V. Kumar, former Editor in Chief of the Journal of Marketing, shared his advice on getting published and reacting to reviewer feedback along with other insights during the 2016 AMA Winter Academic Conference in Las Vegas.
1. What does publishing an impactful paper mean to you?
The short answer to this question is that JM articles should have actionable managerial implications. Irrespective of the focal area of the article or the type of methodology used, articles published in JM typically are rigorous and have meaningful, generalizable, and managerially relevant implications. With regard to the domains of knowledge, all articles published in JM can be broadly classified into marketing management and strategy (MM&S) or consumer behavior (CB). The articles can be classified in to one of the following three groups: conceptual, empirical, and review focus. I believe that the marketing community will be better served if we adopt a rigor and relevance approach as opposed to a rigor versus relevance approach.
Although many in the academic community area are aware of (and even focus too much on) empirical rigor, theoretical and analytical rigor also exist and are often ignored. Rigor thus should not be limited to study methodologies but should also be applied to articles’ conceptual and analytical frameworks. Authors can incorporate rigor into articles by (1) reviewing published articles in scholarly journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, and Marketing Science; (2) introducing from other disciplines such as economics, statistics, and psychology; and (3) interacting with peers in academia.
Ensuring relevance assists in making the research more accessible to the practitioner community. Establishing relevance in articles begins with solving a problem of potential managerial interest. Authors can identify such problems by interacting with practitioners and decision makers. Essentially, when research articles comprehensively answer the question “What’s in it for me?” (as viewed from the practitioners’ perspective), they address the relevance issue and should secure the attention of the practitioner audience. I would like to refer to the following papers as examples of potentially impactful papers. In both these articles, the authors clearly establish the rigor in multiple ways, and also show the relevance to the practice of marketing. The first of these papers has won the prestigious Harold H. Maynard Award (2013), which recognizes significant contribution to marketing theory and thought. The second paper cited below has won the equally prestigious Marketing Science Institute/H. Paul Root Award (2014), which recognizes significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of marketing.
- Oestreicher-Singer, Gal, et al. “The network value of products.” Journal of Marketing 77.3 (2013): 1-14. (Winner of the 2013 Harold H. Maynard Award) doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.11.0400
- Nam, Hyoryung, and P. K. Kannan. “The informational value of social tagging networks.” Journal of Marketing 78.4 (2014): 21-40. (Winner of the 2014 MSI H. Paul Root Award) doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.12.0151
2. What are the most common strengths of accepted papers and what are the fatal errors authros most often make?
3. Complete and discuss the following sentence: “When a young scholar gets a rejection letter, the first thing they should do is …”
Anytime anyone gets a rejection letter, they need to put the comments away for a day at least before they look at it again…… the knee-jerk reaction would only cause aggravation and the conclusions drawn would be based on emotions of anger and disappointment. But if the authors can read the comments objectively, then the merits of the feedback can be readily seen. While reviewers recognize that no paper is perfect, the issue is how far is the paper from the finish line? Does it have the prerequisites to run the marathon? If it is perceived to be not having them, then the paper gets rejected. The best remedy for this is to have the paper read by the relevant experts and address their comments before submitting it formally to the Journal of Marketing.
4. Consumer Behavior, Strategy, and Quantitiave papers — Who should submit work to the Journal of Marketing?
5. What are the challenges facing the Journal of Marketing?
6. What is the role of theory in an impactful paper?
Theory is useful to explain a phenomena observed in a study. The validity of the findings can be established well with the right theoretical support. If it is a new area, then a rigorous empirical analysis should be sufficient. One can also look at other disciplines for an analogy. Alternatively, one can explore additional datasets to illustrate the robustness of the findings. Theory is not a requirement for every paper. Also, multiple theories can explain a finding, contradict a finding or even negate a finding. Surprise findings are the most difficult to publish as the bar is raised even higher for scrutiny of contribution. At the same time, these type of papers are the most impactful. An example of a recent JM paper where the conventional wisdom suggested one thing and the authors and found the opposite is cited below. In this study, the authors showed that contrary to what extant theory and managerial wisdom suggests, the “strategic” frontline employee ‘s performance is impacted more by his/her influence of both the internal business team and external business partners , than by his/ her influence on customers. In another such study with counter-intuitive findings, its authors established how offering small monetary benefits to customers as a way of thanking them is in fact, less beneficial than presenting them with simple verbal acknowledgements owing to the “trivialization effect” of monetary benefits. The references are given here:
- Plouffe, Christopher R., et al. “Does the Customer Matter Most? Exploring Strategic Frontline Employees’ Influence of Customers, the Internal Business Team, and External Business Partners.” Journal of Marketing 80.1 (2016): 106-123. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.14.0192
- Liu, Peggy J., Cait Lamberton, and Kelly L. Haws. “Should Firms Use Small Financial Benefits to Express Appreciation to Consumers? Understanding and Avoiding Trivialization Effects.” Journal of Marketing 79.3 (2015): 74-90. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.14.0091