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Essential Scholarly Exchange

Essential Scholarly Exchange

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Published by Dr Stephen Dann
Who killed the intellectual creativity of the ANZMAC papers? In a world of academic thought espousing academic freedom, intellectual endeavour and the pursuit of new academic thought, the ANZMAC conference paper lies dying from near terminal wounds. Was there a murder? An accident? Or have old age and clogged reviewing arteries finally taken their toll?

In 200 words, this dramatic summary of the Essential Scholarly Exchange attempts the best of academic practice and the worst of advertising excess. As the only printed item you'll read before the conference, this abstract must inform (the paper is critical of the ANZMAC process), persuade (Please come to my session) and summarise the paper (Marketing theory used. Paper lengths criticised). At best, the abstract attempts to convey the plot of essential scholarly exchange in less words than a film review. At worst, it's 200 words summarising the criticism that struggled to stay inside the perversely arbitrary page restriction. The paper covers issues of the impact of 5 page long papers on marketing in single line space, and within 2.5 centimetre boundaries. Proposals for reforming the ANZMAC paper process will be suggested, and the word length exceed just before the paper gets to the interesting part.
Who killed the intellectual creativity of the ANZMAC papers? In a world of academic thought espousing academic freedom, intellectual endeavour and the pursuit of new academic thought, the ANZMAC conference paper lies dying from near terminal wounds. Was there a murder? An accident? Or have old age and clogged reviewing arteries finally taken their toll?

In 200 words, this dramatic summary of the Essential Scholarly Exchange attempts the best of academic practice and the worst of advertising excess. As the only printed item you'll read before the conference, this abstract must inform (the paper is critical of the ANZMAC process), persuade (Please come to my session) and summarise the paper (Marketing theory used. Paper lengths criticised). At best, the abstract attempts to convey the plot of essential scholarly exchange in less words than a film review. At worst, it's 200 words summarising the criticism that struggled to stay inside the perversely arbitrary page restriction. The paper covers issues of the impact of 5 page long papers on marketing in single line space, and within 2.5 centimetre boundaries. Proposals for reforming the ANZMAC paper process will be suggested, and the word length exceed just before the paper gets to the interesting part.

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Published by: Dr Stephen Dann on Aug 16, 2007
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Essential Scholarly ExchangeAbstract
Who killed the intellectual creativity of the ANZMAC papers? In a world of academicthought espousing academic freedom, intellectual endeavour and the pursuit of new academicthought, the ANZMAC conference paper lies dying from near terminal wounds. Was there amurder? An accident? Or have old age and clogged reviewing arteries finally taken their toll?In 200 words, this dramatic summary of the Essential Scholarly Exchange attempts the best of academic practice and the worst of advertising excess. As the only printed item you'll readbefore the conference, this abstract must inform (the paper is critical of the ANZMACprocess), persuade (Please come to my session) and summarise the paper (Marketing theoryused. Paper lengths criticised). At best, the abstract attempts to convey the plot of essentialscholarly exchange in less words than a film review. At worst, it's 200 words summarising thecriticism that struggled to stay inside the perversely arbitrary page restriction. The papercovers issues of the impact of 5 page long papers on marketing in single line space, andwithin 2.5 centimetre boundaries. Proposals for reforming the ANZMAC paper process willbe suggested, and the word length exceed just before the paper gets to the interesting part.
Introduction
 In a world of publish or perish, this paper may give the author the notoriety of publishing andperishing in the same movement. The paper's nature is serious, the content important and thestyle sarcastic, academic and whimsical. The arguments raised debate the unspoken andagreed assumptions tied to the paper length and submission requirements for papers atANZMAC. In challenging these decisions, the author accepts the risks associated with suchcriticism, but feels the discourse is needed to "keep the system honest" (to paraphrase theDemocrats), and to at least speak some of the unspoken assumptions out loud.
ANZMAC: The Intellectual Playground or Serious Philosophers Club?
The annual Australian and New Zealand Marketing shindig has usually been the highpoint of the marketing academic's calendar. It caps off the conference season, and for many marketers(particularly those from my school), it represents a chance to catch up with colleagues (notseen since last ANZMAC), and finish the academic year in style, comfort and intellectualpursuit. With our teaching behind us (sparing those summer semester classes), and fivemonths of preparation from submission to presentation, ANZMAC has been a highlight of themarketing conference circuit.
I don't think you understand the seriousness of the situation, Mr Bond
Marketing is an intensely serious discipline. This is why we have an intensely seriousconference which does not permit the use of clever titles, plays on words, and exactly thesame techniques we teach in advertising. If Rust and Oliver (1994) complained about lifelessadvertising, they should be spared the lifeless promotion of ANZMAC articles.To quote the ANZMAC guidelines…"Authors should provide a title which comprises as few words as possible, in order toconvey the academic focus of the paper clearly. Authors should not attempt to create a“clever” title, such as a “play on words”, or use other irrelevant or trivial words in the
 
title. The ANZMAC conference is essentially a scholarly exchange." (ANZMAC2002)Trivial words are a pursuit for some academic writers, namely those who happen to holdestablished positions, post essays to El-Mar, or seek publication in the European Journal of Marketing's special editions on post-modernism. Holbrook (1997) argued that we "havegreater lessons to learn from our cats than from LISREL manuals or from our copies of themarketing principles textbooks’’, yet the ethology of a cat would scarcely be described asserious paper despite having been cited by Arias and Acebron (2001). Sports sponsorshipauthors Amis, Slack and Berret (1999) quote "We sell insulation which is a boring product, sowe try to communicate with our market place with some warmth and wit and charm.". May itbe that LISREL is a boring product, and communicating with clever titles and plays on wordsare our methods of warmth, wit and charm? Admittedly, Huang (1998) did argue the point of humour in advertising wasn't always effective, and is not always appropriate for every market.True, and in marketing conferences, not everyone possesses a desire for sharp wit and fancifulwordplay as a title for their session. Although, culturally, there may even be a need toembrace the use of humour and word play as part of the Celtic tradition of marketing. Aherne(2000) argues the case of William Yeats as a culturally specific marketer, who featuresheavily in the Celtic marketing discourse. For Aherne, Celtic marketing contained animportant instruction in that…"Consumers are won and their hearts are captured, not by supine abnegation or slavishadulation, but by quick wit, good humour, tall tale telling, laid-back banter, down-to-earth ribaldry and happy-go-lucky flirtatiousness. This make-em-laugh model,admittedly, is contrary to the modern marketing mindset, which can only be describedas a contemporary manifestation of courtly love".Whilst ANZMAC may not be the ground for courting and love, it certain can be argued thatthe Celtic marketer's desire for a clever play of words in their title and abstract is a culturalheritage to be supported, and not denied to these traditional Celtic marketers. It also happensto be that marketers understand the need for the headline of a sales pitch to catch the eye andmind of the reader, to drive them to the body (abstract) of the pitch.
Driven to Abstraction: 200 words of a sales pitch for my session
"Authors should note that the abstract is the only printed text the delegates will see.The full content of conference papers will appear in a conference CD-ROM given toall delegates as part of their conference pack, and available for commercial sale to thegeneral public""Authors should give very careful thought to the writing of their abstract. It should notlist section headings from the main paper - rather, it should summarise the entirepaper, including the findings and conclusions. The abstract should be no longer than200 words." (ANZMAC 2002)The author wishes to convey the concern of many marketing academics when they argue thatsubstance should dominate over style in the pursuit of academic work. However, with 200words and less, and with an average reading speed (taken from college students) of around250-300 words a minute, there is scarcely time to hold the reader. From title to abstract, theaverage academic audience member will take less than a minute (and probably closer to 30seconds) to decide whether to attend the presentation, or read the paper (Virginia Tech, 2002).The concern for ANZMAC executives is not whether the abstract is simply a summary of headings, but whether it forms a sales pitch for the author's presentation. The abstract to thispaper was written with one eye on the word count, and another on filling the room for the
 
session. Of course, every author at ANZMAC is simply concerned with promoting the bestpractice of marketing (which is why every reader should have attended my session), and theabstract is the best method to gain that audience. That, and the fact that we can have longerPowerPoint presentations than we do conference papers indicates that substance is most easilydelivered by bullet point form.
Intellectual Anorexia: Shrinking the Paper Length
ANZMAC's intellectual weight loss regime apparently began in 1999, when paper lengthsdropped from the relatively open length of approximately 4000 to 6000 words (as evidence bythe conference proceedings on the ANZMAC.org website), to a reduced length closer to 3000to 5000. By 2000, the policy of the ANZMAC submission had formalised the reduction of the paper length to 5 pages, and effectively locked the current word length into place. Thedecline is illustrated in Table 1 (there goes 7 lines of text)Table 1. ANZMAC Page LengthsANZMAC Date Length2002 5 pages2001 5 pages2000 5 pages1999 7-8 pages1998 12 -16 pages(This table excludes the period prior to ANZMAC's formation (ANZMA & ANZMEC))
Comparative Standards: World's Best Paper Lengths
How then does ANZMAC's short page length compare against world practice? It seemsreasonable to assume that ANZMAC's requirements would be comparable those of collegiategroups and similar conferences in the international arena. The comparison is illustrated in aspace consuming table that just cost this paper another 70 words.Table 2. Paper Lengths and Breadth (Another 5 lines gone)
Conference Pages Words Font Size Spacing
ANZMAC 5 ~2500 12pt Times New Roman SingleEMAC 6 ~2500 12pt Times New Roman SingleANZAM 10 ~7000 11pt Times New Roman SingleAcademy of Marketing15-20 4000-6000 12pt Times New Roman DoubleACR 20 6000 words 12pt Times New Roman DoubleMacromarketing 20 6000 words 12pt Times New Roman DoubleWith the exception of EMAC, the established word length for an international conferenceappears to hover at the top end of 6000 words. ANZMAC's anorexia is highlighted bycomparison to the size of the largest conference, Advances in Consumer Research (ACR),which still produces fully printed conference proceedings. In effect, ANZMAC is thesmallest of the marketing academic conferences on offer. It also presents a cause for concernfor marketing academics - the major academic think tank of Australian marketing only offershalf to a third of the room for intellectual endeavour found at international conferences (oreven a local event held in the days following ANZMAC)

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