A friend of mine submitted an article to the Journal of the History of Sexuality early in the fall semester. Within six weeks, he received two readers’ reports and a notification from editor Mathew Kuefler of a provisional acceptance if the revisions requested by the readers were made. Over winter break, my friend revised accordingly, and found out by the middle of January that his article was accepted. Total time from initial submission to final acceptance: four months to the day.
Now, my friend’s article was pretty polished–it was originally sent out to another journal, which took more than a year to reject it on the basis of one reader’s report. (Not cool.) Still–kudos to Prof. Kuefler for his speed and efficiency, and kudos too to the readers who must have read and responded to the article in an extremely timely fashion. Because I’ve b!tched about the peer-review process at journals generally here, I thought I should recognize a journal that was exceptionally speedy in conducting its business. So–congratulations and thanks to Prof. Kuefler! Some of you might have work appropriate to this journal, but I thought all of you might like to hear some encouraging news about publishing in academia. Of course, there are never any guarantees–but even a speedy rejection is vastly preferable to a slow rejection, right?
Over the years, I’ve concluded that editing a journal is a job I never want, because it’s almost entirely thankless. Even the scholars whose work you end up publishing get their noses out of joint about revisions, so it seems like it’s just a big opportunity to pi$$ off a lot of people. (But if that’s your style–who am I to argue with you? Some people enjoy pi$$ing off other people!) On top of that, journal editing is usually volunteer work performed in addition to one’s own teaching, service and research. There are a few prominent journals housed permanently at particular universities that offer the journal editors tenure in the History Departments there and that build the work as editor into the job, but most journal editors and associate editors are just volunteers.
A few years back, a member of my department was offered the editorship of the major journal in his field. When he went to the then-Dean to see what resources and time she could make available for him and for the department to host the journal, she congratulated him and told him he could do it if he wanted to, but that he was on his own. No course releases, no funding for graduate student editorial assistants, no nothin’. Tempting though it was, my colleague wisely said, “no, thanks,” and passed on the opportunity. So, if you know any trusty, faithful, and reasonably speedy editors, give them hugs today. (And, report on their trustiness, faithfulness, and speediness in the comments below. You may complain about journal editing there too, but please be discreet. We all have students whom we’ve really pi$$ed off–but their opinions are probably not a fair judgement on the entirety of our teaching, are they?)