Love it or hate it. Take it or leave it. Next to writing scientific articles, reading them is our bread and butter. Some of us know all about them: The authors, the year it was published, the journal, the title, the page numbers, the reference list, and all the other details that make a publication unique. Some of us are glad if they remember the folder in which they store the article they are looking for. Either way, we read, and a lot thereof. At times, we wish we had the time to read it all and download whatever interesting-sounding piece we get our hands on. Then there are these moments when we despise the activity that separates us from finishing yet another paragraph. The avid reader of scientific articles comes across many topics, research questions, and designs to find answers to posed questions.
And the more we read, the more we develop a taste for what we like and dislike. While we cannot avoid reading pieces we wish were never written, we certainly have our favorites. Let it be for clear language, ingenuity in motivating a study, or the very contributions; academic papers have their ways to intrigue and fascinate us. Of course, such papers might as well test our patience with claims made, contexts chosen, or the timing of a study (an article from the last century on an idea you just had). We know about a lot of things and how to do things. That makes us an audience with high expectations – demanding critics. Like at a sports match of your choosing, the trainers and referees are not the only experts next to those on the sidelines who also have their feedback at hand.
Because reading, developing an understanding of what is written, and cultivating an opinion about these knowledge-oozing pages are such important qualities, we want to introduce to you a new initiative for the juniors within our community: The IFERA Reading Club.
This is an initiative that originates from the last two editions of the IFERA Summer School. During the social events, participants expressed their interest in having a platform to convene, connect, discuss, and learn together more regularly. Throughout these conversations, the idea of a reading club emerged and was enthusiastically discussed. A forum wherein publications are openly debated, to express what students like, dislike, agree or disagree with. We realized that students in our field have the desire to have a shared platform for exchange that is less formal yet still a chance to learn from one another. Since our field is rather specialized and widely dispersed across the globe, for some connecting online is the only means to have discussions with other students from the field and to stay in touch with the community.
To address the expressed interest in such a platform, we are setting up a Reading Club. In general, this initiative shall serve as a forum for mutual support, learning, and networking. Due to its roots in Ph.D. students’ discussions, it shall be up to them what to make of this convention of critics.The Research Development Team serves as an enabler by providing the resources and structure needed to run the Reading Club. Since participation is voluntary and no original work from students will be presented, we cannot attribute any credits to this activity.
Our current plan is to hold a Reading Club session a month: on the second Friday at 4 p.m. (GMT+2, Rome). The sessions are held via Zoom. To not overcomplicate things the moderator is responsible for timekeeping, a focused conversation, and keeping the session a safe space for participants. We want to encourage counterintuitive opinions and comments, as our goal is to set a very open and constructive environment to foster discussion among peers. Hence, we resist the temptation to assign paper discussants. Instead, we suggest a loose agenda of a few key questions that we invite participants to share their thoughts on.
We imagine a wide array of discussed articles. In each session, the group discusses one article from an international, top-tier journal with a clear connection to family business research – it addresses an FB-specific phenomenon and/or is based on family firm data. The article can be empirical, conceptual, a literature review, or an opinion piece. To give the whole thing a critical flavor, we would like to begin the discussion with the features that participants strongly disliked. This might sound daunting to established authors. Do not worry, of course, we touch upon what is especially appreciated and what avenues of research the article has opened and still provides for future research. Other details, like ground rules for interacting in such sessions, and other considerations to make this a self-organizing body within the IFERA community will be discussed in our pilot session and surely emerge along the way. We want to stay open and alert to our junior members’ ideas.
Interested in setting up a new group dedicated to venting, critiquing, praising, and arguing about scientific articles? Have a look at the preselected articles we would like to discuss and vote for the one you are most interested in: https://forms.gle/T4Dv1R6MDKjoiKMd9
You have until 26th October to vote for your favorite article. We will communicate the reading by 27th October and share any other relevant and updated information about the Reading Club on the IFERA website: https://ifera.org/event/ifera-reading-club/
So, come and join us for our first-ever Reading Club session on 10th November, 4 p.m. via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81176314388.
You do not need to sign up or register beforehand. We are looking forward to setting off a new initiative to connect, learn, and support, no registration is needed.