Minutes from the Committee on Publications Meeting
December 11, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn, Washington, DC
Elected members present were Jennifer Barber (Chair), Kathleen Blee, Douglas Hartmann, Eric Kelly, Annette Lareau (past ASA President), Mary Romero (ASA Secretary), Vincent Roscigno, and Amy Wharton.
Editors present for the open session were Philip Cohen, Lee Clarke, Larry Isaac, Tim Liao, Holly McCammon, Michael Sauder, Richard Serpe, and Jan Stets.
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).
Report of the Chair. Barber made brief introductory comments and thanked Kelly for her service as previous chair. She asked members to read the article Kelly had authored as chair that will appear in the next issue of ASA Footnotes.
Report of the Executive Officer. Hillsman reported that the ASA Executive Office and Budget Committee had recommended that ASA staff and members of the Committee on Publications sign the same conflict of interest statement as other committees with fiscal responsibilities. Hillsman asked the elected members to sign and return their statements.
She provided an update on the new general sociology open-access journal, Socius. Lisa Keister and James Moody have agreed to serve as inaugural editors, and the Executive Office is finalizing the contract with SAGE.
Hillsman also reported that the ASA was working on a redesign of the ASA website and that activities of the ASA Social Media Task Force will help guide some of the decisions around the final design. Lareau provided additional information on the Task Force, which is focused on promoting sociology to the general public; promoting research for all journals, not just those published by ASA; and plans for a pre-conference for next year’s ASA Annual Meeting on social media.
Report of the Secretary. Romero provided an update on the proposal from the ASA section on Political Economy of the World-System (PEWS) to enter into an agreement with the University of Pittsburgh to host their journal (Journal of World Systems Research). ASA has received the draft agreement, but needs clarification on a few issues of concern, so she will have a conference call with the section chair prior to moving forward.
Review of Editor Applications. The Committee asked the subcommittees for the American Sociological Review and Sociological Methodology to present an oral report of their ranking of the applications that have been received for those editorships. This was followed by confidential discussion of the applications.
Proposal to Require Verification that Research Described in Journal Articles Meets Professional Standards. Editor Rob Warren had submitted a proposal to the Committee proposing two steps that would require authors submitting manuscripts to Sociology of Education to verify that the research described in their manuscript has been conducted in accord with professional standards for the protection of human subjects. In Warren’s absence, Barber presented the proposal, which proposed a checkbox be added to the submission process requiring author verification that procedures and protocols have been reviewed and approved by an appropriate ethics committee; and that authors be required to include a short statement about ethics review in their manuscript.
The committee was sympathetic to the vision of the proposal, but some members were concerned about the ability of some authors (particularly those who are not required to have an IRB, those at institutions without an IRB, foreign authors, or others) to meet the requirements called for in the proposal. If ASA were to develop such a policy, it shouldn’t apply to a single journal, but would need to apply to all ASA journals.
This is also related to what the ASA Code of Ethics expects from members, although not all ASA authors are members.
The Committee declined to approve the proposal but established a subcommittee to consider policies on ethics related to research in journal articles.
Contexts Reader on Gender, Sexuality, and Intimacy. Outgoing editors Jodi O’Brien and Arlene Stein submitted a proposal to publish a reader with SAGE using Contexts content on gender and sexuality. In the past, at the end of the last two Contexts editorships, ASA has partnered with W.W. Norton for a comprehensive Contexts reader, but because the current editors have served a relatively short term, they do not feel the time is right for another comprehensive reader. They are interested, however, in doing a reader in a specific topic area; they believe if this is successful, others topic-area readers could be considered by ASA.
While the Committee was enthusiastic about the concept, the members had some concerns about the financial model in the O’Brien-Stein proposal, which calls for a share of royalties to be paid to them as editors. The current editor contract does not allow for personal financial gain from work done as an ASA editor. The previous Norton readers provided only a stipend for student assistance, and all royalties were paid to the ASA for support of the magazine.
CUSS State of the Journal Report for City & Community. The ASA Guidelines on the Publications Portfolio requires that a report be provided to the Publications Committee by the section on the state of its journal prior to the selection of a new editor of its journal. The Community and Urban Sociology Section (CUSS) has provided the required report for the Committee’s consideration and identified its selection as the new editor of City & Community.
Proposal for Two Special Issues for Teaching Sociology (TS). New editor Stephen Sweet presented a proposal to the Committee for two special issues—one in 2016 on “Teaching Sociology in the Community College Context” and one in 2017 on “Incorporating Globalization in the Sociology Curriculum.” These issues will be regularly scheduled issues and will not require additional pages beyond the current approved page allocation.
Requiring Anonymous Vision Statements from ASA Editor Candidates. This year was the final year in a three-year experiment approved by the committee and ASA Council in which candidates for ASA editorships have been asked to prepare a vision statement as part of their confidential application packet to the Committee and also an anonymous version for posting online for member comment. Edwards reported that there has been very little meaningful feedback from members on these vision statements, and these posted statements create problems when there are few applications—or only one-- application at the formal submission deadline. It does not allow the Committee to continue to solicit additional applications for the month before the December decision meeting. Posting a single vision statement (and then appointing the editor) in effect makes public both the lack of applicants and also that the person appointed was selected “by default” even if that person is highly qualified.
Discussion of the ASA Publications Portfolio. The Committee is required by Council to review and discuss the portfolio of ASA journals on an annual basis. Romero, as ASA Secretary and a member of Council proposed a subcommittee to determine which significant areas are not represented by the current stable of ASA journals (e.g., culture, gender).
It was discussed that this subcommittee could also develop guidelines addressing the implications of the growing number of section journals on ASA staff time. Although section journals are now nearly a third of the overall journal portfolio of the Association, no revenue is received from these publications for the Association’s operating budget.
A second subcommittee was appointed to consider a regular ASA journal review schedule and process.
Proposal for the Future of Contexts. Within a few weeks of the December 2014 meeting, the contract with SAGE for publishing Contexts will be automatically renewed for five years. NewContexts editors Ali and Cohen submitted a proposal to the Committee that asks the Association to extend the contract by one year rather than to have a longer renewal in order that they might present a new model for the journal. The one-year renewal request is because they do not know whether SAGE would be the best publisher under their emerging vision for the magazine. In order to design a dynamic website with fresh content on a regular basis, the “rules” that are inherent in the current contract (which ASA agreed to in order to ensure adequate funding from SAGE to support the editorial office and cover the costs of publication) would need to be changed. The editors would like the opportunity to work on a new model that might serve as the basis for a RFP for a different type of publishing structure.
Proposal from the Revise and Resubmit Subcommittee. The subcommittee (chaired by Rob Warren) was charged with revising the content of the current table in the annual editors’ report to provide information that would help authors better understand the chances of a manuscript being accepted, whether it is new or revised. In addition, the revised table should provide information on the editorial lag (time from submission to decision) for both types of manuscripts (new and revised).
The proposed table would be completed later in the year (June instead of March) to ensure, as much as possible, that all manuscripts submitted in the prior calendar year have received final decisions.
Plagiarism in ASA Journal Manuscripts. Stets, new editor of Social Psychology Quarterly, discovered that a manuscript submitted to her journal had already appeared in an edited book. Although ASA guidelines (and a check box required at submission) state that ASA journals publish only originalarticles, she is concerned that it is probably too easy for manuscripts such as the one she received to “slip through” and be published in an ASA journal.
The Committee discussed whether submission requirement should be clearer or whether editors should have access to plagiarism software even though such software is very expensive. Most instances of plagiarism are self-plagiarism, where authors publish multiple articles on the same research often using the same text and tables. The review process is usually rigorous enough to identify other instances of plagiarism which are nearly always by a junior scholar.
ASA Style Guide: Issue Numbers in Journal Citations. The Committee discussed a proposal from the new Socius editors Keister and Moody to allow for editorial discretion in the use of issue numbers in journal citations. The current ASA Style Guide recommends their use and ASA has asked editors to adhere to that recommendation. After a brief discussion, the Committee agreed to give editors flexibility in deciding whether to use issue numbers as long as there was consistency across each editor's journal.
Request for 50 Additional Pages for Contemporary Sociology. Incoming editor Sauder submitted a proposal for 50 additional pages in 2015 to alleviate a higher than expected backlog of reviews accepted by the current editor.
Member Survey on Archiving Journal Manuscripts and Reviews. Roscigno provided a brief background of the rationale for the survey, which is to determine (1) whether asking for permission to retain rejected manuscripts and reviews would affect people’s willingness to submit and review; and (2) whether ASA should modify its policy on archiving manuscripts and reviews in the future.
A draft of the final survey was distributed to the Committee for feedback. If approved, the survey will be submitted to the ASA research department for implementation.
Increasing the Number of Members of the Committee on Publications. The Committee discussed a suggestion from ASA Council to increase the number of members of the Committee (from six elected members to nine, plus the current ASA Past President and Secretary). The Committee size has not increased since the ASA published only a few journals. Now that there are 10 ASA journals (and four section journals), it has become difficult to provide adequate oversight and subcommittee membership with only six elected members.
Prior to moving into Executive Session for voting, Hillsman reported that Janine Chiappa McKenna, who had served as ASA’s publications manager for six years, was leaving ASA for a new position. The Committee voted to formally note their appreciation of her contributions to the Committee and ASA, and to wish her good luck in her future endeavors.
Executive Session/Committee Actions. The Committee voted to:
- Recommend to Council new editors of the American Sociological Review and Sociological Methodology. The Committee recommended the new editor of Sociological Theory following the meeting. ASA Council subsequently appointed the following editors:
- American Sociological Review: Omar Lizardo, Rory McVeigh, and Sarah Mustillo (Notre Dame)
- Sociological Methodology: Duane Alwin (Penn State)
- Sociological Theory: Mustafa Emirbayer (Wisconsin-Madison)
- Decline a proposal to require authors to provide information about IRB approval as part of the manuscript submission process.
- Establish a subcommittee (Blee—chair, Lareau, Roscigno) to consider policy on ethics related to research in journal articles.
- Approve a proposal from the outgoing editors of Contexts to proceed with a reader of Contexts articles on gender and sexuality, pending modifications in the financial structure for payment of royalties.
- Approve a proposal from the incoming editor of Teaching Sociology for two special issues, one on “Teaching Sociology in the Community College Context” in 2016 and one on “Incorporating Globalization in the Sociology Curriculum” in 2017.
- Propose Council not continue the three-year experiment of asking anonymous vision statements from editor candidates to be posted online for ASA member input.
- Establish a subcommittee (Romero—chair, Kelly, and Wharton) to review the current Guidelines on the ASA Publications Portfolio, including consideration of the financial structure of section journals, international submissions, and how to consider gaps in the current stable of ASA journals.
- Establish a subcommittee (Hartmann—chair, Roscigno, and Serpe) to develop guidelines for the Committee on Publications to routinely review ASA journals on a periodic basis.
- Accept the City & Community “state of the journal” report from the ASA Section on Community and Urban Sociology so that the section can move forward with its selection of new co-editors Lance Freeman and Sudhir Venkatesh (Columbia).
- Request a one-year extension of the current contract with SAGE Publications to publish Contexts, to provide the incoming editors with the opportunity to propose alternative publication models (both print and online) for the Publications Committee to consider.
- Ask ASA editors to prepare both the current annual summary table of journal activity and also the new proposed table for the 2014 calendar year so that the Committee can consider whether the new table should become the standard for reporting in 2015 and beyond.
- Allow ASA editors flexibility in including issue numbers in journal citations so long as the method is consistent across all citations in each journal.
- Recommend EOB and Council approve 50 additional pages for Contemporary Sociology in 2015 in order to help clear the transition backlog from the previous editor.
- Approve the proposed survey of ASA members on changing the archive policy of manuscripts and reviews.
- Recommend EOB and Council approve increasing the number of members of the Committee on Publications elected by the ASA voting membership from six to nine.
- Approve offering the current editors of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and Sociology of Education an extension of up to two additional years (through 2018).
- Approve nominations for new editorial board members.
- Approve the August 2014 meeting minutes.
The meeting adjourned at 5:45 p.m.