American Journal of Political Science

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AJPS 63: 3 – July 2019

Blogs:

Author Summaries

Editor’s Blog


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The American Journal of Political Science will take a brief hiatus from Monday, December 23rd to Monday, January 13th. During this time, we won’t accept new or revised manuscripts. But you’ll still be able to submit reviews and we will continue to make decisions during this short break.

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By AJPS Co-Editors Kathy Dolan and Jennifer Lawless
December 1st marked our first six months as co-editors of AJPS. We want to thank our associate editors, board members, authors, and reviewers for a very smooth transition. Now that we have some experience under our belts, we thought we’d offer some thoughts about several topics that might be helpful to reviewers and authors alike. So, on occasional Tuesdays, we’ll post a short entry about some aspect of the journal submission, review, or publication process that we’ve had to address over the course of the last six months. While these issues are probably relevant to most journals, we only speak for ourselves and our expectations for AJPS.

Appendices, Supporting Information, Supplemental Materials, You Get the Picture

In the old days – like the early 2000s – most articles appeared exclusively in print. Authors struggled with word counts because submissions had to include all relevant material, including appendices. Online supplemental appendices now allow authors to focus the body of the text on telling the main story. Details about survey questions, experimental treatments, alternative model specifications, robustness checks, and additional analyses can be relegated to the appendix. The upside is that articles themselves can be shorter, crisper, and more straightforward, but readers can still find clarifying information in the appendix. The downside is that some authors have taken a “more is better” and “better safe than sorry” approach to appendix compilations. In our six months on the job, we have received 10,000-word manuscripts that are “supported” by 50, 75, even 100-page appendices. Most appendices aren’t this long, but almost every manuscript now comes with significant supplemental materials.

We understand why authors do this. Why not preempt any concern a reviewer might raise, provide every alternative specification possible to model, and share every detail about the research design and protocol? The problem is that while appendix space may seem “free” to authors, it comes with a substantial cost to reviewers, who are now often faced with a 10,000-word manuscript and an equally long or longer appendix. Anything that increases the burden on reviewers makes an overworked system even more precarious.

At AJPS, we limit supplemental appendices to 20 pages. We believe that this gives authors sufficient space to provide additional information that might not belong in the body of a manuscript but is still important to the paper’s central contribution. In enforcing this limit, we ask authors to think carefully about what they really need to include in an appendix verbatim versus what they can summarize. If you run three experiments with identical treatments, you only need to offer the script of the treatment once. If you’re providing alternative analyses, you don’t have to provide every model you ever ran or think a reviewer might anticipate. If the additional material doesn’t merit some discussion in the main paper, then the more elaborate discussion doesn’t belong in the appendix either. As a general rule, we believe that a manuscript must be able to stand on its own. A reader must be able to understand it and find it convincing even without the appendix. The appendix, in other words, should be a place to provide information about “housekeeping” details, not a way to back door in thousands of words you couldn’t fit in the paper itself.

We know that limiting appendix pages can be anxiety-inducing for authors. That’s probably why so many of you request exemptions. But we’ve found that requiring authors to distinguish between what’s essential and what might be extraneous improves the quality of the manuscript and makes the task of reviewing that much easier and more reasonable – something every author appreciates when wearing the hat of a reviewer.


The New AJPS Editorial Team Starts Today! He
re Are Our Four Central Goals

By AJPS Co-Editors Kathy Dolan and Jennifer Lawless
June 3, 2019 – Today marks the day! The new editorial team at AJPS is up and running. We’re honored to serve the discipline this way and we’re excited about what the next four years have in store. Before anything else, we want to introduce the new team:

Co-Editors-in-Chief:

Kathleen Dolan, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Jennifer Lawless, University of Virginia

Associate Editors:
Elizabeth Cohen, Syracuse University
Rose McDermott, Brown University
Graeme Robertson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jonathan Woon, University of Pittsburgh


You can take a look at the new Editorial Board here. We are thrilled that such an impressive, well-rounded, diverse group of scholars agreed to serve.


Over the course of the coming days and weeks, we’ll use this blog to call your attention to new policies and procedures. (Don’t worry – for the most part, processes won’t change!) But we want to take a few minutes now to highlight four central goals for our term.


STABILITY:
 AJPS has undergone a lot of transitions in a short period of time. And we’re grateful to the interim team for stepping up on short notice last year and working tirelessly to ensure that the journal would continue to thrive. But now we’ve got a permanent team in place for the next four years and are eager to provide the stability the journal needs.


TRANSPARENCY
: We’re committed to managing a process that maintains transparency and academic rigor. We will accomplish this, in part, by maintaining the current system of data verification and the professional and personal conflict of interest policy. We will also require authors of work based on human subjects to confirm institutional IRB approval of their projects at the time a manuscript is submitted for consideration. And we’ll be vigilant about ensuring that authors are authorized to use – at the time of submission – all data included in their manuscripts.


DIVERSITY:
 As scholars of gender politics, we are well aware of the ways in which top journals do not always represent the diversity of a discipline. In putting together our team of Associate Editors and our Editorial Board, we have intentionally worked to represent race, sex, subfield, rank, institutional, and methodological diversity. It is our hope that the presence and work of these leaders sends a message to the discipline that we value all work and the work of all.  We want to be as clear as possible, though, that our plan to diversify the works and the scholars represented in the journal in no way compromises our commitment to identifying and publishing the best political science research. Indeed, we believe that attempts at diversification will actually increase the odds of identifying the best and most creative work.


OPEN COMMUNICATION
: The journal’s success is contingent on the editorial team, authors, reviewers, and the user-community working together. In that vein, we value open communication. Undoubtedly, you won’t love everything we do. Maybe you’ll be upset, disappointed, or troubled by a decision we make. Perhaps you’ll disagree with a new policy or procedure. Please contact us and let us know. We can likely address any concerns better through direct communication than by discerning what you mean in an angry tweet. We get that those tweets will still happen. But we hope you’ll feel comfortable contacting us directly before your blood begins to boil.


Before we sign off, we want to let you know that we’re aware that, for some people, earlier frustration with the MPSA had bled over into AJPS. We ask for your continued support and patience as the new MPSA leadership addresses issues of concern and seeks to rebuild your trust. We ask that you not take your frustrations out on the journal by refusing to submit or review. A journal can only function if the community is invested in it.


Thanks in advance for tolerating the transition bumps and bruises that are sure to occur. We’ll try to minimize them; we promise.

Kathy and Jen

 

The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.