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Find your audience: how to position your research work

As I explained in an earlier post, I was very disappointed to see my research work rejected at this year’s EMAC conference.

Fortunately the very same research work was accepted and presented at the 5th International Conference on Rhetoric and Narratives in Management Research. This conference, though more limited in size than the EMAC and its hundreds of participants, gave me a great boost of energy … and hope. I was finally able to find people who were interested in interdisciplinary research and eager to mix techniques and learn about new fields of research.

During the conference the tendency for most researchers to work in silos was discussed many times. It seems indeed that system has been geared towards silo-based research. The universities have incentivized researchers to target so-called A journals. Those A journals in turn have generalized the double-blind review process (on which the author has no control) with hyper-specialized reviewers. Those reviewers, because they are also authors, tend to defend their positions and field of expertise by not allowing disruptive research emerge. The double-blind review process gives them a veto power on research that may threaten their personal interests.

As a result, academic journals tend to be very homogeneous in the kind of articles they let through which leads to hyper-specialization. There are myriad of journals with very narrow editorial scope and it become almost impossible to make an impact in publishing a paper in something else than a A journal. One colleague at the conference explained he was awarded a distinction by a journal where he had published a paper; he had been cited 10 times … in 3 years. That was a record; a sad record actually.


Fortunately, some journals exist with the clear goal to be “permissive” and to stimulate interdisciplinary research. The Journal of Organizational Change Management (JOCM) is one of them. The editorial scope is defined as follows:

The goal of the journal is to provide alternative philosophies for organizational change and development. To accomplish this goal, the journal encourages:

  • The exploration of philosophies including; critical theory, postmodernism and poststructuralism as they apply to change and development
  • Qualitative analyses of change, discourse and change practices
  • Interdisciplinary approaches such as organization and ecology, consumption and production and rhetorics and theatrics of change and development;
  • Articles which tie into, or disagree with, themes from prior issues.

It takes a great deal of courage and vision to break with the rules and encourage processes that are “deviant” from the norm. After the many discussions I had in Barcelona, I’m positive that deviating from the norms, daring researching at the interfaces should be encouraged and will be rewarded of rich new developments. There is a growing number of people, out there, who refuse to cope with the silo-based system with now; they want to encourage research for the Greater Good and not for their personal interest. Those people are the ones you should meet and trust if your research is too controversial, too deviant and too risky fit in any of the classical journals.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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