There is no such thing as a journal paper

Helen Harding, Sarah Gilmore

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

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Ford, Harding, Gilmore and Richardson’s ‘Becoming the leader: leadership as material presence’, was accepted for publication in Organization Studies in late 2016. The paper conforms with the dominant format for academic journal papers. It: outlines how the idea for the study on which the paper is based was arrived at, lists its aims and objectives, discusses its methodology and methods, has a long section labelled ‘data analysis’, a discussion that develops a theory arising out of the data analysis, and a short conclusion looking forward to future work. It gives the impression of a smooth passage from inception of an idea about a topic that needs to be researched through the fieldwork to the paper’s publication. Because Organization Studies is listed as 4* in the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) journal rankings list, a considerable proportion of the paper is devoted to the methodology of the study, and to its theoretical location. We are quite proud of these – we developed a method for interviewing people that helps them articulate abstract ideas, and we brought together new materialities theory, notably the work of Karen Barad, with psychoanalytical theory, through the work of Christopher Bollas.
But we do not say that we are proud nor, even in this age of mandatory reflexivity, is there any hint of the authors having hinterlands, or lives outside academia that might have impacted the development of these ideas or the ways by which they were realised in this work. Furthermore, the implicit claim of smooth transition from idea to publication is a blatant lie. To say that the paper smooths over a rather complex and bumpy path to the final, published version would be to engage in whatever is the opposite of hyperbole. Karen Barad’s (2007) description of entities as enormously complex, mutually-constitutive entanglements is a better description of the processes that led to that paper’s publication. This chapter uses the history of writing that paper to undermine the concept of the 'acceptable' journal paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultivating Creativity in Methodology and Research
Subtitle of host publicationIn Praise of Detours
EditorsCharlotte Wegener, Ninna Meier, Elina Maslo
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-60216-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-60216-5
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


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