Let’s Get Your Field Notes Published

In the rat-race of academic publishing, one has to think and publish not only extensively but also strategically. This means before getting our journal article or book manuscript ready, we also have to get our ready-to-be-published materials arranged – which is always a challenge for many of us, mortals (for seasoned and outstanding experts this shouldn’t be a problem I guess).

One strategic way to have those materials ready is to get them published. This might sound unusual and a bit of risky. First, why should we publish them at all? Second, doesn’t this risk revealing too much about our ongoing research?

My answer to those concerns is why not? And rather than a burden, publishing field notes can help researchers, academics, intellectuals, journalists, and concerned citizens to get their ideas disseminated more widely. This will not only help them to get their voices heard and suggestions for their future inquiries but also “market” themselves as committed researchers and experts on their topics of interests.

The last point certainly helps for young scholars – like myself and many others.

There are many opportunities these days to get our “half-baked” materials published – be it field notes, photo essays, thoughts and reflections on recent debates and events, and many others. But one of the best venues to publish those materials, I think, is journals and academic blogs.

Of course, there are different outlets for different disciplines, but for Political Science and Southeast Asian Studies I can think of several leading outlets: PS-Political Science and Politics, Inside Indonesia, New Mandalaand Indonesia at Melbourneamong others. The first one is run by American political scientists whereas the other three are run mainly by the Australian folks. These are to-go outlets which provide space not only for academics but also other scholarly-inclined folks to publish “half-baked” materials and “hidden dimensions” of intellectual enterprise: field notes, photo essays, ideas and tentative conclusions of ongoing research, research and teaching experience, and the like. Getting them published, I think, helps us to move forward with our research. In some cases publishing those “side products” can even lead to, or speed up, publications.

So far I’ve got several field notes published in Indonesia at Melbourne (here) and New Mandala (here and here). I have another one forthcoming in ExplorationsAll of them are from my ongoing fieldwork. I hope to publish a couple more before completing my field research.

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