Imposterism Part 2

Extended summary (blog) from the discussion on imposter syndrome (part two)

Is imposter syndrome the right term?

No. As in our part 1 on imposterism, Chris also agrees that using “syndrome” makes it sound like an individual ‘condition’, which by extension suggests that the solution should focus on ‘treating’ the individual. However, in many ways the true root of an individual’s impostor feelings are in how others act toward them, and its impact on their sense of self (e.g., how confident, competent, etc. one feels). So to say, imposter feelings come from the outside – in. And so the ‘treatment’ for impostorism should also not start with the individual, but instead with the people around one (e.g., how colleagues act toward one at work–do they treat her/him/hir in ways that offer assurances that she/he/ze is indeed deserving of the position, role, responsibilities, etc. that she/he/ze has? Or do they treat her/him/hir in ways that lead her/him/hir to question their ‘deservingness’ of that position, role, etc.?). All to say, rather than thinking of imposterism as a individual ‘syndrome’ that requires individual treatment, we may need to think about it as a cultural phenomena that requires group- or cultural-level change/’treatment.’

What about engaging colleagues in non-work related conversation?

This can be more tricky than you might think. Keep in mind that asking non-work relevant guidance can make things worse not better. For example: If you have a female colleague who likes running, don’t only engage her in conversation about running and not about her science. Just something to keep in mind. These types of interactions can contribute to their imposter feelings, as they tacitly suggest that she does not have work-relevant knowledge, skills or insights that are worth discussing. Yet it is these work-relevant skills, insights, etc. that need to be acknowledged and appreciated in order for her — and any other given individual (regardless of gender) — to feel confident and deserving/assured of their position, role, responsibilities, etc. at work.

How do the reposes of men and women differ in a male dominated workplace?

In male dominated workplaces, men are more likely to internalise their sense of being competent, able and well-suited for that workplace/profession. This makes sense as you look around and see others similar to you (and when you know that this profession has historically always been represented by people like you). By comparison, women in these environments may see fewer people of their own gender, and so have fewer cues/see less evidence in the environment that signal that they they, as women, are well-suited for that workplace/profession. Instead, being the minority gender in that workplace/profession, women may be seen by others (and recognize that others are seeing them) through a ‘gendered lens.’ That is, they may be more readily seen in terms of the stereotypes of their gender. This can elicit, among other things, a sense of stereotype threat — stress and concern that they are being viewed and evaluated based on stereotypes of their gender, which can ultimately have a negative impact on one’s performance. For example, if I make a mistake others may assume it is because I am a woman. It is also important to note that this is not just a gendered issue. Racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and non-native English speakers, and individuals who belong to other socially stigmatised groups can similarly face barriers in feeling that they are competent, able and well-suited for that workplace/profession (because of cultural stereotypes that can impact how they are treated, how they are evaluated, and how readily they experience forms of stress that can impact their ability to perform at work to their fullest potential).

What about in male dominated boardrooms/meetings?

In male dominated board room contexts, men are more resilient to having their ideas openly criticised or being interrupted — not so readily internalising those criticisms as a sign that they lack work-relevant competencies, skills, knowledge, etc. But women are more likely to internalise this criticism as a sign that they lack those competencies, knowledge, etc. Importantly, this is not because women are simply ‘more sensitive.’ Instead, such differences in how men and women internalize criticism are rooted in the cultural stereotypes often present in male-dominated workplaces/professions. Specifically, for women, being in an environment that highlights gender stereotypes (suggesting women are less competent or not as well-suited for that workplace/profession; highlighted for instance when one recognizes that women are a minority/under-represented in that environment, or when one recognizes that they are treated in subtly different ways compared to their male counterparts), enable such criticisms to more readily get internalised are reflections of one’s true lack of competence/value/worth. After all, these criticisms readily fit into the (stereotypical) idea that women indeed lack the competence/suitability to be in that profession (or in that particular position within the profession). By comparison, for men, such criticisms run counter to the more readily assumed (stereotypical) idea that they are (and have always been) well-suited for that profession — prompting men to more readily consider alternative explanations for that criticism (e.g., “the person criticizing me is just a jerk, or having a bad day…it’s not me, it’s them…”). Similarly, men may more readily internalize positive feedback they receive at work compared to women. This is because such experiences readily fit with pre-existing/assumed (stereotypical) notions of men’s competence/suitability for that profession, and thus more readily, and unquestionably, internalized as reflections of one’s true competence/value/worth. By comparison, for women, this same positive feedback can come shrouded in pre-existing (stereotypical) notions of relative incompetence—or at least one’s competence is not so readily assumed in that profession—and so those experiences cannot be as readily or unquestionably internalized as reflections of one’s true competence/value/worth. Ultimately, this is important because evidence shows that when one feels competent/valued (as a function of how others treat them) they are significantly less likely to feel like an impostor.


Page Charges: Keep calm and contact the open access team

The University of Exeter’s Open Access library staff are here to help. Ask for help via

Paying Page Charges

Q. How do I pay?

UK Research Council funders (e.g. BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC) do not allow publication costs to be charged against a grant. Instead they provide a pool of money, referred to as the “UKRI/RCUK open access block grant”, which is managed by the library. The purpose of this money is primarily to pay for open access to comply with UK Research Council funder requirements but publication charges including page and colour charges can also be paid from this fund. Apply to the library for funding to pay page charges for your UK Research Council funded papers. The library will suggest you apply for a waiver / reduction, in order to prioritise open access payments from this finite pot of money but they can pay your page charges from the block grant, if needed. First apply for a fee waiver!

If your research was funded by another funder, publication / page charges may be eligible costs to be charged to your research grant, check grant T&Cs to confirm this.

If your research was not externally funded, you may not have any funding to pay page charges.

Q. How do I apply for a fee waiver?

Check the journal requirements. They might state under what conditions you can apply for a waiver.

It is generally a good idea to apply for a waiver on submission and not on paper acceptance. This is done directly with the journal. In applying for your waiver, you will need to justify why you can’t pay. Some suggestions to include in the waiver are:

  1. My institution has requested I apply for a fee waiver.
  2. Our resources for paying page charges is generally set aside for open access fees and not page charges. I could apply for an exception.
  3. You may feel politically motivated and articulate why excess page charges and colour figures are no longer incurred costs for the journal etc.
  4. I literally have no funds to pay.

Q. What if the journal says no to the fee waiver?

If your research was funded by a UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC) email the open access team to apply for the fees to be paid from the UKRI/RCUK open access block grant.

If funded by another funder, check if they can be charged to your research grant (check grant T&Cs).

If you have no funding for the page charges and the publisher will not waive them, consider publishing elsewhere.

The key point is to think about payment at point of submission and not acceptance. If they refuse the waiver and the fee is very large then consider if this journal is still the right location for your work.

Paying open access

Q. When should I pay for open access?

If the embargo on the paper is greater than 6 months and you are funded by a funder that specifies a maximum allowed embargo of 6 months e.g. UK Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC), Horizon 2020.

Even if your funder does not require it, you may wish to pay for open access e.g. publishing in a fully open access journal. If your funder cannot pay for open access, you may be eligible to have this paid from the Institutional APC Fund. Contact the open research team for more info about the Institutional APC Fund and criteria for accessing this money.

Q. Do I comply with REF requirements if I do not pay for open access?

To be eligible for the next REF, you need to deposit the author accepted manuscript (AAM) of journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN within three months of acceptance. You have complied with the REF requirements and do not need to pay open access (unless your funder requires it – see above, or you want to for other reasons). The policy allows repositories to respect publishers’ embargo periods, while it states that embargo periods should not exceed 12 months for REF Main Panels A and B, there is an access exception that permits longer embargoes if the publication requires it and was “the most appropriate publication for the output”. This is called a closed deposit and complies with the policy.

Copyright of your author accepted manuscript

Q. Can I put my author accepted manuscript on Research Gate?

Generally NO unless the journal explicitly says so. It is journal specific.

Q. Can I put my author accepted manuscript on my personal website?

Journal specific. Check out the SHERPA/RoMEO entry or the journal website. If in doubt email open access or the journal directly.

Q. Can I put my own published figures on my website?

Depends. Often a good idea to clarify/negotiate with the journal BEFORE signing over the copyright. But you can ask the journals even after they own the copyright. It may also be as simple as citing the article.

What is ORE, Symplectic and why should you care?

ORE = Open Research Exeter is the University of Exeter institutional repository. More info here The University of Exeter’s open access policy requires that you deposit in ORE the research papers you produce while employed at Exeter.

Symplectic is the University’s current research information system (CRIS). It is a record of your publications which feeds your publications page and is the interface you use to get your articles onto ORE. Click here for the login screen.

Q. What do I need to do with my author accepted manuscript?

You should submit your author accepted manuscript to ORE via Symplectic. The Open Reearch team review and approve all deposits. This includes checking that the correct version of a publication has been deposited, and applying any embargo required by the publisher.

Q. What format?

If you are using word, please convert to pdf (preferably pdfa). Also combine all supplementary material so the entire record is in one file.

Q. What time frame?

Submit to Sympletic within 3 months of acceptance.

Q. Are they open access if on ORE?

Yes, once any embargo has lifted (this happens automatically at the end of the embargo period). Publications on ORE without paid open access are called “green” open access.

Q. Why should I care?

  1. For papers to be considered in REF2021 they must comply with open access rules and be in ORE for all publications post 1 April 2016. Papers between 1 April 2014 and 1 April 2016 can still be included in REF but do not need to meet the open access requirements.
  2. Helps people find your papers.
  3. Adds to your citations.

Q. What if I miss the compliance period?

Email open access and discuss it.

Q. What if I work for an additional institution other than Exeter?

Check with the other institution what is required. For UK, Australian and US institutions in particular, but potentially also those of other countries, it is highly likely that the institution’s open access policy will require deposit to their repository. However, some permit a link to the deposit in another repository. It is double handling but necessary.

Jargon clarifiers

Q. What is my author accepted manuscript (AAM)?

It’s the version that was accepted by the publisher and includes all modifications from the peer-review process, but without the publisher’s typesetting, copy-editing, other formatting etc.

Q. What is the pre-print?

This is the version that has been submitted but has not been through the peer review process.

Helpful links:

SHERPA/RoMEO  has the majority of the copyright information. See specific journals as well.

More on open research at the University of Exeter.