Chelsea Brown

My project for the Creative Enterprise module has been to create a website aimed at students or recent graduates who are interested in working in academic publishing – Student Guide to Academic Publishing. As I had already started researching possible job opportunities for after I graduate, I realised that I could not find the information I needed easily. There are websites dedicated to working in publishing, but nothing specifically aimed at academic publishing or how to start a career in this area. I decided that this would make an excellent project for this module, as I would hopefully find out enough information to help my own job prospects, as well as helping others in a similar situation. The website aims are to inform students on what skills they would need for a job in this area as well as featuring interviews with recent graduates on how they started working in academic publishing. There are feature articles focusing on the Open Access debate and the many ways this affects academic publishing, which is key for anyone who is looking to work in academic publishing to know about. The website also showcases my time as an intern for the Irish Studies Review, to give some insight on what working at an academic journal is like. 

To ensure that the website is helpful for students and recent graduates, I have endeavored to make the website design minimalistic and clear to ensure it is appropriate to the audience and showcases the informative blog entries. I have thoroughly researched the Open Access debate to make sure that all entries on this subject are appropriate and help the reader to understand this area of the industry. I have also included relevant career guidance in the form of a skills page, to show readers what skills are required for certain roles in academic publishing.  

I first needed to plan what sort of articles would feature on the website. I did consider asking professionals to write articles for the website, but felt that I did not have the funds, credibility or popularity to commission articles at such an early stage of website conception. This is something I would like to expand on in the future, as after interviewing recent graduates I feel I would now have the confidence to do so.

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Example of Spider Diagram

I created a spider-diagram of what could be featured on the site. The main reason behind my website is to inform students and graduates on how to get a job in academic publishing – so this is a key feature. The next big issue is the Open Access debate. As I knew very little about the Open Access debate, I spent a considerable amount of project time on reading up on the subject in order to familiar myself with facts, key people in the debate and necessary texts to read. I found that while this was beneficial and gained me some knowledge in the area, my articles would be more advantageous to the audience if I included links and suggested further reading into this subject. 

After this, I looked into creating website wireframes, to see where these articles would sit on the website, and how this might affect the website design.

As my website has been created on the wordpress.com platform, I had some restrictions with themes and layouts. I was lucky enough to find a selection of themes that followed my basic wire framing, and simply had to narrow down the choice. I was able to whittle down this process slightly by seeing how each theme would look on different devices. My research had found that most websites are viewed on mobile devices, so I needed a theme that still looked presentable, informative and clear.

After meeting with my guiding tutor, I decided that including a page of UK university presses would add value to the website. To do this I researched each university press and found out their areas of publication, if they had any digital developments and their stance on open access. I felt this would link up with the open access information I had already created on the website, or at least encourage readers to stay on the website for more information. 

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Example of interview on the website.

I wanted to include interviews from recent graduates and felt that this would be a key feature on the website. I did this by emailing people in the industry and asked them a series of questions relating to how their got their job – which every reader will want to know – as well as their thoughts on open access, if it applied to their role. I managed to secure four interviews, with only a small amount of unsuccessful attempts. Due to this set back, half of my interviewees come from the same company. Had I have had more time to arrange interviews after this setback, I would have ensured that they come from other publishing companies.

I wanted to ensure that the website was fit for purpose and so created a survey to see if it was suitable to the appropriate audience. The majority of answers were positive and also gave me some constructive criticism to take on board. One user mentioned that I lacked information on the differences between Gold and Green Open Access, so I dedicated a new article on this subject. I also went to the Open Access page and included some extra links on the different models of OA.

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Example of survey results. Click on image for other results.

From the feedback my survey gave, I also edited the ‘How To Get A Job‘ page. My original page started with some useful information on where to look for jobs and also discussed the differences between work experience and internships. It then went on to links of job listings and a list of what skills would be required for these roles, copied and pasted from the original listing. This was one of the first pages I created when making my website, so when other pages began to come together, I realised I needed to update this page to ensure my goal of having a professional, understandable and useful website. I remembered being told about marketing personas and thought this could be one way to spruce up the page. I then created my own ‘ideal candidates’ for certain roles in academic publishing. I feel that these personas will allow the reader to relate more clearly to the skillsets and be able to visualise themselves in that role in a “I have that skill, I could do that!” sort of way.

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The development of the ‘How To Get A Job’ page.

For my ‘Life As An Intern‘ posts, I created a header image to signify that these sections are more personal. I applied this image to the Life As An Intern page as well, to give clear branding to this section. I did consider making similar headers for the website header and the interview posts, but felt that this became too cluttered and took away from the original minimalistic design. It also made the website look unprofessional, and I worried that this would turn readers away if they were looking for help or advice.

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Extending the branding into the website header did not look appealing.

Reflection
My project had a slow start as I struggled to find a focus. In my initial planning portfolio, I intended to make a website that gave an overview on academic publishing. My own ideas for this website were vague and unfocused, so after meeting with my guiding tutor we gave the website some purpose. In doing this, I was able to define the key information I wanted to include on my website, as well as the relevant extras such as my intern posts, and the interviews. I feel that by interviewing graduates on their career path, I have been able to work effectively in a professional setting, albeit it being online.

As I have had to deal with some setbacks with my range of interviewees, I had to consider creating more content for the website. I expanded on the Life As An Intern posts, as this was initially just going to describe my role and how I got it. Although this expansion was purely circumstantial, I feel it has really added to my project and allowed me to put my own voice into the website.

This project has also helped me to understand the Open Access debate, and I would definitely feel more confident talking about this if it ever arose in an interview. Although I definitely don’t know enough on the subject to write an essay on it, I was able to identify my weaknesses in this and locate other articles, books or blogposts that could give weight to the issue. As my project is a website, I think that the inclusion of links is merited and adds to the value of the website.

Please visit my Google Drive folder to view all my research

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