Posts Tagged 'military sociology'

a dissertation finds her readers

By now, I hope y’all have heard of SocArXiv, a new open social science archive. I think it is one of the most promising new projects in open access scholarship right now. Of course, I’m a bit biased, being on the Steering Committee and all. But the fact that this was started by social science faculty who immediately reached out to the library community for collaborators, is a big part of why I find this whole endeavor so promising. This isn’t one of those “build it and they 1 will come” archives. This is a “they built it and want us to partner with them” archives.

But a funny thing happened on the way to open social science. When SocArXiv did a soft launch on the OSF platform, I uploaded a few of my own papers. I posted an OA article from Code4Lib that I wrote with Bess Sadler (Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery). I also posted an unpublished manuscript (Bowling with Veterans) that I had submitted to a top-tier sociology journal in 2000 or 2001. It got rejected back then, but in a very gentle and helpful way.  I got 2 incredibly supportive and helpful reviews, and a letter from the editor with strong encouragement to submit to a more specialized journal (military sociology is still not very popular in mainstream sociology). I revised it some, but then abandoned it to finish my dissertation. It’s a good paper, and I was happy to finally have somewhere to put it.

But the really interesting thing is what happened when I published my 2003 dissertation (Gender Mistakes and Inequality) on SocArXiv.

It got read. A lot.

In fact, it has been downloaded 160 times so far,2 making it the most dowloaded paper on SocArXiv right now. Before SocArXiv, I’m not sure anyone outside my committee and a few generous colleagues had read it.3 It has been cited once, albeit by a colleague who was just a year or two behind me in graduate school, so it was pretty easy for her to discovery it.

I actually like my dissertation, and I used to wish I had gotten it published in the traditional way some time closer to when I finished it. But I was a year into my new career in academic libraries by the time I finished the dang thing, and I just never did find the time or energy to revise it to make it suitable for journal submission. But lo these many years later, my dissertation has found her readers. 4

Aside from the ego boost, I actually think this is a great example of the power and usefulness of open access archives. I hope those folks who have downloaded it find useful ideas to build on in it. That was really all I ever wanted–for my dissertation to be useful. But to be useful, it needed to be read; and to be read, it apparently needed SocArXiv.


  1. “They” being shorthand for faculty, who we are often told don’t want OA, or don’t care. Obviously some don’t; but some do. Coalition of the willing and all that.
  2. I know reading and downloading aren’t the same. Whatever.
  3. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t “peer reviewed”. It was reviewed by an all-star committee (Ridgeway, Tuma, Olzak, Jost). Karen Cook and Shelley Correll also read drafts and gave me feedback.
  4. Why yes, I am invoking Ranganathan
  5. And yes, I did just gender my dissertation. But I might be mistaken.

Shameless self-promotion of publications, presentations, and unpublished manuscripts

I decided I needed a place to keep track of my publications, presentations, and unpublished manuscripts, so I added the Publications and Presentations page now linked at the top of this blog.

A second, but important, motivation is to provide access to the full-text of some unpublished manuscripts, including my dissertation Gender Mistakes & Inequality. I also included an unpublished paper I wrote about civilian husbands of military women for a graduate school class back in 1994. I still get an occassional request for a copy of that paper, and it has actually been cited a few times in published books and articles. I guess it pays to be the first to write about something, and to have had an awesome advisor who continues to tell anyone writing about military women with civilian husbands that I wrote about the topic way back when.

I actually think one of my best papers is an unpublished and (so far) uncited paper with the clever title: Bowling with veterans: The impact of military service on subsequent civic engagement. I wrote it for a graduate methods course at Stanford, and submitted it to American Journal of Sociology back in 2001. I actually got a very kind and very helpful rejection from AJS. I worked on it a bit more and was thinking about submitting it somewhere else, but then I then I got a full time gig at the Stanford Libraries and I just never could find the time to get back to it.

Does posting these old unpublished manuscripts online here count as self-publishing? I wonder if putting them online will have any affect on citations? At any rate, I’m not likely to be writing any more military sociology papers, but I do now have a place to put future presentations so I can find them again.

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