As I have conversations with archivists, I’ve repeatedly heard variations of this question and comments: am I qualified? who will be interested in what I write? others know more than I do so who will read my writing? I’m not sure I have anything to say. Many people, including me, have these thoughts. In graduate school, we read numerous articles and books and see those authors as authorities. In return, it’s hard to see ourselves as an authority, therefore develop an insecurity that we are not qualified.
Restricting authors to an idea of “qualifications” discourages writers. Instead, I prefer the question: do I want to publish? There are variables, such as tenure-track positions having a writing requirement. But if one truly has the ambition to write, I say go for it.
When I was in library school and even into my PhD program, I did not expect to become a published author, much less an editor. However, once I started, I found myself enjoying it. As a tenure-track archivist, I am required to publish to achieve tenure. I, too, questioned whether or not I was “qualified.” Because peer-reviewers read articles without knowing the author(s), they evaluate based not on the author’s qualifications or prior writing experience, but instead based on how well one constructs an argument and supports it. (more about peer-review in a future post)
I encourage anyone to submit for publication. While I of course solicit for Provenance, I suggest authors review the various journals (see list) to find one that best suits their topic. Especially, review previously published articles to see if theirs fits within the scope of the journal. There are an increasing amount of journals, therefore an increasing amount of opportunities to write.
The qualified question most often comes from students or newer professionals. My response is that without new voices, the literature can get stale or repetitive. Publishing should be ongoing conversations about a variety of topics, as well as a platform for new ideas. Our profession continually evolves and as such, so should the literature. So try to not think of whether or not you are qualified, but why you want to publish and how your ideas/experiences can benefit other archivists.
I’m very pleased with the responses about starting this blog. It’s clear to me that many need and want a resource about publishing.
I want to make sure to meet your needs. To do that, I need your help. Please send me your questions and suggestions for topics. I have several future post topics in mind already, but I truly want this to be a conversation. Ideas so far include advice for students and new professionals, who is qualified to write, how to know where to submit an article, the peer-review process, and citations. These ideas come from questions I’ve received or my personal observations and conversations. That’s a start, but it’s your involvement that will make this a helpful resource.
I can be reached at ccoest [at] gmail.com or submit a topic. I look forward to hearing from you!
What to Write About?
As Provenance Editor, I occasionally receive questions about whether or not a certain topic would be of interest to the journal. I always say yes. Personally, I vacillate between having no topics or too many ideas of what I want to write about.
We are in a profession that enjoys engaging in discussion about procedures, theories, activities, and anything else related to archives. At times, it’s harder to have these discussions in written form, especially when (in the journal world) it can take up to a year to be published and not all articles are accepted for publication. And even though we’re a relatively small profession, it is challenging to keep up with all the literature.
So how to decide what to write? Besides being asked about specific topics, potential authors ask me that as well. My responses include:
- what did you not learn in library/archives school that you wish you had?
- what do you want to know more about?
- what have you read that you disagreed with?
- what are you interested in?
- what gaps in the literature have you noticed?
- what are projects or processes that you believe others can benefit from?
Though topics largely come from authors’ ideas, readers are also important. I frequently hear archivists mention they would like more articles about practical applications. Then again, I have conversations about the theories as well. There is no one answer, but many questions to consider.
When I read an article or book, hear about a project, questions often come to mind, and these questions can lead to writing ideas. For example, SAA President Kathleen Roe created A Year of Living Dangerously for Archives to encourage archivists to step up advocacy. In 1977, Georgia Archive dedicated an issue to the “activist archivist.” What has changed in nearly 40 years? Is there a difference between “activist” and “advocate”? How did we get to where we are? It’s not all about the past, but also of the present and future. I found Timothy Arnold and Walker Sampson’s “Preserving the Voices of Revolution: Examining the Creation and Preservation of a Subject-Centered Collection of Tweets from the Eighteen Days in Egypt” (American Archivist, Fall/Winter 2014) both interesting and practical. Questions that occurred to me are: Would their process work for me? Have other institutions tried their approach? Have patrons yet used these for research?
It is those questions that can lead to future article topics. As mentioned, it’s hard to keep up and that can make it even harder to write. But the ideas are out there. To decide what to write, just sit down and make notes or write about a topic. Do some research to see how much is already out there. Write about what hasn’t been addressed much, or add to ongoing conversations. There is no end to potential topics.
reposted from the A&A listserv:
The New England Archivists (NEA) is working in collaboration with the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies (JCAS) to publish original articles on the topic of 19th-century photography collections and techniques. The JCAS will select submissions for a special issue to be published online in conjunction with the NEA Fall 2015 Meeting focusing on 19th-century photography to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 7, 2015.
Authors should submit original works of recent research on:
— the history of 19th-century photography collections
— management and descriptive projects involving these materials
— the use of 19th-century photo collections by researchers, artists,
and staff in interesting projects and performances.
Original works by students, archivists, librarians, researchers, and artists will be accepted and reviewed according to the parameters set by the JCAS. See the JCASwebsite for criteria guidelines and information on the submission process (elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/). For more information on the Fall 2015 NEA Meeting, visit the NEA website (newenglandarchivists.org/Fall-2015).
August 1: Submissions due | peer reviews begin
September 15: Peer review ends | revisions begin
October 15: Revisions end
November 7: Publication and NEA Fall 2015 Meeting
For more information, please contact JCAS Managing Editor, Michael Lotstein at email@example.com
We look forward to hearing from you.
New England Archivists
reposted from A&A listserv:
Archives and Manuscripts is inviting submissions of up to 5,000 words for publication in late 2015 or 2016.
Aims and Scope
Archives and Manuscripts is the professional and scholarly journal of the Australian Society of Archivists Inc., publishing refereed articles, reviews, and information about the theory and practice of archives and recordkeeping in Australasia and around the world. Its target audiences are archivists and other recordkeeping professionals, the academic community, and all involved in the study and interpretation of archives.
Archives and Manuscripts is the leading peer-reviewed archival journal published in the Australasian region and has been published continuously since 1955. Over the past 60 years, Archives and Manuscripts has published hundreds of articles by archival and recordkeeping academics, researchers, practitioners, students and theorists. In recent years, the journal has published articles on:
- developments in Web 2.0 and the impact of these technologies on archival and recordkeeping work
- developments in archival data visualization
- developments in metadata and electronic recordkeeping systems
- the management of emails as electronic records
- audio-visual archives
- the history of recordkeeping formats
- the role of archives and records in Aboriginal communities
- personal recordkeeping and literary archives
- the application of records continnum theory to emerging social media
- developments and case studies in recordkeeping in the Asia-Pacific region
- the community records of marginalised groups in society
- the implications of collections sector convergence for archives
- developments in archival jurisdictions around the world including South Africa, Sweden and Canada.
Emerging Writers Award
If you are an emerging writer, another benefit of submitting your article to Archives and Manuscripts is that you will be eligible to win the journal’s annual Emerging Writers Award (value AUD $1,000). To be eligible to win this award, authors must have their article accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed section of the journal and be an emerging writer who:
- is currently enrolled in a graduate program or within 3 years after the date of graduation, and/or
- has previously published fewer than 5 peer-reviewed articles in an archives/recordkeeping journal.
Further information, including guidelines and style requirements for prospective authors and submission deadlines, is available on the journal’s webpage (http://www.archivists.org.au/learning-publications/archives-and-manuscripts/guidelines-for-authors) or by contacting the General Editor, Sebastian Gurciullo (firstname.lastname@example.org).