Lately, we have had abstracts on the brain here in the offices of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature thanks to a long-term project whose first phase, I am excited to announce, is now complete. The abstract project, as we call it around the office, represents one manifestation of our desire to make all of our content easily searchable and broadly marketable. Beginning in 2008, Laura M. Stevens, my predecessor, began asking authors to submit abstracts of their work along with their articles. These abstracts are immediately useful in the peer review process; one gets an initial sense of an article's quality from the strength of its abstract, and specialist readers will often agree or decline to read an article based on their reactions to the abstract. Later, after publication, readers can decide whether to read or pass over an article based on the content of its abstract; there is a direct correlation between the availability of an abstract and the attention that an individual essay receives. We know from our Project Muse hits that articles—even much older articles—are more likely to be downloaded and read if they are accompanied by abstracts. For the sake of both our finances—we earn royalties based on number of downloads—and our passion for ensuring the broadest possible circulation of our authors' excellent work, abstracts are a must.
Enter the abstract project. Prior to 2009, Tulsa Studies did not publish abstracts, and thus it has been one of our long-term goals to abstract every article in our back catalogue. This process has occurred gradually; it was back in 2011 that Laura first announced her intent to post "abstracts on our website of every article published in the journal since its founding," and for the past seven years, our graduate student interns have been working towards this goal during office downtime.1 In some cases, they have adapted the abstracts from old editorial prefaces, which between 1989 and 2008 included overviews of each issue's contents. This practice became redundant when authors began providing their own abstracts, and it was ultimately discontinued, but these prefaces provided a valuable starting point for our interns. With even older articles, they had to start from scratch. I am pleased to announce, then, that the first stage of the project is complete; our interns have drafted abstracts for every article of every back issue. We will now move on to the next stage of the project; managing editor Karen Dutoi and I will edit the abstracts and send them off to their authors for feedback and approval before finally uploading them to our website. I am excited that our readers will finally begin to benefit from this labor, and I want to express my gratitude to all of the interns, past and present, who worked so hard on the project over the years: Melissa [End Page 265] Antonucci, Jacob Ball, Jennifer Fuller, Alex White, Amy Pezzelle, Dayne Riley, Ashley Schoppe, and Onyx Zhang. I am also grateful to our authors, many of whom have already gamely returned to their old articles to oversee and approve our work. And, of course, I am grateful to Karen for her leadership throughout the process of completing this work.
The abstract project has naturally occasioned a lot of discussion in the office about what constitutes an effective abstract. I confess, abstract writing does not come naturally to me. It is neither a genre that I was taught in graduate school nor, I must admit, one that I thought to discuss with my own graduate students, at least until recently. If being a journal editor and working on the abstract project has taught me anything, it is that we need to provide more guidance on and insight into the purposes and format of abstracts. Those of us who are editors or advisors to graduate students should directly address this strange genre, a form of writing that is at once extremely mundane and inherently unfamiliar, recognizing that good abstract writing is a learned skill. Indeed, I think back with deep gratitude to the editors of my own work who provided me with feedback over the...