JHB as a Collaborative Effort
Journal of the History of Biology
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
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
JHB AS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT