ICTD2010 (XVIII). Publishing ICT4D Research

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Publishing ICT4D Research
Chairs: G. Harindranath

Geoff Walsham
Reflections on ICT4D research publishing after a Cape Town workshop.

Where to publish:

  • Go for a portfolio approach — conferences plus a range of journals.
  • Choose your journal with care — read back issues, etc.
  • Consider co-authoring some of your papers with a more experienced author.
  • Probably avoid the so-called top journals in early career.
  • Cover (slightly) different topics and different approaches for different audiences.
  • When co-authoring, let the expert in the field of the journal lead the article, and keep your leadership for the topics/subjects/journals you’re an expert on.

The review process:

  • Key initial goal: get your paper past the SE/AE screen and about to the reviewers.
  • Cover every point made by the reviewers and say how you have responded.
  • You can disagree with particular points made by the reviewers but you need to say why.
  • Focus on the key critical points which are being raised by the reviewers and editors.

What to do with a ‘reject’?

  • Consider carefully the reasons for rejection.
  • In most cases, revise the paper and submit it elsewhere.
  • Don’t give up, academic careers are marathons not sprints.

Planning for future writing:

  • Geenrate a realistic annual work plan.
  • Think about support mechanisms: colleagues, conferences, seminar groups, etc.
  • Try out your material on others: take every possible opportunity to do this.

Q: What about social networks an open publishing? A: This is a good approach to broaden your portfolio, but it should not be your only strategy. Indeed, still most places select or evaluate on a mainly a publishing-basis.

Cathy Urquhart
Publishing ICT4D research in the Information Systems area. Future themes in ICT4D research in Information Systems.

Collaboration with senior peers is beneficial, and you can offer the senior colleague something in exchange too (fresh ideas, more time, etc.)

You can’t put your eggs into just one basket.

Publishing ICT4D in Information Systems:

  • In Business Schools, increasing pressure to publish to the Association of Business Schools (ABS) journal rankings — many candidate journals for ICT4D not listed.
  • On the plus side, there are some mainstream Information Systems journals open to ICT4D research.
  • If we only publish in Information Systems journals, what does that do for our relationships with other areas, e.g. development studies, in what is a multidisciplinary field?
  • In a field that aims for impact, what is the consequence of only publishing in Information Systems academic journals?

Future themes in ICT4D research in information Systems:

  • Theorising ICT for Development — call for Papers in Information Systems journal: we need more theory.
  • The politics of ICT4D — call for papers in the International Journal of e-Politics: we need more policy.


Q: We are talking about publishing only in terms of academic careers. Notwithstanding, we might have other interests, as reaching the practitioner or, over all, making an impact at the policy-level. Maybe it is more important to publish in newspapers or write policy-briefs.

Shirin Madon
Publishing ICT4D Research… some personal reflections.

ICT4D is no more a ‘niche’ area. But this makes it more important to have a strategy, to know when to publish during your project, whether your article will be career-focused or impact-aimed. What kind of strategy?

Some considerations are due on whether to publish on open or closed journals, or to self-archive and to find ways to circumvent the ‘closeness’ of the system.

We should try and publish in outlets that make sense for the audiences that read them. Sometimes this includes NGO newsletters, newspapers, etc.

Tim Unwin

Nobody reads academic papers.

  • Journal papers are form or professional exclusivity. Because of the need to publish, there is a wide range of bad literature being published. The publishing norms are Anglo-Saxon-made. Peer review is not naive, it is about gate-keeping.
  • Know the rules of the place you want to be published in. Get in touch with the referees.
  • If we want to share of ideas, the Internet is the platform. Blogs get hundreds of times more read than academic papers. How do we actually fund publication? There still is a huge value in the traditional role of editors.
  • There is a conspiracy to create an ICT4D field. Do not constrain your ideas, change happen at the edges. Everyone is in their silos and do not read each others’ papers.
  • Books are hugely important. Books allow more room to include and expand ideas.
  • Never add your supervisors in your papers, unless they definitely wrote and/or contributed significantly to the paper.
  • We have to find more places where research can happen. We have to move out of the US/Europe and find innovation where it is happening.

Geoff Walsham: we have to differentiate research with dissemination. The latter includes writing in practitioner papers, newspapers, doing consultancy, etc.

Q: How do funders dictate the research agenda? Shirin Madon: It is a good thing that funders ask for a multidisciplinary approach, as this forces researchers to join forces. Tim Unwin: researchers always have the choice to refuse funding if it does not go in line with what ethics in research suggest.

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(NOTE: most energetic session, full of non-reportable debate).


Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

ICTD2010 (X). Geoff Walsham: Development Informatics in a Changing World

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Keynote Speech: Geoff Walsham
Development Informatics in a Changing World

Main journals in Information Systems and Development:

The focus on the ‘development’ part in ICTD: Need to distinguish research on ICT in developing countries and research on ICT for development. The ‘for development’ part is whehter ICT help, contribute or are explicitly aimed at achieving development.

Need to theorise the meaning of ‘development’: what is development? It is not only about basic needs, although they matter. And it is nor about about technology as a silver bullet: we tend to celebrate what’s new.

It is good to keep ICT4D multidisciplinary, in part because it forces us to define what we are doing, and define it in terms that are understandable for people of all disciplines. And this includes defining what we understand by development.

Multidisciplinarity is also about drawing theory from multiple disciplines, carry out joint research studies. One of the problems, though, is that publishing still is discipline-focused.

Above all, we need strategic development focus, policy-oriented research. Strategy should be the starting point, and then embed in it whatever technology is needed to make it possible. A strategic approach is broader, more comprehensive, and thus more likely to make a sustainable, bigger impact, a real change. Strategy, of course, must include the communities it is aimed to.

Strategic research is about building infrastructures (e.g. HISP on health), promoting social justice (e.g. SMS and mobile activsim), supporting economic activity for the poor (e.g. M-PESA), providing access to global markets and resources (e.g. Jordan’s approach to ICT-led development), new IT-enabled models (e.g. virtual economies), etc.

An aspect that deserves special attention is the gender issue. Though there is strong evidence that mobiles ’empower’ women in a number of ways (e.g. enabling economic activity), old male-dominated hierarchies persist and the use of mobiles for economic activity does not necessarily enhance women’s status in the community.


Q: designing for people with abilities is actually designing for everyone, not only disabled people but people with low literacy or cultural levels, etc. A: Agreed.

Ismael Peña-López: isn’t ICT-led development yet another iteration of what happened with oil in Arabic countries, or coffee in Latin America, where few get rich and multiplier effects upon the rest of the economi are very little? A: agreed. But, just because of that, and because many countries are notwithstanding promoting such policies, this is a topic that needs being researched in the field of ICT4D.

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Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)