I like writing. Good thing, because writing is the primary mode of communicating academic scholarship (though I am very inspired by the scholars who are pushing us to rethink this and producing arts-based scholarship and digital media dissertations). In graduate school, I discovered that not only do I like writing, but that I like working with others on their academic writing skills. This, in my mind, is the doing of scholarship.
Journal of Belonging, Identity, Language, and Diversity (J-BILD)
I am the co-founder and Senior Managing Editor of J-BILD, an online, open access, and collaborative peer review journal that launched in 2017. Instead of a double blind peer review process, J-BILD matches authors with peer mentors and they work together to bring the manuscript to a publication-ready state. This is a wholly different way of doing scholarship, which is founded on principles of open access, transparency, and participatory meaning-making. In an upcoming chapter, we argue that this model of publishing is a form of pedagogy; that is, as managing editors of a journal, we create the conditions for learning as it relates to academic publishing through intentional design. We have a growing community of authors, peer mentors, copy editors, and readers from around the world.
I have learned that created and managing a journal is a lot of work (all unpaid), but I do it because it keeps me connected to a discourse community that I wouldn’t otherwise be as close to in my position as Associate Dean, Programs. Also, I get to work with amazing and deeply respected colleagues and friends (Lauren Halcomb-Smith and Mela Sarkar, that’s you!).
BILD Research Group
What started as an informal gathering of graduate students and one professor (Mela Sarkar) in 2013 has grown into a wide-reaching research community. McGill’s Belonging, Identity, Language, and Diversity (BILD) research group has a blog, which has been publishing weekly posts by BILD members and guest bloggers since 2014. BILD has run a symposium with international guest speakers, started a guest lecture series, published collaboratively written articles, created a social media presence, and presented en masse at conferences. As one of the founding members and continuing active members of this research group, I am very excited to see where BILD goes next!
Writing for the BILD blog and learning the technical aspects of WordPress brought me to the notion of blogging as a pedagogy. This was something I integrated into a graduate course I taught in 2016, which is the basis for an article I published in 2018, and a conference workshop at AQPC in 2019.
Supporting Graduate Scholarship
Throughout my graduate studies (MA, 2005-2007; PhD, 2009-2014), I was a freelance editor and writing coach for graduate students, particularly those for whom English was not their first language. I also edited several book collections and journal articles for McGill professors.
From 2012 to 2014, I held an internship with the McGill Journal of Education that focused on supporting graduate students with publishing their research. To this end, I organized and led workshops for graduate students in the Faculty of Education at McGill on topics such as: submitting manuscripts to journals; responding to feedback on writing; writing book reviews; non-peer reviewed publishing; writing collaboratively; and time-management techniques, such as the Pomodoro method. My goal was to help demystify the world of academic publishing and to help graduate students find their way into that world, which still represents the primary currency of academia.
This led me to Graphos, the McGill Writing Centre program for graduate students and post-docs. In 2014, I developed and led workshops for graduate students from across McGill on strategies for effective outlining and reverse outlining.
In 2014, I completed by PhD and got a job as Academic Projects Manager at McGill’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. There, I worked on developing graduate programs and policies, a suite of workshops for faculty on graduate supervision as pedagogy (in collaboration with McGill’s SKILLSETS), and developing events and programs to support and showcase graduate student excellence, such as the Tomlinson Talks and the 3MT (the latter with SKILLSETS).
I wasn’t intending on this become a career trajectory piece, but that seems to have taken shape. Sometimes writing takes you where you didn’t know you were going. And that is a perfect way to come back to scholarship as collaborative meaning-making.