Another career whine.
Applying for academic jobs that are invariably given to people who are much older than me, I’ve come across a frustrating conundrum.
In Scandyland, it takes about seven months from the application deadline to decide who gets an academic job. This is because the selection process is guided by two or three external referees. The department doesn’t get to choose the person they want, but they can pretty much choose the referees, and so influence whether they’ll be likely to get e.g. an empiricist or a theoretician.
Now, one of the most important assets an academic can display to the referees is a large number of publications in respected journals. That I have. Particularly, I’ve published a lot in Fornvännen, an ERIH grade B quarterly with an unbroken run since 1906. I’m the journal’s managing editor.
The frustrating thing is that several of the referees I’ve had the misfortune to send stuff to have commented along the lines that “Rundkvist has published a lot of research, but much of it is in Fornvännen which he edits and so it doesn’t carry much evidential weight”. So instead of me having a lot of publications plus a high-profile editorship among my qualifications, one tends to somehow cancel the other out in the eyes of the referees.
I’m not sure whom they’re insulting here. Either they’re saying that Fornvännen is a crap journal, an assessment that the European Science Foundation does not share. Or they ‘re saying that Fornvännen is indeed a good journal, but that I’ve been slipping in contributions that are way below its standards. This second reading would actually also tend to hit the journal, since journals shouldn’t have that kind of loopholes in their content standards.
The truth is that my stuff has to pass the same kind of quality control as everything else in this internationally respected journal. I’d be eager to publish in it even if I weren’t one of its editors. It’s a quarterly with a large circulation and a regular publication schedule. Scandy archaeology only has eleven journals at ERIH grade A-B, most of them are annuals, several are faltering and most have neither a book reviews section nor a debate section. Really, where am I supposed to publish to get kudos?