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Ongoing Transitions – Editors’ Introduction

From: History in Africa
Volume 39, 2012
pp. 1-7 | 10.1353/hia.2012.0009

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When taking over the editorship of History in Africa, the current editors foresaw several lines of development for the journal. The first one was to re-examine the inheritance of David Henige and build on this to keep the journal contemporary with new developments and trends in methodology and method, emerging technologies and the growing and changing availability of sources. Secondly, the editors felt that to comply with ever more stringent demands of academic quality control a full peer review system needed to be introduced, as well as action undertaken to make the journal visible in ranking systems. Thirdly, the editors decided that the journal was in need of a larger input from African scholars in Africa, to reflect developments in the continent better. Fourthly, it was decided that the paper version of the journal was in need of a more modern and professional look and format, enhancing readability, and falling into line with comparable journals, most specifically the sister journal African Studies Review.

The production of this third post-Henige issue has proven transition to be an ongoing process. All four points of development have been instituted, some with immediate results, others as a work in progress. Volume 37 (2010) saw the extension of the Editorial Board with several African members working in Africa, the consolidation of Henige’s work with the publication of numerous articles inherited from him, and an agenda for further development. At the Annual General Meeting of the African Studies Association in San Francisco in 2010, two panels were organized to honor Henige and his work. Many of the contributions to these panels were included in volume 38 (2011), making it a Festschrift, definitively concluding the Henige era. The current issue of History in Africa is therefore the first regular issue under the regime of the new editorial team.

History in Africa now has its new size and format, which we hope is pleasing to the eye and more readable. A double-blind peer review system is in place and has already proved itself in terms of quality control and quality improvement, both for the editors and the individual authors. The latter now have the benefit of several sets of comments with which they can improve their work. This is especially helpful to assist younger and less experienced contributors to develop their cutting-edge research into a form that is suitable for the journal. The peer review system also helps established authors to refine their arguments. Some have recently questioned the usefulness of the formal peer review, which can favor mainstream research perspectives and thwart the publication of innovative and novel approaches. The editors of History in Africa are very much aware of these concerns and see the peer review system as part of an editorial evaluation process that leaves room for the unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary. At its best the peer review needs to be as much a critical evaluation as an encouragement for the author and the editors. This balanced approach to review is how we intend to maintain History in Africa’s status as a leading journal in the field of African history and beyond. It goes without saying that the editors are very grateful to the reviewers for their assistance, bringing both the field of study and the journal forward. The process to get the journal ranked and rated is under way with the appropriate registrations and by gradually bringing the publication date of the journal forward to enhance its position in the different calculation systems.

During 2011 the ASA decided it was no longer able to carry the burden of being a publisher in both organizational and financial terms. Although the editors of History in Africa originally felt that the journal would be best served by being part of a non-profit, independent body like the ASA, they realized that this position was no longer tenable, and worked with the ASA Board and Publication Committee as they came to a solution for this problem. This volume will be the last published by the ASA alone, as both History and Africa and African Studies Review will be joining Cambridge University Press (CUP), under the continued auspices of the ASA...



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