Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Going around the Room: Journal Culture
In the interests of continuing to get to know each other better, here are some questions about academic journals, particularly citation formats. Your answers will reveal crucial aspects of your personality and socialization, so be careful!
- Do you prefer Chicago or MLA? Why?
- Do you think there’s a recognizable cultural difference between Chicago-style and MLA journals? Describe.
- When you have to convert an article from one format to another, do you a) do it by hand (or have a research assistant do it by hand) b) use commercial software designed for the task or c) write your own complicated macro or short program to do it for you?
- Have you ever chosen a journal to submit to based solely on the fact that it required the same format you originally used to write the article?
- When reading a scholarly book or article, do you prefer footnotes or endnotes? Do you like your endnotes at the end of the chapter or the end of the book?
- What’s your position on discursive notes?
- Do you fill in your bibliography as you write, or do you add it later?
- What’s the longest you’ve ever waited on a decision from a journal?
- How do you feel about journals that use one-way blind reviewing (i.e., the reviewers know who you are, but you don’t know who they are)?
- Have you ever checked the MLA’s statistics on various journals’ self-reported acceptance rates? How did you feel about what you learned?
- How quickly do you turn around peer-reviews? If not very quickly, do you then still complain about the time it takes for your own articles to be reviewed? What does this all mean?
My own answers will follow shortly.
The MLA style sheet ca. 1965 was my first intimation that I probably would not enjoy and academic career. Or maybe the Chicago style sheet. I still whichever one I learned then, insofar as I remember it.
I had a run-in on turnaround times recently at a journal which had previously published something of mine. I decided, why bother? I can self-publish everything, and probably nobody will read it, but no one seems to have read the stuff I published in refereed journals either. (Though of course, I may relapse).
To someone who’s involved in scholarship but outside the academic machine, the negativities of the present system present themselves differently than they do to those trapped inside it.
1. Chicago. a) ‘Cos I went to grad school there. b) ‘Cos I worked for one of their lit journals for a bit, and let me tell you, the Manual was the Bible. We even did the “open to random page for help in time of need” thing. (Yes, I’m kidding. But just.)
3. By hand, grumbling all the way.
5. Footnotes. If there must be endnotes, then let them be at the end of the chapter.
6. I love discursive notes. The more discourse the better, I say.
7. I do the bibliography at the end, which is not the most efficient way of handling things.
8. I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait more than three months or so for a decision.
9. I don’t especially like one-way blind reviewing, but life goes on.
10. Yes, I’ve checked, but I don’t really believe them (for reasons having to do with prior employment, mentioned in #1).
11. Within a week, if possible.
1. MLA. Force of habit.
3. By hand. (Research assistant??!!?) I mucked around with Endnote for awhile, but never really took to it.
5. Footnotes. If using endnotes, they are better at the end of the chapter (easier to xerox).
6. I love to write discursive notes; I tend to skim other people’s.
7. As I write. Easier in the long run.
8. When we were in grad school, a friend and I wrote an article together and submitted it for a collection. We were invited to revise and resubmit, which we did. We waited months. And more months. Finally, I contacted the editor, extremely apologetic to be bothering her but wondering etc. etc. The book was in press; our revisions had never reached her.
We learnt a big lesson that day.
9. Reciprocity in all things.
10. I’ve seen some stats and they seem encouraging. Which is odd.
11. I try to be prompt, but life sometimes intervenes. Given that it does, I try not to complain too much when I am on the receiving end. But it is a clunky system.
1. Chicago. It feels to me like what grownups use.
3. By hand.
5. Footnotes, footnotes, footnotes!
6. I like ‘em.
7. A little from column A; a little from column B.
8. Two months.
9. Not so good.
10. Yes. I felt a slight vibration, as if a leaf had fallen near my forearm and the resulting breeze had gently moved the fine hairs there.
11. Not as quickly as I should. I cut other people slack when they read my stuff.
1. Chicago. Purely aesthetic grounds. CMS looks cleaner.
3. Endnote. Expensive but worth it. Forces me to annotate what I’d otherwise read with pleasure.
5. Footnotes. Since I’m an archive hound, I love the scent of a reference. You’d think I’d enjoy the chase--after all, I did love Infinite Jest--but in a scholarly work, I prefer footnotes.
6. Contained in all real scholarship, i.e. work produced by research instead of the Great Theory Meat Grinder.
7. Bibliography? Shit…
8. I’m still waiting to hear back from Enda Duffy on some re-re-writes he wanted...three years ago. On occasion I google “European Joyce Studies” to see if the issue Duffy’s presumably still editing has been published yet and whether the essay’s included.
9. Since no one knows who I am--I have no academic reputation one way or another--it doesn’t bother me. Once the inevitable vilification starts, it’ll be my bane.
10. No. Where can I find this information? I’d like to know whether I’m being kindly, indifferently or vigorously rejected.
11. I think this question’s directed at the Ph.D.s and not the lowly A.B.D.s, and I know my place…
1 Chicago, but I also often use APA and even had to use one called “Harvard” for a vet sciences journal.
2 I don’t know MLA, I am a philosopher peddling my trade in an ed school, but there is a huge difference between Chicago and APA.
5 Footnotes are easier. Endnotes are annoying, especially if the book just lists “Chapter 3” in the endnotes, and you have to flip back and forth.
6 Meaning what, annotated? Not too helpful.
7 Add later.
8 A year. I edit a journal now and turn stuff around in under 4 months. Electronic submission and management by bepress.com helps.
9 Don’t like it and I don’t use the term “blind”...one should say “anonymous.”
10 No, but acceptance rates are a big deal in tenure and promotion decisions at my university.
11 I turn around reviews within the time given, always.