The following is a post by ISA journal editors Krista Wiegand (International Studies Quarterly), Debbie Lisle (International Political Sociology), Amanda Murdie (International Studies Review), and James Scott (International Studies Perspectives).
There has been a lot of talk in academia about the many negative consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has generated, ranging from declining enrollments, inability to travel for field research or conferences, and research productivity working from home. As editors of the International Studies Association (ISA) journals, we started noticing some new trends in submissions as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated. First, submission rates were up for almost all the ISA journals. When we checked the submission rates from March 13 – the average date that most universities shifted to online classes – to May 4 this year, compared to the same time period last year, most of the journals had a higher number of submissions, ranging from a 17% to 343% increase compared to the same time period last year. However, we also noticed that submission rates by female scholars were down — at least proportionally — in most of the journals. When we compared the submission rates by women to “normal” times, we saw a clear decline. For example, in International Studies Perspectives, the proportion of submitted manuscripts including at least one female co-author declined by over 19% compared to the same time period last year.
This trend in increased submissions does not appear to be unique to ISA journals; we know from social media that several IR and political science journals have seen an uptick in submission numbers since mid-March. The editors of Comparative Political Studies and American Journal of Political Science noticed the trends as well. Outside of political science and international studies, other academic fields have started highlighting the same trends, getting attention in mainstream media like The Guardian. In economics, one study found that the productivity of women and mid-career faculty, as measured by submission of recent working-papers, was disproportionately down during lockdown. There have been similar discussions about women’s reduced productivity in journal submissions in the sciences.
Today’s the day! The ISA Online Media Caucus (OMC) Online Achievement in International Studies Awards Reception is TONIGHT. It’s the best party in town with the best people. Food and drink will be tremendous. If you miss it, SAD.
Seriously, 7:30 pm in Holiday 1. Come to see your friends win prizes, watch some AMAZING ignite-style speakers, and hobnob with a whole host of people who use social media to tell the world about their work.
And, if you don’t have plans this afternoon, come to the Online Media Caucus – Live Tweets for (Political) Science panel. We’ll be chatting about the utility of online media for promotion of scholarship and tweeting out about the awesome experience that is ISA. #ISA2017 #TC04
In the wake of the failed attempt at passing a boycott resolution (of Israeli academic institutions) at the recent MLA conference, here are some thoughts. (Readers of the Duck might be aware that last year’s ISA conference saw a modest attempt at bringing a discussion on BDS forward. That proposal was also voted down.)
Let’s talk (past each other)!
The debate over the academic boycott is often frustratingly unproductive.
On one hand, some anti-boycotters accuse boycott proponents of being antisemitic. While some boycotters may be antisemitic (just as some anti-boycotters may be antisemitic!), the accusation is ill-conceived and distracting. One claim I often hear — that since roughly half the world’s Jews live in Israel, then BDS must be antisemitic — simply doesn’t hold up. BDS is a tool to coerce Israel to comply with international law and adhere to human rights imperatives, not a boycott of Judaism or Jews.
On the other side, some boycott proponents accuse boycott opponents of being chained to other allegiances. “The bad conscience of liberal Zionism,” David Lloyd, English professor at UC-Riverside, wrote in Mondoweiss in describing the deliberations at the MLA, “forced to defend the indefensible, was on full display.” This too, is a bad-faith response. While some boycott opponents may be motivated by fealty to the State of Israel or to Zionism, there are enough good arguments against academic boycotts as a tactic to demand a fair consideration of the ethics writ large. More on this, below.
About the MLA deliberations, Lital Levy, a comparative literature professor at Princeton who followed the proceedings and later the responses from colleagues on both sides, says she “felt caught in the middle.” Rather than “digging in our heels,” Levy says, we should “actually talk to each other (and not just at these emotionally laden public hearings at MLA), but throughout the year, directly.” (Levy has more to say about the fraught nature of dialogue, though, below.) Continue reading
In conversations with friends, I quickly realized that the International Studies Association faces some significant problems ahead. The advent of the Trump administration is likely to lead to two kinds of complications:
- it may be hard for foreign scholars to get visas to attend the conference
- that scholars may want to boycott conferences that take place in the US if Trump follows through on a variety of things he promised/threatened/tweeted during the campaign.
‘I want to ride around Moscow with an American flag in my car. If I find one. Join me! They have earned it‘. If you were wondering who else was celebrating Trump’s win, it was the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today Margarita Simonyan. Overnight, a deep-seated Russian Anti-Americanism and disbelief in American democracy was turned into almost unending love, although Russian Prime-Minister Medvedev still finds the name ‘Americano’ too unpatriotic for coffee and proposed to rename it into ‘Rusiano’.
The US election results came as a big surprise in Russia as well. According to many sources, most Russian TV talk shows had already prepared panels of ‘experts’ that were supposed to prove how democracy in the US is dead, how the elections were rigged, how American mass media were unfair to Donald Trump and how Clinton cash bought everything. Sound familiar?
Yesterday at ISA, I participated on a panel on technology and international security. One of the topics addressed was the “successfulness” of the Obama administration’s decapitation/targeted killing strategy of terrorist leaders through unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones.” The question of success, however, got me to thinking. Success was described as the military effectiveness of the strikes, but this to me seems rather wrongheaded. For if something is militarily effective, then is so in relation to a military objective.
What is a military objective? Shortly, those objects that “by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to the military action and whose partial or total destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” One may only target legitimate military objectives with permissible means. But even this requires knowing what the military advantage will be, and as such, requires a clear and identifiable strategy.
Last winter, the ISA executive committee proposed new rules for editors of ISA journals that would restrict their blogging. This led to a pretty hostile reaction. At the ISA meeting, the proposal was sent to committee. The committee has circulated its report and recommendations.
What do they recommend? Basically, the recommendations: Continue reading
Please consider putting in a round-table, paper, or panel submission for the 2014 International Studies Association -Midwest Conference, to be held November 7th through the 9th at the Hilton-Ballpark in St. Louis. The deadline for proposals is July 1st.
I’m currently the program chair for ISA Midwest 2014. The conference will take place from November 7th to 9th at the Hilton Ballpark in St. Louis. This is a fabulous conference – one I’d really recommend for all scholars but one that is especially inviting for junior scholars. Here is the call for proposals:
ISA is coming, like winter for the Starks; it’s always just around the bend. Luckily, I almost have nothing but fond memories of ISA. It was my first conference and will be the one I remain loyal to for as long as I remain able. The key though is to maximize your experience. I know too many academics who never leave the hotel, never leave panels, and don’t see the world. And please, take off your badge if you do leave the conference.
It’s that time of year again. IR freaks, geeks, superstars, and fans flock to the International Studies Association Annual Conference (except those
wimps that avoid the cold Canadian destinations).
Over the next week I’m going to write a few short, fun posts as we countdown to the jet lag, red-eyed check in (red carpet arrival show), the boot camp style pre-ISA workshops (pre-show analysis), and our blogging reception on Thursday (the main event). The topic for today? 5 steps that would change your ISA world for the better…feel free to share your own healing steps!
1. Coffee. I’m serious, there are approximately 3000 academics and the coffee options are one jammed Starbucks, the stale tea-bag coffees in your room, or a snake line from 3 mysteriously placed coffee carafes throughout the hotel. Please ISA exec, I will pay $10 more in my fees if you provide coffee at all 8am panels. Doing so will also mean that people will actually attend the first panels ON TIME and stay awake. Everyone wins (except Starbucks). Oh, and please bring your reusable coffee cups people.
2. This one is going to be more controversial, but I’m going to just throw it out there: we need less panels. I don’t think the ISA needs to be exclusive or anything, but I think there is a conference ‘tail’ of about 20% of panels that are beyond non-cohesive, and/or end up with 3 presenters- or less- or no discussant at the last minute (we’ve all been on one). Cut the tail off. Are we really doing academics or grad students a favor by reassigning their paper to a panel that has nothing to do with their topic after the original panel dissolves (which happens all the time!)? Or by assigning a discussant a the last minute who has absolutely no expertise or knowledge of the majority of the topics on the panel? Continue reading
In this post, I would like to focus on the few ways in which the blogosphere and social media more generally help junior scholars. I will use myself as an example.
It is not easy for me to reach out to senior colleagues and start a dialogue. I find it much easier to respond to a blog post they publish than to email them out of the blue. Right before last ISA, I contacted a senior scholar about his guest post on the Duck. He replied in the kindest manner possible. And I had the privilege to have lunch with him at ISA. I am very thankful.
I am interested in meeting new colleagues, finding collaborators, and making new friends. But networking is not my forte. Even though I have only contributed a handful of posts to the Duck thus far, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with a few contemporaries. I look forward to meeting them in person at upcoming conferences.
Remember the times you had to dine alone at conferences because you didn’t know anyone other than your graduate school friends. I had my fair share of isolated nights. I didn’t enjoy eating alone in my hotel room. I and many others, I think, will have pleasant dinners at conferences thanks to the social media.
Academic blogs also help me stay connected to the field. I have heavy teaching responsibilities. I admit that I am not always on top of what is hot in all the subfields during the academic year. Blogs give me an idea of what I should read during the summer months. And as Jon mentioned, blog posts make good reading materials in some courses.
Facilitating a sense of community is another contribution of the blogosphere. A few people told me that they appreciated the simple post I wrote about letter of recommendation requests. The post signaled to them that they weren’t alone. Their feedback signaled to me that I wasn’t out there.
Academic blogs also offer a great opportunity to junior scholars to figure out how things work. Colleagues generously share their experiences on social media. Some offer advice. I continue to learn from them. I am glad I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
I think junior faculty and grad students have a lot of reason to support the ISA “Online Media Caucus.” Thank you Steve and others for coming up with this proposal.
Steve has a nice roundup of many of the central concerns with ISA’s misguided policy proposal to limit those involved in editing ISA journals from blogging. I’d like to focus on one additional element.
For many of us located principally in the teaching side of the profession, we realize and appreciate the significance and utility of blogs for pedagogical purposes. Here in the Five Colleges, a key part of communicating with students is through various forms of social media. My department has a Twitter feed and a Facebook page that features a fantastic daily blog by my colleague Vinnie Ferraro. Vinnie’s blog provides daily content and opinion to support his courses in World Politics and American Foreign Policy. I have a blog for my course on International Human Rights Advocacy in Theory and Practice and I routinely assign a number of readings from IR and human rights blogs as a key part of the course. I do this because there is some fantastic content out there that presents and synthesizes materials quickly and more effectively than many peer-reviewed journals can. This semester my students will watch Kony 2012 and then read several blog posts on Opinio-Juris debating multiple angles of the video. These posts are an excellent format for undergraduate students — there are multiple views expressed with links to a variety of academic and advocacy literatures. Given the natural 18-month to two-year delay from an event to peer-review publication, I’m still waiting for some decent peer-reviewed content that provides the range views and analysis conveyed in these posts. Continue reading
The International Studies Association Executive Committee has forwarded a proposal to the Governing Council that meets at the Association’s annual meeting that addresses blogging. The proposal and my take on it are discussed at my blog. The essence of it is to prohibit those involved in the editing of journals from blogging. The text of it goes beyond that, assuming/asserting that blogging is inherently unprofessional. That is not a message that the ISA should be sending out now or ever, really.
Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540) was an Italian historian and statesman who served in the Florentine and papal diplomatic services and was the author, among other works, of the landmark History of Italy (Storia d’Italia), a foundational work on statecraft and grand strategy which combined careful historical research with general theorizing about the ethics and practices of international behavior. The Francesco Guicciardini Prize is given annually and recognizes the best book copyrighted in the previous two calendar years on subjects related to historical international relations. Continue reading
We are still mucking around with the official page for the Theory Section. In what I hope will be a temporary expedient, I’ve created a dedicated page at the Duck of Minerva. Continue reading
Alright folks, I don’t really have much to say here. Instead, I’ll provide a link (PDF) to a copy of the bid we submitted nearly a year ago. Be warned that it includes some egregious typos and other fun* stuff. Continue reading
The International Ethics section of the International Studies Association announces its annual book award competition for 2014. The award is given every year at the International Ethics section business meeting at the ISA Convention. Next year, the convention is in Toronto, March 26-29.
The prize will be an award of $200 along with a plaque to honor the author’s work.
Books eligible for the award must fall into the broadly defined category of international ethics. This includes, but is not limited to, books on international descriptive ethics, international normative ethics, metaethics, comparative ethics, international religious ethics, international political theory, and international legal theory. Books not clearly falling into one of the above categories may be considered if members of the Selection Committee agree that it is worthy of consideration. Eligible books can be either single- or multi-authored. Edited collections will not be eligible. Textbooks, translations and memoirs are not eligible. (Please see a list of past winners below.)