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25 June 2018
Career skills toolkit part 4 of 7: How to project manage a ‘Publishing for Research Uptake’ campaign. Print
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 14:22

If you are producing a small-scale Research Uptake Publication it may not be necessary to use some or any of the tools and templates provided in this handbook.  But the larger the campaign, the more details there are to take care of – and that’s where tried and trusted publication campaign documents will help you keep a good handle on things.

Q: Before we look at project management processes, should we use a project manager for our Publishing for Research Uptake Campaign?

A:That depends on both the budget and scale of your project. A project manager – or Managing Editor as publication managers are typically referred to in the publishing world – is responsible for running the show to brief, to deadline and to budget. The Managing Editor: acts as liaison between contributors, editor and publisher; creates and enforces deadlines; manages outgoing and incoming communications traffic; enforces policies and procedures; sets editorial meetings; manages the production schedule and oversees the publication from conception, through all stages to print and decisions regarding distribution.  In a nutshell the Managing Editor is there to politely and effectively get things moving and to make sure it all happens.

Again, your university most likely has a University Press. Get in touch with them as they may be able to collaborate with  you on project management of your Research Uptake publication, or at least point you in the right direction in this regard.

Q: What do we need to know if we are to successfully manage our RU publication ourselves?

  • BUDGET: It’s important to make sure you stay within an assigned budget. Keep a spreadsheet of planned and actual costs. Check in and report back on this regularly.
  • STRATEGIC TIMING PLANNING: Look at your University’s year planner including third-party conference schedules so that you can time your Research Uptake Publication launch to leverage off any related events that may already be scheduled.
  • PRODUCTION SCHEDULE: Many Research Uptake Publications require co-ordination of multiple deadlines, material and processes between start and finish. A production schedule is an incredibly useful tool to keep track of where you’re at in the production process.  You can colour block or tick the relevant boxes on the Production Schedule as each task is completed. Then you’ll be able to gauge where you’re at a glance.
  • Take a look at this example of the [1]PLATFORM2013 production schedule. You’ll see that we used this schedule to track processes and information i.e. the schedule includes the following production processes:
    • Article received from contributor; Article edited in word doc; Edited article sent to researcher to approve changes; Changes approved; VC write up received and edited; VC write up approved; Portrait of Researcher received; Portrait of VC received; Photo of University received; University Logo received; Approved article and all material sent for layout; Article layout designed; Subbed/.copy edited on layout; Final layout circulated for proof reading; final article signed off; Print ready.
    • You’ll notice that the production schedule also tracks information that is relevant for later reporting i.e. Gender of researcher/writer and general research theme group.
    • Here you’ll find a [3] Production schedule template that you can adapt to your own campaign requirements.
    • It’s important to keep and constantly update your database of contributors and participants involved in your publication. This will help you to manage your communications with them, ensure that you record inevitable changes in title and of contact details. This is useful for both this and future projects. The main purpose is to ensure that the right people are contacted when they should be. Take a look at this [4]Contributors template.
    • While the person in charge needs to have a firm grasp on all the major and minor deadlines, most of the contributors and participants in a Research Uptake Publication will only need a list of ‘Key Dates’. This document should be circulated via email, put up on office noticeboards, etc. You’ll find an example of the 2]PLATFORM2013’s key production dates here and of a [5]Key production date template here.

TIP: Collecting many images for your publication via email from many sources creates the potential for mass confusion and print errors! Ask your contributors to clearly name and label their portrait photographs and any other images before they send them to you to help you with material tracking. Alternatively, if digital or physical visual material comes in unnamed, or incorrectly named, then make a point of naming the images correctly, and saving them in the correct file assigned.


Discussion: Many people will have some project management experiencefrom other roles, which can be successfully applied to managing a Research Uptake Publication campaign. In light of this, do you find the tools and tips here useful and/or useable?

Find the previous post in this series: Career skills toolkit part 3 of 7: How to conceptualise a Research Uptake publication formula and how to brief a designer and editor’

Find the next post in this series:  ‘Career skills toolkit part 5 of 7: How to engage contributors to support your ‘Publishing for Research Uptake’ campaign.