Marketing anthropology/editorial process

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 11 Jun 1994 00:14:23 JST

Douglas Hanson writes,

"I am also concerned about the whole editorial process. I don't know about
the rest of you and it just may be the journals I am reading, but I am
seeing many more poor quality papers than I did say ten years ago. I think
the rush to publish and the demands made on scientists to get papers out at
any cost has resulted in a large mish-mash of published works, much of
which I find unreadable or not worth reading. Just an opinion..."

I'll second that. I'm proud that I've got a piece scheduled to appear in
American Ethnologist next year, but as an adman who works to deadlines
measured in days (or weeks at most), I'm disturbed that getting from
original submission to print is taking on the order of three years. Thank
God I don't have to publish or perish. I am also bothered by the comments
of one anthropologist I met recently who said, "I hardly ever read journals.
There is so little worth bothering with, I pretty much confine myself to
books." If a article is just a way of counting coup, why except for job
considerations to we ever bother to publish at all?

On the positive side, I'd like to note that I have been offered tremendously
useful feedback when I've asked for readers using the Internet. The quality
has been equal or better to that received from journal reviewers and the
turnaround time less than a tenth of what they take. If you are concerned
about raising your productivity, I'd suggest that you give this a try.


Separate issue: Should the AAA hire a PR firm? Some have suggested that the
AAA doesn't yet have a clear enough vision to be ready to engage "lobbyists."
In fairness to my PR colleagues, I'd have to say that their work is being
seen too narrowly as a matter of communicating already formulated messages.
In fact, they are often quite good at working with people who need objective
outsider counsel in formulating their messages. Especially since the
funding problem is, at least in part, developing a message that's persuasive
to people outside our particular tribe, this broader PR function might be
worth thinking about.

John McCreery