Monday, October 12, 2009

Publishing in Scholarly Publications

"Publish or perish! " has nothing to do with the requirements my current position. I like to research and write about my findings. Last May I wrote an article about Hebrew-Yiddish name pairs because the subject had been bugging me for a while. I wanted to publish a more scholarly version for a wider audience and also to get the approval of my peers. First I tried, Tradition, the journal of the (Orthodox) Rabbinical Council of America. After they acknowledged receipt of the manuscript, in May, I waited and didn't hear anything. In July I sent a query. The editor said that it wasn't received. I sent a second copy. After waiting another 4 weeks, they politely turned me down because it was not about a Jewish law (halacha) topic. No where does their information say the articles need to be on a Jewish law topic.

I searched for another journal. I have a large run of Judaism, Quarterly, but strangely the latest issue was dated 2006. I found the web site of the publisher, the American Jewish Congress, and went to their publications page ( .) The cover picture of Judaism was dated Winter 2006 ( issues No. 219/220 volume 55, Winter 2006). I figured someone was not updating their web site. The site included subscription rates and gave no indication that the publication was in trouble. I searched come libraries and found the Winter 2006 was the latest they received. I called the AJC offices and learned that Judaism, Quarterly has suspended publication indefinitely. No indication was found on their web site that publication had ceased. This is a headache for librarians. Since the publication did not cease to exist, the library still has an open entry for the publication. If the publication resumes, will it take the 2007 date or the date it resumes? I couldn't submit my article to them.

I then investigated Jewish Quarterly Review published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. JQR with a long history of publishing Jewish scholarship started publication in 1889 at Dropsie College. Articles, written by top Judaica scholars cover the full range of Jewish scholarship from the ancient to the modern. I sent a query via e-mail and the address on the web site bounced. An alternative e-mail address bounced. I was concerned, did JQR cease to exist. I phoned their office and found out the correct e-mail address. I edited the article to fit their requirements and submitted it by e-mail on August 19. The exchange of e-mail with their office was very professional. They explained the review process and stated how long the process would take. However, on September 26 a letter of rejection was received. They liked the article, but it did not fit their editorial needs at the moment.

I started to search for other publications to submit the article. I knew of other journals that I felt were not the right place. Even though Moment Magazine is not a scholarly journal I sent them a query. They said that because of their small staff I may not hear from them if they are not interested. I waited a week and did not hear anything. This week I sent two more queries to journals that I have never seen. I hope one of them will requested a full copy and publish my article.

It is getting harder to find the right publication for my articles. I published an article on Torah scroll in a journal of book preservation. Some people read it and cited the article in their papers.

On Facebook one of my professor cousins once said, "No good deed goes unpublished." The mitzvah is sharing the information, now the person I'm trying to share with needs to reach out.
Oct. 14
The email address found on the publication's web site for submissions did not work. The address didn't bounce immediately, but I got message that my message couldn't be delivered.