Saturday, 8 February 2014

Hey, This is Your Journal - [The Editor's Cut]
Editorial - LLC. The Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 29/1

Even in academia, where much is done on a voluntary basis, it is generally acknowledged that good work deserves a correct remuneration. A lot of labour is involved in publishing a peer-reviewed scholarly journal and, whether access to the publication is open or subscription-based, there is always a cost involved. In the real world, no one expects anything to be free, except for a smile and the sun, maybe.

Over the last couple of years I have been contacted by a handful of scholars who announced that they do not want to contribute to or review for LLC anymore because they object to 'giving away their research and peer reviewing for free to a publisher who charges readers and makes a profit'. I regret that this point of view diabolizes LLC by romanticizing the ideal of Open Access publication.

In the first part of this editorial, I'd like to take the opportunity to explain why this perspective on LLC is false on at least three points and why a decision not to devote any time or effort to LLC directly affects Open Access publications. In the second part of this editorial I am presenting a report on the past record-breaking year of publishing LLC. The Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities.

1. Three points to consider before turning your back

1.1. Ownership & Copyrights

Let me start by emphasizing that LLC is not owned by the Press but by the European Association for Digital Humanities (EADH, formerly known as ALLC). Every five years, EADH re-negotiates the contract or puts the publication of the Journal – not the ownership – up for tender. A very important and substantial part of the negotiations concerns author and readership services, terms and conditions. For example, as an author publishing in LLC, you do not 'give away your research' but you retain all copyrights. All you do is sign a licence which gives EADH the right to have your work published on their behalf by the Press. This is clearly stated in the footer of the first page of each published paper. This means that as an author, you retain any right to make a preprint version of the article available on your own personal website and/or that of your employer and/or in free public servers of preprints and/or articles in your subject area, provided that where possible you acknowledge that the article has been accepted for publication in LLC.

It is true that for the moment, you cannot make the accepted postprint manuscript available in the same way during the first 24 months after publication, but this term is currently under discussion. It is also true that, for the moment, you can never make the PDF of the final typeset and published version of your article available for free, e.g. in institutional repositories, for the simple reason that there is copyright involved in the typesetting by the Press. Just as the Press respects the copyrights of the authors and the licences to the EADH, we should respect the copyrights of the Press. There are legal systems to obey, after all. However, both the EADH and the LLC Editorial Team are in constant discussion. with the Press to see what could be done about these restrictions. One of the outcomes of this ongoing and open discussion has been the freely accessible online publication of the DH2012 conference issue (LLC 28/4) for a period of three months after publication. This will certainly be a recurring initiative which could hopefully be extended to other issues as well.

So what do you get out of it, apart from retaining your copyrights? Well, your publication is included in a highly esteemed scholarly Journal with a long tradition, a wide distribution, and a high appreciation. Further, the peer review process helps to improve your paper and the copy-editing and typesetting helps to improve your paper's readability. Your paper is published both in print and online where reference links to cited work are included and related data files can be linked to the article. Your published paper can be accessed by ca. 600 personal subscribers, and scholars and students in over 3,500 institutions worldwide. Your publication is indexed by the most important indexing/abstracting services in the humanities, including MLA, ISI Web of Science indexes, INSPEC, ABELL, ABES, LLBA, etc. And as LLC is receiving a yearly Impact Factor, publishing in the Journal certainly does no harm to your academic record.

1.2. Subscription Fees & Membership Fees

Subscription fees are collected by the Press on behalf of ADHO and all of its constituent organizations, namely the EADH, ACH, CSDH/SCHN, aaDH, JADH and CenterNet. The subscription rate is agreed upon yearly. Up to 2013, membership of an association of your choice or joint membership of ADHO was by subscription to the Journal only. In 2013, this changed, and it is now also possible to become a (joint) society member and pay the corresponding fee without paying for a subscription to the Journal. Currently, this proves to be popular with student members who have access to the Journal through their institution. It is, however, a misconception that opting for the membership-only fee would only affect the Press's profit. Under the current contract, only 30% of the net profit remains with the Press. The remaining 70% of the net profit goes directly to ADHO and its constituent organisations. However, there is always a fixed cost involved in making a Journal whichever publication model is chosen or whatever the circulation of the Journal – we did agree at the beginning of this editorial that that good work deserves a correct remuneration. The profit which is at stake here is your very own associations' income.

1.3. LLC funds DH (and Open Access)

LLC generates a substantial revenue for all Digital Humanities Organisations represented in ADHO. The total income from LLC received by ADHO in 2013, i.e. 70% of the net profit of 2012, was over 80,000 GBP (ca. 97,000 EUR; ca. 132,000 USD; ca. 146,000 CAD; ca. 151,000 AUD; ca. 13,613,000 JPY). ADHO distributes this income among the constituent organisations using a disbursement system which takes into account the individual and joint memberships and the geographical location of institutional and consortia subscriptions. A huge share of this income is used by ADHO and its constituent organisations to jointly fund, for instance, the publication subventions of DHQ, Digital Studies/Le Champ Numérique and DHCommons, the DH web infrastructure including DHQ hosting costs, conference support, prizes, awards and bursaries, etc. The rest of the income is then passed on to the constituent organisations on the basis of the disbursement scheme. Each constituent organisation uses this income to realize their own programmes and actions to promote, support and further the Digital Humanities.

So, if anyone makes a huge profit from the Journal, it is your very own association. Their income through the Journal allows your association to invest in the Digital Humanities the way you, as a voting member, decide upon.

To put it simply: by supporting LLC as a subscriber, author or reviewer, you support ADHO as well as your own association and you facilitate the funding of many initiatives in DH including the publication of Open Access publications. To put it differently, a subscription to LLC does not only cover the cost involved with the publication of LLC, but also the cost involved with the publication of the other Open Access publications which are offered by ADHO for free.

2. A Year's Work in Publishing LLC

2013 has by all measures been a record-breaking year for LLC. The Journal has never had more subscribers, never received more submissions, never published more papers on more pages, never received a higher Impact Factor, and never generated more income for ADHO and its constituent organisations.

2.1. Figures

In 2013, LLC managed to raise its individual subscriptions again by a healthy 12%. The Journal also received 34.58% more submissions than in 2012. With 144 manuscripts submitted from 34 different countries, LLC confirms the upward trend which started in 2011. The breakdown of the submitted papers per country in 2013 shows that most submissions still come from Europe (74) with the UK (17), Germany (11), the Netherlands (6), Belgium (5), France (5), Italy (5), Switzerland (5), Spain (4) and Greece (4) as the main providers of copy. Other European submissions came from Norway (1), Portugal (2), the Russian Federation (2), Cyprus (1), Ireland (2), Poland (2), Sweden (2) and Turkey (1). The second highest number of submissions came from the US (32). Asian authors produced 20 submissions: China (6), India (4), Japan (2), Malaysia (2), Taiwan (2) and 1 each from Iran, Israel, Hong Kong and Korea. The rest of the submissions were sent in from Canada (8), Australia (5), Africa (3 – Egypt, Morocco & Nigeria), Mexico (1) and New Zealand (1).

This is a very pleasing result which reflects the geographical distribution of the constituent organisations of ADHO which adopted LLC as their official Journal. These figures partially fulfill the objectives I outlined in my editorial in LLC 26/1 with regards to outreach to scholars in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Australia, and the Middle East. However, there is still room for improvement here, and I'd like to call upon your assistance to promote LLC as a publishing venue for all digital scholarship in the Humanities worldwide.

Also, LLC keeps on performing well with respect to speed and acceptance rate. The average time taken between submission and first decision for manuscripts submitted in 2012 was 133.42 days for full papers and 159.76 days for short papers. The average time for first decision for manuscripts submitted in 2013 was 80.20 days for full papers and 66.38 days for short papers. 36.46% of the full papers and 26.7% of the short papers submitted in 2013 received a decision in the same year. The average time taken between submission and final decision for revised papers submitted in 2013 was 32.47 days for full papers and 25 days for short papers. The accepted papers were published in advance access on in under six weeks from the final decision and we are heading towards a five-week mark.

Although these average times are very good considering the growth, size, and scope of the Journal, I am very sensitive to comments of authors who express their wish for a faster review track. A scholarly Journal like LLC is hugely dependent on the availability of peer reviewers, and although the demand to publish in LLC is growing, I observe a declining willingness to review for the Journal. Also, because of the broadening scope of the Journal and the geographical diversity of its authors, many manuscripts are submitted on subjects outside the traditional nucleus of Anglo-American centred literary and linguistic computing. This is no doubt a positive trend for the Digital Humanities, but on a managerial level, it can create delays in the peer review process when a sufficient number of appropriate reviewers cannot be invited. One author even decided to withdraw his submission because he was not able to suggest any subject specialist to the Journal besides himself. In order to improve the peer review process, I'd like to invite anyone who has not already done so to come forward and register as a reviewer by creating or updating your account in the Journal's online system and flagging your areas of expertise.

The overall acceptance rate of all submissions has come down from 40.21% in 2012 to 34.95% in 2013. Of the original submissions, 59.09% were sent back to the authors for revision in 2013 (49.06% in 2012). The rejection rate of original submissions after the first round of peer review has decreased from 31.13% in 2012 to 26.36% in 2013.

Production continues to run smoothly and all four issues appeared ahead of schedule in 2013. Volume 28 published a record number of 59 papers, which is an increase of 119% compared to 2012. Thanks to ADHO and OUP, subscribers to LLC were treated to 58% more pages compared to 2012 at no extra cost. The 2013 volume contained 753 pages compared to 476 pages in the 2012 volume.

The Journal more than doubled its Impact Factor which has increased from 0.431 (June 2011) and 0.333 (June 2012) to 0.717 (June 2013). Although LLC is not purely a linguistics Journal, it ranks at 60th of the 161 journals in SSCI Linguistics (101st in 2011).

2.2. Contents

The contents of volume 28 were as diverse as the DH community itself and mainly consisted of thematic collections of papers. In my editorial to 27/1, I already identified the formation of thematic clusters of interdisciplinary research as the second of four evolutions in the Digital Humanities. The first issue published a thematic collection on dialectometry edited by John Nerbonne and William A. Kretzchmar Jr. This exciting collection demonstrated that the traditional use of computational and quantitative techniques in dialectology co-exists alongside novel developments in the field, such as the application of dialectometric techniques to sociolinguistic and diachronic research questions and experiments with techniques from spatial statistics, geographic information systems, and image analysis. The second issue published the long-awaited collection of conference papers from DH2011 and was edited by Katherine Walter, Matt Jockers, and Glen Worthey. This conference issue reflects the conference theme of 'Big Tent Digital Humanities' and promotes an inclusive view of the Digital Humanities which is at the heart of the Journal. Apart from four unsolicited contributions and five book reviews, the third issue contained a thematic section of six papers coming out of the Interface 2011 Symposium and which highlights the wealth and breadth of early-career research. This thematic section was edited by seven young scholars as a hands-on exercise in journal management: Alberto Campagnolo, Andreia Martins Carvalho, Alejandro Giacometti, Richard Lewis, Matteo Romanello, Claire Ross, and Raffaele Viglianti. The fourth issue presented a collection of papers presented at the DH2012 conference and was edited by Paul Spence, Susan Brown, and Jan Christoph Meister. The thematic and methodological wealth demonstrated in this conference issue is in line with the overall theme of the conference: ‘Digital Diversity: Cultures, languages and methods’. This impressive conference issue was made accessible for free to everyone during a period of three months after publication. This will surely be a recurring initiative, because there is no better publicity for the Journal and the community it represents than to increase the accessibility to its contents.

Volume 29 of LLC promises to be at least as exciting as the previous one, albeit less voluminous. The first two issues will publish a good number of regular, unsolicited copy which is already available in advance access. The last two issues are reserved for the DH2013 issue and a thematic issue on Computational Models of Narratives.
With a growing number of submissions published in advance access, a good part of the 30th Jubilee volume of LLC is filled up nicely, but there are still some slots available. The Journal is already accepting proposals for thematic issues to be published in 2016.

3. A Bright Future

It has been a wonderful year for LLC and the future looks bright, thanks to the many people involved in editing, producing and publishing the Journal. First of all, I should like to thank our authors, book reviewers, anonymous peer reviewers, and guest editors for their important contribution to the Journal and their service to the community. A special word of thanks goes to the production and marketing people at OUP who have done a terrific job in producing and publicizing the Journal. Thanks to Sarah Scutts and Victoria Smith and their publishing team, a special thanks to Sarah Beattie who served as LLC's Production Editor for a year, and a very warm welcome to Deborah Hutchinson who has taken over from Sarah since July 2013. Thanks also to Jane Wiejak and her marketing team.

At the end of 2013 we say goodbye to Ron Van den Branden who has served the Journal over the last three years as its Book Reviews Editor. Ron has invigorated the number and importance of book reviews in the Journal and has done a wonderful job in prospecting, commissioning, and editing reviews. I'd like to thank Ron for all his work and for his ongoing support to the Journal as a member of the Editorial Team. My personal gratitute also goes to our Associate Editors Wendy Anderson and Isabel Galina for their hard work, much of which remains hidden from the readership.

Last but not least, I should explicitly thank the readership for their support and feedback. I'd be delighted to hear back from you and receive any feedback on the Journal or suggestions for improvement. You can do this by including the hashtag #LLCjournal in your tweets or by contacting the Journal via email and you can stay informed by following @LLCjournal on Twitter, find us on Facebook, visit the Journal's website regularly or sign up to be notified automatically whenever a new issue becomes available online.

Thank your once again for subscribing to the Journal and supporting the Digital Humanities organisations.

Edward Vanhoutte

Disclaimer: all figures and facts presented in this editorial are quoted from public ADHO & EADH reports.