Comedy Researcher Speaks to the Difficulties, Rewards of her Publishing Journey
Name: Dr. Krista Bonello R. Giappone
Institution: University of Kent, Canterbury; University of Malta
Field of Study: Comedy Studies; Humanities: Literature and Drama
Bio: Krista lectures in the English Department at the University of Malta, and is a member of the Centre for Critical Thought at the University of Kent, Canterbury (UKC). She obtained her PhD from UKC, researching punk and alternative comedy. She is currently co-editing a collected volume on Comedy and Critical Thought (Rowman and Littlefield International). She has published articles on comedy, including one on videogames (in the journal Game Studies), and has co-written a book chapter on comedy in comics (Deadpool and Philosophy), with a further three articles forthcoming. She has contributed bibliographical entries to the Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature, and has written a number of film reviews for academic journals. She is a member of the Punk Scholars Network, and the Game Philosophy Network. Krista is currently working on turning her research into a monograph, to be published with Palgrave Macmillan.
What was the most difficult hurdle you had to overcome as a researcher?
Being an early career researcher comes with its own specific set of hurdles. Rather than any single particular hurdle looming larger than all the rest, for me it has been more a case of attempting to establish myself while negotiating circumstances that lack stability. I think one of the most disheartening things is the feeling that goals themselves might begin to seem elusive, receding. At an early career stage, when one might still be in between institutions and jobs, one is grasping at potential. Chasing job applications, it is sometimes all one can do to hold on to the very idea of a project which can be sustained through to completion. I am never sure that my contract will be renewed the following year, and this means I don’t necessarily know where I’ll be living from one year to the next. As an ECR on an hourly-paid contract, I don’t get paid for research, but for my teaching. I pursue the development of my research identity in my own free unpaid time, not as part of my academic role within the institution. This, along with the underlying instability, has probably been one of the biggest hurdles to my pursuit of research goals.
“Start building your research profile through publications earlier rather than later…don’t give up after a rejection – we’ve all received them.”
Did you feel you had enough resources at your disposal when you were crafting your research and submitting it to an academic journal?
I do get access to online resources through my affiliation as an hourly-paid lecturer. After the PhD however, there are no longer funds for attending conferences – of course, presenting conference papers before peers is often a valuable step on the way to preparing an article for publication in an academic journal. The loss of these funds may significantly hamper crucial engagement in the academic research community. In terms of other kinds of support, I am lucky to have had wonderful supervisors in my postgraduate study (Masters and PhD), and they continue to provide support and read my work, offering their advice. I have also had very supportive colleagues. I am acutely aware that I am fortunate in this respect – it’s not something I take for granted, and I’m aware not everyone is so fortunate.
What advice would you offer the early career Humanities researcher?
The first point is all-too-familiar advice, but it remains relevant: publishing is key. Turn your conference papers into journal articles where possible, alongside aiming for that first monograph. You could vary your output – in addition to monographs and journal articles, there will be projects requiring different kinds of investment: book reviews, editing volumes or journal issues, outreach articles, etc. This helps with time management, and in getting your name out there. Some publishers offer the option of a shorter monograph, for example Routledge Focus, Palgrave Pivot. Wiley-Blackwell occasionally publishes short monographs in alternative forms, such as special journal issues or supplements. Familiarise yourself with the options out there. There are a couple of further points I would add, related to work conditions: value solidarity amongst peers, and be aware of your rights, if you are on a zero-hours teaching contract while trying to pursue research – the terms of these contracts are sometimes vague.
What do you wish someone “in the know” would have told you earlier in your career about the publishing process?
Start building your research profile through publications earlier rather than later; get your research profile onto online platforms like academia.edu; don’t give up after a rejection – we’ve all received them.