SAGE Publishing Asia Pacific organized a two-part SAGE Hour webinar for the Southeast and Central Asian region on 1 Nov 2022 to engage the local academics with our publishing knowledge and academic views. The event was attended by over 200 attendees consisting of academics, librarians, and students.

The first part of the webinar featured Prof. Teck Yong Eng, managing editor of the Journal of General Management, who delivered an insightful presentation on the peer review process. Thereafter, for the second part, Ms Rosalia da Garcia, managing director of SAGE Asia Pacific and Central Asia, led an engaging discussion with distinguished guests from Singapore, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan on global education.

PART 1 – Publishing Workshop: Process of Peer Review

Picture this: after months of toiling, you finally submit your research paper for peer review. You acknowledge that you’re one step closer to publishing your hard work. You feel accomplished, triumphant, and relieved.

And then it starts: the looming anxiety of having your paper torn apart by a pool of experts in the field.

“Many authors view the peer review process negatively because they typically fear rejection and the not-so-positive comments that come with it,” explained Prof Teck Yong Eng. “But the whole idea of this scholarly evaluation is to improve the quality of your paper.”

At this workshop, Prof. Teck shared valuable tips and tricks for getting research papers past peer review and accepted for publication.

To start, he said that one of the easiest ways for authors to get their paper published is to write it like they’re presenting a story.

“Think of it this way: if you can simplify complicated ideas and jargon or concepts, present them in clear words, and strip all the references – you can sell a story better,” said Prof. Teck. “It’s all about what ideas you’re trying to tell.”

Prof. Teck also shared some key aspects peer reviewers look for when evaluating a paper. Here are some guide questions authors could use to check their work pre-submission:

  • Is the title of your paper thought-provoking and attractive enough to inspire people to read it?
  • Does the abstract succinctly give the gist of your research? Is the word count not longer than 200 words?
  • Does your introduction encapsulate the overall aim, theory, research method, core findings, and implications of the study? Is it two to three pages long and in double-space format?
  • Does the methodology correspond to the theory of your research?
  • Are the contributed ideas cited in the paper original?
  • What are the implications of your topic in theory and in practice?

Another oversight that authors usually commit is not emphasizing the literature review.

The purpose of a literature review is to critique your own paper and present up-to-date information on what’s going on in the body of knowledge related to your topic. They need to have solid critiques and balanced arguments from both sides. Moreover, the paper should be framed and positioned to answer your research questions and clearly show the gap between the research and its hypotheses.

“The mistake most authors make is that they only summarise the literature,” Prof. Teck pointed out. “They don’t put forward the arguments that would strengthen the call for papers.”

A research paper’s next stage is going through a desk review. Prof Teck explained that the editor and editorial board members decide here whether to desk reject or send out a new manuscript for assessment. The process takes six to eight weeks to complete.

Once a paper goes through a desk review, authors are expected to receive feedback that contains a full range of issues that reviewers raise.

“This part of the process aims to identify inconsistencies in the study and further develop the logical arguments,” Prof Teck on why constructive criticism is vital at this stage. “You must focus your mind to improve the paper’s quality.”

When feedback is given, authors are expected to respond and act on it. The stage is called R&R, which stands for revise and resubmit. The number of amendments varies; sometimes, a paper calls for a major revision, while others only require minor changes.

Prof Teck Yong Eng concluded the workshop by reiterating the three elements that would get a research paper published: quality, rigour, and innovation.

“You will spend a lot of time rewriting the original manuscript, as well as replying back and forth with the reviewers,” the managing editor of the Journal of General Management cautioned. “Don’t take this entire peer review process lightly; you’ll see yourself revising extensively and thoroughly checking each section’s issues and addressing them.”

PART 2 – Global Education: What Needs to Happen?

The pandemic has shifted almost every aspect of educational institutions worldwide. In SAGE Hour’s second instalment, Rosalia da Garcia smoothly transitioned Prof Teck Yong Eng’s workshop with dialogues on global education.

To kick off the session, Rosalia started with open-ended questions that included topics on how the higher education market has shifted after the pandemic. It also touched on what required educators, universities, and publishers to review how students learn.

“We will see a shift from mass face-to-face sessions to mass digital learning,” said SAGE APAC managing director. “Smart bots allow for more personalized learning through advanced learning analytics.”

Rosalia added that students now have choices, and universities must offer an on-campus physical experience as part of their value proposition.

Dr. Natalie Pang added three points to the discourse. The National University of Singapore senior lecturer quoted the imminent Indian librarian S. R. Ranganatha, who famously said that “books are for use”, which she believes is relevant today.

Her second point reiterated that libraries are increasingly crucial with the scarcity of building spaces and access to books, journals, and papers. Thirdly, Dr Pang pointed out that while technology is a vital tool for learning, it should be used with intention and purpose.

For Mr Mahbob Yusof, today’s librarians must actively collaborate with various departments.

“Librarians don’t need to rely on buildings to provide services,” the University of Malaya chief librarian said. “Access to collections is more important.” Furthermore, he stated that libraries play a big part in global education because users need more information and that almost everything is digitally accessible material and openly shared.

Rosalia chimed in, saying that librarians have evolved tremendously. “No longer are they the ones you ask where the books are; no longer the ones negotiating for pricing,” she said.  “They are now the support mechanism for faculty and students.”

Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr Loretta O’Donnell believes that global education gives learners the best of both worlds. “With three billion video game players playing each week, I’m very familiar with the mechanism of being informed and entertained simultaneously,” she said.

As the workshop drew close, one of the audience members’ questions further opened the global education dialogue. The inquiry: how do you see YouTube as a medical education channel?

“It depends on the [validity] of the context, content, and sources,” came Dr Pang’s rapid-fire response.

On the other hand, Rosalia feels that while YouTube can support a discussion and provide critical analysis, it shouldn’t be the only means of information. “You want credible, peer-reviewed content that supports your learning process, too.”

Circling back on the peer-review process discussed in the first workshop, Dr O’Donnell agrees with Rosalia. She noted that peer-reviewed content possesses valuable elements not typically found on YouTube: reliability, credibility, and trustworthiness.

“These need to be the hallmark of trusted information,” she said.

To watch the two-part SAGE Hour 2022 webinar replay for FREE, click here. Want to get first dibs on the next workshops? Follow SAGE Publications Asia Pacific’s LinkedIn page for real-time updates on announcements, upcoming events, and more.

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