Archive for August 17th, 2009

Every time I go to a conference I experience the academic equivalent of somebody checking me out.  That is, their eyes make contact with mine and then drift down to my nametag, before returning to my face.  I’m sure that this behavior is sometimes indicative of the sort of status game that many ascribe to it.  Most of the time, however, I think that those who have been “tag checked” project their own feelings onto the interaction (similar to my belief about candidates at the employment service).  The thing is, I tag check people all the time and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have anything to do with a desire for status.  When I am at a conference I’m constantly trying to connect names with faces and remember if the familiar face I see is somebody I’ve met or merely looks like somebody I’ve met.  Given my new institutional affiliation (to which the most common reaction at ASA was, “I’ve never heard of that”), I doubt that anybody will suspect me of playing the status game.  In the future I’ll likely have to remind myself that the fact that somebody is affiliated with a school I’ve heard of does not mean they don’t want to talk to me because I’m from a school that they haven’t heard of.

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People who are concerned with publishing sometimes talk about the rejection rates of various journals, whether using them as a justification for rejection (“It is okay not to get accepted by ASR since they only accept 5%* of submissions”) or cause for celebration (“My paper got accepted by ASR, so I must be in the top 5%* of sociologists!”).  At some schools with low teaching loads, faculty members are able to work on lots of projects at the same time which increases the likelihood that they will get a “hit” in one of the top journals.  Of course, working at a school that has a more demanding teaching load means that one cannot work on as many projects at once so the total number of submissions and, thus, the likelihood of getting a “hit” is lower.

Rather than throwing paper after paper at ASA, AJS, and Social Forces to see if one will stick, however, faculty members may increase the likelihood of being published in one of these journals by tying their work to previous research that has been valued by those who publish in these venues.  If you find yourself in this position, you may want to frame your work in a way that connects to one or more of the following: stratification, networks, organizations, social movements, and HLM methods.  Here is a map of the citation network for ASR, AJS, and Social Forces over the past ten years, via Orgtheory:


*Not the actual rejection rate for ASR.

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