The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Talking Journals: ISQ on the Web

May 31, 2013

Alright folks, I don’t really have much to say here. Instead, I’ll provide a link (PDF) to a copy of the bid we submitted nearly a year ago. Be warned that it includes some egregious typos and other fun* stuff.

Why do I think this will be of interest? For some time, I’ve been making noises about the future of journals in terms of how they interact with Web 2.0 technologies. There seem to be a number of different, if related, models.

  1. Arrange a distribution deal with a prominent blog. This is what The Monkey Cage has done with Cambridge University Press. Authors write a short blog post summarizing their research, the good folks at TMC publish it, and Cambridge makes the relevant article available at no charge for a limited time (for example). This is a great way both to bring political-science research to a larger audience and to attempt to increase citations for articles.
  2. Make the journal entirely online, perhaps as an open-access journal. There are a lot of these in existence  and some have been around for quite some time. One of the most interesting (in our field) is SAGE’s forthcoming Research and Politics. The journal will be edited by a capable and prominent team — headed by Bernard Steunberg  and including Georgetown’s (and TMC‘s) own Erik Voeten. It includes a stable of associate editors to facilitate a quasi-silo model of fast but attentive review. As I understand it, Research and Politics will break the tyranny of the issue and volume; it will publish articles online the moment that they complete the editorial process. The main articles will be short and accessible: no bloated literature reviews — just the facts, so to speak. Research and Politics, in this sense, seeks a happy equilibrium among the immediacy and accessibility of blogging, the rigor of academic work, and the prestige of selective peer review.
  3. Wrap the journal in a blog-like environment. Ethics and International Affairs has implemented something like this. It had a rocky start — as I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts — but there’s more supplementary content now, including audio interviews and transcripts. However, the “blog” still doesn’t update frequently enough to draw readers back. Governance‘s blog, on the other hand, updates regularly. It mixes teasers for articles and debates over published work. Both of these models reflect in-house variants of what The Monkey Cage does, but with the constraints produced by being organs for the journal rather than semi-pro bloggers.

The plan for ISQ combines elements of all three models, but most resembles an amalgam of the first and third… with a bit of Foreign Policy added into the mix. As a “flagship” association journal ISQ provides an opportunity to produce an intellectual community with a highly-selective peer-reviewed journal at its core, and to collaborate with the specialized ISA journals.

I’m pretty excited about this, especially as PTJ will be serving as a dedicated online editor.

The major kinks right now involve laying the groundwork. ISA has a terrific programmer and the new website runs on a platform that will enable us to build it there. Issues of design — of look and feel — present major challenges, but we have some time left. I hope that the site will go live in January, but we’ll see.

Take a look at the proposal (PDF) and let us know what you think. Note that I’ve cut some irrelevant material, such as the budget.


*And by “fun,” I mean “embarrassing.”

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.