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Editor's Report

Report of the Editor of Speculum


The drive to reduce backlog and submission turnaround time announced in last year's report continues. In 2014, the average turnaround time for articles was 67 days and the acceptance / rejection rate is currently 9 percent accept / 61 percent reject (with 10 percent revise and resubmit and 20 percent submissions pending with readers). Accepted articles are, with few exceptions, published the next year.

With submissions and backlog under control, our efforts this year have focused on submissions. Submissions are up 25 percent over last year, from 90 in 2013 to 112 in 2014. The areas covered, though hard to chart, seem to be moving more into interdisciplinary approaches: history accounted for a quarter of the 2014 submissions; literature, including reception of the classics, another quarter; but the remaining half included small clusters in Old Norse, art history, and Byzantine studies, and a full quarter fell outside of traditional bounds, with single submissions in twenty-six different areas. About three-quarters of the pieces we receive can be characterized as cutting across some boundary, be it temporal, spatial, or methodological.

To understand how submissions and publication in Speculum map onto general trends in medieval studies I attended the MAA annual meeting at UCLA, the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, and the medieval conferences at Leeds and CARMEN. A recurrent motif at all the conferences was the importance of crossing over traditional boundaries and divisions.

Editorial Practices

Paul Lindholm, editorial assistant for over two years at Speculum, left in November, having trained two new part-time assistants, Erin Pomeroy (BA, Wellesley) and Sam Boss (PhD, Brown). The two assistants work with the book-review editors to oversee and manage the review books. All articles and reviews are copyedited by Shirley Werner (PhD, Yale). Thanks are owed to the book-review editors for 2014: Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Kirk Ambrose, Alison Beach, Claudia Bornholdt, Ross Brann, Denise Filios, Gregory Hays, Julian Hendrix, David Johnson, Richard Lansing, Donald Logan, Dan Melia, Leonora Neville, David Rothenberg, Carol Symes, Cecilia Trifogli, William Tronzo, and Jonathan Wilcox. Thanks also to the 2014 Speculum editorial board, Fred Biggs, Sheila Bonde, Cynthia Brown, Paul Cobb, John Contreni, Margot Fassler, Paul Freedman, Rachel Fulton Brown, Wendy Scase, and Stephen Wheeler.

Publishing and Distribution

The contract with Cambridge University Press (CUP) to publish and distribute Speculum expires at the end of 2015, and in fall 2014 a joint committee of members of the editorial board— Sheila Bonde, Paul Freedman, and Rachel Fulton Brown—and members of the finance committee—Eugene Lyman and Grover Zinn—circulated a request for proposals to five presses. Three presses submitted proposals and early in 2015 the committee voted to recommend that Speculum contract to publish with University of Chicago Press (UCP). This recommendation was accepted by the council and in March a contract was signed with UCP to publish Speculum for five years, starting with volume 91 (2016). We look forward to a productive and collegial partnership.

Contractual arrangements with Cambridge remain in place through 2015. The MAA receives a royalty from sales of institutional subscriptions, with a guaranteed 85 percent of projected sales. In calendar year 2014 payments from CUP to the MAA totaled $143,467, including $38,048 in editorial contribution. These figures compare favorably with the total of $132,596 received in 2013.

Cambridge Journals Online continues to host the online version of Speculum, to sell digital offprints of articles and reviews, to offer downloadable copyright assignment forms, a fully searchable archive of Speculum, reprint permission forms, and management of subsidiary rights (and related income to the MAA).

It was erroneously printed last year that JSTOR income and other royalties and permissions totaled $15,950 in 2013: the correct figure was $20,144.69. The JSTOR figure for 2014 is $26,861. The dates indicate the year the payment was made into the MAA account.

Total 2014 income from Speculum: $169,631 (not including the relevant percentage of membership dues).

Publication Statistics

In 2014 Speculum published 20 articles in 668 pages and 284 book reviews in 560 pages for a total page count of 1,271.

The table below provides five-year comparative data (corrected from 2013 numbers published in Speculum 89/3):

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Future Initiatives

Production having fallen somewhat behind, we will use the remainder of 2015 to ensure that all aspects of the journal are back on track and the issues appear on time. We have set it as a goal with Cambridge to address this problem before our contract is up, so we can start with Chicago on schedule.

The book-review managing team of Erin Pomeroy and Sam Boss have begun entering bibliographical information of books received for review into an account on WorldCat to improve communication with authors about the status of their books.

The July issue of Speculum includes a cluster publication, derived from a session at the MAA meeting at UCLA, on “French and Its Cultural Locations in Late-Medieval England.” This is the first of what I hope will be an occasional feature: a group of shorter pieces, developed from talks, that approach a single topic from multiple perspectives. We are also proceeding with a special issue on the digital humanities (DH), which will be online only, as a fifth issue, in 2016 or 2017. DH was a central topic at Leeds and CARMEN; more to the point, the types of interdisciplinary resources that we hope to highlight in this issue underlie much of the groundbreaking crossover work I saw at the conferences, from archival access to visualizations of all kinds.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Spence


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