In an attempt to make the journal more timely, I promise that every manuscript submitted to American Antiquity will be processed within 60-90 days of receipt. This means that authors will receive reviews and a decision on their manuscripts within that time frame.
Although there is a backlog for the journal, we have made considerable progress in working our way through that backlog, and I encourage new manuscripts. Further, in order to maintain our review schedule, I would also like to encourage new reviewers in all areas. If you are willing to review manuscripts for the journal (in a timely fashion), please drop me a note with your name, addresses, phone numbers, and specific areas of interest.
Lynne Goldstein is at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is editor of American Antiquity
Toward this end, we have expanded Latin American representation on the journal's editorial committees, and for the first time, we now have native speakers of English, Spanish, and Portuguese on the journal's board of editors. We have also proposed to produce a Spanish style guide, which hopefully will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal.
It is now time to get down to the two basic questions that we rightfully and repeatedly are asked: what are you doing to shorten the time between the dates of manuscript submission and the time of its publication, and when will the journal's date of publication match the month and year on the cover? Let us say that the answers to these questions should be really good news and pretty good news, respectively.
From the time we received our first paper in fall 1995, we have reviewed every manuscript that has been submitted to us in less than 90 days. One paper submitted December 1995 is already in the manuscript queue to be published next December (and that follows an episode of review and revision). With summer coming, we cannot always promise to keep to the current schedule, but we do pledge to review all submitted manuscripts in 4-6 months.
To maintain this timetable in the face of shrinking budgets, telephone tag, and postal delays, we ask your help in two significant ways. First, especially during the academic year, the editorial office conducts an ever-increasing amount of journal business through electronic mail. So if you submit a manuscript to the journal, please include in your cover letter your email address, as well as a fax number where you can be reached. In addition, if you are interested in reviewing manuscripts for Latin American Antiquity, please send us a brief email message with your email address and the kinds of topics/areas that you would be willing to review.
Second, as editors, we are doing everything that we can to keep papers out of the "black hole" of perpetual review. Timely movement through the review cycle (and out of editorial limbo) entails that we be fairly explicit with our suggestions and recommendations to authors so that they can rapidly and successfully move their manuscripts through to publication. We beg your indulgence for what may sometimes appear to be detailed and lengthy comments, and we wish to recall the words of our journal's first editor, Prudence Rice (1991, Volume 2:196): "A request for revisions is not a rejection, but rather a well-intentioned effort to structure a contribution so that its significance will be appreciated by as broad a Latin Americanist audience as possible."
Concerning the sticky issue of the journal's timeliness, David Pendergast, Janet Walker (of the society's Washington office), Linda Manzanilla, and I developed a plan at last year's Minneapolis meeting to get the journal on schedule. The plan was for Linda and I to pick up our editorial pens an issue early, with copy for June 1996. In the fall, we began work on manuscripts that David Pendergast had earmarked for our issue. In that way, two editorial teams were working simultaneously to get things back on schedule.
We are pleased to report that things almost worked as intended. We sent copy into Washington for the June and September 1996 issues well in advance of schedule. Yet because of other delays, schedule conflicts, and backlogs, it does not look like the June issue, our first, will actually appear in June. However, the first issue under the new editorial mantle will emerge during its appropriate calendar quarter, and we can almost guarantee that Latin American Antiquity's cover date will match the publication date by the end of this calendar year.
Now that we have taken important steps to get back on schedule and speed manuscript processing, we, along with our editorial boards, issue a call for new manuscripts. Because we wish to emphasize the international nature of the journal, we are especially, but not solely, interested in pieces that are broad in scope, comparative, and relevant to a diverse multinational audience. We welcome papers in Spanish, Portuguese, as well as English. We encourage papers covering those geographic areas, like Central America, the Amazon, West Mexico, the Intermediate Area, and the Caribbean, that have been traditionally underrepresented in the journal.
We are also open to special sections composed of three to four papers as an alternative to convincing increasingly resistant publishers to do edited books. As we begin our term, there will never be a better time to approach any of us with suggestions for your manuscripts, for special sections, even for papers ideas that you would like to see someone else write!
As we embark on this challenge, we must acknowledge the help we received from the many people who have assisted us in this transitional year. We are grateful for our editorial boards for cheerfully taking on extra work, and our reviewers, who consistently do a magnificent and unheralded job. We also thank our research assistants, Susan Kepecs and Linda Nicholas, who work long and hard with thought and diligence to keep things in order and keep us ahead of deadlines. Finally, we appreciate the help, thoughtful advice, and the manuscripts that we received from David Pendergast. He has certainly eased what could have been a far more difficult transition.
Gary Feinman is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Linda Manzanilla is at UNAM in Mexico City.