Article submissions and journal response times

This is an issue I have discussed before, that of the time taken by journals to review articles. Most recently, I’ve been quite fortunate – I received my last response within four weeks (it was, alas, in the negative, but all the better to know quickly). I set up a wiki some time ago to survey the situation and form a reference, http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/History_Journal_Response_Times

The posted comments already suggest a pretty dire situation at some journals. And even the “quicker” journals boast turnaround times that would make a scientist blanch. However, I have been told that some scientific journals were also slow until the custom came in of printing the date submitted and date accepted on the bottom of each article. This would be a useful development in history, where even (and perhaps especially!) a journal that is quick to review may have a backlog of a couple of years’ worth of articles waiting to be published. It would also serve to publicly shame the chronically slow into reforming their practices (or at least help show scholars which journals to avoid!).

As one anonymous user commented on the wiki about waiting an inexcusable period for a response from a journal “I’m trying to build a career here”. The timing of article acceptances can be crucial for those seeking promotion and tenure: and in today’s climate, even getting a first job. Particularly as more universities seem to be moving to models of citation indices and impact factors to judge a scholar’s merit, a practice such as printing dates of submission on published articles could go some way to demonstrating the time lag faced in the humanities, as well as for applicants to demonstrate steady output – which may not be otherwise reflected by the timing of articles finally arriving in print.

Online Journals and academic respectability

Why do the humanities seem resistant to credible online-only, open-access journals? Obviously they are not going to have the heritage of the AHR, EHR, and other journals whose worthiness has been demonstrated by longevity as well as quality. But is there room in history for legitimate e-journals? I can think of a few, but the first response when I suggested an online journal to a colleague recently was “Would it count for tenure?”.  

I don’t know why the simple fact of being online should cast doubt on a journal’s value. Given the slow publication process that seems to afflict many humanities journals (6-12 months for acceptance; 12-24 months before articles appear), I would expect many scholars to be clamouring for an opportunity to get their work out more swiftly, in a peer-reviewed venue.

How is such publication judged next to an article in a peer-reviewed print journal? I have never been on a committee making such an assessment, but my sense is that an article in Fabulous Online Research is judged as less worthy than one in Mediocre Print Journal.

The slow process of research and publication in history of course also means that citation indices are of limited value (compared to the sciences) in demonstrating a publication’s worth (especially of particular articles, which will take years to start appearing in the footnotes of other published pieces). And ranking of humanities journals by science matrices also tends to produce results very much at odds with the level of esteem in which journals are held within the discipline.

Is there some reason (other than bibliophile aesthetics or traditionalism) that online publications are deemed not as good as those in printed journals?

Debates in history

I am writing a piece I have been musing on and toying with for too long, on defining the Pacific World. I see it as a concept that applies earlier and later than seems to be used by other analysts, with a high point with the Pan Pacific Union (and pretty much dying with that organisation too).
I'm now trying to beat this article into shape to justify my ideas!

I recently submitted a piece on Vani Maris Lake, a woman who came forward in 1959 claiming to have information about the disappearance of Camilo Cienfuegos. It's timely for the 50th anniversary, but it remains to be seen if I can find someone willing to publish it this year.

Currently also working on longstanding piece on Gabrielle Vassal. A short comment I wrote on her misidentification is coming out later this year in Notes and Queries.