JHB as a Collaborative Effort

Journal of the History of Biology, Jun 2017

Garland E. Allen, Jane Maienschein

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JHB as a Collaborative Effort

Journal of the History of Biology DOI 10.1007/s10739 JHB as a Collaborative Effort GARLAND E. ALLEN Washington University St. Louis USA 0 1 JANE MAIENSCHEIN 0 1 0 Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole , MA USA 1 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ USA - Everett Mendelsohn somehow managed to establish the Journal of the History of Biology, edit it for over 30 years, make it the leading history of biology publication, have fun doing it, and initially do it all himself. With time, though, he realized that collaboration helps and brought Shirley Roe on as assistant and then co-editor, allowing him to do even more, do it even better, and reach out to an even broader community of scholars and readers. In 1996 when Everett invited one of us (Gar) to take over the job and become the second JHB editor, Gar followed Everett’s example and sought a co-editor (Jane). We immediately enlisted the help of a Managing Editor, the wonderful Marie Glitz, who quickly became a valued collaborator. Marie met potential authors, jollied them along when they became discouraged by reviewers’ suggestions, worked with them closely on multiple drafts, and made the collaboration work by reminding us of what needed to be done, by whom, and by when. For many people Marie became the face of JHB for the next 8+ years. Through the good graces of Arizona State University we were able to establish an editorial office in Arizona that provided an organizational center and location where the journal’s work could be carried out easily and efficiently. GARLAND E. ALLEN AND JANE MAIENSCHEIN From the beginning, we adopted Everett’s first principle: the journal should offer a place for young scholars to contribute their early papers. All contributors received rigorous and detailed feedback from reviewers as well as the editors. Our basic approach to collaboration emphasized working with authors, rather than simply critiquing their drafts and telling them what to do. We seldom rejected outright even those papers that clearly needed a better focus or organization but always wanted to give a second chance with extensive feedback; we tried especially hard to work with authors for whom English was not their first language to turn their prose into a more generally idiomatic and readable form. To this end we occasionally enlisted the help of generous scholars whose first language was that of the author in question for help in smoothing out the text. One approach we used to gain submissions from not only wellestablished, but especially younger and less well-known scholars, was to actively recruit papers from sessions at professional meetings. This process helped us meet the potential author and encourage them to submit to JHB. Having that first-hand acquaintance, especially with new contributors in the field, proved invaluable in assigning reviewers and helping with critiques of the papers. It was an added plus to meet so many up-and-coming young scholars whose enthusiasm and creative new topics provided a continuing inspiration. In our initial editorial (Vol. 32, No. 1, Spring, 1999), we noted that we ‘‘do not anticipate any radical changes, but seek to remain inclusive, creative and responsive to new ideas.’’ Our only major change was to alter the structure of the editorial board and institute staggered, threeyear rotating terms. Otherwise, our overall approach was a continuation of the outstanding tradition Everett and Shirley had established, which had established JHB at the outset as the journal of record for the new field of the history of biology. By the time we became editors, the field was already well established, with the journal remaining the central organ for publication. Nevertheless, we were committed to broadening the journal’s coverage to include history of more recent (twentiethcentury) topics, and to including more interface with philosophical perspectives. This remained true as we passed the editorship on the Paul Farber, but began to change under his leadership and especially under the direction of Michael Dietrich. More journals created competition. Biology journals began to include historical essays and articles from a range of different places. We resisted, as Paul Farber did, the pressures from Springer to make all submissions and processing through their online management sys JHB AS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT


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Garland E. Allen, Jane Maienschein. JHB as a Collaborative Effort, Journal of the History of Biology, 2017, 1-3, DOI: 10.1007/s10739-017-9480-0