Wednesday, 29 November 2017

First issue of the Archaeological Journal

I have been meaning to write something about my new role as editor for the Archaeological Journal. I took over from Prof. Howard Williams officially in March, and it has been pretty full on since then. I am pleased to announce that my first issue is now available online ahead of print (vol 175 for 2018), with a great mix of papers spanning the Neolithic to post-Roman and historic periods, and topics ranging from social zooarchaeology to mortuary houses.

The major change I made when taking over was moving to an online submission system, rather than dealing with papers manually via email. I personally find this a much easier system, as an author and an editor, and it makes the whole process much quicker. On the whole it seems to have worked well with the majority of authors submitting papers, and reviewers submitting comments within a reasonable time frame. I have still had one or two authors having problems (either technical or in principle!) with the online system. But it makes life much easier for me, and makes sure there is a rigorous paper trail for auditing purposes.

One unfortunate thing that I noticed is the rather poor gender balance of the authors so far.  Two of the five papers accepted for Issue i are by women (and one of these is not the corresponding author), but the line up for Issue ii (not yet all online) is leaning heavily male, with only one paper by a female author at the moment. Given the backlog of papers that are likely to make it to Issue ii, it is looking as if the overall balance for Volume 175 will be three female to eight male. As we operate a double blind review process I can at least be sure that there is no bias creeping in from the review process. Checking the submissions, we have actually accepted all the papers submitted by women - we are simply not attracting papers from female authors (but the ones we have got, are all very good!). I have noticed that a lot of the authors seem to be more senior, with fewer submissions from early career researchers in general. I would like to think that the longer format and the encouragement of mixed submissions from the commercial sector and academia would attract a wide range of authors, but maybe this is not the case? We have to think about so many things now as authors - REF, open access, citations, altmetrics etc. I hope the changes we have made, including hoping the shift to the online system and a number of other changes in the works, will really help with this and encourage more submissions from ECRs and women.

So, if you fall into either of those categories - please consider submitting your papers! I am especially keen to broaden our scope to include more science based papers, particularly those which successfully combine scientific analyses with the longer format in depth discussion that ArchJ is well suited for. Papers are all available online with a DOI ahead of print, so you don't have to worry about waiting for the print volume to come out before sharing your research.