What We Publish, and Why

Usually, the editor’s letter in MIT SMR tees up one or more of the ideas explored in a given issue. This one is different.

This time, I’ll talk about what we look for when we consider articles for publication. Of course, that’s top of mind for the subject matter experts who want to reach our audience. But it’s also important to share our approach with the business leaders and managers who turn to us for insight. After all, you’re the best judges of whether we’re accomplishing what we set out to do.

So here, in a nutshell, are the kinds of contributions we pursue:

1. Ideas that will help managers navigate an increasingly digital world. True to our MIT Sloan roots, we’re keenly interested in the impact of technology on management: the challenges and opportunities that arise, the ways in which organizations and teams must adapt, the skills and mindsets people need to develop, and the ethical questions they confront. Sometimes MIT SMR authors look at how organizations are experimenting with particular tools and technologies — for instance, in the fall 2019 issue, approaches to analytics that can help groups collaborate more effectively and algorithmic methods that VC investors can use to make smarter, less-biased decisions about which new ventures to fund. But more often, our articles address management problems with broader digital relevance, in core areas like leadership, strategy and innovation, talent management, and organizational culture.

2. Evidence-based thinking. Reasonable people can disagree about a well-supported idea — their own research or experience may very well point them in different directions. But when we consider articles for publication, we’re on the lookout for rigorous, evidence-based thinking. Of course, evidence comes in many forms. Compelling arguments can draw on lab experiments, field studies, data analysis, deep industry experience, a synthesis of others’ findings, or some combination of those things. Whatever the source of expertise, we try to clearly signal it through the article’s framing and references, because readers tell us they want to know why it’s worth paying attention to a particular idea. It’s one of the main reasons we include endnotes in a publication for practitioners. Another is to allow our expert authors an easy, inobtrusive way of providing scholarly context for readers who want it.

3. Accessible frameworks and recommendations. Rigor is necessary but not sufficient. Our readers are busy, and they seek utility. We pursue cogent ideas with practical upsides, and we make every effort to help authors articulate their arguments clearly and concisely. That’s not to say that every piece has a “how to” element. Some articles are more why than how. Others give us new ways of thinking about perennial challenges. But we hope that they all, in some way, help managers do their jobs more effectively and prepare for the future.

With those goals in mind, please let us know how we’re doing. How useful do you think our articles are? What kinds of ideas would you like to see us explore more often or in greater depth? Where do you think we’re missing the mark?

You can comment on individual articles on our website or through social media or send us general feedback at smrfeedback@mit.edu. We’re eager to hear from you.

* This article was originally published here

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