Guide on “Writing in African Studies Journals”
June 21, 2011 Leave a comment
This guide puts together some information of a side event called “Writing in African Studies Journals: what, how, and where?” at the 4th European Conference on African Studies on the 16th of June 2011 in Uppsala. It was chaired by Andreas Mehler, GIGA Hamburg. My thanks go to him and all the panelists. The general introduction came from Sara Rich Dorman, African Affairs. This journal provides very useful general guidelines. The main points of her presentation in Uppsala were:
- make people want to read your article – tell something interesting
- gap filling is not enough, it should be an original contribution with empiric data and a fresh way of using the data
- give readers a nice journey, make it readable in style and structure; transitions between chapters should be smooth, guide the reader through
- a literature review is not enough, wait until your work is done
- avoid too much of disciplinary jargon, other people must can understand it as well
- one article should present only one idea/argument (not two or three)
- cite only literature, which is used and is necessary for the argument (not too much)
- not too much quotes, even if they are exiting, and any quote has to be interpreted
- the exiting argument should not be presented at the end of the article
How to choose the right journal?
- consider the covered region
- consider the covered disciplines
- consider the general focus
- consider the to publish in a disciplinary journal, not an African Studies journal
- consider the turnover time between submission and publishing
Some examples (with links to their guidelines for authors):
- African Affairs: focus on contemporary Africa, political events; ASA UK
- Africa (IAI): all regions and disciplines covered; articles need a broad “ethnographic approach”, with experience on the ground, must affect people; have a new strand publishing articles from ‘African local intellectuals’
- Africa Spectrum: Open Access; focus on social sciences, but all disciplines are covered
- Afrika Focus: Open Access; multidisciplinary; special issues; promote young African scholars; have also reports
- The Journal of African History: eminent on all periods of history
- Critical African Studies: online only; no regional or disciplinary boundaries; keen on critical debate and theoretical innovations
- Journal of Modern African Studies: bias to politics
- Journal of Southern African Studies: boundaries of “Southern Africa” are flexible; 4 issues with 11-15 articles (big); less keen on economics; each paper is discussed with the advisory board; sponsors conferences
- Nordic Journal of African Studies: Open Access, purely online; focus on language; will have a new editorial board soon
- Politique Africaine: focus on the contemporary Africa and sociopolitical studies from below; mainly in French but also in English; has many special issues
- Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE): interdisciplinary, focus on radical perspectives/materialist analysis/struggles from below
African Studies Journals – Journals in Africa:
At ECAS 4, 2011, some further papers dealt with African journals, e.g. in Panel 145 “African Studies on the Web“:
- “Challenges of Broadening Access to Scholarly E-resources in Africa – The JSTOR Example” by Siro Masinde, Toja Okoh, Rahim Rajan (Full Paper); JSTOR has 42 Journals on African Studies, the African Access Initiative and wants to include more journals from Africa in the future; and it want to improve JSTOR for low-bandwidth environments
- “AJOL: Using the Bridge” by Susan Murray (Abstract), AJOL has 407 peer-reviewed titles from 30 African countries; 2/3 are not online elsewhere, ¼ is OA
Round Table 4 on ‘Decolonizing African Studies: An Agenda for Future Collaboration’, organised by AEGIS, also dealt with the role of global publishers and the hierarchy of knowledge:
- The journal rating system should be changed, at least African institutions should be involved in the design of the system.
- Ton Dietz, Leiden, urged all to cite African scholars and he suggests that we need a few heroes who publish in the well-known disciplinary journals, not only in African Studies journals.
- Judith Byfield, for the African Studies Association of the US reported on their journal “African Studies Review”, which they did not gave it to the publishers to keep control.
Finally, see the list of African Studies Journals at ilissAfrica.