- The Future of Great Plains Research
This issue marks the beginning of a change in stewardship of Great Plains Research. The Center for Great Plains Studies has been promoting the study of the people, cultures, and environment of the Great Plains since 1976, and for 25 years GPR has been an important part of that effort. The beginning of a new editorship is a convenient time to consider the future of the journal.
For centuries, academic journals have endured the test of time. For instance, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Philosophical Transactions) has survived for 350 years, and its mission continues to provide meaning in the twenty-first century: “The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.” The charge to “recognise, promote, and support excellence” can serve well as a guide for us: in the future as in the past, GPR will be committed to publishing excellent research on diverse topics about the Great Plains.
But GPR, like other journals, has also changed with the times, so let’s look ahead and consider how together we can further strengthen the journal. First, we invite you, our readers and authors, to think of GPR as the hub of a large, connected, and collaborative effort to help all of us gain new insight into this fascinating place, the Great Plains. Every article, essay, or review we publish should contribute in some way to that larger goal, and we encourage authors to help us see how their work contributes to this larger understanding. Why is this particular piece of research important, and how does it provide insight into broader scientific or social questions?
GPR itself can advance this collaborative goal by opening our pages to new kinds of contributions. While traditionally refereed articles will remain GPR’s principal content, we will add as a new feature occasional invited essays by recognized experts on topics of high interest— an example is John Hibbing’s essay in this issue entitled “Could the People of the Great Plains Have Distinctive Character Traits?” We expect invited essays to be provocative, engaging, accessible, often controversial, and reflective of the author’s deep scholarship on the issue. We hope that whether or not you agree with the author, you will find yourself unable to resist reading the piece.
We will continue to publish cogent reviews of important Great Plains– related books, but we intend to add as well short, accessible reviews of scholarly articles published in other academic journals. These reviews, often written by graduate students, will give readers access to some of the best research tucked away in disciplinary journals; readers not in that particular discipline, who are unable to keep up with journals in other fields, will thus be able to read across disciplinary boundaries.
We will also intermingle and blend articles instead of putting them into the separate categories of “natural sciences” and “social sciences.” Given the tremendous growth of research that draws upon multiple disciplines, and even more the escalating importance of multidisciplinary approaches in examining so many topics, it becomes increasingly diffi cult and unproductive to pigeonhole submissions. John Hibbing’s article in this issue is an example: Hibbing is a political scientist writing about epigenetics and behavior. Instead of seeking research in a particular category, GPR will be searching for the best research regardless of category; often such research defies disciplinary categorization.
Finally, the editor is establishing, for the first time in GPR’s history, an Editorial Advisory Board. Below are the initial members recruited to serve three-year terms on the Board.
These changes and others perhaps to come— we invite your suggestions!— are all aimed at creating a sense of shared endeavor among authors and readers as we study and teach each other about the Great Plains. GPR derives its excellence entirely from its authors, and we hope that it, along with its sister publication Great Plains Quarterly, will be the research outlet of first choice for Great Plains scholars. Our...