Publishing is an essential aspect of archaeological research, and venues for archaeological publication are growing by leaps and bounds. For students, publishing represents a means to demonstrate professional commitment and capability before entering the job market. To help students with the process of journal publishing, we have gathered some tips from editors and professionals.
Learning to publish takes time, and because putting your ideas in print opens them up to debate and criticism, the process can be unnerving. Don't be shy about submitting articles for publication! The only way to get your ideas out is by submitting them for peer review. Scholars rely on this process to move the discipline forward--be a part of it! Consider publishing to be a necessary part of your development. Approach everything you write as potentially publishable.
Tips for Submitting Journal Articles:
(1) When choosing a journal for submission of your manuscript, make sure that
your topic matches the journal's focus. Often, otherwise publishable
manuscripts are submitted to inappropriate journals and are rejected for
publication. Before submitting an article or research report, scan recent
issues of the journals you are considering to gauge what kind of articles they
tend to publish. Assess how your article would fit into each particular
publication venue and submit your manuscript accordingly. Another useful
resource to consult are the mission or focus statements that accompany the
style guides of many major journals.
(2) Once you have chosen a journal, prepare your manuscript according to the journal's style guide. We listed at the end of this article style guide locations for several major archaeological journals. Preparing your manuscript should always be done carefully and thoroughly. Although all manuscripts undergo later revisions, it is a mistake to assume that all of the editing can wait until later. You should ensure your tables and figures add up, your in-text citations are in your bibliography, and so on. According to one editor, this essential editing is not done on the majority of the manuscripts submitted. Often these manuscripts are returned with negative evaluations from the reviewers, who assume that sloppy scholarship is the problem.
(3) When writing critically or reviewing previous work on your topic, be careful about the attitude presented in your writing. One editor commented that it is tempting for students to criticize too harshly. It is possible to critically evaluate another scholar's work in a reasonable way. Critique your sources, don't criticize them! This is especially true in the case of citing other authors.
(4) Once your manuscript is returned from the reviewers, there are a few important issues to keep in mind. First, editors try to elicit a range of evaluations from reviewers, so don't be surprised if you end up with either very different or conflicting responses. Second, while it is easy to get defensive about negative reviews, try to remain open, receptive, and rational when you receive suggestions about your manuscript. Third, the editor will decide which of the reviewers' recommended changes that you need to make.
Tips for Writing Book Reviews:
(1) The book review section of a journal is usually allotted only limited
space. Because of this limiting factor, book reviewers appreciate succinct
reviews, so keep your comments about the book to a reasonable length. The more
succinct the original review, the less "cropping" will occur before it goes to
(2) Include a synopsis, or chapter-by-chapter overview, in a book review. These reviews are designed not just to give an opinion, but also to inform the audience about the book's contents.
(3) As stated previously, be careful about the attitude that comes across in your writing. While it is fine to state your opinion, remember that the views you express will be in print, including those which may offend. It is a good idea to summarize heavily and be diplomatic when stating your opinions. Also, take the time to consider whether or not you would be able to review a book fairly and responsibly (i.e., is it an author you typically disagree with and you will most likely write a negative review?).
(4) While most journals do not solicit book reviews, (i.e., do not allow people to select which book they will review) book review editors will often accept curriculum vitaes, and letters detailing areas of expertise which they will then use to assign books for review. If you are interested in writing a book review--a great venue for student publishing--contact the book review editors of journals you read and let them know who you are. You never know what might happen!
Style Guides: Where to Find Them
The following is a list of archaeological journals and their most recently
published guidelines for contributors. Both print copies and World Wide Web
(WWW) addresses are given. In searching through these resources, we often found
the WWW to have more complete information, although beware of using the Web
version of style guides. Some software and web-browsers may alter the format of
items on Web pages. While this doesn't generally pose a problem for Web users,
it could make quite a difference in searching for format and style information!
In Print: See the back of each volume for basic information and editorial contacts
On the Web: www.ameranthassn.org/ameranth.htm#3
In Print: October 1992, Volume 57: 749-770
On the Web: www.saa.org/Publications/StyleGuide/styframe.html
In Print: Editorial and Subscription Notices appear at the end of the Review section of each volume
On the Web: intarch.ac.uk/antiquity/contrib.html
In Print: At the beginning of each issue
On the Web: www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA/instruct.html
In Print: 1996 30(3): 102-120
On the Web: www.sha.org/ha_style.htm
American Journal of Archaeology
In Print: At the end of each issue
On the Web: www.classics.lsa.umich.edu/AJA/Guidelines.html
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
In Print: Editorial Policy is posted at the end of each issue
On the Web: www.europe.ap.net.com/www/journal/aa/aaifa.htm
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
In Print: See the back cover of each issue
On the Web: None available, contact Michael Schiffer (editor) directly at email@example.com.
Journal of Archaeological Science
In Print: Notes for Authors appear at the back of each issue
On the Web: www.hbuk.co.uk/ap/journals/as/ia.htm
Journal of Field Archaeology
In Print: 1988 Volume 15: 485-489
On the Web: www.bu.edu/Biz/jfa-edpol.html
Latin American Antiquity
In Print: September 1992, Volume 3: 259-280
On The Web: www.saa.org/Publications/StyleGuide/styframe.html
The authors would like to thank all of the individuals who offered suggestions and advice for this article. Particularly we would like to thank Lynne Goldstein, Bill Lovis, and Carla Sinopoli.
Jane Eva Baxter is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan and is a member of the Student Affairs Committee. Heather Van Wormer is a graduate student at Michigan State University and is a campus representative for the Student Affairs Committee.