Is There a Pathway From Conference Paper to Journal Publication For Central Asian Scholars?


A global debate about the need to internationalize journalism and mass communication (J&MC) studies is expanding because most published works in the discipline are Western focused. Critics of the Western-centric nature of J&MC research argue that the discipline ignores or pays inadequate attention to issues faced by non-Western news media and audiences.



This exploratory study analyses growing pressures on faculty in Central Asia to publish research in high-quality international journals and how faculty attempt to meet publishing mandates from institutions and ministries motivated to join world rankings.

This is important because of the scarcity of Central Asian scholarship in peer-reviewed journalism and mass communication (J&MC) journals due to the exceptional challenges faculty face publishing their work internationally.

This study, the first of its kind for international J&MC scholarship, draws on a survey and qualitative interviews with faculty who presented research on J&MC topics at one or more Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) conferences from 2015 to 2019. The study selected CESS because it is one of the few academic and international venues focused on the region.

Scholars who research the mass media of the developing world widely complain of limited interest of peer-reviewed journals—most published in the US and Europe—in their work. As evidence to validate widespread complaints about imbalances in academic publishing that broadly favour Western scholars over those from other parts of the world, a content analysis of articles in the seven most-cited European journals and papers presented at European Communication Research and Education Association conferences for a seven-year period found that only 0.53% of the 2,471 published research articles were by scholars affiliated with Latin American institutions. At the association’s conferences, only 1.29% of the 3,784 presenters were from Latin American institutions; only 49 presentations, or 1.29%, were about Latin America or by scholars affiliated with an institution there. Ganter and Ortega (2019) comment, ‘The need for a more democratic and open approach toward scholarly exchange across continents has been underscored in the past by repeated calls to de-Westernize media and communication studies … and, more recently, for academic cosmopolitanism’. The US dominates publishing), and an analysis of all 79 communication and media studies journals indexed on Web of Science underscores the dominance of those published in English-language countries. One reason directly relevant to Central Asian scholars is barriers by repressive political regimes ‘that made the development of communication and media studies literally impossible for decades’, including ‘the state socialism of all Eastern European and some Asian, South American, and African countries’

Given the sparsity of Central Asian scholarship in peer-reviewed J&MC journals, this study arises from an urgency to examine challenges these scholars face in undertaking and publishing research amidst escalating ‘publish-or-perish’ demands by their institutions and ministries of education. The term relates to a mandate to publish one’s peer-reviewed research or to present one’s juried-creative work as a requirement for promotion or job retention In particular, the authors were interested in how scholars use J&MC papers presented at conferences of a prestigious scholarly regional studies association as an avenue to secure publication of that research in Scopus-listed disciplinary journals.

This study sought to understand whether Central Asian scholars successfully publish conference papers in peer-review journals and/or as book chapters as they face growing demands to publish in international peer-reviewed journals without sufficient resources to make it happen. Challenges include heavy teaching and administrative duties, the need for more than one job, and the resultant negative effects on teaching quality and research outputs. Most lack access to current international journals and books and confront unrealistic expectations to generate high-quality articles in a short amount of time, even though the publication process is lengthy. In a desperate attempt to ‘fix’ the problem, some resort to predatory pay-to-play journals and/or use expensive third-party organizations or companies for editing and manuscript placement. The low percentage of authors who submitted their CESS papers to journals appears common across career stages: graduate student, junior faculty, and senior faculty.

To help J&MC faculty succeed, universities, education ministries, and relevant stakeholders should provide comprehensive research support. That includes lower teaching and administrative workloads, research funding, and sufficient access to databases and the latest publications. Universities should underwrite faculty travel to international conferences to facilitate the presentation of their work.
J&MC scholars in Central Asia and other developing areas have the potential to make valuable contributions to the discipline, a discipline integral to democratization and participatory citizenship, transparent governance, human rights, economic development, and the battle against ‘fake news’, misinformation, and media illiteracy. As our interviews and analysis show, they need the types of support we discuss to turn that potential into reality.

Finally, while adverse impacts of ‘publish-or-perish’ have been identified, this paper does not call for a regional quota or advocate lower standards of merit for Central Asia-related work. Authors recognize the right of universities and ministries to choose metrics to evaluate faculty for promotion, merit pay, and retention.
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