External affirmation is the fuel of academic progress and its natural corollary is external rejection. We write papers and submit them and, more often than not, we get reviews that run from gentle refusal to sadistic cruelty. I am more familiar with the first. I have now received something close to the second. I won’t use this entry to complain about that review. Frankly, it’s not constructive. The paper was turned down and there are really only three options for the rejected writer:
Writing and publishing academic work is a fairly solitary experience and this goes for both pre- and post-publication. While I may have started writing for publication as far back as 2005 I rarely receive unsolicited correspondence from that work. I think I have had a grand total of 3, legitimate, unsolicited enquiries from readers. The first was a simple request for a copy of an article not otherwise available. The second, came recently, from a small-scale, but entirely legitimate, publisher interested in a conference paper I gave (which the publisher thought would fit nicely in an academic monograph series he is planning. Sadly, I had to disappoint them). The last, which arrived yesterday, came from just about the last place I would have expected.
Academia.edu is a sort of facebook-for-scholars, but without the game invitations and image macros. The site allows academics to post their credentials, articles, research interests, CVs, and other details in a forum that is far more accessible and amenable to social networking than the institutional pages that some academics get. Most graduate students and independent researchers have no other way of making their presence known on-line outside of these sorts of forums. Some people on the site post questions to the general readership and one of these got me to thinking. That was a while ago, and this entry took rather longer than planned. This is aesthetically appropriate considering the nature of the original question.