In January 2013, I submitted my MSc Professional Report (dissertation/thesis) entitled “An Analysis of Online Positioning of Responsible Volunteer Tourism”.
I haven’t published it here because, for the remainder of the year, I worked with my supervisor Xavier Font to submit the paper to be published by the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
It involved a peer review process which means it’s sent out to professional qualified members of a relevant field to determine suitability for publication. We don’t know who these reviewing peers are, we just receive their anonymous comments and questions which we then have to address and edit with additions and revisions, and re-submit for acceptability for publication. So they could have been professionals from tourism, volunteering, international development, or specialists within the online or content analysis fields.
The Journal of Sustainable Tourism is probably the highest level publication we could have aimed for, thus the process was very thorough and we went through a number of revisions and versions. This included making the organisations in the research anonymous, partly because the lowest performing company had indicated intent of litigation over commercial and reputation concern, but also because the Journal felt the study, methodology and data spoke for themselves theoretically, not just for volunteer tourism, but responsible tourism as a whole, and better without the distraction of “naming and shaming”. I was quite happy with this: If organisations are named, I would much prefer the focus to be on those interested in bettering their responsibility and performance; the danger of naming those who are not is that even negative PR can lead to additional exposure and marketing awareness which can conversely support their business.
The peer review process and revisions took the best part of a year (anonymizing the organisations and focusing the content on theory also addressed my personal concerns over web page content which can change over time thus apparent validity of data taken at a snapshot in time) and was published in January 2014 under the title, “Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing using market signalling theory“.