The Journals Division welcomes proposals and inquiries from scholarly societies, research institutes, individual scholars or university departments interested in publishing with University of California Press. We are particularly interested in new or existing journals in musicology, history, sociology, cultural studies, religious studies, biology and the natural sciences, environmental studies, and law, but will be pleased to try and respond to any questions regarding publication in other fields as well.
Journals Publishing Manager
University of California Press
2120 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94704-1012
Fax (510) 642-9917
General Guidelines for New Journal Proposals
When considering the launching of a new journal, it is useful to consider the questions listed below. Some of them may seem obvious, some not. But all need answers before a publisher such as University of California Press can make an intelligent evaluation of the proposal.
A. First, and foremost: What is the audience for the new journal?
Much of the expense of publishing a journal is fixed: editorial costs are the same whether you print 500 or 5000 copies; so are typesetting costs, promotional costs (i.e. the cost of telling people the journal exists), overhead costs. Therefore the size of the audience has a very direct influence on the price of the journal: if it is very small, it is likely that the journal will be very expensive.
It is important that your estimate of the audience be as precise as possible:
If the journal is to go to the membership of an association, how many active members are there (i.e. members who have paid their dues to date). Is this a new organization, and is the membership growing, or not?
If it is not a membership journal, how many individuals are there in the field of the new journal in the US and in foreign countries?
List all existing societies, professional organizations, etc., in this and allied fields, with as much information as possible about each (how many members, how many foreign members, do they publish a journal of their own, do they have sub-groups that are more closely focused on the subject of the new journal).
If there is no society in this field, do you know of any plans to form one? What is the relationship of this journal to these plans? How large will the society be?
How many departments in this country offer doctoral programs in this field?
Is there a lot of international activity in this field? In which countries? What are the relevant international societies? How large a market might that be?
In general, do scholars in your field subscribe to journals personally, or do they depend upon library subscriptions? (In some fields, scholars almost never subscribe directly to journals, but depend entirely on libraries, campus, departmental, or business, for their access to journal literature).
How many libraries are likely to want to subscribe? ("All academic libraries" is not a reasonable answer: try to be as specific as possible. Would the library of a small liberal arts college subscribe? Would a public library subscribe? Would a junior college library subscribe? Keep in mind that there are only about 185 major research libraries in the entire United States).
B. What other journals are published in this field? Another way of putting this is: where are your potential authors publishing today?
A comprehensive survey of all journals in the field of the new journal and in other allied fields is important. A journal by journal analysis, with editorial policies, contents, circulation, periodicity, price for each is quite valuable. In some cases, especially if some of the potential audience is abroad, foreign journals should be included in this survey.
What is the average delay from acceptance to publication in the major competitive journals? Is there major dissatisfaction in the field with this delay? Is there a quota in the leading journals for papers in certain sub- fields?
C. How does the new journal differ from the existing ones listed under B? Why should an author publish in the new journal rather than in already existing journals?
D. What will be the source of the articles for the new journal?
How large do you estimate the author pool to be? Only people within the field or will people from outside the field be tempted to publish in the journal as well? How many articles a year are published in the field? How many of those would the new journal want to publish? Will the journal commission articles, or will it depend on voluntary submissions? Can you assemble a "sample issue" made up of already published articles you would have liked to publish had the journal already been in existence? What are the chances that those authors would have published in the new journal rather than where they in fact published? What are the chances that they will publish their next article in the new journal?
E. What is the editorial policy of the new journal?
This question should be answered both with a broad overview of what the journal should contain as well as with some details regarding such things as: will the journal contain book reviews? review articles? news items? letters to the editor? How long will the average article be? Will the journal contain illustrations? photographs? graphs? tables? charts? How many? Will articles be accepted in electronic format?
How does this proposed editorial policy differ from that of the established journals in this field? If it is radically different, is the policy realistic both in terms of the ease with which it can be achieved (policies that seek to eliminate professional jargon, for example, are notoriously unsuccessful) and in terms of its acceptability to a broad range of authors and readers.
How many issues per year? How many pages per issue/year? In what format? (i.e : 6x9", one column, with footnotes; 7x10" glossy paper, 2 columns). These are very important decisions, with large cost consequences.
How technical is the field of the new journal? Will copy- editors with strong technical knowledge be necessary? How much copy-editing is necessary in this field? (Some disciplines write well, some don't; some expect a lot of work to be done on their articles, others do not. Tell us about your field). Do you think it essential that the publisher provide copy-editing, or would you have the copy- editing done under the supervision of the principal editor? It might be useful to select a few examples of existing journals that are close to what you think the new journal should look and read like.
Assuming the journal is refereed (most academic journals are) how is the editorial process going to be organized? What is the standard procedure in the field of the new journal? Will the new journal differ from it in any way? What will the editorial staff consist of, besides a primary editor? Will there be a working editorial board? Associate editors in specific sub-fields? Have such people been re cruited already? How are these people appointed or recruited? Are there specific time periods for which they are to serve? What staffing do you consider essential for the editorial office? (i.e. secretaries, copy-editors, etc.).
Although you cannot be expected to know in detail what it will cost to publish the new journal (that is the role of the publisher to know and to tell you, once they have been given the answers to the questions above), some items can be dealt with before you begin talking to a publisher:
1. Are there any sources of funds available to help launch the new journal? Foundations, individuals, academic institutions all have supported new journals in the past, as long as it was made clear that the support was a one-time- only, start-off fund. Consider also help in the form of free office space, donated equipment (computer manufacturers can be generous given the proper opportunity for publicity), free access to services (copying machines, telephones, etc). How about fellowships for editorial assistants? Might they be available?
2. Will the editorial office need an ongoing source of money? Many academic journals, especially in the humanities and social sciences, have "volunteer" editors, and essentially free offices and office services provided by their departments. If this is unlikely in your case, provide a tentative budget for the editorial office(s).
3. Do you have an "ideal" price in mind for the journal? What should it be to members of your society? other individuals? students? institutions?
4. Do you expect the journal to generate sufficient revenue to support non-journal activities? Many societies support various non-publication activities through income from their publications.