Story of my First Scientific Publication – Four Years Later

Since the publication process is always a hard thing, I must share the fact that, yes, I finally have my first scientific publication, so here is the reference to my first publication:

Bélisle, Jean-François and H. Onur Bodur (2010), “Avatars as Information: Perception of Consumers Based on Their Avatars in Virtual Worlds.” Psychology & Marketing, 28(7), 741–765.

Some exposure in the news

Furthermore, my article has also been discussed in the news; here are some links related to my scientific article in both English and French.

In the language of Shakespeare (English)

1. Discovery news;
2. Science Daily;
3. Red Orbit;
4. Physorg;
5. Eurekalert;
6. Medical News Today;
7. Science Codex;
8. Infozine;
9. One India;
10. BNP Paribas.

In the language of Molière (French)

1. Sciences et avenir
2. Canoe;
3. Branchez-vous;
4. Journal Metro;
5. Rue Frontenac;
8. Synchro Sympatico.

I must admit that having some exposure in the news is flattering for the author, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean that much for the reader. Also, I must admit that not being the “corresponding author” (the author who is responsible for the manuscript as it moves through the journal’s submission process) for the article influenced the way media framed their discussion about my article. Every time I’m reading an article, I always remember that this article has been written by humans and that here is a short humanistic story about how the article was conceived. Here is rapidly the story behind mine…

The first step towards the main idea behind the article

The first step towards the main idea comes from a short discussion I had in the summer of 2006 with Professor Jacques Nantel that ended up with Professor Nantel proposing me to read a professional article entitled “Avatar-based marketing” written by practitioner Paul Hemp and published in Harvard Business Review.

The emergence of the main idea

After reading the previously discussed short article,I had the idea to study more closely “who was the user behind the avatar?’ Aside from the article, this idea mainly emerged from my past experience as a teenager in the 90’s when I used to spend many (too many) hours on Internet relay chat (IRC) forums and consistently asking myself the question: “who is the user behind that username”. Thus, the Second Life universe/metaverse reminded me of that question but more in a “Cyberpunk” fashion.

Writing an article for my Master’s Degree

Once I had a research question, my first objective was to write my Master’s thesis to earn my degree. However, since I already knew I wanted to continue to PhD studies, I decided to write it as a scientific article. It had the advantage of being both useful as a Master’s Degree thesis and as a “possible” publication. Furthermore, it also matched well my writing philosophy which stipulates that “shorter is better”, but also that “shorter is harder”.

Sample of avatars used in my article
Sample of avatars used for my scientific article

Some modifications before submission

After wrapping up my Master’s Degree at HEC Montréal, I moved to Concordia University to work with Professor Bodur for my PhD studies, where he helped me to shorten the article and make it more relevant from a marketing perspective.

The review process

The article was sent to Psychology & Marketing on June 2008, and three rounds later in June 2009, it was accepted for publication. I was lucky and happy to have wonderful reviewers who asked useful questions which helped to increase the overall quality of the paper. Professor Bodur and I had some nice time discussing online perceptions and I remember spending hours in my room cogitating about how to best answer the reviewers’ comments, that was a great time, anyway!

From “forthcoming” to “publication”

Once an article is accepted for publication, it then has to be published; it can take weeks, months or years before it is finally published. In my case it took 14 months. The article was accepted in June 2009 and published in August 2010, but available online July 6th 2010.

Can we expect another article on the same topic?

At the beginning of 2009, I decided to change orientation and transferred to McGill University to focus more on a “modeling” perspective rather than on a “consumer behaviour” perspective. I am currently working on topics which are miles away from this topic. My new best friends are “statistics” and “innovation management” books and articles piled up in my offices both at home and at McGill University. However, I must admit that I still have strong knowledge of the topic, so any updating would represent less effort than for any new topic. We’ll see. I hope you enjoyed the story of my first scientific article, so if you enjoyed the story, enjoy the article!

Rock on!


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