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Connecting History of Education Working Group will participate in ISCHE 2016 (Chicago)

SWG Mapping the Discipline History of Education ISCHE Chicago August 17-19, 2016


The internationalization of History of Education Journals and the external peer review process

Chair and discussant : Jon Igelmo & Simonetta Polenghi

(Organization: Antonella Cagnolati & José Luis Hernández Huerta)


The management of scientific journals is a complex, demanding business. Among their numerous tasks, editorial teams must clearly define their mission, raise awareness of its originality, increase the international scope of the publication, achieve accreditation for good editorial quality, get included in one or more ranking schemes, and adhere to best practice guidelines.

However thorough, adoption of these guidelines means that all internal databases and repertoires must be correctly indexed, various methods of product promotion and distribution must be adopted, a competent, open and independent editorial board must be on hand – not to mention a large, robust international scientific committee of experts. The journal must be published regularly, punctually, and according to certain formal standards, and the editorial team must oversee the external review process, protecting the anonymity of both authors and reviewers, and guarantee the importance, originality and scientific rigor of the articles published.

The external review process is a key component of ensuring the scientific reliability of a journal, as the quality of the research published will depend, in large part, on the work carried out by the expert reviewers. There are several potential review models to choose from, but authors tend to prefer the double-blind approach. Indeed, the reviewers’ comments and suggestions enable the authors to improve their initial submissions to such an extent that many feel it is worth sending a paper to a specialized journal, regardless of whether or not it is eventually published, in order to obtain reliable feedback as to its quality.

However, the review process itself is controversial, and plagued with potential pitfalls, not least of which the occasional delays in receiving reports from the reviewers, the quality of such, the potential bias they may themselves bring to the process, and the lack of transparency in the method itself. It also represents a challenge for the editorial team, who must ensure the availability of a wide network of collaborators with the appropriate expertise and rigour of approach. This is no mean feat, as no payment is involved, and the journal must therefore count on the altruism of reviewers willing to dedicate their own time and energy to improving its quality. It is also firmly dependent on establishing effective lines of communication between the editorial team and the authors/reviewers. This takes on a whole new dimension when the journal becomes international, accepting submissions in several languages, or when on the verge of doing so. Not only do the logistics of communication and publishing become more complicated, but, as the geopolitical basin of the authors expands, so too does the range and scope of topics they cover.

In real terms, this means that hundreds of e-mails will need to be sent, and, in many cases, much research must be done to find the right reviewers to willingly undertake such a delicate job, which is, however, largely overlooked by accreditation agencies.

An effective means of supervising the review process is a priority concern for practical reasons, as it affects the visibility, publication, and citation index of a journal. Researchers are more apt to consult and seek publication in specialized journals with a high impact factor. Indeed, the highest ranked journals are rightly considered to be at the forefront of scientific progress, although on reflection there would appear to be a risk of this ‘positive feedback loop’ generating a kind of scientific endogamy.

Another issue to consider in the process of reviewing original works is the so-called “editor’s cut”. Although this selection process undoubtedly saves time and energy when restricted to rejecting articles that do not conform to clearly stated editorial guidelines or areas of interest, the waters can be muddied when the editors take it upon themselves to discard articles on grounds of research quality, for example. Although some editorial screening is undoubtedly expedient, this practice clearly goes against at least one of the founding milestone of the review process, namely the anonymity of author and reviewer. Another way of looking at the issue is as follows: is it possible to practice the “editor’s cut” while still adhering to a double-blind review process – the minimum standard required by best practice guidelines?

The agenda for this roundtable is to debate:

  • the current challenges faced by the editorial management of scientific journals;
  • the pros, cons and potential of the various management models for the external review of scientific papers;
  • how effective communication with authors and reviewers might best be achieved;
  • the “editor’s cut” under the microscope;
  • how journals could collaborate to create an optimal model for review process management.

Members and Abstracts of the journals invited:

1.- Helen Proctor (University of Sydney, Australia), History of Education Review (Australia)

History of Education Review was established in 1971 as the ‘ANZHES Journal’, adopting its present name in 1983. It is the journal of the Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES). In 2011 the journal was sold to the Emerald Group, which is based in the UK, but its editors, (currently Craig Campbell, Helen Proctor and Kay Whitehead) are commissioned by ANZHES. Two issues are published a year, although the publisher, Emerald, is keen for more. There is a mix of themed and general issues. HER accepts special responsibility for publishing work focusing on Australian and New Zealand but also welcomes scholarly studies from, and about, all parts of the world. All content is in English. The majority of content comprises original research papers; there are also theoretical/conceptual papers and book reviews. All content except the book reviews are peer-reviewed, blind, by at least one, and usually two, reviewers. The journal is included in a number of international lists such as Scopus; the publisher continues to work to increase this kind of formal recognition.

2.- Sara González Gómez (University of Islas Baleares, Spain), Patricia Quiroga Uceda (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain), Espacio, Tiempo y Educación (Spain)

Espacio, Tiempo y Educación (ETE) (www.espaciotiempoyeducacion.com), founded in January 2014, is an international e-journal on the History of Education; with biannual periodicity; blind peer-reviewed; independent and open-access. Its operation is based on the fundamental principles of scientific freedom, accountability, communication, international cooperation, critical thinking and considered reflection. It firmly adheres to the open-access philosophy and the international ethical agreements that define an ethical code of operation and good publishing practise, and establish international standards of behaviour for authors, editors and reviewers alike. The lynchpin of the organisation behind ETE is its solidly international nature, which permeates every fibre of the journal. Indeed, one of its many objectives is to strengthen the ties of international cooperation and exchange, building on the existing network and facilitating the free flow of ideas, opinions and standards. The ultimate aim is to breathe new life into the field of History of Education, making it more dynamic, lively and free, and to provide a forum in which its various branches can meet, wherever in the world they are based.

3.- Roberto Sani (University of Macerata, Italy), Luigiaurelio Pomante (University of Macerata, Italy), History of Education and Children’s Literature (Italy)

History of Education & Children’s Literature (HECL), which will henceforth be named using the acronym HECL, is a biannual journal (it comes out every year in the months of June and December) which first came into print in 2006. It is published in both paper and digital versions, by the university press eum – Edizioni dell’Università di Macerata – and is distributed in Italy and also abroad in a digital version by Casalini Digital. Since its origin, HECL has had its own autonomous website (www.hecl.it ), managed and constantly updated by the same editorial staff as the journal itself, and a double blind peer review which avails itself of the collaboration of a rich International Committee of Referees which is completely reviewed every three years. HECL is indexed by numerous national and international databases and in particular by SCOPUS of the Elsevier Editor and EBSCO; while, since 2009 it has been indexed by the Thomson Reuters ISI Web of Science (specifically the Arts and Humanities Citation Index). HECL has an Executive Council, an International Scientific board and an Editorial Staff. Each edition of journal comprises an average of between 700 and 750 pages, making a total of 1,400 – 1,500 pages a year. It is structured on the basis of a monographic part, designed to host records of conventions and seminars of particular relevance, as well as collections of studies by specialists dedicated to their own subject matter relating to the history of education and children’s literature; and a miscellaneous part characterized by four distinct sections: a) Essays and Research, b) Sources and Documents, c) Critical Reviews and Bibliography, d) Scientific Reports and Activities in Research Institutes.

4.- Rosa Bruno-Jofré (Queen’s University, Canada), Jon Igelmo Zaldívar (University of Deusto, Spain), Carlos Martínez Valle (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain), Ina Ghita (Queen’s University, Canada), Encounters in Theory and History of Education (Canada)

Encounters in Theory and History of Education is an interdisciplinary journal that serves as a forum to present and discuss theory and history of education in a global space, encouraging an intellectual-inquiry perspective (http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/encounters/index). The journal publishes papers that are methodologically and historiologically reflective or have a critical perspective, and which could open new lines of thought or ways of approaching knowledge. It is an open access journal. Encounters began in 2000 as a journal that attempted to generate a dialogue among educational researchers from Canada, Spain, and Latin America in light of internationalization and economic globalization. Rosa Bruno-Jofré (Queen’s University) and Gonzalo Jover Olmeda (Universidad Complutense of Madrid) were co-founding editors. Since 2011, it has been solely sponsored by the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada), where it has been located since its origins. Encounters is the journal of the interdisciplinary Theory and History of Education International Research Group. From the start, the journal was printed and on the Internet, free to access, and didn’t request subscriptions. In 2015 the journal has been accepted for indexing in the Emerging Sources Citation Index, a new edition of the Web of Science. From the next issue (fall 2016), Encounters will have a section devoted to experiments in digital history.

5.- Nancy Beadie (University of Washington, USA), History of Education Quarterly (USA)

History of Education Quarterly (HEQ) is an international, peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to publishing high-quality scholarship in the history of education.  It is the official journal of the leading professional society in the field in the United States, the History of Education Society, and has been published since 1960. History of Education Quarterly is published in print and online, with four issues a year. During 2015, the journal’s editorial operations moved from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to the University of Washington. The vision of the new editorial team is to explore and expand scholarship at the intellectual boundaries of history of education as a field. Even as the place of historical scholarship in education seems increasingly constrained by instrumentalist logics of reform, scholars in other fields, from policy history to economic history, from urban history to geography, from comparative history to cultural studies in all its forms, are discovering the history of education as a fruitful and important site of scholarly inquiry. The main thrust of the new editorial leadership of HEQ is to actively promote the journal as an outlet for such scholarship and as a locus of intellectual creativity at the interdisciplinary nodes of our  field.

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