CCC Online: January 2009 Archives

Debbie has an important post up about the latest issue of CCC, which "amputates" the Re/Visions feature on KB in that issue by publishing snatches of it in the journal and the complete versions online.

If there's one thing to take away from this, it's that the journal has problems, ones that aren't going away any time soon. Anyhow, here's the post length comment that I left there:

I almost blogged about this at the time, but elected not to, given that I was hazy on the confidentiality of the conversations. Although I had no role at all in the decision-making process, I was involved in some of the discussions with Deb about how to handle this problem.

The problem isn't just the ridiculously low acceptance rate--it's that rate combined with the fact that the journal has a colossal backlog right now of accepted essays. Traditionally, the answer to the latter problem has been to lower the acceptance rate--accept fewer essays, and the backlog lifts eventually. But Deb's right, I think, to note that that's not a viable solution. The acceptance rate can't honestly go much lower, and even if it could, the editor would have to start rejecting submissions that had been accepted by the readers.

The problem is one I harp on all the time, and that's scale. Our discipline is much larger than it was 10 or 20 years now, and the size of the journal hasn't accommodated the large influx of TT faculty who would like to publish work in what is arguably the flagship journal. And the problem, in my mind, is only exacerbated by a decision-making and election process that pays no attention to professional qualification. Without putting too fine a point on it, there is no guarantee that, in any given year, the people making decisions about the journal have any editorial experience.

There are several solutions that any of us might imagine for this problem, from publishing an extra issue, to temporarily adding pages, to moving to a hybrid of print and POD, etc. I can guarantee that these were all ideas that I suggested, but I don't know how many of them factored into the actual decision. I also talked with Deb about the option that they eventually chose, although my suggestion was to move review essays online, since they're less often the object of the kind of page citation that Nels raises.

So while I'm sad that this happened to you, and wouldn't have been happy had it happened to my R/V set, I also think that there's a larger problem with the journal that needs to be solved. And so I'm also sympathetic with Deb, who's had to struggle with this for some time now. There are several contributing factors--the acceptance rate, the backlog, the growth of our field and subsequent increase in the number of submissions, the obvious and warranted interest in features like Re/Visions, the fact that the average length of a CCC essay has steadily climbed over the last 20 years, the desire to keep the page count consistent, the desire to keep the price of the journal low and accessible, and so on. It's a huge problem that has very material consequences for all of us, and yet, we don't really have the organizational means to deal with it well.

Sigh. So I'm sorry, not in the it's-my-fault way, but in the damn-that-sucks way.


Soapboxy enough? If D's post accomplishes one thing, I hope that it sparks some sort of open and frank discussion, beyond the walls of the EC meeting, of the role that the journal plays and should be playing in our field. And how the journal might adapt to a changing economy of scale that is obvious to anyone who cares to look.

We'll see.



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the CCC Online category from January 2009.

CCC Online: October 2008 is the previous archive.

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