Five lessons from my first publications

Talks about courage, journal rankings, 2nd chances, co-authors & persistance as the lessons I learned from my early publications

My paper The persistent myth of high expatriate failure rates was first-ranked in the WAIB top-20 on research in global careers. I was therefore interviewed by Saba Colakoglu and Ha Nguyen, who came up with some great questions. This blogpost covers their fifth question which deals with the lessons I have learned from my early publications.

What is your advice on publishing to junior academics?

First, as a PhD student or ECR don’t be afraid to call out things that you think are not right, as long as you have done your own work rigorously and are sure you have read all the relevant literature. Dare to be different and critical! You are welcome to get in touch with me if you are worried that you might be offending established scholars in the field. I’ll help you to get your story right, like Nancy Adler did with me.

Second, don’t discard the option of publishing in lower ranked journals. International Journal of HRM - the journal in which I published my first paper - was not a highly-ranked journal at the time I published in it. It still isn’t seen as a top journal. My first piece on cultural distance was published as a book chapter in the Advances in International Management series. Career Development International - in which I published my conceptual piece on expatriate failure - likewise is not a highly-ranked journal. But these outlets allowed me to write the story I wanted to write, and the articles became highly-cited anyway.

Third, you can always revisit a particular topic if you feel your original attempt at dealing with it didn’t quite achieve its goal. In both cases – expatriate failure rates and cultural distance – I published the first article in a less prestigious outlet, and it wasn’t really picked up or at least not as quickly as I had hoped. So, at my second attempt I generalised the articles’ core message and they were ultimately published in higher ranked journals. What you can also do, and should do, is conduct several studies on the same topic from different angles. That is how you are making a substantive contribution; you are not going to change the field with just one article.

Fourth, co-authors and collaborators can come from the most unexpected corners. Be open to work with anyone with good ideas, regardless of their position in academia, the university they work for, their nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, or anything else. And although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend working with people you have never met, it can work. I have never met Claus Christensen with whom I wrote the Expatriate failure: time to abandon the concept? article and I still don’t even know what he looks like. We have only ever exchanged emails.

Finally, and probably most importantly, be persistent! I have written a white paper called the four P’s of publishing and the fourth P is persistence, but I repeated that three times. Every academic, even the most senior and most accomplished ones get rejections all the time. That’s why I wrote my CV of failures blogpost. There is an outlet for every article, you just need to find. Don’t ever give up on your work.

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