More on the Editorial and Production Process

  • Published 2002


My previous piece (Language 78.2.217–20) began an explication of the inner workings of the journal, giving an account of the varied types of contributions considered for publication. As noted there, by far the most important type is the article, to which in the usual case at least half of each issue—and often far more—is devoted. All articles submitted to Language are subjected to a rigorous review process, something I see—as indeed my predecessors have seen—as absolutely crucial to quality control, to guarantee that only articles exhibiting the very best scholarship and research in linguistics are published in the pages of this journal. In this column and the next, I provide a demystification, so to speak, of this review process and give an in-depth look at what’s inside the black box of a submission to Language. I discuss here what is done with new submissions; the question of resubmissions is taken up in the next installment. First, the paper arrives at the Language Editorial Office (n.b. it should NOT be sent to my departmental office; that only delays our handling of the paper) in four copies together with an abstract. If there is no abstract or if there are fewer than four copies, we typically contact the author and do not consider the paper officially submitted until we get that. Language does not accept electronic submissions at present; this may change but for the moment we require hard copy. The office acknowledges receipt of the paper and the review process proper begins. The first review phase is a decision as to review-worthiness, in which I decide, sometimes with input from the associate editors, if the paper stands a chance in the review process. In some instances, a ‘summary dismissal’ is appropriate, if, for example, the topic is clearly not within the scope of the journal (perhaps, say, presenting some practical tips for the teaching of subjunctive mood forms in Hindi). I intend to err on the side of including more rather than less at this point, so that if in doubt, I plan to give the paper a chance in the review process. Any problems that might get in the way of the review process are dealt with at this point, for example, if the paper is far too long (as noted in my previous column a long paper might make it difficult to find reviewers since it entails more work, and, as Sarah G. Thomason has observed, one could argue that a longer paper needs to be even better than a shorter one to justify devoting to it a greater percentage of the fixed number of journal pages available in any given volume). Similarly, excessive self-reference by the author(s) can be problematic at this stage, as it gets in the way of ensuring some degree of anonymity in the review process (an issue to be considered more fully in a subsequent Editor’s Department). Any such papers are returned to authors for repair if needed prior to formal review, but are not considered to have been summarily dismissed. The next step is to send the paper to an associate editor. An associate editor generally volunteers to take charge of a paper based on information the office provides on title, author(s), and contents (this is where the abstract comes into play). If necessary, I simply assign a paper to an associate editor and occasionally even take on one myself. What comes next is really the heart of the review process, and it is what I dwell on in this column (with more on the final stages of the process to come in the December issue). Based on recommendations from the associate editor in charge of the paper, but occasionally with some input as well from the author(s) as to POSSIBLE reviewers, a list

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@inproceedings{2002MoreOT, title={More on the Editorial and Production Process}, author={}, year={2002} }