Open Opportunities

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 ceraejournal@gmail.com with any questions.

Cerae Committee Positions

 

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How a journal comes to be

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.

Book Reviews

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.

Editing!

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.

Publication

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.

Publicity

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.

Open Access Publishing

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.

Further reading:

The Right to Research Coalition

Directory of Open Access Journals

HEFCE  policies