The Journal of Imaginary Research is now accepting submissions of new short fictional pieces for our annual volume produced each November to celebrate Academic Writing Month. We publish imaginary research abstracts, and all our volumes are available as free downloads here.
What do we mean imaginary research abstracts?
We mean short works of fiction, that take a format that is familiar to us as researchers and academics. An abstract is the summary of an academic paper, that gives us a succinct overview of the research that has been done, and the new outcomes or ideas that the research has generated.
The 2022 theme
This year our theme is ‘service’. It’s an old word that first related to ceremony or worship, like a church or wedding service. Servants are engaged in service, but so too are leaders. Service means giving time or performing duties for a person, idea or cause. There is sometimes a sense of loyalty, duty and length, but also the quick and easy service of consumerism, of waiting tables, selling with a smile, emotional labour. It’s a word deployed by the armed forces and department stores. We can service abstract things like education or science, people, institutions, or appliances like washing machines. It is both a euphemism for sex and also the word used to describe delivering a ball over the net to start a game of tennis.
We’d like you to interpret the theme in your own way so that your submission relates somehow to service. You don’t need to explain this to us or within your piece; it’s fine to take the theme literally and write about the provision of public transport, but it’s also fine to use the theme as a mood, a way to enter your imagination. Where will your imaginary research go to? What will your imaginary research service? Or should, indeed, imaginary research service anything at all?
Keep reading to find out how to get started and how to submit your writing…
Why do we publish fictional research?
We publish imagined research abstracts as works of fiction firstly because writing for enjoyment is a good thing to encourage. We spend a lot of time trying to reduce our anxiety about writing, and so writing imaginatively is a good way to reshape our relationship with writing into something creative and enjoyable.
Secondly, writing fiction in a familiar format, helps us to reflect on how we can creatively communicate our other research projects, and how we can find the joy of creativity within the grind of productivity. Creativity is a property of all writers and the privilege of all researchers. It allows us to dream and hope.
Can I see examples?
The imaginary abstracts we have published in Volumes 1–7 and our summer 2020 Special Issue were written by real academic staff, research staff, and research students. These volumes of our Journal-zine provide plenty of examples of the different approaches and styles, some funny, some serious, all completely made up.
How to get started with your submission
How you approach your imaginary Abstract is open to you. We’d like you to use an image as writing prompt, and accompaniment to your finished piece. Start with an image; any copyright free image or photograph you choose. Use this as a prompt for your writing. Perhaps begin by noting down observable facts about the image, then add some invented facts from your imagination. Combine the observed and the imagined and think about other notions, words, and concepts you associate with your developing ideas. What imaginary research project could help you articulate, investigate, or explain what you see and what you imagine from the starting point offered to you by the image?
Consider your imagined abstract and imagined researcher biography as a piece, together. Who is the researcher who would do this work? What are they like? Where do they work? What have they achieved in their career?
To have your creative work considered for inclusion, please submit, in one MS Word file:
- A title for your fictional study
- A 200-word imagined (fictional) research abstract
- A 100-word imagined (fictional) researcher biography
- A high resolution copy of the copyright free image which accompanies your written abstract — by all means take a photo specifically for this purpose or see these resources if you don’t have a stash of your own:
https://broadlygenderphotos.vice.com (gender inclusive photo set) https://affecttheverb.com/collection/ (disabled, Black, Indigenous people, People of Color in work and home lives)
https://obesitycanada.ca/resources/image-bank/ (positive portrayals of individuals with obesity)
https://ageingbetter.resourcespace.com/pages/home.php (positive portrayals of older people)
Submit these four things for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Friday 2nd December, 2022
Remember, have a look at Volumes 1–7 and our summer 2020 Special Issue to get an idea of the sort of work we publish.
Due to the volume of submissions we are now receiving, we have a fast and simple editorial process. When we receive your submission, we will do one of the following:
(a) accept and publish your submission without edits,
(b) send your submission back to you with some suggestions on how to resubmit it for the next issue or
(c) make minor edits to your work and publish it in the current issue.
That means that your piece may be published with minor edits that you have not seen. If you would prefer that this doesn’t happen, then let us know when you submit. We haven’t had disappointed any writers yet, but we want you to be aware of our editorial processes so you can make an informed decision. In all cases you maintain the copyright on your submission, and no money is made by the sale of your writing.
A key aim of our journal-zine is to encourage academic colleagues to embrace writing simply for enjoyment, as an act of care, or as a reflective act. We also hope that reading and writing our imagined works, will bring an enjoyable diversion into your work lives.