I’m sorry but I’m going to decline. I’ve written lots of short introductions on [this topic], including for another encyclopaedia, and I’d just be repeating myself. I’m unsure of the worth of such reference works anyway, and since I don’t have time to write everything I want to write, I’m unwilling to spend time on something I don’t. It might be different if this was either fairly paid, or would be available open access, rather than at high cost. I’m a little reluctant to recommend other people given the low pay for intellectual work, from a commercial publisher, but you might try one of the other authors of books on [this topic].
On turning down poorly-paid, limited value, academic work
I’ve just turned down another invitation to write an encyclopaedia entry. I agonised about it, and ended up posting about it on my personal Facebook page. The issue was in part the payment – £40 for 2000-2500 words. I’d be less insulted if they wanted it for free. I’d need to write at 400-500 words an hour, with no editing, for this to be minimum wage. (Yes, I’m on a very good salary, but I could only do this outside of regular hours.) It’s a commercial publisher, and the resource would be expensive subscription-only. The other issue was the topic – important to me, but something on which I feel I have done all the introductory work I can already. And also, the point of these things is presumably to have a range of views on the topic. There were a lot of useful replies from friends which helped me to think this through, discussing the insulting and inadequate pay, and whether there was something worthwhile intellectually in writing it. Here’s an edited version of my reply:
This was not open access, but would be an extremely expensive subscription based source. The publisher must calculate that likely sales will cover the costs, and turn a profit, but that’s not to say it has a genuine intellectual or pedagogic purpose.
So, here are my criteria
is it academically interesting or otherwise worthwhile?
i.e it forces you to think about something new
or it gives you a chance to say something new or different on a familiar topic
or to write a popular or introductory summary on something you’ve only ever written about before for a different audience
is it going to be widely available at reasonable cost or open access?
is it really well paid, such that you could use the money for something useful (i.e. to pay for an archive visit, that really expensive/rare book you want, etc.)?
#résistance #publications #édition_scientifique #université #celles_et_ceux_qui_disent_non #ça_suffit #travail #exploitation #open_access