academia, academic writing, proofreading, publishing, style guide

The truth about notes (episode 1 of the Fabulous Four)

First in a series of posts, all drawn from my own – often suffered – experience of the academic world, about the “fabulous four” core activities in academia: writing, teaching, research and dissemination (in random order)Episode 1: writing.

The truth about notes 

I recently got into a discussion about punctuation rules on Twitter. Yes, people do actually debate these things, including on social media, even if many don’t have an open mind on the matter, so I found.

In retrospect, I think the question (accompanied by a short survey) that meant to spark the debate wasn’t a very useful one: “do the footnote numbers go before or after the period?” One could also tick a third box, “it depends”, and since we’re talking about punctuation a fourth box was added, about using the Oxford comma—completely irrelevant, really, to the question of where notes should be placed in the text.

In my job as a proofreader, I work almost exclusively with Italian native speakers, and one of the most common errors I come across when proofreading their works is the placement of notes before punctuation marks. I know this is common in Italian academia, but I’ve honestly never seen it in any English-language publications in my discipline.

And I have some good piece of literature to back me up: New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2014), endorsed by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (and highly recommended when I took my first proofreading course). It is described as the essential desk guide for all writers and editors. So what does it say on the positioning of notes, I’m sure you are dying to know?

Here it is:

The reader is referred to a footnote or endnote by a cue in the text. This normally takes the form of a superior Arabic number. The cue is placed after any punctuation (normally after the closing point of a sentence). If, however, it relates only to text within parentheses it is placed before the closing parenthesis (pp. 332-333)

Granted, my initial comment to this thread – where I replied to an Italian academic talking about different approaches being used in different languages (something I agreed upon) – must have come across in a wrong, and possibly strong, way, judging from the defensive tone she subsequently took on. In reality I only meant to vent my frustration at having to fix footnotes all too often, when proofreading English texts written by Italian academics—trust me, moving misplaced notes is absurdly boring, and a real drag when using track changes, as these will upset the numbering of the whole note system.

Apparently, though, different practices – and mindsets – exist. So, in spite of the survey resulting in a majority (45%) voting for footnotes after the period (against 32% voting before), I read several confused or opinionated replies to the thread, including a few likes and comments aimed at proving me wrong. I even got mansplained of sorts by a couple of dudes who apparently couldn’t bother to produce any constructive, or even vaguely intelligent, criticism. Instead, they cast my reference to the poor Oxford Style Guide off as “booooooring” (wrong spelling, I replicated), and pointed to a typo introduced by my phone’s autocorrect (being set to Italian rather than English). Wow, really put me on the spot there, big man!

Clearly, there is no golden rule, even when you’re writing in the same language. Whatever “God” or the Polish football manager wish to believe. UK spelling differs from US spelling, and punctuation, too, follows its own rules depending on geography and disciplinary differences. And the style guides used in those disciplines. Which is why a proofreader can be of great help.


academia, British Academy, funding

British Academy Funding Call: Heritage, Dignity and Violence

This programme funds research on sustainable peace and the prevention of violence broadly understood.

Tackling the challenge of achieving sustainable peace and preventing violence requires a consideration of local cultures, practices, histories and societal norms, and an understanding of how such norms are complex and contextually differentiated and intersectionally experienced. It is often the case that these considerations are not well or fully brought into policy and practice that tend to ignore aesthetic, representational, and reflective practices. New approaches that cross sectoral and disciplinary boundaries are vital in achieving a step change in this area.

The projects funded under this programme must demonstrate an innovative and interdisciplinary approach yielding new conceptual understandings, developing ground-breaking research and energising innovative collaborations in the humanities and social sciences.

Awards of up to £300,000 are available (and will be offered on a 100% full economic cost basis). Projects must be 21 months in duration and start on 9 September 2019.

Deadline: 22 May 2019

More information and contact details at this link.

academia, funding, peer review

Coping with rejection

Did you just get rejected for a funding application? Struggling to deal with it? You should know that you are not alone…

Try reading this very useful, and heartwarming, stream of Tweets about the difficulties, and the importance, of accepting that your project has been rejected. Hope you feel better!


CFP Me too

Me too – Special Issue of Rejoinder

The me too movement, founded in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke to help young American women of color heal from sexual assault, has gone global. Survivors around the world are giving unprecedented voice to stories of violence and abuse.

The next issue of Rejoinder will explore the history, present, and future of me too as it relates to contemporary feminist mobilization and theorizing.

Contributions are invited that explore any aspects of me too, such as how the movement travels across different contexts (such as the home, the academy, the workplace), through different forms of media and face-to-face interactions. What are the most pronounced effects of me too? And what difference does adding the hashtag make? Submissions (including essays, commentary, criticism, fiction, poetry, and artwork) should address this theme from feminist, queer, social and racial justice-inspired perspectives. The editors particularly welcome contributions at the intersection of scholarship and activism.

Please send completed written work (2,000-2,500 words max), jpegs of artwork, and short bios to the editor, Sarah Tobias (stobias(at)rutgers(dot)edu) by December 19, 2018.

Click here for manuscript preparation details.

academia, British Academy, funding

British Academy small research grant 2018-2019

The BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants are available to support primary research in the humanities and social sciences.

These awards, up to £10,000 in value and tenable for up to 24 months, are provided to cover the cost of the expenses arising from a defined research project.

At this link a brief tutorial about the British Academy small research grant scheme – deadline for this year approaching soon!


CFP Body Narratives (SIS Postgraduate Colloquium)

Body Narratives
Society for Italian Studies Postgraduate Colloquium 2018
University of St Andrews, 16 November 2018

This conference aims to bring together early career researchers working on Italian topics across disciplines, inviting them to reflect on how varying interpretations of the body in academic theory and cultural production intersect with their own research. How has the body been variously figured in Italian culture? How has the body been exploited to further or counter specific ideologies? What does it mean to think about a body of the nation, of the text, of knowledge? How do questions of gender, sexuality, race, and ability shape what bodies can do and where they can go?

Body Narratives will provide a platform for young researchers to exchange research methodologies, approaches and questions concerning their research, and it will foster an integrated research network within Italian Studies. This will add value to current interdisciplinary networks inside and outside academia working on the consistently challenging question of the body, understood both as a metaphor and material entity. 

Potential topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Body of the nation
  • The social body
  • The body politic
  •  The body and ideology
  •  Historical bodies
  • Body of the text
  • Body languages
  • Intersectionality and the body
  •  Ethnographies of the body
  • The migrant body
  • Mobility and immobility
  • Bodily boundaries
  • Racialised bodies
  •  The affective body
  • Queer and/or gendered bodies
  • Disabled bodies
  • Non-human bodies
  • The performing body
  • Trauma and the body
  • The healthy/unhealthy body

Deadline: 30 September 2018

St Andrews (photo by Andrea Hajek)
St Andrews (photo by Andrea Hajek)

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of St Andrews 2019/20

The School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews welcomes applications from outstanding Early Career Researchers to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme for 2019/20. 

Applications are welcomed from candidates who have a strong research profile and meet the eligibility criteria.

Interested candidates should contact Professor Nicki Hitchcott at the earliest opportunity.

Candidates will be required to submit the following by Friday 21 September 2018:

  • Short project description (maximum 2 pages)
  • CV (2 pages)
  • The name of a proposed mentor at the University of St Andrews
  • A short statement on how their research project fits the research profile of the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews (200 words)

For more information and contact details click here.

St Andrews (photo by Andrea Hajek)
St Andrews (photo by Andrea Hajek)