As we (that is my partner in crime Sharon McDonough and I ) come to having our manuscript for the edited book Mindfulness in the Academy: Practices and Perspectives from Scholars ready for our publisher and while we are writing our final chapter celebrating the work that the contributors have done we have been reflective. Reflective on the contributions and the lived experiences shared about working in higher education. We have been profoundly touched by the contributions and navigation of mindful practices within the work we do, and by the writing and editing process. As we have gone on this journey from behind closed doors to a more open dialogue about working in higher education we have shared through social media, both Twitter and Instagram (@MindfulAcademic). In doing this we have been mindful about sharing the experiences of curating and editing a book vision. We have been working with 22 international authors and in doing so have been mindful of the processes we have undertaken to bring such a project to fruition. We thought we would share a little snap shot of this.
The editing process is a mindful task in itself. For us as it has been thinking about our own time, what it is that we want to contribute, and how we want to bring others together. We have been mindful throughout the process – from conception, proposal, acceptance of the contract with Springer, through to invitations to authors, and the timelines set. Then there is the review process. This is heavily positioned around feedback and what comes with this in terms of valuing and appreciating the words on the page versus changes that need to be made in order to meet academic requirements. We also have had to consider how deadlines fit into already existing deadlines for ourselves, but also the authors, and indeed, the reviewers.
We wanted the experience of contributing to this collection to be a good one. We were mindful of the way the book editing, chapter writing and indeed the review process at times can become a task to be done where it is possible to forget that sitting at the other end of the document is another person, sending their stories out to the world to be judged. Opening yourself up to critique places you in a vulnerable position and we wanted to be mindful of this as we designed and engaged in the review process. We have had uneasy experiences when writing for others, and our mindful approach to this book built from this as well as our vision of this being an opportunity for mindful reflection and growth. Throughout the process we have had to consider the role of the writing and academic review process, and as such we have:
- Planned ahead of time to design and follow a well thought out schedule of the writing and editorial process.
- Communicated openly but mindfully in an attempt not to overwhelm others.
- Sent soft reminds of deadlines and an ability to negotiate these.
- Created a longer time to write reviews that would normally be enacted.
- Created a review sheet for reviewers so time and feedback is specific and is valued. And in carrying out this activity invited the choice to track changes on chapter itself as an easier means to provide feedback.
- We have carefully mapped out appropriate reviewers to topics and across experience in academia to support author experience and growth.
- We have provided a quick turn around in initial response from us as editors to a chapter to those who were feeling anxious to reinforce contribution and support any need for refinement.
- We have provided clear and succinct information in timely manner.
- Contacted the authors as editors to thank them for their contribution before reviews were completed to highlight their contribution, and the impact their lived experience has had on us as editors.
- Shared the process through social media to engage a wider audience and showcase the work being completed.
- Built relationships and trust with each of the authors.
- Kept notes on progress to value contributions and to not call on authors or reviewers to remind us of work they have completed.
- Supported and mentored early career academics new to the process of writing a book chapter or undertaking reviews for the first time.
- Supported authors and reviewers in moments of stress to negotiate revised timelines.
We consciously share this as part of our learning journey but to also mindfully support others taking on this role in the future. As Williams and Hayler (2016) argue co-editing a book is about much more than “administrative tasks and the reading of drafts to bring the collection to publication”, rather it is “a creative and important part of our own development” (p. 152). Like Williams and Hayler (2016), the process of editing this book provided us with a reflective lens to consider the role of mindfulness in all of our practices as academics, including our role as editors. Engaging with the authors enabled us to learn and grow from their experiences, and we were also able to learn from each other in our work as editors. Sharing the mindful practices we have employed as editors enables us to engage in ongoing learning, while also offering an insight for others into the process of co-editing.
Williams, J., & Hayler, M. (2016). Professional learning from the process of co-editing journeys of becoming. In D. Garbett & A. Ovens. (Eds.). Enacting self-study as a methodology for professional inquiry (pp. 147- 153). Herstmonceux, UK: S-STEP.