How to Start a Humanities Journal

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The article delves into how to start a humanities journal that will enrich the academia and research world. Academic publishing refers to the process of disseminating research and scholarship through books, journals, and other outlets. Academic publishing is vital in advancing knowledge and enabling scholarly discourse in the humanities fields like history, literature, philosophy, and more.

Academic publishing provides a formal channel for humanities researchers to share their findings and insights. Going through peer review and the editing process validates the quality of the research and allows it to reach a wider audience. Published articles and books become part of the scholarly record in their discipline and can influence future research.

For early career researchers, academic publishing is crucial for building credentials and gaining professional opportunities. Overall, this system of knowledge dissemination fuels progress and innovation in the humanities.

The Role of Academic Journals

Academic journals provide a periodic, peer-reviewed forum for researchers to publish articles on focused topics within their field. The editorial and peer review processes for journals enhance the quality of published scholarship. By collecting cutting-edge research in a given discipline, journals facilitate the dissemination of new insights and accelerate their uptake within the scholarly community.

Scholarly journals enable academic discourse through responses and exchanges between authors. Academic journals’ prestige and impact metrics also incentivize and reward contributions to the advancement of knowledge. By consistently publishing novel, well-executed research, journals propel productive shifts in their field over time.

Understanding the Landscape of Humanities Journals

Exploring the current landscape of humanities journals and their impact is key to identifying opportunities for new publications. As the world of academic publishing expands, there is room for niche journals that address overlooked topics or take innovative approaches to scholarship. However, launching a successful journal requires understanding the existing ecosystem.

A wide range of established humanities journals already exist, focusing on areas like history, literature, philosophy, cultural studies, and more. While venerable publications like the Journal of American Studies and The Philosophical Review continue to hold sway. There has been growth in interdisciplinary journals and those exploring narrow subfields. The landscape keeps shifting as new theoretical frameworks and digital humanities emerge.

In assessing the current landscape, aspiring editors should analyze factors like a journal’s readership, citation impact, accessibility, and author diversity. Tracking these metrics over time for prominent publications can reveal where there is room for a new entrant to contribute. It also helps set reasonable expectations for the influence a starting journal may achieve.

Despite the proliferation of humanities journals, gaps remain where a thoughtfully positioned publication could thrive. Underserved disciplines or geographic regions offer opportunities, as do bridging divides between academia and the public. Additional prospects include:

  • Spotlighting a niche subfield or interdisciplinary area of study.
  • Featuring perspectives from scholars of diverse backgrounds.
  • Experimenting with multimedia formats and digital publication platforms.
  • Fostering discourse around emerging and controversial topics.
  • Translating dense academic writing into accessible language.

Pinpointing exactly where a new journal can uniquely contribute requires assessing scholarly trends and the societal landscape. Those aiming to launch a publication should reflect deeply on the humanities’ role in advancing culture and knowledge. This will help articulate the vision and mission that guides editorial decisions.

How to Start a Humanities Journal: The Important Steps

Starting an academic journal comes with significant legal and ethical obligations. As the founder and editor of a new journal, you must ensure proper policies and procedures are in place to uphold ethical publishing practices. Some key considerations include:

  • Obtaining an ISSN number and securing the proper copyrights and permissions for published content
  • Implementing a code of conduct for editors and reviewers regarding issues like conflicts of interest, objectivity, and confidentiality during the peer review process
  • Verifying author identities and ensuring no plagiarism or duplicate publication takes place
  • Providing clear author guidelines regarding ethical research conduct, proper attribution, and transparency around funding sources or other potential conflicts of interest

Consulting with an attorney can help review any liability issues. It is also wise to develop official policies around privacy, archiving, corrections and retractions, and other ethical concerns common in academic publishing. Adhering to established ethical codes of conduct will help build credibility and trust within the scholarly community.

Understanding the Editorial Process

The editorial process for a humanities journal generally includes:

  1. Initial internal review by editors to determine if the submission meets essential criteria and aligns with the journal’s scope
  2. Finding qualified peer reviewers (typically 2-3) to critically assess the work and provide constructive feedback
  3. Synthesizing reviewer comments and communicating the decision to accept, reject, or ask for revisions from the author
  4. Working with the author on any necessary edits before final acceptance
  5. Copyediting, typesetting, and preparing the final published version

There are some unique considerations for peer review in the humanities compared to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Humanities research often necessitates a more subjective assessment of elements like conceptual framing, critical analysis, persuasive argumentation, and creative expression.

Reviewers should provide insightful yet respectful feedback to foster productive scholarly exchange. Training editors and reviewers to recognize excellence in humanities scholarship while avoiding biases can strengthen the objectivity of the process. Explicit criteria for evaluation are essential. Embracing diverse voices and perspectives will enrich the discourse published in the journal.

Building a Strong Editorial Team

Assembling a diverse and knowledgeable editorial board is crucial for establishing the credibility and mission of a new humanities journal. The editorial board sets the tone and direction for the publication, so selecting editors with a breadth of expertise and perspectives is vital.

An editorial board should include scholars from various humanities disciplines, institutions, career stages, and backgrounds. Striving for diversity provides rich insights and helps ensure the journal’s content and policies are inclusive. Experienced editors who are well-respected in their fields also lend legitimacy and can help attract high-quality submissions.

When reaching out to potential editorial board members:

  • Communicate the vision and aims of the journal, so candidates understand how their expertise would contribute.
  • Highlight opportunities for editors to shape emerging conversations and have an impact within their discipline.
  • Offer competitive compensation for editors’ time and contributions where possible.
  • Start by recruiting personal contacts, admired scholars in the field, and editors from existing journals before broadening outreach.
  • Emphasize the prestige and visibility editors can gain from being affiliated with a promising new publication.

By bringing together a diverse team behind the journal’s mission, an editorial board provides a solid foundation to build a reputable and influential publication.

Developing a Clear Vision and Mission

Defining a journal’s unique focus and scope is crucial on how to start a new humanities journal. The vision and mission should clearly articulate what sets the journal apart and what specific needs or gaps in scholarship it aims to address.

Defining the Unique Focus and Scope

Some key questions to consider when defining a new journal’s scope include:

  • What is the broad field or interdisciplinary area the journal will focus (e.g., gender studies, critical race theory, digital humanities)?
  • Will it have a broad scope or a specialized, narrow focus within that field?
  • What methodologies, theoretical frameworks, or geographic regions will be emphasized or excluded?
  • Over what periods or traditions within the humanities will the journal focus?
  • Will it be limited to specific formats like research articles, critical essays, and literature reviews, or new formats like a multimedia scholarship?

Delineating the scope while allowing flexibility for emerging research areas helps attract relevant submissions and build a coherent scholarly identity over time.

Articulating the Journal’s Contributions

Alongside defining the focus, the journal’s mission statement should address its intended contributions to academia and society. For example, the mission could highlight how the journal aims to:

  • Publish rigorous scholarship that expands knowledge within defined humanities fields
  • Provide an inclusive platform for marginalized voices and perspectives
  • Spark interdisciplinary dialogues between the humanities and other domains
  • Promote accessibility of humanities research to wider reading audiences
  • Apply academic insights toward solving societal challenges

Conveying these aspirations gives authors, editors, reviewers, and readers a shared purpose regarding the journal’s vision for shaping academic discourse and beyond. The mission drives decision-making on article selection, reviewer guidelines, accessibility policies, and audience engagement strategies. Revisiting and updating it periodically can help a journal stay strategically aligned as the field evolves.

Establishing Effective Peer Review Processes

Implementing a rigorous yet fair peer review process is crucial for establishing credibility and quality in a new humanities journal. As editors, we must develop clear guidelines and expectations for reviewers, balancing constructive criticism with supportive feedback.

To ensure rigor, the peer review process should involve:

  • Carefully matching submissions with reviewers who have expertise in the relevant subfield
  • Providing reviewers with a detailed rubric and checklist for assessment
  • Following up with reviewers to address any questions or concerns
  • Synthesizing feedback from multiple reviewers to inform the editorial decision

Fairness in peer review entails:

  • Selecting reviewers who do not have conflicts of interest with the authors
  • Giving reviewers adequate time to assess submissions thoroughly
  • Allowing authors the chance to respond to reviewer comments before a final decision
  • Having clear and transparent policies regarding revisions and resubmissions

Balancing Constructive Criticism

While rigorous critique strengthens scholarship, reviewers should balance criticism with supportive comments to encourage authors and recognize the merits of their work. Useful strategies include:

  • Pointing out both the strengths and weaknesses of the submission
  • Addressing negative feedback in constructive, non-judgmental language
  • Asking clarifying questions to understand the author’s approach or argument better
  • Making suggestions for improving the work rather than only noting flaws

We can nurture promising scholarship even when revisions are required by promoting thoughtful dialogue between reviewers and authors.

Embracing Digital Platforms and Open Access

Leveraging digital tools and platforms provides tremendous opportunities for efficiently managing an academic journal and widely disseminating published research. Online submission systems, plagiarism checkers, reference managers, and layout software can streamline the editorial workflow. Meanwhile, embracing open access principles allows research to reach the broadest possible readership.

Leveraging digital tools for efficient journal management and dissemination

Digital tools offer many advantages for publishing journals:

  • Online submission systems facilitate easy and organized article submission for authors and efficient handling for editors.
  • Plagiarism detection software helps uphold academic integrity standards.
  • Reference managers assist editors and authors with correctly formatting citations.
  • Typesetting programs provide professional layouts and style formatting.
  • Online hosting platforms enable rapid publication of accepted articles.

By leveraging these digital technologies, editors can focus on providing thoughtful feedback and guidance during peer review rather than handling logistics.

Advocating for Open Access

Embracing open access allows research publications to reach the broadest possible readership across disciplines and geographic regions. This serves the academic community and society by:

  1. Accelerating the pace of research by removing access barriers.
  2. Increasing exposure and citation rates for authors.
  3. Enabling educators, clinicians, policymakers, and other professionals to apply findings readily.
  4. Facilitating technology transfer and commercialization opportunities.
  5. Promoting public discourse and engagement with new knowledge.

Therefore, a commitment to open access aligns with the mission of disseminating humanities scholarship to scholars and the broader community.

Engaging with Authors and Readers

Cultivating strong relationships with authors is crucial for attracting high-quality submissions to a new humanities journal. As an editor, prioritize personal outreach by introducing yourself and your publication’s mission to scholars working in relevant fields.

Express genuine interest in their research and invite manuscript submissions. Consider organizing special issues around cutting-edge topics to stimulate submissions from top experts. Maintain an open and supportive dialogue throughout the review process so authors feel valued, even if their work is ultimately declined.

It is equally vital to foster an engaged community of readers who regularly interact with the journal’s content. Promote published articles through social media and email lists of likely interested readers. Facilitate post-publication peer review and commentary features to encourage scholarly exchange.

How to start a humanities journal

Spotlight thought-provoking discussions in the journal’s newsletter or podcast. Consider organizing public events where authors can present their work. By spurring vibrant intellectual discourse around the research you publish, you amplify its impact within the humanities community.


We have delved into how to start a humanities journal, which is no small feat but promising rewards. By following the key steps outlined in this write-up, aspiring editors can embark on an exciting publishing journey that contributes meaningfully to advancing humanities scholarship.

Summarizing Key Steps

  • The first critical task is to define the scope and mission of the journal clearly.
  • Identify gaps in existing publications and carve out a unique niche that adds value to the academic landscape.
  • Assemble a diverse editorial team with the expertise to evaluate submissions and provide constructive feedback.
  • Implement rigorous peer review processes to uphold high scholarly standards. Choose an open access digital platform to maximize accessibility and impact.
  • Foster engaging conversations between authors and readers around the humanities topics examined in the journal.

Attending carefully to each of these steps lays a solid foundation for success.

Encouraging Aspiring Editors

For scholars passionate about a humanities subject, launching an academic journal represents a tremendous opportunity to curate dynamic conversations within that field of study. The editorial role comes with substantial work, but the ability to shape the discourse around a discipline provides lasting rewards.

Aspiring journal editors should thoughtfully assess where they can best contribute based on their background and interests. With clear vision and commitment, the endeavor promises intellectual growth for editors and readers alike.

The perspectives shared in a vibrant humanities journal can profoundly influence scholarly pursuits for years. Humanities research thrives on keen analysis, diverse interpretations, and meaningful exchanges of ideas. Editing an academic journal delivers an unmatched platform for those compelled to facilitate such discussions.

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