American Sociological Association

COP 2014 08 (Aug) Minutes

Minutes from the Committee on Publications Meeting

August 17, 2014

Hilton Union Square, San Francisco


Elected members present were Jennifer Barber, Erin Kelly (Chair), Cecilia Ridgeway (Past ASA President), Mary Romero (ASA Secretary), Vincent Roscigno, Steven Vallas, and Amy Wharton. Incoming elected members Kathleen Blee and Douglas Hartmann also attended as observers.

Editors present for the open session were Lee Clarke (Rose Series), Gilbert Gee (Journal of Health and Social Behavior), Neil Gross (Sociological Theory), Karen Hegtvedt (Social Psychology Quarterly), Larry Isaac (American Sociological Review), Tim Futing Liao (Sociological Methodology), Kathleen Lowney (Teaching Sociology), Holly J. McCammon (American Sociological Review), and Rob Warren (Sociology of Education). Incoming editors Syed Ali (Contexts), Michael Sauder (Contemporary Sociology), Richard Serpe (Social Psychology Quarterly), Jan Stets (Social Psychology Quarterly), and Stephen Sweet (Teaching Sociology) attended as observers.

Present from the Executive Office were Sally T. Hillsman (Executive Officer), Karen Gray Edwards (Director of Publications and Membership), and Janine Chiappa McKenna (Journals and Publications Manager). Thomas Mankowski and Eric Moran from SAGE were also present.

The meeting convened at 8:30 a.m., and introductions were made.

Report from the Chair

Kelly thanked the Committee and ASA Executive Office staff for their hard work. She also thanked the outgoing editors for their efforts.

Kelly reported that City & Community is seeking a new editor and has issued a call for editor applications because the current editor is unable to continue her term as expected. The Section is responsible for the search, but it needs to provide a state of the journal report to the Committee before formally making the editor appointment.

Report from the Executive Officer

The Executive Officer's report began with a reminder to the Committee that certain processes are confidential (e.g., discussions of individuals). Hillsman provided the Committee with an overview of the core dimensions of the SAGE publishing contract renewal. Edwards further provided specifics on the contract points—more flexibility in small page increase requests (particularly regarding pricing); an increase in the income guarantee; and a signing bonus. Also, SAGE will co-host (with ASA) a reception for editors at the Annual Meeting as a way to thank the editors and publicly recognize their hard work. Vallas questioned the terms of contract, notably regarding possibly increasing publications staff in the Executive Office and thinks the Committee should weigh in on how the increased revenue from the contract will be used.

Hillsman discussed long-range planning for the ASA Publications Portfolio, based on a request that ASA Council made to the Committee on Publications, asking that once a year the Committee review the ASA Publications Portfolio and determine if the Portfolio is currently meeting the Association's needs. Hillsman then provided an overview of the previous day’s meeting with the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) and its request to the Committee on Publications to consider publications-related updates to the Code of Ethics, including adding information on self-plagiarizing. COPE will write an article in Footnotes to announce that the process is underway. However, the revised language will go through several stages (e.g., ASA Council, membership vote) so the revision will not happen quickly.

Kelly asked for editors’ thoughts on self-plagiarism and if they felt they had appropriate guidance. She then provided an overview of Liao’s request to update the Code to include rules on self-plagiarism from December 2013. McCammon suggested that editors discuss the way they search for plagiarism on submissions; she also noted that working papers are not disqualified from submitting if the papers have not been peer reviewed. Hillsman discussed the Committee’s decision to allow non-peer-reviewed working papers to be posted online. McCammon explained to the Committee how she and Isaac, as the editors of the American Sociological Review, search for plagiarism—they initially search for author(s) online and occasionally use plagiarism software to search; ad hoc reviewers will sometimes point out that they think the article contains plagiarism (sometimes it is of the reviewer’s own work) and the editors will investigate. Warren said that questions of plagiarism coming from reviewers are the primary way he has discovered plagiarism. The Committee discussed young authors usually being the main culprits of plagiarism due to a lack of experience and suggested ways that editors could provide guidance instead of making a formal complaint with COPE.

Report from Secretary

Romero thanked the Committee for their memo to the Executive Office and Budget Committee expressing concerns about the move toward standardization of editorial office expenses. She pointed out that all editors have different circumstances and levels of institutional funding are different. EOB reviewed its previous discussion over the set budget guidelines and wanted the Committee to know that sometimes unexpected financial needs come up after editors take office and new editors should feel that they can make requests if needed. It also decided that public recognition of editors is needed (the aforementioned reception).

Hillsman pointed out that editors should feel comfortable at any point to approach the Executive Office and make requests for additional needed resources. The concern is potential editor applicants who feel that the ASA cannot provide enough support for an editorial office at a particular institution.

Ridgeway noted that ASA and the Committee need to get the word out to editors that the support is there if the editors ask. Edwards said that some potential applicants think ASA provide no support and some potential applicants think there is more support than ASA could possibly provide. Hartmann said there should be more information available about ASA providing some support as the call for editors currently reads as if no financial support is available. The Committee proposed an article in Footnotesabout applying to be an editor, written jointly by the Committee chair and Executive Office staff. Editors discussed their own experiences with staffing and funding.

Report from SAGE

Mankowski discussed SAGE's 2014 report on ASA's journals, including the Impact Factors for each title, most notably the American Sociological Review, which ranked first in sociology. He also provided a report on what SAGE is doing regarding social media, particularly article-level promotion through Twitter and LinkedIn. This will allow SAGE to provide article-level detail on ASA journals, including podcast usage for each article. Mankowski also discussed compiling recommended reading lists for each of the journals (e.g., a compilation of articles on race or gender from one specific journal) to be used in classrooms.

Edwards and Hillsman discussed the new in 2015 member benefit, which will provide online access to all journals to members as part of membership (in addition to subscribing to one print journal included in member dues).

Open Access Journal Applications

Edwards provided the background of ASA’s decision to create a new open access (OA) journal, including that it will be part of the partnership with SAGE. (For previous Committee on Publications discussion on the OA journal proposal, click here.) Vallas, chair of the editor selection subcommittee, shared the subcommittee’s thoughts on the editor applications for the OA journal. He noted that any incoming editor will need to be aware of the challenges (e.g., timeliness, cleanly written articles despite the lack of length restrictions) this type of publication could have.

The Committee discussed the editor applicants in detail and created a preliminary ranked list. They moved on to discuss the typical publication rate for new OA journals (often no more than one article the first month, two or three in subsequent months). It was noted that funding was a concern for several possible applicants.

2016 Open Editorship Invitations

The Committee submitted names for individuals who should receive invitations to apply for the editorships of American Sociological Review (ASR), Sociological Methodology (SM), and Sociological Theory (ST). They also created a subcommittee for each journal. The ASR subcommittee is Roscigno (chair), Wharton, Romero, and Isaac and McCammon (who will vote as one). The SM subcommittee is Kelly (chair), Lareau, and Liao; the ST subcommittee is Blee (chair), Hartmann, and Gross.

Update on Editorial Office Files Archive

Hillsman provided an update to the Committee on the status of the editorial office archival boxes being stored offsite. ASA submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) requesting $300,000 to have the files digitized and transform the content of the boxes into a research archive. The process is not just about digitizing the materials; it also includes obtaining contact information for authors and reviewers and getting their permission to include their materials in the archive. Once both steps are complete, the materials will be turned into an ASA-owned research database.

The two processes will go forward simultaneously—the digitization will occur while obtaining permission from authors and reviewers. The database will just be searchable files; researchers will need to obtain their own grants to analyze the data in the raw files. It is still unclear if NSF will fund this project.

The Committee then moved to a discussion as to why ASA Council changed its decision from destroying the materials to obtaining permission, saving them, and creating the archive. (For information on ASA Council’s decision to retain the materials, click here.)

Report from Subcommittee on Future Policy for Using Manuscript Files for Research

Roscigno provided an update on the subcommittee’s work. Cerulo and Hillsman created a draft survey and then Kelly, Roscigno, and Gross edited and condensed the survey. The subcommittee emailed the survey to the full Committee and requested Committee members send their feedback after the meeting. The survey could be incorporated into SAGEtrack and then either an author or reviewer could either opt-in or opt-out within a certain time period; the opt-outs would create dummy files instead of providing the actual reviews.

Long-range Planning for ASA Journals

ASA Council requested (at EOB’s urging) that the Committee dedicate time once a year to discuss the ASA Publications Portfolio. Romero provided background on this request: the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities proposed a journal and EOB thought the Committee should be thinking of ASA journals that could fill voids before other groups or sections propose them.

The Committee discussed the current journal offerings. It was noted that there are already a variety of journals being published and as a result editors have difficulty obtaining institutional support. Race and ethnicity; race, class and gender; and gender itself are all areas that could use ASA journals. Ridgeway pointed out that if a section has a journal it bears the costs of the journal and it was noted that the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities might have preferred to have the journal as an ASA journal so that any ASA member could subscribe not just Section members.

Committee members noted that they’re reviewing more now for more journals and are reluctant to take the time to review so adding even more journals and pages is adding more of a burden to reviewers’ workloads. The possibility of ASR adding sections to the journal and adding more pages to existing journals were also considered as ways of expanding the content of current ASA journals. Also, the forthcoming OA journal may add some new possibilities.

The Committee moved on to a discussion about OA mandates and how these affect publishers (and where the ASA fits in with that). Moran provided overview of OA mandates—it started with the Royal College of the United Kingdom, which provided funds to universities and authors, and then required that the research be published openly. The U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy followed suit, saying that anything published using federal funds needs to be open within a year after publication. However, this does not have to be the published paper; it can be the final accepted manuscript. Gee discussed the University of California’s new policy, which requires that the final accepted paper (not the published version) be posted online.

Contexts’s Future

Ali discussed the plans he and co-editor Philip Cohen have for Contexts as the new editors. They would like to open up the archives materials entirely and then create sections of article compilations (e.g., gender, sexualities) that could be used for teaching classes. They also would like to consider putting recent features under a paywall except for one article per issue, but would need to figure out how that will affect the current subscription numbers.

Social Media Subcommittee Report

Vallas, as chair of the subcommittee, provided background on the report: The subcommittee recommends that an ASA staff position focusing solely on social media be created. This person would provide training and support to editors on social media and work with editors to develop protocols on social media. He or she would need to have familiarity with copyright and permissions and would be able to gather information on the effectiveness of ASA’s social media efforts.

The Committee discussed aligning and unifying all of ASA’s social media efforts in one central location rather than each editorial office doing its own social media.

The primary responsibilities of the role as proposed by the subcommittee are as follows:


  1. Provide both training and direct support to editors of ASA journals as they seek to use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, Reddit, etc.) for the promotion of their journals;
  2. Work with editors to develop protocols and new techniques for use of such social media;
  3. Promote as many pieces of sociological research as possible using social media
  4. Research and provide info on copyright and legal issues regarding social media, helping popularize sociological work without running afoul of intellectual property concerns;
  5. Gather info on effectiveness of editors’ social media strategies.

Edwards noted that such a position would not necessarily be limited to social media for the journals—the Annual Meeting, ASA research, and other initiatives could be included as well. The Committee also discussed that if the position is not needed at ASA the individual in that role could be repurposed in another position within the Executive Office.

Editors were asked about what parts of the role would be best for them. There was support for the role as long as it is clearly defined in what the person would do. The goal should be to push the mission of the Association as well as the journals. They want someone who can help conceptualize their goals for the journals. 

The Committee members discussed hiring a consultant to establish the social media program and then either let the editors take over or hire a staff member to manage the established program. However, a full-time staff person would provide continuity between editorial transitions.

Section on Political Economy of the World-System Proposal

Edwards provided an introduction. During the discussions with SAGE on the renewal of the journal publishing contract SAGE offered to provide without charge support for the Section on Political Economy of the World-System’s journal, the Journal of World-Systems Research (JWSR). This support included providing a SAGEtrack site for the journal’s submissions and peer review process and hosting its published content open access on the HighWire platform.

The Section instead proposed developing a separate manuscript submission and review website, moving its content to a server at the University of Pittsburgh (the current editor’s institution), and changing from a copyright transfer to Creative Commons licensing. The concern with what SAGE is offering is that the Section and editor do not want the journal associated with a for-profit institution. It was noted that the journal is an ASA journal, not a SAGE journal.

The Committee did not have any concerns about the journal moving from standard copyright to a Creative Commons license but felt moving the journal’s content to the same platform as the other ASA journals was beneficial to JWSR. The SAGE offerings are also free whereas the hosting and manuscript tracking software at the University of Pittsburgh would have a fee (currently $1000 a year).

Ridgeway proposed tabling the issue until the Committee’s December 2014 meeting and have a discussion with the editors before December to clarify the information.

Author Guidelines Changes

The editors of Sociology of Education and Teaching Sociology made minor edits to the instructions to authors. The guidelines are not different from previous versions; they have just presented the information differently in an effort to clarify information that is in previous versions. These updates also emphasize information authors often overlook.

Review of Journal Submission Data

The Committee conducted its annual review of journal submission data, including number of articles published and pages used during the previous year. Warren discussed the higher than usual acceptance rate of Sociology of Education, stating he had an increase in submissions and there was not much of a backlog when he took over as editor in late 2013. Gross mentioned that Sociological Theory had higher submissions than usual in 2013 as well.

Request for additional pages in Social Psychology Quarterly: Hegtvedt provided details on the proposal, which outlines why the journal needs a permanent increase of 30 additional pages (from 390 to 420) after having a temporary 30-page increase for two years. The incoming editors, Serpe and Stets, elaborated on Hegtvedt’s points, stating that they will inherit a substantial backlog from the outgoing editor.

Policy on Editors Submitting in Their Own Journals

Kelly provided the Committee with the background: sometimes incoming editors have articles they have authored under review or accepted in the journal they now edit. Editors noted that there have been instances in the past where an editor publishes an article he or she authored with the issue including a note that the paper was accepted prior to the author becoming editor.

The Committee discussed how this can be addressed and determined that editor applicants should be directed to not submit while their editorship applications are under review. Also, the deputy editor could be the decision editor in the cases where the article is already under review and the issue could include a note that the decision was made by the deputy editor when the article is published.

The Committee further discussed that there should be a policy on a timeline about submitting and determined that applicants should refrain from submitting from January 1 until the appointment of the new editor is made and announced. Anything in the pipeline once the editor has been announced needs to be moved to an independent deputy editor for all subsequent decisions, assigned by current outgoing editor.

ICPSR Data Transparency and Access

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is seeking an endorsement from ASA of its proposal to make authors’ routine data and code available as part of a drive for transparency; the data can also be used by reviewers who want to recreate the analysis.

The Committee discussed at length the last three bullet points of the request:

A scholarly publication that is successful in carrying out the above recommendations:

  • Maintains a consistent data citation policy that locates data citations with other references and provides authors, title, date, version, and a persistent identifier;
  • Ensures that style guides, codes of ethics, publication manuals, and other forms of guidance are updated and expanded to include data citation and access recommendations; and
  • When external restrictions limit access to data:
    • The editor is notified by the author at submission about restrictions on availability;
    • Limitations on data availability are explicitly acknowledged in the publication;
    • Other replication materials, such as code, are still shared; and
    • Instructions are provided on how the data can be obtained under the least restrictive terms.


The Committee was reminded that the ASA Code of Ethics includes access to data as a principle within the Code. The negatives of the data-sharing proposal were also discussed, such as how the author did the data collection work for his or her own use and others replicating the same data may reach different conclusions.

Editors wondered if this proposal was developed by reviewers in an attempt to obtain data that are not available after publication and it was mentioned that a statement could be printed at the end of an article that the author(s) will make the data available upon request, reiterating the ASA Code of Ethics.

Revise and Resubmit Subcommittee Report

Warren, as part of the subcommittee with Barber and Isaac, provided thoughts on what additional information the editors annual report table published in Footnotes and online should provide (e.g., if an author submits an article, he or she should know the chance of the article being accepted). The table should only report information from one calendar year and it is possible that the numbers could be pulled from a SAGEtrack report.

The Committee discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both the old and new versions of the table (such as the data could be misleading to or misread by authors, especially because revisions can span over several years) and the possibility of publishing both tables for a certain number of years.

Proposal to Require Authors to Seek IRB Approval

The Committee moved this item to its December 2014 agenda due to time constraints.

JHSB Moderated Blog Proposal

Gee presented a proposal to have a moderated blog for the Journal of Health and Social Behavior as a way to provide a forum for a conversation about the journal’s findings, especially social media topics. He noted that the journal has a social media presence already (i.e., Facebook and Twitter accounts) and now want to proceed on hosting a moderated blog. The Committee wondered if anonymous comments would be allowed and noted that Gee would have to post guidelines on the blog before going live and allowing comments.

New Business

Liao wanted to discuss the power and authority an editor may have. He had concerns about an author’s tone in a Sociological Methodology (SM) article and when he asked an author to change certain words, the author refused. He wondered if the editor could use his or her authority to go in and change the author’s writing.

Hillsman noted this has happened with other journals in the past and the editor could reject the article, but it is different with SM because the articles are cultivated as a collection and rejecting one could delay the issue. The ASA Code of Ethics does not address civility but COPE will be asked to consider adding it.

Editorial Board Nominations

Due to time constraints, the Committee decided to conduct an e-mail vote to approve editorial board nominations.

Increasing the Size of the Committee

The Committee decided to table the agenda item until its December 2014 meeting.


The Committee voted to:

  • Approve the agenda. Carried unanimously.
  • Recommend to ASA Council to appoint Lisa Keister and James Moody, Duke University, as the inaugural editors of the new unnamed open access journal. Carried unanimously.
  • Appoint subcommittees to review applications for editorships to the American Sociological Review, Sociological Methodology, and Sociological Theory. Carried unanimously.
  • Allow the Journal of World-Systems Research to move to Creative Commons licensing. Carried unanimously.
  • Decline the proposal from the Political Economy of the World System Section to move theJournal of World-Systems Research’s content from its current location to a University of Pittsburgh platform. Carried unanimously. [The Committee subsequently agreed to ask the ASA Executive Office and Budget Committee to consider this piece of the JWSR proposal as an issue more in that Committee’s area of oversight.]
  • Approve changes to the author guidelines for Sociology of Education and Teaching Sociology. Carried unanimously.
  • Recommend to ASA Council that it permanently increase Social Psychology Quarterly’s page allocation from 390 to 420. Carried unanimously.
  • Request that individuals who are applying to be editor of an ASA journal in the fall of a given year refrain from submitting to that journal after December 31 of that year to avoid the potential conflict of having a new editor publish his or her own paper. The Committee also discussed that any submissions by an incoming editor prior to January 1 would need to be reviewed by a deputy editor selected by the outgoing editor. Carried unanimously.
  • Recommend to the ASA Executive Office and Budget Committee that the Executive Office hire a full-time social media position to support the journal editors. Carried unanimously.
  • Approve a proposal from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior to create a moderated blog. Carried unanimously.
  • Approve nominations for new editorial board members. Carried unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m. The Committee will meet again on December 11 and 12, 2014, in Washington, DC.