by Chris Matthews
As the editor of Historical Archaeology I am privileged to see so much great research come across my desk. HA is the leading source for research on the archaeology of early modern and modern eras worldwide. Yet, despite this global recognition, I have come to understand that the process of publishing in Historical Archaeology is not as transparent as it could be. So, I’d like to go over the process in this blog post.
How to submit an article to Historical Archaeology for review
Articles published in Historical Archaeology go through a rigorous and productive peer review process. To get this process started authors, of course, need to submit a paper. The formal guidelines for submission are available here: http://sha.org/index.php/view/page/for_authors.
The following addresses the questions I hear most often:
- Length: manuscripts run on average about 25-30 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt font. This does not include the references, tables, or figures. We usually can be flexible on length, so if you are worried your article is too long or short go ahead and check in with me to get my input.
- Figures: We are able to include several images and tables with your article. We realize these are essential to presenting your research. As a rule of thumb 10 images is about the max number of images. As tables can run from just a few rows to sometimes dozens, the number of tables we publish with an article is closely tied to how large they actually are.
- Formatting: Manuscripts should be formatted to the HA Style Guide which is available on the SHA website (link provided above). As your article will be reviewed and likely revised, I am usually able to accept manuscripts with minor formatting variations.
- Proofread!: Before submitting please proofread your manuscript. Typos or missing words can being distracting to reviewers who may react negatively to your article as a result!
- Submission: Articles should be mailed to me at the address below, though I am also able to accept articles as email attachments. Even if you elect to mail me your manuscript, all files associated with your articles (text, images, and tables) need to be submitted electronically on a CD-ROM. It is smart to follow up with me after submitting your article to make sure I have received it.
Department of Anthropology
Montclair State University
1 Normal Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043
The Review Process
Once I receive an article I go over it to ensure that the content and presentation are suitable for review. Foremost, this means that article considers materials and contexts that are of interest to the readers of the journal. Because the practice of historical archaeology in some parts of the world refers to any period with writing, we occasionally receive submissions that are not appropriate. At this time I also look over the formatting and the figures to make sure that the article will be workable for the reviewers.
The next step of the process is to assign your article to an Associate Editor. If you look on the inside cover of the journal, you will see a list of those who have volunteered to serve as journal Associate Editors. Associate Editors supervise the peer review process, and they will be your main contact during the review process. I will introduce you to each other by email.
The Associate’s job is to read your article and then identify and solicit three readers to prepare detailed comments on your research and writing and to evaluate your article in terms of its readiness for publication. Readers are selected based on their expertise in the specific fields of study your article addresses. You are welcome to suggest possible readers if you would like.
The peer review process usually takes about 6-8 weeks. After the reviews are complete, the Associate Editor will send you the results including copies of the peer reviews and their own conclusion, based on these reviews, regarding whether your article is to be accepted for publication.
Results are typically one of the following:
1. The article is accepted for publication as is (rare!)
2. The article is accepted for publication after the author completes minor revisions
3. The article is not ready for publication because it requires some revision and should be resubmitted for a another round of review (“revise and resubmit”).
4. The article needs significant rewriting before it can be reviewed again
5. The article is not suitable for the journal
Most articles published in HA come back from peer review as “revise and resubmit” (#3). This result should not be discouraging. Rather, this is exactly what the peer review process should produce since it allows you to revise your work with the input of experts in the field. This is how we have been able to publish such high quality research in the journal now for almost 50 years.
However, you are welcome to respond to the peer review comments as you see fit. For example, if you disagree with the comments you might find a way to address this concern in the revised paper.
On to publication!
As many of you know Historical Archaeology publishes four issues per year. Two issues each year are guest edited thematic collections and two are based on individual contributions. I will prepare another blog post on thematic issues as part of this series since the process for these issues is slightly different. We normally publish 5-6 research articles in each contributed issue, so this adds up to about 10-12 research articles per year. Your article will be put in the queue for publication based on the date it is formally accepted for publication.
Right now the journal has no backlog so we are usually able to publish your article about a year after it is accepted. We are very happy with this turnaround time since it will allow your research to be in print in a timely fashion.
Once your article is assigned to a specific issue it will go through two stages of production before publication. The first is copy-editing. Richard Schaffer is the journal’s copy editor. When your assigned issue is ready, he will read through your article to address any formatting concerns and send you queries regarding the changes he suggests.
After Richard has completed the copy editing, the issue as a whole is sent to the compositor who will produce printer proofs. I will send you a proof of your article as a pdf file by email. It is expected that you will return your corrections within 72 hours. You can make changes to the article using Adobe Acrobat’s editing functions or you can enter these by hand and either scan the pages for return by email or make a list of change by page, column and line number.
When we have all of the corrected proofs they are returned to the compositor who then makes the changes and the prints and mails the issue out. We also post the articles on the SHA website where SHA members have access to the full run of the journal. You can see these here: http://sha.org/index.php/publications/cart
So, that is how the publication process work for HA. We are always working to improve how we get the job done and are considering now changes such as an online submission and review process. When these changes are made I will use this forum to let you know.
This will be the first of a series of blog posts on publishing in Historical Archaeology. In future posts I will discuss Thematic Issues and offer some suggestions and strategies for writing a great article. Please use the comments to let me know if you find these posts helpful and if there are other concerns that I do not address that you think would help. You can also email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.