It’s a week of exciting developments here at Cerae, as we’re now accepting submissions for volume 6. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with papers on the fascinating theme of Landscapes and everything that that can mean!
Even while we are busy working on volume 5, we are thinking ahead to volume 6, and it would be amazing if you would join us! Some of our brilliant editorial team are moving on and some of us are eager for a new challenge within Cerae. This means that there are opportunities for eager new committee members. Please see the advert below for details and don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
While we are run by a crack team of PhD and ECR volunteers, Cerae endeavours to operate in the same way as any established academic journal. We are committed to disseminating Open Access research, and we are also committed to ensuring that it is of the highest quality, subject to rigorous peer review. So, this is how an online, Open Access academic journal comes to be…
Call for Papers
The committee will decide on a theme for the next volume of the journal. Not all submissions must be themed, but we aim to include themed content in order to provide coherence for the volume. Themes usually coincide with wider academic trends in the field, to keep them relevant and current – we may base the theme on that of one of the big congresses, or on a particular movement that is gaining ground in medieval and renaissance studies, such as ecocriticism. Once the theme is decided, we will draft a CfP and publicise it through email lists and social media.
Submissions and Peer Review
Over the next few months, the submissions start coming in. The editor will organise these and find peer reviewers for each paper. Each paper is reviewed by two separate, independent anonymous academics. They check facts, make sure there is a clear argument, suggest improvements, and recommend the paper to be published or rejected. These reviews are passed to the author, who then has time to make the suggested changes.
At the same time, the book reviews editor is busy! They compile a list of newly published, relevant books and send a call for reviewers. They then request these books from the publisher, who usually sends them directly to the reviewer, who reads the book and writes their review! The book reviews editor gathers these reviews and copy-edits them ready for publication.
Once all the papers have been peer reviewed and re-submitted, the copy-editing process begins. If an author has not sufficiently improved their paper based on the peer reviewers’ reports, it might still be rejected from the journal at this stage. The editor oversees the copy-editing process and brings all the papers together to form a coherent whole. While each individual paper has its merits, it is also important that the contributions form a dialogue within the volume. This fine balance is down to the editor!
As a committee, we also decide to whom the prizes for the volume are awarded. For volume 5, we are pleased to be offering two prizes: one for the best graduate essay, sponsored by the University of Western Australia Graduate Research School, and one for the best themed essay.
Cerae is an online journal, so we don’t have to worry about binding and print runs, but we do have to make sure that everything is working on our site and the host site. The journal is hosted by Open Journal Systems, so anyone accessing a paper will be redirected to their site. Our web editor maintains our connection to the host site and the main Cerae site, which also houses the blog. The articles can be read online or downloaded for free. Cerae has an e-ISSN that identifies the journal as an ISBN would for a print book.
Once the journal is published, we want you to read it! Links are sent to the authors so that they can disseminate their work, and we publicise each volume on social media and through listservs. As no subscription is needed, we aren’t always listed on university library databases, but we can be found via Copac and other databases. Word of mouth and reputation are integral to a growing journal.
They are a number of other roles in the committee, such as the Fundraising Officer and the Secretary, who are indispensable to the smooth running of the journal. Our extended committee also do important work in editing and publicising Cerae.
And that, in a nutshell, is how we bring each volume of Cerae journal to the academic community.
Cerae are pleased to announce the winner of our volume four essay prize. This prize was awarded to an article submitted under our volume four theme of Influence and Appropriation. We published two articles related to this theme, and it was a very hard decision as to whom the prize should be awarded, as both articles were of excellent quality and hugely interesting. The committee have decided to award this year’s prize to Jocelyn Hargrave for her article ‘Aphra Behn: Cultural Translator and Editorial Intermediary.’
Jocelyn’s article, which draws on her PhD research on the evolution of editorial practice in early modern England, struck a particular chord with the committee as editors ourselves. It was interesting to draw parallels between modern editorial practices and those of one of our predecessors in the historical periods that we research.
Please join us in congratulating Jocelyn. As with all research published by Cerae, as an Open Access academic journal, her winning article is available to download for free by any interested party, so do go and have a read!
Technology is changing academia. The knowledge and research that has traditionally been written down in great bound volumes is becoming available as ebooks and online journals, and the models for disseminating this knowledge and research are changing. Journals now offer institution membership for online access, and researchers can buy access to specific articles. Alongside these paywall models, open access models are gaining traction. Open access publishing is the term applied to scholarly research that is freely available rather than sequestered behind paywalls and subscriptions. Open access articles are rigorously researched and peer-reviewed, producing high quality academic contributions, but they way that they are funded is obviously different to the traditional models. Established journals are beginning to change their structures, but this is creating opportunities for new journals and new models of disseminating scholarly research.
Many open access journals, like Cerae, rely on the voluntary labour of academics, ensuring that the content that we make available for free is of the same high quality as traditionally published articles. The pay-to-access journals rely on this same voluntary labour in many ways – academics do not receive money for published articles or for peer reviewing other scholars’ articles. The established publishing houses obviously have more resources than voluntary organisations, but as the face of academic publishing is changing, so too, hopefully, will this.
There are subject specific open access libraries that are growing in influence and prestige, such as The Open Library of Humanities and The Public Library of Science. Funding bodies, such as the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, have made open access publishing one of the criteria of scholarships and grants, meaning that any research published by a grantholder must be open access. Similarly, all work eligible for REF2021 must be available for free. This gives an indication of how important the open access model is becoming in modern scholarship. With tuition fees escalating and academic posts becoming unbearably competitive, the opportunity to research without necessarily being affiliated with a university can be seen as a positive development.
There are huge benefits to publishing your research in an open access forum. Without paywalls and subscriptions, your work is more accessible, leading to increased citations, greater impact, and opportunities for collaborations that fuel great research. As the open access movement grows, there is more prestige associated with the journals that publish this way – no longer is academia limited to a few established journals with their reputations and big bank balances. The ethos of open access is mutual respect, which is borne out in the fact that academic rigour and the peer review process are proudly maintained.
Beware, however, of the predatory journals that are latching onto the open access hype. You should not be asked to pay for your article to be published. Any journal that asks for financial contributions towards peer review or editorial costs is not to be trusted. You can refer to this helpful list if you are unsure whether a journal is predatory or not.
Cerae is proudly open access, run by excellent PhD and ECR researchers who believe in the importance of bridging gaps, opening opportunities, fostering collaboration, and making knowledge freely available to all.
The weather was amazing, the programme was jam-packed, there were dragons – the 25th Leeds International Medieval Congress was an amazing event! As ever, there were far more panels and events than any one person could possibly attend, which can be a bit overwhelming, but as our previous conference tips post advised, take it at your own pace and don’t put pressure on yourself to attend something in every session, and you’ll be right. Leeds isn’t just about the papers and the roundtables, it’s also about who you bump into in the tea tent and catching up with friends and colleagues over a glass of conference wine. I caught up with old friends and made new ones every day, as I’m sure the other Cerae committee members did, too!
Vanessa, Emma, and Stephanie flew the Cerae flag proudly in our panel at 9am on the Tuesday morning, which took place in the suitably grand Nathan Bodington Chamber in the Parkinson building. It was a great panel that really showcased the quality of scholarship that Cerae journal fosters through open access publishing.
My own Leeds experience was focused on women warriors, castles, and new perspectives on women in romance. I gave a paper on remembering mothers in romance, and chaired a fantastic panel on queer identities in romance. Previously, there hasn’t really been a lot of literature activity at Leeds, and, while I love hearing about history, archaeology and the like, I’m a literary scholar, so the increase in literary panels (four of which I helped to organise!) was most welcome.
There were also roundtables and discussion groups, which fostered a great sense of dialogue between established and up-and-coming academics. I must admit that I flaked on a few of the evening roundtables, going back to my room to recharge before panel dinners and the SMFS banquet, but the ones that I did attend were brilliant. I also attended an interesting but incredibly emotionally draining discussion on sexual harrasment in academia. To read more on this, please see Gabby Storey’s summary of this on twitter. This is an important issue, but by no means the only inequality that we need to tackle in academia.
On a lighter note – dinners! I went to a wonderful dinner at Hansa’s with the organisers and panelists of our New Perspectives on Women in Romance panels. We were all PhDs and ECRs working on romance in various ways, and it was just beautiful to get together and see what other women are researching. The Society of Feminist Medieval Scholarship banquet was another highlight. I can’t sing the praises of Roberta Magnani, who organised the banquet, too highly – she is like an academic fairy godmother, always championing young researchers and fighting the feminist fight. You would be forgiven for thinking that the future of academia in the UK is very gloomy, but with women like Roberta there is always hope!
Leeds IMC is huge and I am but one little researcher, so this blog post does not do it justice. There are things that I am still mulling over and will write about in depth in due course. For now, please comment with your favourite moment or important issues that you want to see discussed, or contact us to write a blog post yourself. Fresh perspectives are always welcome.
Our wonderful web editor, Erica Steiner, has been an extremely busy bee in recent weeks, updating the Cerae website to make it more streamlined and easier to use. You should be able to find articles and blog posts with ease now – have a browse, let us know what you think. All Cerae articles are open access and fully downloadable, so you can discover important new scholarship without university affiliation or nasty paywalls.
Erica has also created an academia.edu page for the journal. This is a new platform for us to share articles, blog posts, news, and CfPs. If you’re on the site, please follow us and we’ll follow you back!
And as ever, we’re active on twitter and facebook. As a postgraduate researcher, social media has been a complete lifeline to me – twitter is where I find out about conferences, CfPs, developments in my field, but it is also where I have made friends who understand this wacky academic life. Thank you to everyone who follows Cerae, comments on our posts, and generally makes social media a lovely and important place to be.