As the transition to my editorship begins I'd like to share with you some of my aspirations for the Journal of Communication. My goals are to enhance participation by non-U.S. scholars, to increase access, and to extend the reach of the Journal of Communication while at the same time enhancing the quality of the work published there. Let me say a few words about each of these goals.
Journal of Communication has made significant progress toward becoming a truly international journal, but we still have much to do. I intend to build on the excellent work of the current and recent editors by further expanding the editorial board's geographic and intellectual coverage and by extending the list of available reviewers. I will be working with existing board members and reviewers to identify still more candidates outside the U.S. as well as drawing on the advice of opinion leaders within the Divisions and Interest Groups.
Rising submissions and other factors have created a substantial backlog which in turn frustrates authors and readers alike. The planned increase in the number of issues from four to six per year starting in 2011 will help, but additional steps are necessary to ensure that researchers have timely access to research findings. In addition to maintaining the current page limits on final manuscripts, I will be developing a supplementary website where less central material can be placed. This strategy has become standard in the world's leading general science journals such as Nature and Science, major medical journals such as Lancet and JAMA, and is becoming more common in social science journals like Psychological Bulletin. I believe online supplements can sharpen the journal's focus and save enough pages to squeeze in an additional article or two.
We will also increase access and timeliness by making final versions of accepted manuscripts available online through the "Early View" program. I plan to make accepted manuscripts available to you electronically as soon as they are in final form. Like many of you, I am interested in the ferment regarding the future of academic publishing, but as editor my immediate concern will be with making straightforward enhancements such as the creation of online repository for supplementary material and online access to preprints.
I will explore providing very brief nontechnical summaries of articles at the beginning of each issue. Both Science and Nature, for example, now publish short previews of the more important articles in each issue. Child Development and British Medical Journal offer other examples. Unlike traditional abstracts that tend to be compressed technical statements, these brief commentaries are written for the general reader. They provide a convenient point of access for the public and the press as well as encourage researchers to read beyond their specialty areas. The format has yet to be decided and I welcome suggestions and models.
My overarching commitment is straightforward: publish the best research. To me, that's less about the choice of method than about asking important questions, choosing a method that matches the question, and then executing the analysis well. I do not promise to publish more research in any particular area, but I do promise to work diligently to increase the range excellent publications. I seek qualitative and interpretative work that favors careful observation and genuine insight over intellectual poses. I favor quantitative work with strong rationales, samples, and measurement over work that camouflages the lack of these things with a haze of multivariate statistics. Finally, I believe in the value of descriptive work-conceptual, qualitative and quantitative-and think we sometimes try to advance theory without a sufficient descriptive base. I am reminded of George Gerbner's research that tracked media portrayals of race, gender, and violence during the 1970's and 1980's, much of it published in JOC. Though largely descriptive, this work had profound impact on both the discipline and public policy. It is not the only model, of course, but it is a powerful reminder that good descriptive research makes a significant contribution in its own right.
Stewardship of the Journal of Communication is an honor and a great responsibility. I look forward to working with you to ensure the continued success of our association's flagship journal.