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Biography 24.3 (2001) iv-v
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I thought this issue might be an appropriate one to say a word or two about the current editorial direction of Biography, and more specifically, how the journal is increasingly functioning as part of the ongoing activities of the Center for Biographical Research.
A quick glance at all of the issues of Biography lined up on a shelf will reveal two significant changes. The most striking is the cover redesign, which took place with the Winter 1999 issue. The more wide-reaching change, however, has been in size. Since 1997, when the Center began preparing camera-ready copy for the press, the journal has steadily expanded, from an average of 100 pages an issue to something over 150 for a "regular" issue, over 200 for the annual bibliography issue, and even more for our special issues. ("Autobiography and Changing Identities," which appeared this past winter, crested at 375.)
This current issue sits in the 250 page range--a size all the more surprising, because it only contains two articles. In fact, we publish fewer articles in our regular issues now than we did a few years ago, although the special issues more than compensate for that--over twenty appeared in the "Autobiography and Changing Identities" issue alone.
There is a method to this growth. First, we have committed ourselves to providing timely, lengthy, and thoughtful reviews of virtually all the critical and theoretical books that appear in the field--somewhere in the realm of 40 to 50 reviews a year these days. As a result, our review section is now the size of the entire journal pre-1997, leading us to wonder whether we should change the journal's name to The Quarterly Review of Life Writing Studies.
Second, we have expanded the Reviewed Elsewhere section to provide coverage of notable biographical and autobiographical texts published in Australia, South Africa, Canada, the European Union, and elsewhere. Timeliness is again a goal--one of the main reasons for the current issue's expanded length is that we have brought the cutoff date for Reviewed Elsewhere entries up even closer to publication.
Third, our annual annotated bibliography has quadrupled in size over the last five years--partially because of an explosion in lifewriting publications, partially because we have added a psychobiography bibliographer, partially because we are covering special issues and dissertations in greater detail, and partially because our literature search is more wide ranging. Though [End Page iv] long promised, a searchable database containing the entries for the past five years will be appearing on our homepage in the near future.
And fourth, our annual Winter special issues are designed to be very substantial volumes of essays on a topic of current interest in the field. (For all intents and purposes, we are publishing a book.)
All of these steady changes reflect one of the founding missions of the Center for Biographical Research: to provide research resources to the international community of life writing critics, scholars, and theorists. As the field has expanded, so have our responsibilities, and therefore so has the size of our journal. We plan to continue to provide these services, to make these services more responsive and responsible to the entire geographical and disciplinary range of scholars in the field, and to seek out ways to expand the numbers of those who can benefit from our resources.