Some New Matilda respondents feel the decision rule is a travesty. I disagree. I know plenty of sessional academics with no job security and vastly lower pay who can still meet the decision rule’s threshold. In many cases, so can newly hired academics who have a strong sense of identity and have conceptualised a research program. The problem will be staff who don’t have publication outputs (and the reasons vary on a case-by-case basis) or academics who almost meet the threshold but have delays in their research programs. But maybe some underpaid, productive, new voices deserve a shot.

 

If you want to outmaneuver such decision rules and the administrative, finance and management staff who formulate them, then take a lesson from asset management and private equity firms: read a book like Michael Watkins’ The First 90 Days (Harvard University Press, Boston MA, 2003) or George B. Bradt’s The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2009) and develop a new action plan every 90-100 days. Scott Berkun‘s Making Things Happen (O’Reilly, Sebastopol CA, 2008) provides most of what you need to know about project management. Have two or three analytical research questions to pursue. Join a professional association in your expertise area. Read the top journals and study their research designs. Know who the national and international teams are for your research questions. Your colleagues who get promoted to Associate Professor or Professor have already worked out some of these strategies.

 

Increasingly, academia is like Moneyball: in a winner-takes-all market you need to be creative, innovative, and productive to excel.

23rd November 2011: Google Scholar Personal Profiles

Google Scholar has announced open citations and personal profiles.

The service is popular with academics for citation analysis and publication track records. Google Scholar’s data collection is messy: it trawls the internet and gathers citations from a range of websites and sources. It does not yet have the rigour of Elsevier’s Scopus database, for example. However, it is likely to outrank such proprietary services, due to Google’s accessibility and popularity.

My Google Scholar profile is here. For now, it is a highly selective collection — academic journal articles and conference papers, some postgraduate and undergraduate essays, and old Disinformation dossiers (see archives). I was surprised that some long-forgotten articles had been internationally cited. I have a more complete publications profile which gets updated as new academic research is published (PDF).

Several past collaborators — Axel Bruns, Ben Eltham & Jose Ramos — have their own profiles, and you should check out their personal research programs.

8th December 2010: Reflections on Editing 1

I spent several hours today editing the third draft of a forthcoming article co-written with Ben Eltham. Some reflections on the process today:

1. Find a co-author who you have synergies with, and whose strengths are a foil for your weaknesses. For the past 5 years I’ve had problems in structuring articles, whereas this is Ben’s specialty.

2. Leave some time to look at a manuscript. Ben finished the third draft in September from conversations that we originally had in November 2009 and earlier. Since then, I’ve read more on Waltzian neo-realism and strategic culture for PhD research. With the extra time, I could immediately see a narrative arc, new argumentation and possible references.

3. Read the journal’s background material: the editorial policy, reference style, and other information. At a strategic level this helps ‘frame’ a developmental editing approach. It also heightens the probability that your academic paper will be accepted into a top scholarly journal.

4. Signpost your key arguments and insights. Often the really interesting material is buried in a paragraph or at the end of a section. Use redrafting to draw it out more clearly for readers. Sometimes it takes a draft or two of getting material down for these ideas to emerge.

5. Kill your darlings. In the first draft I wrote a section on different security threats. It’s irrelevant and misplaced in the current draft. The easiest thing to do was to just cut the entire section. We may have to cut 3,000 words to fit the journal’s preferred word length, so some longer quotations may have to go.

6. Craft your sections and the transitions between each of them. For the article’s narrative arc, I felt several sections from the third draft could be resequenced into a stronger opening. We’ll see how this works – if it doesn’t we can always ‘revert changes’ to the third draft.

7. To hone your material know the field you are writing about. In the subject matter of this particular paper, scholars are expected to immerse themselves in the canonical literature and to understand policymaking processes. Being abreast of this material means we can shape our arguments through careful selection of quotes and references. This is an entirely different approach to some other areas we both write about, which are more fragmented and fluid.