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What We Learned at Two Political Science Conferences

Jeannine Bell, Susan Sterett, & Margot Young 

Your hard working editors attended the Midwest Political Science Association and Western Political Science Association conferences in April.  We participated on panels with other editors to discuss journals and editing practices.  We also had informal conversations about our experiences with reviewers, administrative processes around having multiple editors, and the kinds of email requests and responses that editors get.  We also compared notes on our experiences as authors submitting to journals. 



So, first we learned Law and Society Review gets bragging rights for turning around most manuscripts in two months, from submission to decision.  We learned that practice from Tim Johnson and Joachim Savelsberg, the previous editors.  We thought with all the pressure on faculty to get their work out these days, all journal aimed for a quick turnaround.  The journal editors we spoke to at the conferences do.  We heard complaints, though, about journals taking eleven months for a review.  We won't do that.

The biggest limit on turning manuscripts around is reviewers who agree to a review but don't get the review in.  Delayed reviews can mean looking for another reviewer, and slowing down the process for authors.  

Editors discussed different practices concerning shapting a journal, bringing us to reflect on our practices.  Some journals have clear ideas of the kind of work they aim to publish; others aim to publish the best work in the field they can, rather than shaping around a particular set of questions or methods.  We like that; we are not favoring a version of excellent sociolegal scholarship.  

Finally, we sometimes add a new reviewer after a resubmission, rather than only going to the initial reviewers.  Other journals do the same.  Initial reviewers are necessary to assessing revised manuscripts but new reviewers can help both us and the authors.  Sadly, we do not have space to publish every manuscript that reviews well.  
Every journal keeps a backlog of articles, in queue for publication.  We cannot keep a large one as we are editing for three years and the next editors get to decide what they will do.  So you can expect to be in print within six months or so of an acceptance.

Finally, thanks to the suggestions from Wiley, we will be joining other journals and moving to 'early view'; accepted articles will be available online as soon as they are ready.  So, we look forward to reading your manuscripts (and your reviews)!  



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