Early Career Historians

RHS launches new Early Career Membership

The Royal Historical Society launches its new Early Career Membership category today.

The Royal Historical Society is committed to supporting and encouraging the work and development of early career historians (ECRs). But academic careers are changing, many scholars increasingly find themselves in a period that can be termed “early career” far beyond postgraduate years.

Early Career Membership of the RHS is free of charge. It is open to all those registered for a postgraduate research degree in a historical subject, and to early career researchers within two years of submitting their corrected PhD in a historical subject. The membership is for a period of five years, with the possibility of a further extension for two years.

The category of Early Career Research Membership of the RHS has been developed to further the Society’s commitments to the next generation of scholars, and provide practical assistance through access to our grants schemes for conference organisation, conference travel and research expenses.

The new category will, we hope, attract a wider membership and thus provide us with better channels of communication to, and conversation with, this part of the historical community. It is an opportunity for those new to the profession to join a pre-eminent association for working historians and to gain inspiration, support and encouragement in developing their teaching and research trajectories.

  • Find out more about why this new membership category is needed in this blog post.
  • Find out more about the support the RHS offers Early Career historians, and apply for Early Career Membership here.

 

New Historical Perspectives: First Volume Out Now!

The RHS is delighted to announce that today marks the release of the first volume in New Historical Perspectives, an Open Access books series for early career scholars commissioned by the Royal Historical Society and published as an imprint of the Institute of Historical Research by University of London Press.

The first book in the series is Ed Owens’ The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53.

The Family Firm presents the first major historical analysis of the transformation of the royal household’s public relations strategy in the period 1932-1953. Beginning with King George V’s first Christmas broadcast, Buckingham Palace worked with the Church of England and the media to initiate a new phase in the House of Windsor’s approach to publicity. The book also focuses on audience reception by exploring how British readers, listeners, and viewers made sense of royalty’s new media image. It argues that the monarchy’s deliberate elevation of a more informal and vulnerable family-centred image strengthened the emotional connections that members of the public forged with the royals, and that the tightening of these bonds had a unifying effect on national life in the unstable years during and either side of the Second World War. Crucially, The Family Firm also contends that the royal household’s media strategy after 1936 helped to restore public confidence in a Crown that was severely shaken by the abdication of King Edward VIII.

Download and buy copies of The Family Firm here.

All titles in New Historical Perspectives are published in print (hard- and paperback) and as Open Access (OA) from first publication, with no fees charged to the author or the author’s institution. Monograph authors receive a workshop with invited specialists to discuss their work before its final submission, and guidance from members of the NHP’s academic editorial board who also oversee a careful peer-review process.

Find out more about the New Historical Perspectives book series, including how to make a proposal, here.

 

RHS Awards 2019, New Fellows and Members

On Friday 5 July, the Royal Historical Society welcomed a full lecture theatre to hear Dr Sujit Sivasundaram give the 2019 Prothero Lecture, entitled “Waves Across the South: Monarchs, Travellers and Empire in the Pacific”.

At a Reception following the Lecture, the President and Officers of the Royal Historical Society were delighted to announce the winners of the 2019 RHS Publication, Fellowship and Teaching Awards, and to welcome new Fellows and Members to the Society.

The full lists of award winners, new Fellows and Members admitted to the Society are:

 

Whitfield Prize 2019

For a first solely-written book on a subject within a field of British history published in the UK.

Awarded to: Ryan Hanley for a volume Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing, c.1770-1830 (Cambridge University Press: 2018).

Judges’ citation: This year’s submissions for the Whitfield Award featured rigorous and innovative works of historical research, many of which will endure among classic studies in their fields. That said, Ryan Hanley’s superb study, Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing, c.1770-1830, stands apart for its audacious engagement with debates on the cultural positioning of black participants in British literary, political, and intellectual culture during a transitional period in British domestic and imperial history. Hanley’s rich and lively examination shows that black authors engaged in a comprehensive range of topics, from legal debates, the nature of celebrity, religious controversy, spiritual memoir, radical politics, to epistemology – extending far beyond the abolitionist paradigm that historians have long assumed and thus have tended to impose. Like their fellow intellectuals, black authors disagreed with each other, they led debate, cultivated their style, and courted new readers. We have Hanley to thank for drawing renewed attention to these voices, and for showing us why these authors mattered then and matter now.

 

Gladstone Prize 2019

For a first solely-written book on a historical subject not primarily related to British History published in the UK.

Awarded to: Duncan Hardy for a volume Associative Political Culture in the Holy Roman Empire: Upper Germany, 1346-1521 (Oxford University Press: 2018).

Judges’ citation: This is an outstanding first book and it deserves the highest of praise. Hardy builds an ambitious and convincing thesis about the structure and workings of the Holy Roman Empire in the late medieval period, arguing that it is best understood in terms of various forms of political association. This is a significant and original contribution to the historiography of the period and region. It encourages scholars to consider sixteenth-century Germany not only through the lens of the Reformation but in terms of underlying late-medieval political structures and practices. The writing is clear and precise throughout, and the author reveals a deep knowledge of the archival sources. The organisation of the book allows its argument to build steadily, and the high quality of the writing and analysis is sustained from start to finish (it also has a gorgeous front cover). Associative political culture fills a gap in the existing literature and deserves to be very widely read.

Alexander Prize 2019

For the best published scholarly journal article or an essay in a collective volume based upon original historical research.

Awarded to: Jake Richards for an article ‘Anti-Slave-Trade Law, “Liberated Africans” and the State in the South Atlantic World, c. 1839-1852’, Past and Present, 241 (2018), 170-219.

Judges’ citation: This rich and thoughtful article follows the experiences of ‘liberated Africans’ after the formal abolition of the slave trade, as the seizure of ‘prize negroes’ from slave ships opened a complicated chapter in the establishment of their rights and status. Based on detailed and wide-ranging research, tracking histories between Britain, South Africa and Brazil, the article reaches beyond existing debates to consider the experience of those who were liberated by the anti-slave patrols in the Atlantic ocean: the ways in which they understood and negotiated a way through the legal processes that faced them, and their claims to what Richards refers to as ‘unguaranteed entitlements’ in their transition from enslavement. Achieving a satisfying balance between specific cases and more general reflections, the article makes an important contribution to research, offering fresh ways of thinking about the topic and exploring the fascinating context of the port cities of Salvador da Bahia and Cape Town as testing grounds for the impact of abolition and the future prospects of the ‘liberated Africans’.

 

Proxime accesit: Stephanie Wright for an article ‘Glorious Brothers, Unsuitable Lovers: Moroccan Veterans, Spanish Women, and the Mechanisms of Francoist Paternalism’, Journal of Contemporary History (2018), 1-23.

Judges’ citation: With a rich base in archival work, this article explores the position of Moroccan military veterans in Spanish policy under Franco. Wright demonstrates that certain categories of disabled Moroccan veterans actually received higher levels of state support than their Spanish counterparts, but that this reflected attitudes towards them shaped by paternalism and distinctive understandings of their masculinity. Ideas about race and gender also contributed to anxieties about relationships between Moroccans and Spaniards in the period after the Civil War, which Spanish bureaucrats even tried to sabotage on occasion. Wright argues that the treatment of Moroccan veterans can be read as part of Francoist heightening of the status of Spanish masculinity, and also as a part of its management of the Moroccan protectorate. The article is well written and grounded in detailed research, offering an original and well-articulated contribution to scholarship on modern Spain, gender, race and disability.

 

David Berry Prize 2019

For the best published scholarly journal article or essay on a subject dealing with Scottish history.

Awarded to: Philip Loft for an article ‘Litigation, the Anglo-Scottish Union, and the House of Lords as the High Court, 1660-1875’, Historical Journal, 61 (2018), 943-967.

Judges’ citation: The judges thought that this was a very accomplished treatment of an ambitious topic, marked by a maturity of approach. It deftly analyses a substantial source base to advance new arguments about not only eighteenth-century legal history but, above all, the nature of the composite British state after the Union of 1707. The article investigates Scottish cases brought before parliament, as part of a wider body of 8,500 appeals over the period, a sample of which is analysed here. The analysis demonstrates that the number of Scottish appeals grew after 1745, and that from the 1760s Scots increasingly lobbied for legislation to promote their fisheries and linen industries. Appeals were often used as a way of forcing compromise on parties that ensured that Westminster affected only the localities and individuals involved in a case. The author convincingly argues that local interests co-opted the state in defence of their interests, thereby keeping their autonomy, as often in England too, and also briefly draws comparisons with appellate courts elsewhere in Europe, notably Castile.

 

Rees Davies Prize 2019

For the best dissertation submitted as part of a one-year full-time (or two-year part-time) postgraduate Master’s degree in any United Kingdom institution of Higher Education.

Awarded to: Robert Fitt for a dissertation ‘Texan textbooks: Cranks, Conservatives and the Contest for America in High School History, 1976-1986’.

Judges’ citation: This piece is beautifully written, and the prose shows real verve. In a well-argued way, it makes a significant historiographical intervention based upon the analysis activism around school textbooks. This allows the author to argue for a more germinal understanding of ideology, looking at the ways in which cultural shift occurs and redefining the scope of peripheral actors to influence that shift. There is a strong archival source base and the argument is strongly supported throughout. The dissertation features interesting discussions around the use of history, and the ways in which the shaping of narratives can influence conceptions of political norms and shape broader consensus. At times, I felt there could have been a little more agency shown for those who read the textbooks, though the focus was clearly on the authors and activists who altered the text. This was outstanding work and a real pleasure to read

Proxime accesit:   Leanne Smith for a dissertation ‘“In the Revolution of Times, the Changes will run their round out, and then the Lord will come to Reign” John Rogers: A Fifth Monarchy Man’s Commonwealth of Saints’.

Judges’ citation: This was a very strong and meticulously detailed intervention into debates around republicanism in early-modern England. The dissertation shows an excellent command of the historiography and seeks to offer a more nuanced understanding of how religious thoughts influenced and intertwined with discussions of radical political change. Through close engagement with Rogers’ output, the dissertation explores the reflexive influence of millenarian beliefs on the febrile political climate of the seventeenth century and also the lingering influence of classical political philosophy.

 

Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching & Supervision in History 2019

Awarded to: Professor Julia Crick (King’s College London)

Judges’ citation: Professor Julia Crick receives the Jinty Nelson Award in recognition of her superlative contribution to the teaching and mentoring of younger generations of historians. Palaeography is challenging but integral to the subject of history. It underpins so much else in the field, and manuscripts in particular are windows onto much that would otherwise be inaccessible. Professor Crick has spent a life time advocating the importance of Palaeography to the global academic community and has demonstrated this specifically through her teaching and mentoring. Throughout her career (including appointments at the universities of Cambridge and Exeter, and in her current position at King’s College London), Professor Crick has been a wonderful teacher, not just of Palaeography, but also in training students of any level to think critically, to ask questions, and to build historical arguments based on visual and physical evidence. Professor Crick’s classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels bring history and palaeography to life and she mentors research students in the same way, whether they are at King’s or elsewhere, in History or in another discipline. Crick treats her students more like peers than pupils, which creates a sense that the work can be valued and taken seriously even from a very early stage. Crick’s commitment to the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation is especially evident in her establishment of networks and events that highlight postgraduate research. She has frequently organised seminars, symposia and conferences which include equal space for early career researchers. Over the course of her career, Professor Crick has demonstrated a wide-ranging and sustained commitment to inspiring and training new generations of historians to excel.

 

Royal Historical Society Innovation in Teaching Award 2019

Awarded to:  Dr Sharon Webb and Dr James Baker (University of Sussex)

Judges’ citation: Over the last four years Drs Webb and Baker have delivered a series of first-year digital history workshop/lectures taken by all undergraduates at the University of Sussex in either History or Art History. These radically update the notion of the ‘historian’s craft’ to include the skills and practices required to engage critically with online sources (both inherited and born digital). The programme is a unique response to the challenges posed by the changes in historical research and debate, designed to turn history undergraduates into digitally savvy, expert navigators of this new landscape of knowledge. What sets the series apart is the self-conscious way in which it seeks to intervene in the history curriculum more generally. By building a skills/apprenticeship model into first-year teaching, it lays the foundations for the development of advanced approaches in the second and third year. The guiding narrative is to move gradually from ‘Doing History in the Digital Age’ to ‘Doing Digital History’ – taking students from referencing, search, and using online databases to compiling datasets, digitisation, and making data visualisations. It is this accumulation of skills, and layering of multiple approaches, that creates a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding. Second-year students move on to modules on the analysis of historical networks and the technologies of print, and then in the third year to a co-taught module on digital archiving. These same skills are also re-enforced in teaching by colleagues across the degree. The first full cohort of students introduced to these skills in their first year have now graduated. Standards of research and practice have improved across the board.

 

The Royal Historical Society jointly with the Institute of Historical Research has awarded the following research Fellowships:

 

RHS Marshall Fellowship 2019

Awarded to: Purba Hossain (University of Leeds)

For research on: ‘Situating the Coolie Question: Indentured Labour and Mid-Nineteenth-Century Calcutta’

 

RHS Centenary Fellowship 2019

Awarded to: Jack Newman (University of Kent)

For research on: ‘Corruption, Entropy and Conflict: Institutional Adaptation in Pre-Black Death England c.1307-1348’

 

Institute of Historical Research Awards

The Pollard Prize

Awarded to Helen Esfandiary (King’s College London) for her paper, given at the Life Cycles seminar, on Maternal Obligations and Knowledge of Smallpox Inoculation in Eighteenth-Century Elite Society. 

The Pollard Prize is awarded annually by the Institute of Historicla Research for the best paper presented at an Institute of Historical Research seminar by a postgraduate student or by a researcher within one year of completing the PhD.

 

The Sir John Neale Prize

Awarded to Sarah Johanesen (King’s College London) for her essay ‘That silken Priest: Catholic disguise and anti-popery on the English Mission (1569-1640)’. 

The Neale Prize is awarded annually by the Institute of Historical Research to a historian in the early stages of their career for an essay of up to 8,000 words on a theme related to the history of early modern Britain.

 

 

Fellowship

Kristine Alexander
Paul Ayris
Marco Barducci
Joshua Bennett
Zoltan Biedermann
Gilly Carr
Megan Cassidy-Welch
Hannah Cornwell
Pamela Cox
Katherine Cross
Tom Cutterham
Giuseppe De Luca
Bruno De Nicola
Donald Dickson
Catherine Flinn
Stella Ghervas
Helen Glew
Tim Grady
Jane Hamlett
Christopher Hill
Andrew Hobbs
Mike Horswell
Robert Johnson
Emily Jones
Marjo Kaartinen
Barbara Keys
Samia Khatun
Dip Chi Kon Lai
Katell Laveant
Daryl Leeworthy
Marcella Lorenzini
Andrew Macdonald
Kirsteen Mackenzie
Susan Major
George K W Mak
Erik Mathisen
Alexander Mcauley
Christopher McCreery
Joseph Moretz
Rachel Moss
John Newman
Joanna Norman
Onyeka Nubia
Daphna Oren-Magidor
Matthew Parker
Sarah Pedersen
Sarah Peverley
Kavita Puri
Sara Read
Matthias Reiss
Anna Ross
Tobias Rupprecht
Raffaella Santi
Otto Saumarez-Smith
Elizabeth Savage
Uditi Sen
Caroline Sharples
Jane Shaw
Malcolm Shifrin
Gajendra Singh
Jonathan Smyth
Malcolm Spencer
Charles Tieszen
Dora Vargha
Geraldine Vaughan
Jan Vermeiren
Matthew Walker
Neil Younger
David Zersen

 

Membership

Ann-Marie Akehurst
Darinee Alagirisamy
Rosamaria Alibrandi
Gordon Barrett
Nicholas Blake
Natalie Butler
Chun Kei Chow
Sajed Chowdury
Juliana Coulton
Michael Davies
Steven Dieter
Misha Ewen
Boris Gorshkov
Amanda Harvey
Stephanie Howard-Smith
Omer Khan
Christopher Fear
David Lees
Judith Loades
Mihaela Martin
Emma McCauley-Tinniswood
Barbara Mellor
Erin Moody
Eric Morier-Genoud
Hannah-Rose Murray
Carole O’Reilly
Hannah Parker
Peter Pincemin-Johnstone
Meredith Riedel
Ilaria Scaglia
Alexander Scott
Gregory Slysz
Chrissie Twigg
Joseph Viscomi
Marilla Walker
James Wearn
Katherine Wilson
Andrew Winrow

 

Postgraduate Membership

Hardy Acosta-Cuellar
Maria Bastiao
Lacey Bonar
Sarah Boote-Powell
Gregory Buchanan
Patcharaviral Charoenpacharaporn
Jennifer Chochinov
John Cooney
Sonia Cuesta-Maniar
Stephen Dickens
Koma Donworth
Olivia Durand
Jack Edmunds
Tzilla Eshel
James Fortuna
John Freeman
Christophe Gillian
Beth Griffiths
Hugh Hanley
Ben Hodges
Yijie Huang
Soundararajan Jagdish
Pheeraphone Jampee
Cosmin Koszor
Nicholas Leah
Sundeep Lidher
Vanessa Lim
Andrea Mancini
Mario Maritan
Shaun McGuiness
Daniel McKay
Brandon Munda
Jack Newman
Thom Pritchard
Xiaoping Qi
Roseanna Ramsden
Claire Rioult
Jayne Shaw
Johanna Sinclair
Stuart Smedley
Stuart Smith
Therese Sunga
Travis Weinger
Shamara Wettimuny
Amanda Williams
Tom Zago

 

 

 

ECH Grants: Research trips and/or training events

Funding for research trips to archives and libraries or to undertake fieldwork or training is available from many sources.  Obtaining one or more of these small grants as a PhD student lays excellent groundwork for making more substantial grant applications as a postdoctoral researcher.  This indicative list will give you an idea of where to begin looking for funding options:

 

ECH Publishing: Submitting to a Journal

What makes a good journal article? First, it must stand on its own. It may be a version of a chapter of a PhD dissertation, but it has to be self-contained. Second, it ought to have a strong and distinctive argument. The standard way to demonstrate this is by reference to the historiography – but it’s not enough (or even, really, at all persuasive) to say that your subject has been ‘neglected’ by the historiography. Some subjects are neglected for a good reason – they’re not interesting or important. You need to show how the historiography will look different by including your paper – what arguments are called into question, what new light is cast on bigger subjects, what new subjects are being developed that command attention. Sometimes people publish articles that give the overarching argument of a PhD thesis; sometimes they pick the richest or most provocative argument (perhaps from a single chapter). Third, you ought to be able to provide convincing evidence in support of your arguments. This isn’t easy within the scope of an article – which ought probably to be 8-10,000 words; it’s a real skill to learn how to select evidence that will fit within these limits and still carry conviction. How do you decide which journal to submit to? (You must only submit the same paper to one at a time.) The best course is to ask yourself which journals have published papers in your field that you have admired, or papers with which you have disagreed and would like to engage. Go for the highest-quality journal that fits this description – the one that publishes the work you consider to be the best in your field. If your work is accepted by that journal, people like you will also recognise it as standing with the best in your field. If you don’t succeed with the first submission, try the next journal down the pecking-order. This is likely to be a more specialised journal. Before you submit your paper, check your chosen journal’s website for their advice to contributors – how to format a submission, how to send it in. It’s polite to format the paper to suit the journal’s house-style; if they have an unusual style, very different from other journals, you can format it in a generic style so that you don’t have to keep re-formatting every time you submit to a new journal. For more details on what happens after your paper has been accepted, see publishing in a journal.

 

 

ECH Presenting Work – What happens in a viva?

A PhD viva is a unique opportunity to discuss your research with two experts. They will have read every word of your thesis and all their attention will be on you and your work.  Though any examination is nerve-racking, you should try to enjoy the viva; this detailed, thoughtful consideration of your work does not happen very often.

In contrast to most other European countries, UK vivas are rarely public events. There is no audience and very few people are in the room, often just the candidate and the two examiners one internal to your university and one from outside. In some universities another academic, who is not involved in examining the thesis, chairs the viva; in others the supervisor may be present with the candidate’s consent. Find out exactly what your university’s regulations for the conduct of viva voce examinations are.  The details varies quite widely, so make sure that you have the right information for your institution.

When preparing for a viva, remember that you are the expert.  Nobody else knows as much about your thesis as you do; the examiners will genuinely be interested in discussing your research and its wider implications.  Be prepared to explain how you came to this particular topic and why it merits dedicating three years of your life to it.  Step back from the detail of the thesis to think of its general importance.  How does it contribute to the historiography?  Why should historians outside the immediate field be interested in it?

A few days before the viva, think about how you will explain your thesis to the examiners. You should practise summarizing it; prepare both a five-minute explanation of the thesis and a two-minute one.  Identify what you think is most important and original about it and explain how the thesis relates to the published literature on the topic.

It’s also worth thinking carefully about method.  Why have you approached the topic in this particular way? Think about how to justify and explain your approach. Be prepared to answer a critique. Remember that, if you’re pushed on a particular point, you can bring the question back to the thesis by, for example, accepting that you didn’t do ‘x’ but pointing out that you did do ‘y’.

Don’t leave preparing for the viva to the last minute. You must read through your thesis carefully beforehand but do this at least 48 hours (and preferably a week) before the examination date so as to give yourself some distance from the thesis. This will help you to convey the overall shape and purpose to the examiners rather than simply the research detail.

During the viva itself, listen carefully to the examiners. Be polite and don’t worry if you have to ask for a question to be clarified or if you appear nervous. The examiners will be expecting this and suggestions and advice given by your examiners will be invaluable and should try to put you at your ease. Think before replying to the questions and give considered responses.  Look to develop a dialogue with the examiners, a probing but rewarding discussion on your work to date.  And remember that any piece of work benefits from this kind of review. If you are hoping to publish the thesis then the suggestions and advice offered by your examiners will be invaluable.

Return to main Presenting Work page

 

 

 

ECH – Open Access

All historians should want their work to be as accessible as possible – and so they ought to support ‘open access’ (i.e. free access to their work posted on the web), wherever possible.  But there are limits to what is possible without sacrificing academic freedom and quality.  For example, publication doesn’t come free – there are costs involved in editing your work and mounting it on the web.  Furthermore, as an author you have certain moral rights to have work properly used, reproduced and attributed, which not all forms of ‘open access’ respect.  What follows is a very rough guide to a complicated and ever-changing landscape.

 Manuscripts

You have the right to do whatever you want with your own manuscripts (drafts of papers, conference presentations, etc.), so long as you’re not using content that belongs to other people (e.g. images, music, major portions of copyright works).   Why not post them on your own website or a site such as academia.edu?  But you will need to consider what rights over your own content you wish to give to others.  You’ll need to indicate the terms on which you are posting.  If you say ‘all rights reserved’, then you are of course permitting others to read your work, but not to use it in any other way.  If you are happy for others to use your work – for example, to copy and distribute it – Creative Commons has designed a range of licences that you can use to indicate exactly what uses you are happy to permit (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/).  The most popular of these licences among humanities scholars tends to be CC  BY-NC ND.  This allows others to copy your work in full and distribute it intact, but not to alter it or to combine it with their other work in ways that make it difficult to distinguish yours from theirs, and not to make use of it commercially.  Just add the relevant CC logo to your paper when you upload it to show under what terms you are making it available.

 Dissertations

This is a particularly vexing subject.  Most universities are now developing institutional policies for dissertations produced by their own students, but these vary widely.  All universities require you to deposit your dissertation in their libraries (or, increasingly, their online repositories), but many offer ‘embargoes’ that prevent others from accessing your work without your permission for a period of 2-6 years or longer. This is because, in our discipline, dissertations do not (as they often do in the sciences) bring together work that has been published elsewhere in article form, and they are often seen only as rough drafts for a book that will eventually be published.  It’s not clear whether the availability of your dissertation will interfere with your ability to publish a book based on it.  So the embargo gives you some control over the dissemination of your work until it is published.  The American Historical Association encourages universities to permit embargoes of up to 6 years (see http://blog.historians.org/2013/07/american-historical-association-statement-on-policies-regarding-the-embargoing-of-completed-history-phd-dissertations/).  You should find out for yourself what is your own institution’s policy.

 Journal articles

This is the area where open access has extended furthest (reflecting the centrality of the journal article in the sciences, where the open access movement began, and upon which many policies are based).  Funding bodies are now often mandating open access – that is, if they pay for your research, and you publish it in the form of a journal article, you must make it open access according to certain prescribed conditions.  So your approach to your own journal articles will depend on who (if anyone) has paid for you to do your research.  The RHS has prepared information sheets explaining the open-access conditions for those funded by the research councils (e.g. AHRC, ESRC) – which are particularly stringent – and those employed on teaching and research contracts by universities who are eligible for submission to the REF.    A good general rule of thumb – you don’t need to pay an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) or any other publication fee in order to ensure ‘open access’ for your article.  Any publisher that insists on payment without offering free open-access options merits the closest scrutiny.

 Books

There are at present no mandates from any UK funders of historical research (except for the Wellcome Trust who fund research in the history of medicine) requiring open access for work published in book form, including chapters in collections of essays.  (Some mandates refer to ‘conference proceedings’, but this refers to journal-like forms of publication common in the sciences and does not cover collections of essays published as books, even if they derive from conferences.)  In other words, you are unlikely to be required to put your work published in book form on open access anytime soon – and certainly not for the next REF (c. 2020).  Because publication of books is a good deal more expensive than publication of articles, there are formidable barriers to providing open access for books in ways that do not discriminate against un- or under-funded historians (i.e. most of us!).  Nevertheless, there are some interesting experiments in open-access publishing for monographs and if you have an opportunity to take part in such experiments, without paying a publication fee, we encourage you to do so.  We’re happy to provide informal advice on this subject to people who email us about specific schemes.

Return to main ECH Open Access page

 

 

EHC Presenting work: Intervening in academic discussion

Questions after a seminar or conference paper provide an important opportunity to participate in academic debate. This can be nerve-racking. Some university cultures have a robust style of questioning, which can lead to a critique, for example from the panel chair, to which you are expected to reply. In others, questions are much longer than the repartee style of question and answer than is common in Britain. Try to find out as much as you can in advance about what to expect.

It is also worth thinking about the kind of questions that you might be asked. Don’t plan this out in too much detail—you will have to improvise at least some of your answers—but try to identify some ‘big’ questions about your work and plan a response. These questions can be hard, particularly when compared to the ‘nitty-gritty’ of doctoral work.  Historians often ask about the nature and limits of sources, so it’s definitely worth having something to say about them.

It’s useful to note down what people are asking you, particularly if the panel chair is taking several questions together. Be prepared to defend your position, both in replies to questions and in the questions you put to others.  Conferences are great opportunities to intervene in debates; if you don’t agree with a critique of your work then say so, and explain why.  Again, it’s worth knowing your audience. Interdisciplinary or general audiences tend to pose broader problems while specialist audiences may pose more complex, detailed questions. Whatever the framing, however, always take the question seriously.

Conferences also provide opportunities for discovering other forums for debate and outlets for your work, such as newsletters, virtual discussion groups or blogs. Getting involved in some of these will allow you to exchange ideas and address wider audiences, including public ones.

Return to main ECH Presenting Work page.

 

ECH – Preparing and presenting a conference paper

Conference papers are shorter than seminar papers—commonly twenty minutes—and run more tightly to time. You will present as part of a panel, and you should determine the kind of audience you are speaking to—whether specialist or general, historical or interdisciplinary—and be clear as to how long you have to speak.

There are limits to what you can do effectively in twenty minutes.You will need to ensure your paper is accessible to non-specialists without boring the specialists or using all your time on background. It is a good idea to speak more slowly than you think you need to; rushing through material is difficult for an audience, particularly a multilingual one.  More than ten pages of double-spaced typescript will be difficult to deliver properly in twenty minutes. It is also hard to convey more than three to four substantive points in this time.

If you are using PowerPoint slides or other visual aids, be clear about what you want them to do. They are a supporting act; what you say is the main attraction. You should use slides selectively and not include too many, particularly in a short paper. There is no need to provide a summary of your text on the slides: a paper is not an undergraduate lecture. In contrast, providing maps, tables or other complex data in visual form can add to the paper and save you time. If you are using pictures, ask yourself what they add. Does the image contribute to the analysis or simply illustrate the subject?  If you are presenting a quote, remember to give people time to read it.

The main pitfall in using a PowerPoint presentation is privileging format over content. It is surprising how often slides work against what’s being said during a presentation by, for example, presenting too much tangential material. Allowing the PowerPoint to drive the paper can also be difficult if you have to adjust timings. If an earlier speaker has run over, you may be given less time than you were expecting. Plan how to shorten the paper if you need to. What are the key points you want to convey?

If you are giving a paper abroad, familiarize yourself as much as possible with the academic culture. Twenty-minute papers are standard in the UK but may be shorter elsewhere. How large are the panels? This is likely to have a direct bearing on how long you have to speak and how intently the audience is listening. If you are taking part in a workshop rather than a panel conference, papers will probably have been circulated in advance. In this case, you will need to make the spoken paper distinctive; reading out a paper the audience has already read is pointless.  Ask advice from friends and colleagues who know the country and approach the conveners as to what you should expect. Try not to be put off if you are interrupted by the chair; they will simply be trying to manage the time.

Conference participation and particularly responding to questions is a key part of Intervening in academic discussion. The RHS encourages Early Career Historians by supporting conference travel in the UK and abroad.

Return to main ECH Presenting Work page.

 

ECH – Preparing and presenting a seminar paper

There is a lot of advice available on the internet; some of it is extremely detailed and not all of it is good. UK and US university websites are a reliable source of sensible advice but this can be prescriptive, and not all of it will work for you.  A perennial controversy is whether to speak from notes or a written paper. Don’t expect to find a definitive answer to this. Opinions differ and the advice is contradictory: ‘never speak from notes’; ‘reading from a script is mind-numbing’. The choice depends partly on you and partly on the kind of paper you plan to deliver.

Generally speaking, few early career historians are comfortable speaking from notes, particularly the first time they give a paper. You will almost certainly want to write it out in full though you may aspire to speaking from notes with more experience. Think of the seminars that you have attended. Which ones have really worked and why? How might you emulate some of the techniques the speaker employed? Play to your strengths; avoid devices you are not comfortable with—telling jokes doesn’t work for everyone—and focus on what you are confident you can do well.  If you have teaching experience, you may have used a similar exercise to prepare students for presentations. The principles are the same.

Many people prefer to give their first paper in familiar surroundings, with an audience of peers. Your university should provide such opportunities but you could also organise such a session informally. Always ask for feedback; there are real benefits to working collectively with people in the same position as you.

When you give a paper in unfamiliar surroundings, arrive in time to look around the room and check that everything you need is there and working. Be very clear as to timings. A forty-five minute seminar paper is a substantial undertaking, given that a double-spaced 12-point printed page will take around two minutes to deliver. This is a rule of thumb, not an absolute as you will want to engage with the audience, looking round the room or moving ‘off-script’ for emphasis or add a point of detail.This helps you look confident and pleased to be there, no matter how nervous you are.

When writing and practising the paper—which you should do even if you plan not to read it—it’s worth thinking carefully about prose and style. An oral paper is different from a written chapter: the argument needs more signposting and too much detail will be hard to follow. A discursive style works better than a literary one. Try to break the paper down into smaller sections and practise it several times. You might want to record it so you can listen back to it.  Put yourself in the listener’s place.  Can you identify the main points?  How much background knowledge do you need to follow it?

Other points you need to consider include visual aids and how to respond to questions. These are covered under Preparing and presenting a conference paper and Intervening in academic discussion.

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