Learn Everything Pt. 2: Review a Journal or Article!

I’ve been thinking more about the challenges we all face in keeping up with scholarly literature. This came up on the SNAP Twitter chat and I wrote more about it a couple weeks ago. Eira Tansey has a great calendar she uses (which she graciously allowed me to add here).

We all know it’s overwhelming to know where to start. Do you start with the latest issue of American Archivist? Read that Archival Issues that’s been sitting on your desk for four years? Look at the plethora of online journals? Or find articles about a certain topic of interest?

As I thought about this, it emphasized a gap: there are few reviews of journals or articles, the focus is more on books, exhibits, software, or other tools. The American Archivist reviews portal has a review of the Provenance Advocacy issue, and I did a profile of VIEW. After I wrote that post, I intended to continue to feature journals (besides CFP or new issues/articles). But it’s a lot for one person to do.

So here’s my proposal: I’d like anyone interested to contribute to this blog by reviewing articles and/or journals. You can write as many as you want, as often as you want. You choose what you want to write about and I’ll post it. All along, I’ve wanted this blog to have multiple contributors and I’ve had a few guest posts (for which I’m grateful for). Think about it: it encourages you to read the literature AND gives you an opportunity to write!

I created a sign-up sheet to avoid overlap. Feel free to add anything. Know that it won’t be my intention to moderate what you write (though I’ll gladly offer feedback if you want it). For all the guest posts so far, I haven’t changed a word. I believe it’s important to have multiple voices and perspectives, so I see my role as only posting what you write.

I hope you like this idea and I especially hope to hear from you!

Guest Post: Reviews Portal for The American Archivist

Thanks to Alexandra for this great information about The American Archivist‘s Reviews Portal!

Alexandra A. A. Orchard, CA
Technical and Metadata Archivist, Reuther Library, Wayne State University
Reviews Portal Coordinator

The SAA Reviews Portal (RP) houses The American Archivist Reviews and primarily focuses on providing reviews of new technologies and projects related to archives. The RP has additional features, including “Reviewed in The American Archivist” which provides access to reviews in previous issues of the journal as well as early access to reviews in the upcoming issue. “Written by Our Members” aims to provide a comprehensive list of monographs, articles, and reviews written by SAA members. Submissions are ongoing and can be made via the submission form. Additionally, the RP occasionally hosts special projects, such as the “What’s Your Favorite “American Archivist” Article?” in celebration of SAA’s seventy-fifth anniversary.

The RP began several years ago with the intent of expanding the reviews section of the journal to the web. Thus enabling the publication of more reviews, often focused on the intersection of archives and technology, the web, and increasingly mobile, but still ensuring peer-reviewed, professional content found in The American Archivist. Publishing reviews to the web enables a quicker turnaround time than those in the print journal, resulting in reviews posted as soon as they complete the peer review process. During the last three and a half years, over 30 reviews have been posted in the RP.

The submission process is straightforward, interested potential reviewers email the Reviews Portal Coordinator, who sends a response outlining the writing and review process. The reviewer then selects a deadline and an item for review, either a non-reviewed item from the “Archival Technologies and Resources” page or an off list suggestion for consideration. Once the draft is received, the Reviews Portal Coordinator and Reviews Editor peer-review the piece, and if necessary return the review to the author for changes. The editing phase typically lasts several weeks or longer, depending on time of year, the revisions needed, and the number of other reviews in progress.

After the final review is submitted, it is posted on the “Reviews” page and the item receives a “Reviewed” link on the “Archival Technologies and Resources” page. This page not only serves as a list of potential review topics, but as a curated list of tools and resources of use to archivists as well as (predominantly digital) projects using archival materials, and those with accompanying reviews have an additional layer of vetting and therefore usefulness to archivists. Finally the Reviews Portal Coordinator and SAA publicize the review.

Writing a review for the RP is valuable experience particularly for those new to the archival profession, including students, new professionals, archivists as well as those in related fields looking to start writing and publishing. The RP is also an excellent venue for more seasoned authors who are interested in learning and writing about newer technologies and those digital archives, projects, and exhibits making use of them. The “Archival Technologies and Resources” page is consistently updated, and will soon include new types of content for review. New voices are encouraged and welcome, so if you have ideas for content, are interested in reviewing a tool or resource, or both, please contact the Reviews Portal Coordinator!