The Economic Crisis and Academic Publishing

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The Board of Directors of TESOL has announced that TQ will have 8 less pages this year, and 16 less pages next year. There is more bad news in the publishing front for other journals and presses. CCC has also reduced its pages. It continues some of its discussions on previously published articles on the professional website of the Conference of College Composition and Communication. So, you might start a paragraph of a discussion on the printed journal, and will be asked to proceed to an internet address to access the rest of the article. Chronicle of Higher Education has combined its previously two separate sections into a single issue. Utah State University Press is completely folding.


What implications do these changes have for authors?


While the expectations of universities around the world are becoming more demanding, the outlets for academic publishing are shrinking. Even universities in China and Singapore want their young faculty members to publish in top-tier academic journals in the US to get their tenure or promotion these days. We see an increasing number of submissions from around the world in TQ. However, these authors have to compete for publishing space with senior and better-resourced authors in top western universities. Even before the page reduction hit us, TQ's acceptance rate had gone down from around 8 percent in 2005 to around 5 percent in 2007 and 2008.


We also have less space for creative new genres. Journal editors are sticking religiously to the word length they require or are reducing the length of accepted articles. Qualitative studies which employ a narrative approach to research reporting will be constrained by space limitations. An article on the challenges of negotiating a submission that a novice author and I (as editor) co-wrote in a dialogue format with embedded narratives is now longer than the preferred 8500 words in most journals. Even previously flexible journals are now refusing to countenance longer articles.


TQ has also started insisting on its own announced preference for 8500 words in recent times. In previous years, I was willing to go beyond the length if more data or an expanded literature review was important for the article. Now our poor authors have to omit some interesting sets of data, omit some fascinating pedagogical or research implications, or reduce the information on their research procedures. Already, research articles fail to include crucial information pertaining to the research blaming space limitations. At this rate, the authors may have to just give the raw data and highlight the main findings without providing important information required for other scholars to replicate the study or for younger scholars to understand the challenges in the process of conducting research.


At a time when all of us are exploring ways of pluralizing academic publishing by giving access to more non-traditional authors and representing non-traditional genres of writing, the space restrictions and closing of publishing outlets will dampen those efforts.

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This page contains a single entry by SURESH CANAGARAJAH published on April 25, 2009 3:28 PM.

Reading Rejection Letters was the previous entry in this blog.

Does Packaging Matter Anymore? is the next entry in this blog.

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