Author Experiences with Journals and Publishing

This entry was motivated by a blog entry from Jenny Mackness and an email I received on the same day from a Journal publisher. The publisher took 6 months from review to proofs, but just emailed me to let me know that they would like the proofs returned in 48 hours to “ensure fast publication of your paper.” I see a disconnect there, don’t you?

Moving on to Jenny’s blog entry: Jenny shares her experiences with a recent paper she published in the latest issue of IRRODL (which came out on January 31st). My co-authors and I also have a paper in the same issue. Jenny says, “We submitted the paper in October, which is not that long ago in terms of actual days, but it is in terms of my thinking. I doubt that IRRODL could have published any quicker, so I’m not sure how this mismatch between author and publisher could be resolved.” I agree with Jenny that our thinking in this field is moving quickly and we would all benefit from rapid access to each other’s work. However, I  think that 4 months is a great turn-around from submission to publication for a journal whose copyeditors do an amazingly thorough job. There are well-known book publishers out there that take longer and do no copy-editing whatsoever. Our paper, which appeared in the same issue, was submitted on July 31st, and I’m happy with the 6-month turn-around, which includes submission, double-blind peer-review, decision, minor revision, submission, acceptance, copyediting, and proofs.

Nonetheless, I do think that journals can publish papers quicker. Here’s how: My paper and Jenny’s paper appeared in a journal issue [13(1)] which consisted of 13 other papers. The notion of an issue consisting of a number of papers is a remnant of paper journals. It is possible for a digital journal to publish papers as soon as they are completed, by assigning them just to a volume instead of waiting to fill an issue. Thus Jenny’s paper could have been published in volume 13 and my paper could have been published in volume 13, but neither would have been published in issue 1. This is what Sage Open does. Another way to go about this would be to publish one the journal on a monthly basis, and just include those papers that are ready at the cut-off date for the month. This is the way First Monday works.




From Instructional Technology to Learning Technologies


Online Social Networks as Formal Learning Environments


  1. George – you beat me to it! I was about to make a similar comment on my own blog, i.e. that publication could be an ongoing process in open online journals, as and when the articles come in. I wonder what difficulties this would create for administration. Special issues wouldn’t work on this basis, but for me (slow reader!) a drip feed approach rather than 15 at once would work better :-)
    Thanks for your visit to my blog.

    • Thank you for your note, Jenny! Yes, this would probably raise some questions on current practices (e.g., as you correctly point out, special issues). I’m not as concerned with administrative problems, but I am of the perspective that such problems present fertile ground for innovation. For instance, IRRODL recently started adding new articles to special issues already published. In his October 2011 editorial Terry Anderson describes this as follows: “We have added two new articles to the Prior, Experiential, and Informal Learning in the Age of Information and Communication Technologies issue [published in Jan-Feb 2011]…We are coming to realize that, unlike in paper journals, a special topic issue in an online journal can remain alive as new content is developed. These new articles can be hyperlinked to the special issue in a regular issue or more tightly focused and aggregated for inclusion within the special issue.”

  2. In Research in Learning Technology,we will actually be doing both of these: publishing papers with a doi as soon as they are ready and aggregating them into issues (we still have a print journal as a member benefit) – like Terry Anderson’s second option I think. Very very soon our first open access issue will be published then we will drip feed papers we have stacked up then after that we will publish papers as soon as they are ready. You can find us at and subscribe to notifications through RSS or email (see RH column)

  3. Hi George – I have a question about your article. I was surprised by the finding ‘students did not appear to mix social and educational participation’. In my experience, students have always mixed social and educational participation, e.g. in the coffee bar – or in my own work, wiki discussions will sometimes veer off into more personal, social discussions.

    Do you think your students did not mix social and educational participation in your Elgg environment because of the constraints of tutor presence/control, assessment and so on.

    I’m wondering where else they might have mixed social and educational participation. Did you ask them whether there were any ‘back channels’?

    Perhaps I have misunderstood what you mean by ‘mix personal and social participation’?


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